Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Plaintiff sued Walmart and several members of law enforcement for purported injuries relating to her arrest and incarceration in 2010. In response to motions to dismiss filed by the defendants, Judge Rebecca Doherty dismissed all asserted federal claims with prejudice and all asserted state-law claims without prejudice. Plaintiff did not appeal the dismissal. In 2021, the Clerk of the Western District of Louisiana contacted the parties to inform them that Judge Doherty had owned stock in Wal-Mart while presiding over this case. Under 28 U.S.C. Section 455(b)(4), Judge Doherty ought to have recused herself. On this basis, Plaintiff filed a motion for relief from judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60, seeking a voided judgment and a new trial.   The Fifth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court. The court explained that there is no dispute that Judge Doherty should have recused herself from this case. The court wrote that Rule 60(b) decisions are reviewed for abuse of discretion. Applying that standard, the court saw no abuse in the district court’s determinations below. Judge Summerhays ably and succinctly applied the Liljeberg factors to the controversy. On fresh review, the court concluded likewise that after “a careful study … of the merits,” there is no “risk of injustice to the parties in th[is] particular case.” Judge Doherty’s ruling was based on firm legal principles, there is no evidence of bias or favor, and Plaintiff neither appealed Judge Doherty’s decision at the time nor refiled her state law claims in state court within the time permitted her. View "Roberts v. Wal-Mart Louisiana" on Justia Law

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The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is a California non-profit mutual benefit corporation whose members are involved in reporting for media outlets outside of the United States. The members are offered advantages such as access to Hollywood talent granted by movie studios. The HFPA strictly limits the admission of new members   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of an antitrust action brought by two entertainment journalists who challenged the membership policies of HFPA. The panel affirmed the dismissal of the journalists’ antitrust claims. The journalists alleged that the HFPA’s exclusionary membership practices violated section 1 (restraint of trade) and section 2 (monopolization) of the Sherman Act, as well as California’s Cartwright Act. The panel held that the journalists also failed to state a claim that the HFPA’s practices were unlawful under a rule of reason analysis.   The panel held that the journalists did not state a claim of per se liability based on a horizontal market division agreement because this theory was inconsistent with statements in the complaint that the HFPA’s members do not participate in the same product market. The panel held that, under a rule of reason analysis, the journalists failed to allege that the HFPA had market power in any reasonably defined market. The panel also affirmed the dismissal of the journalists’ claim based on California’s right of fair procedure, which protects, in certain situations, against arbitrary decisions by private organizations. View "KJERSTI FLAA, ET AL V. HOLLYWOOD FOREIGN PRESS ASSOC., ET AL" on Justia Law

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Rather than using the insurance agency’s in-house presiding officer, American Property Casualty Insurance Association (Association) requested an adjudicative hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) pursuant to RCW 48.04.010(5). The request was denied. The Association sought a writ of mandamus against Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, requiring him to transfer the hearing. The Washington Supreme Court concluded the Association could have sought judicial review by way of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), ch. 34.05 RCW, thus, the Association failed to demonstrate it had “no plain, speedy, and adequate remedy” at law, one of the three requirements for a writ to issue. Accordingly, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition. View "Am. Prop. Cas. Ins. Ass'n v. Kreidler" on Justia Law

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Otter Tail Power Company provided electric service to the City of Drayton, North Dakota under a franchise agreement. In August 2019, Drayton annexed to the city property known as McFarland’s Addition. In November 2019, an entity purchased a portion of McFarland’s Addition with the intention of building a truck stop. In April 2020, Drayton passed a resolution requiring Otter Tail to provide electric service to McFarland’s Addition. Nodak Electric Coop provided service to rural customers outside of Drayton, and did not provide services to customers in McFarland’s Addition. Nodak did not have a franchise from Drayton to provide electric service in the city. Nodak filed suit against Otter Tail, requesting the Public Service Commission to prohibit Otter Tail from extending electric service to McFarland’s Addition. Nodak alleged Otter Tail’s service would interfere with Nodak’s existing service and be an unreasonable duplication of services. In response, Otter Tail claimed the PSC lacked jurisdiction over Drayton’s decision on which provider could extend service within the city. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined the PSC lacked jurisdiction to rule on Nodak’s complaint, and reversed and vacated the PSC’s order: Otter Tail’s motion to dismiss should have been granted. View "Nodak Electric Coop. v. N.D. Public Svc. Commission, et al." on Justia Law

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LeRoy Wheeler appeals from orders dismissing without prejudice his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action against prison officials and denying his request for reconsideration. In February 2021, Wheeler commenced this § 1983 action against North Dakota State Penitentiary officials (“State”) by serving a summons and complaint upon the State. Wheeler did not file the summons and complaint with the district court at that time, and has never served a notice of filing the complaint upon the State. In March 2021, Wheeler moved for a “continuance” to extend his time to reply to the State’s “answer,” which was served on Wheeler, but was never filed with the court. In February 2022, eleven months after Wheeler moved for a “continuance” in this case, the district court filed a “notice of intent to dismiss,” stating the court’s intent to dismiss the case without prejudice on its own motion unless a party requested, within three weeks, that the case remain open. None of the parties responded, and the court dismissed the action without prejudice. Wheeler requested reconsideration, alleging that he did not receive notice of intent to dismiss. The court denied the request to reconsider. Because these orders were not appealable, the North Dakota Supreme Court dismissed the appeal. View "Wheeler v. Sayler, et al." on Justia Law

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In 2019, an Idaho district court granted Respondents Matthew and Bonnie Latvalas’ claim for a prescriptive easement over a road known as “South Camp Bay Road” to reach their property located on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille. Because the prescriptive easement was created by the operations of an active mine, the district court determined that the scope of the easement included the ability to transport labor and materials to build a home on the Latvalas’ property. In Latvala v. Green Enterprises, Inc., 485 P.3d 1129 (2021) (Latvala I), the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s determination that the Latvalas had a prescriptive easement over South Camp Bay Road. However, the Court vacated the district court’s judgment after concluding it had impermissibly expanded the scope of that easement. On remand, the parties disputed whether the Supreme Court’s decision prohibited the Latvalas’ proposed residential use of South Camp Bay Road, or only the construction of a residence on the Latvalas’ property. The district court entered a second amended judgment that prohibited the Latvalas from using South Camp Bay Road to construct a residence on their property, but did not restrict the Latvalas from using the road for residential purposes. Appellants Green Enterprises, Inc., James and and Julie Frank, and Larimore and Kathryn Cummins (neighboring landowners) timely appealed. Finding no reversible error in the latter district court judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed: “Because possibly driving across South Camp Bay Road will do nothing to increase the burden on the servient landowners, we affirm the district court’s second and third amended judgments because they are consistent with our holding in Latvala I. The Latvalas may not use South Camp Bay Road to build a residence; they may drive along Camp Bay Road to access a residence. Whether and to what extent that burden may or could change in the future is a question for another day. On the record before us we will not hypothesize on what the outcome would be under those theoretical scenarios.” View "Latvala v. Green Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought this putative class action against more than twenty banks and brokers, alleging a conspiracy to manipulate two benchmark rates known as Yen-LIBOR and Euroyen TIBOR. He claimed that he was injured after purchasing and trading a Euroyen TIBOR futures contract on a U.S.-based commodity exchange because the value of that contract was based on a distorted, artificial Euroyen TIBOR. Plaintiff brought claims under the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”), and the Sherman Antitrust Act, and sought leave to assert claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”).   The district court dismissed the CEA and antitrust claims and denied leave to add the RICO claims. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court erred by holding that the CEA claims were impermissibly extraterritorial, that he lacked antitrust standing to assert a Sherman Act claim, and that he failed to allege proximate causation for his proposed RICO claims.   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that fraudulent submissions to an organization based in London that set a benchmark rate related to a foreign currency—occurred almost entirely overseas. Here Plaintiff failed to allege any significant acts that took place in the United States. Plaintiff’s CEA claims are based predominantly on foreign conduct and are thus impermissibly extraterritorial. As such, the district court also correctly concluded that Plaintiff lacked antitrust standing because he would not be an efficient enforcer of the antitrust laws. Finally, Plaintiff failed to allege proximate causation for his RICO claims. View "Laydon v. Coöperatieve Rabobank U.A., et al." on Justia Law

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Jeff Trosen appealed a judgment and amended judgment awarding damages for a breach of contract claim to the Estate of Shirley Trosen and the Trosen Family Trust and dismissing Jeff’s counterclaim and third-party complaint. A dispute arose over Jeff’s lease of farmland from Shirley. The lease covered the farming seasons of 2017 through 2022. Partial payments were made in 2020 and 2021, leaving balances owed for those years. Shirley and the Trust sued Jeff for breach of contract and to cancel the lease. Jeff argued the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the breach of contract claim and by dismissing his counterclaim and third-party complaint. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the judgments. View "Trosen, et al. v. Trosen, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Cassandra Caron, Brandon Deane, Alison Petrowski, and Aaron Shelton, appealed a superior court order denying their request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunctive relief and dismissing their complaint. Plaintiffs sought, pursuant to RSA 282-A:127 (2010), to require defendants, the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security (NHES) and its Commissioner, to reinstate Pandemic Unemployment Assistance available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. On appeal, they argued the court erred when it construed RSA 282-A:127 as imposing no obligation on defendants to secure Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for New Hampshire citizens and, therefore, dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. Because the New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed with the trial court’s interpretation of RSA 282-A:127, the judgment was affirm. View "Caron et al. v. New Hampshire Dept. of Employment Security, et al." on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed a restitution order imposed in connection with his conviction for battery with serious bodily injury. The trial court ordered Defendant to pay restitution to the victim, L.W., including for various expenses she incurred in relocating away from her home where the assault took place. Defendant argues the restitution order here violates section 1202.4(f)(3)(I) because there was no verification by law enforcement or a mental health treatment provider supporting the necessity of L.W.’s relocation costs.   The Second Appellate District agreed with Defendant and reversed the order of restitution insofar as it included relocation expenses. The court explained that relocating away from Defendant and relocating to prevent Defendant from finding the victim again are two ways of saying the same thing, section 1202.4(f)(3)(I) applies regardless of which descriptor is used. To read the first sentence of section 1202.4, subdivision (f) as permitting imposition of moving-related costs for relocating away from Defendant without giving force to the verification requirement set forth in section 1202.4(f)(3)(I) renders section 1202.4(f)(3)(I) surplusage and a nullity. Section 1202.4(f)(3)(I) is undoubtedly an example of expenses subject to restitution, but when the facts fit the example set forth in section 1202.4(f)(3)(I), compliance with its terms is required. The court reasoned that did not occur here, and thus the failure to comply with this statutory requirement mandates reversal. View "P. v. Baudoin" on Justia Law