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The Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission is exclusively empowered to license thermal power plants of over 50 megawatts capacity, Pub. Resources Code 25120, 25500, 25517; it possesses “the exclusive power to certify all sites and related facilities in the state, whether a new site and related facility or a change or addition to an existing facility” and “[t]he issuance of a certificate by the commission shall be in lieu of any permit, certificate, or similar document required by any state, local or regional agency, or federal agency to the extent permitted by federal law.” Commission decisions on any application for certification are subject to judicial review by the Supreme Court of California; the Commission’s factual findings are not subject to review. Communities for a Better Environment's challenge to the judicial review provisions as facially unconstitutional was dismissed on ripeness grounds. The court of appeal reversed. The constitutional challenge is not dependent on the facts of any particular Commission proceeding. Communities has appeared in certification proceedings, is presently participating, and has stated it intends to continue to participate, creating a reasonable expectation that any wrong done by the application of the provisions will be repeated. “[W]e do not have to guess” how the statute will be interpreted moving forward. View "Communities for Better Environment v. State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Dennis Obduskey appealed a district court’s order granting Defendants-Appellees Wells Fargo and McCarthy and Holthus, LLP’s motions to dismiss numerous claims, including whether either party was liable as a “debt collector” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). In 2014, Wells Fargo hired McCarthy and Holthus, LLP, a law firm, to pursue a non-judicial foreclosure on Obduskey’s home. Obduskey responded to a letter McCarthy sent him; rather than responding further, McCarthy initiated a foreclosure action. Obduskey then filed this action claiming (1) a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; (2) a violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act; (3) defamation; (4) extreme and outrageous conduct - emotional distress; and (5) commencement of an unlawful collections action. Wells Fargo and McCarthy filed motions to dismiss, which the district court granted on all claims. Regarding the FDCPA claim, the district court held that Wells Fargo was not liable because it began servicing the loan prior to default. It also held that McCarthy was not a “debt collector” because “foreclosure proceedings are not a collection of a debt,” but it noted that “not all courts have agreed” on whether foreclosure proceedings are covered under the FDCPA. After review, the Tenth Circuit found that the FDCPA does not apply to non-judicial foreclosure proceedings in Colorado, and affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Obduskey’s claims. View "Obduskey v. Wells Fargo" on Justia Law

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Defendant Texas Brine Company, LLC (Texas Brine) operated brine wells on land owned by Co-Defendant Occidental Chemical Corporation (Oxy) in Louisiana. In August 2012, a sinkhole appeared near one of these wells. After the sinkhole appeared, Texas Brine began clean-up efforts. In December 2012, Texas Brine retained Frontier International Group, LLC (Frontier), an Oklahoma-based consulting firm, for “emergency management, state and local government relations, community relations, litigation settlement strategy, and media communications.” Some time later, Texas Brine retained Brooks Altshuler, an attorney and Frontier’s owner, in his individual capacity to advise the company on response and remediation efforts and to negotiate with government agencies. Later, Texas Brine retained Frontier as a consulting expert for trial preparation. Litigation began soon after the sinkhole appeared, with multiple plaintiffs suing Texas Brine and Oxy in the Eastern District of Louisiana. To verify the work Frontier performed and the cost of such work, Oxy issued a subpoena duces tecum to nonparty Frontier, requesting production of eight categories of documents related to services Frontier provided Texas Brine. In response, Texas Brine filed a motion to quash the subpoena in the Western District of Oklahoma, the district where compliance was required. Proceeding under the uncontested assumption that Louisiana law applied, Texas Brine first claimed the attorney-client privilege protected the subpoenaed communications. In a written order, the trial court noted that Texas Brine failed to comply with Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(e)(2)(A), instead, relying on a “blanket claim of privilege.” In the context of Texas Brine’s claim of a blanket privilege did the court address whether Louisiana’s attorney-client privilege statute extended the privilege to a public relations firm and its agents. Without a privilege log before it, the court concluded that much of the work Frontier performed for Texas Brine did not constitute “legal advice” and, thus, was not protected by the attorney-client privilege. The court ultimately required Texas Brine to produce a privilege log for any communications that it believed were protected. Texas Brine appealed. Frontier complied with the district court’s order and has, at this point, produced around 20,000 documents and a privilege log regarding the confidentiality of the withheld documents. The Tenth Circuit determined that the trial court’s factual record was insufficient, and the court did not require the production of protected documents, Texas Brine’s appeal was not ripe for review. Accordingly, Frontier and Texas Brine’s appeals were dismissed for want of jurisdiction and lack of ripeness respectively. View "Texas Brine Co. v. Occidental Chem. Corp." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of litigation by family members of United States sailors killed in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole against the Republic of Sudan for its alleged support of Al Qaeda. The district court denied Sudan's motion to vacate default judgments entered against it. The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's order, holding that plaintiffs' method of serving process did not comport with the statutory requirements of 28 U.S.C. 1608(a)(3), and thus the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over Sudan. The court remanded to the district court with instructions to allow Kumar the opportunity to perfect service of process. View "Kumar v. Republic of Sudan" on Justia Law

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In 2001, plaintiff Doreen Hayes was diagnosed with a syrinx in her thoracic spine. Plaintiff’s last MRI, prior to the accident at issue in this case, was taken in May 2007. In 2008, plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle operated by her mother, defendant Barbara Delamotte. After the 2008 accident, plaintiff underwent spinal fusion surgery on plaintiff’s C6-7 and C7-T1 vertebrae. Plaintiff thereafter filed a complaint claiming that her mother and the unidentified vehicle caused the 2008 accident. Before trial, the defense retained Dr. Arthur Vasen, an orthopedic surgeon, to examine plaintiff and review her medical records, including cervical MRIs taken before and after the 2008 accident. The defense took Dr. Vasen’s videotaped deposition for use at trial rather than call him to give in-court testimony. At trial, plaintiff moved to have portions of Dr. Vasen’s deposition referring to reports of non-testifying doctors stricken from the video. The trial court denied the motion. At trial, defendants presented Dr. Vasen’s videotaped deposition. The trial court gave the jury a limiting instruction regarding the use of non-testifying experts’ opinions. Dr. Vasen testified that there were no differences between the MRIs taken before the accident in 2007 and after the accident in 2008. However, the films that Dr. Vasen showed in the tape were both labeled 2008. At the conclusion of the parties’ evidence, plaintiff’s counsel requested the opportunity to replay Dr. Vasen’s testimony during summation, and comment on the testimony, to demonstrate to the jury that the doctor compared MRI films marked with the same date. The trial court upheld defendant’s objection, and provided an additional limiting instruction as to the reports of non-testifying experts. Ultimately, the jury determined that plaintiff’s mother was solely responsible for the 2008 accident but found that plaintiff did not sustain a permanent injury proximately caused by that accident. Plaintiff was granted a new trial. At the second trial, the only issue presented was whether plaintiff sustained a permanent injury as a result of the 2008 accident. Dr. Vasen’s videotaped deposition was retaken for use at the second trial; plaintiff once again moved in limine to bar Dr. Vasen’s testimony about the findings of non-testifying doctors. This time, the court granted plaintiff’s motion. After the second trial, the jury found that plaintiff sustained a permanent injury proximately caused by the 2008 accident and awarded her $250,000 in damages. The Appellate Division found that the trial court improperly granted a new trial and reinstated the jury’s verdict in favor of defendant from the first trial. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the Appellate Division and reinstated the jury’s verdict in favor of plaintiff following the second trial. Because the trial court’s error in preventing plaintiff from replaying a portion of the deposition during summation at the first trial resulted in a miscarriage of justice, the trial court properly granted plaintiff’s motion for a new trial. View "Hayes v. Delamotte" on Justia Law

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Testosterone replacement drugs have been FDA-approved prescription drugs for more than 60 years. In recent years, manufacturers have found a new market: older men. Numerous lawsuits were filed against manufacturers alleging that the drugs increase health risks. Cases alleging that the manufacturers failed to warn doctors and patients adequately about the risks, citing state product-liability laws, were consolidated for pretrial proceedings. The district court granted a motion to dismiss brought by Depo-T’s manufacturer, finding the failure-to-warn claims preempted by federal law. The court stated that DepoT’s manufacturers could not change their drug labels to add warnings because FDA regulations prohibit them from “making a unilateral labeling change.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed. In Wyeth v. Levine, the Supreme Court held that claims against a manufacturer of a brand-name prescription drug for failure to warn adequately of the drug’s dangers were not preempted by federal law.; in PLIVA v. Mensing, the Court held that such failure-to-warn claims against manufacturers of generic drugs are preempted. The Court cited the different regulatory requirements and processes for approving and labeling prescription drugs. Depo-T “does not fit neatly into the colloquial dichotomy between brand-name and generic drugs” so the Seventh Circuit focused on whether the FDA approved public sale of its drugs through the “new drug application” or through the “abbreviated new drug application” (ANDA) and stated that the FDA-approved label defines an ANDA holder’s duty of sameness and the lines of federal preemption. View "Guilbeau v. Pfizer Inc." on Justia Law

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The City of Cordova evicted commercial tenants from city-owned land and was granted a money judgment against them for unpaid rent and sales taxes. The tenants left behind various improvements, as well as items of personal property related to their operation of a marine fueling facility on the land. The city pursued collection of its money judgment for several years before suspending its efforts; about eight years later it resumed its attempts to collect. The tenants, contending that they had reasonably assumed by the passage of time that the judgment had been satisfied, moved for an accounting of their left-behind property and the amount still owing on the judgment. The city informed the superior court that it had executed only on bank accounts and wages and that several improvements had reverted to city ownership and therefore did not count against the judgment. It claimed not to know what happened to the rest of the property the tenants identified as having been left behind. The superior court found the city’s response sufficient and allowed execution to continue. The tenants appealed, arguing that they were entitled to a better accounting of their left-behind property and that the city was estopped from contending that the judgment was still unsatisfied. The Alaska Supreme Court agreed in part, holding that it was the city’s burden to produce evidence of the property’s disposition and that it failed to carry this burden. Furthermore, the Supreme Court held there were genuine issues of material fact about whether the city was estopped from contending that the judgment remains unsatisfied. The Court therefore reversed the superior court’s order accepting the accounting and allowing execution to continue. The matter was remanded for further proceedings. View "Beecher v. City of Cordova" on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certified a certified question of Oregon law to the Oregon Supreme Court. The question related to claims under ORS 124.110 for financial abuse of “vulnerable persons” (here, elderly persons) who purchased long-term care insurance from defendant Bankers Life & Casualty Co. (Bankers) and sought to receive insurance benefits under their policies. Specifically, the Ninth Circuit asked whether a plaintiff states a claim under ORS 124.110(1)(b) for wrongful withholding of money or property where it is alleged that an insurance company has in bad faith delayed the processing of claims and refused to pay benefits owed under an insurance contract. Plaintiffs were elderly Oregonians or their successors who purchased long-term healthcare insurance policies sold by Bankers and its parent company. Plaintiffs alleged Bankers developed onerous procedures to delay and deny insurance claims: failing to answer phone calls, losing documents, denying claims without notifying policyholders, denying claims for reasons that did not comport with Oregon law, and paying policyholders less than what they were owed under their policies. Bankers allegedly collected premium payments and, without good cause, delayed and denied insurance benefits to which Plaintiffs were entitled. The Oregon Supreme Court answered in the negative: allegations that an insurance company, in bad faith, delayed the processing of claims and refused to pay benefits owed to vulnerable persons under an insurance contract do not state a claim under ORS 124.110(1)(b) for wrongful withholding of “money or property.” View "Bates v. Bankers Life and Casualty Co." on Justia Law

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In 2010, as the trustee for an alternative loan trust, the Bank filed a residential mortgage foreclosure complaint against Pacific and others in Will County. The Bank later filed an affidavit for service by publication stating that, after searches of directory assistance and the Secretary of State’s business registration records, it was unable to locate Pacific. After service by publication, Pacific failed to respond. In July 2012, the court entered a default order and judgment of foreclosure, with a finding that service of process was proper. In February 2013, the property was sold at a sheriff’s sale. The Bank sought an order approving the sale. At the April 18 hearing, Pacific’s attorney appeared for the first time. The Bank failed to appear. The court dismissed for want of prosecution. On May 30, the court reinstated the case. On July 18, Pacific moved to quash service of process, asserting that Pacific is a foreign LLC registered in New Mexico, that it does not have an Illinois registered agent, and that service by publication was improper under 805 ILCS 180/1-50. In May 2014, the court denied Pacific’s motion because it was filed more than 60 days after Pacific filed its appearance (735 ILCS 5/15-1505.6(a)) and held that service by publication was proper. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, rejecting the Bank’s contention that the 60-day deadline was unaffected by the dismissal. Before 60 days can pass such an action necessarily must be pending. The court remanded the question of service by publication. View "Bank of New York Mellon v. Laskowski" on Justia Law

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Gregory Hull appealed a district court decision concerning the allocation of development costs he was required to share with Richard Giesler and Idaho Trust Deeds, LLC. This case was the second appeal arising from a series of oral and written agreements between the parties to exchange and subdivide property. Hull argued the district court erred by excluding testimony from his expert witness. Both parties requested an award of attorney fees on appeal. Finding no abuse of discretion in the district court’s decision to disallow the expert’s testimony, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hull v. Geisler" on Justia Law