Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
Bristol SL Holdings, Inc. v. Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co.
Through a bankruptcy proceeding, Bristol became the successor-in-interest to Haven, an accredited mental-health and substance-abuse treatment center that regularly serviced patients insured by Cigna. Bristol alleged that Cigna violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and state law by denying Haven’s claims for reimbursement for services provided. Haven was out-of-network for Cigna’s insureds. The district court dismissed Bristol’s ERISA claim, as an assignee of a healthcare provider, for lack of derivative standing, or lack of authority to bring a claim under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(1)(B).The Ninth Circuit reversed. Under ERISA, a non-participant health provider cannot bring claims for benefits on its own behalf but must do so derivatively, relying on its patients’ assignments of their benefits claims. Other assignees also may have derivative standing if extending standing would align with the goal of ERISA. Refusing to allow derivative standing for Bristol would create serious perverse incentives that would undermine the goal of ERISA. Denying derivative standing to health care providers would harm participants or beneficiaries because it would discourage providers from becoming assignees and possibly from helping beneficiaries who were unable to pay up-front. View "Bristol SL Holdings, Inc. v. Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Childs v. San Diego Family Housing LLC
Childs leased military family housing at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, which was owned by SDFH, a public-private venture created by statute, in which the U.S. Navy is a minority LLC member. Lincoln managed the property. Childs reported water and mold problems to SDFH and Lincoln. The problems were not resolved. SDFH and Lincoln moved to dismiss Childs's subsequent lawsuit for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, arguing they were government contractors acting at the direction of the federal government, and therefore had derivative sovereign immunity. The district court denied their motion.The Ninth Circuit dismissed an appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. The district court’s order was not immediately appealable under the collateral order doctrine, under which an order that does not terminate the litigation is nonetheless treated as final if it conclusively determines the disputed question, resolves an important issue completely separate from the merits of the action, and is effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment. While the first two prongs were satisfied, the denial of derivative sovereign immunity was not effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment because denying an immediate appeal would not imperil a substantial public interest. The public interest underlying derivative sovereign immunity is extending the federal government’s immunity from liability, in narrow circumstances, to government agents carrying out the federal government’s directions. That interest could be vindicated after trial. View "Childs v. San Diego Family Housing LLC" on Justia Law
In the Matter of the Protective Proceeding of Amy D.
A mother no longer wished to serve as her adult daughter’s guardian due to fear of her daughter’s violence. The superior court held a hearing to determine whether to allow the mother to resign and appoint a public guardian from the Office of Public Advocacy (OPA) to serve as the daughter’s guardian instead. After a brief exchange, the superior court allowed the daughter to waive her right to counsel and consent to appointment of a public guardian. The Alaska Supreme Court reversed because the superior court did not sufficiently establish that the waiver of counsel was knowing and voluntary. View "In the Matter of the Protective Proceeding of Amy D." on Justia Law
Guy v. Providence Health & Services Washington
A patient sued a hospital after learning that a hospital employee intentionally disclosed the patient’s health information in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The patient alleged the disclosure breached the hospital’s contractual obligations to him. The superior court instructed the jury to return a verdict for the hospital if the jury found that the employee was not acting in the course and scope of employment when she disclosed the patient’s information. The jury so found, leading to judgment in the hospital’s favor. The Alaska Supreme Court found the jury instruction erroneously applied the rule of vicarious liability to excuse liability for breach of contract. "A party that breaches its contractual obligations is liable for breach regardless of whether the breach is caused by an employee acting outside the scope of employment, unless the terms of the contract excuse liability for that reason." The Court therefore reversed judgment and remanded for further proceedings, in particular to determine whether a contract existed between the patient and hospital and, if so, the contract’s terms governing patient health information. View "Guy v. Providence Health & Services Washington" on Justia Law
Baldwin County Sewer Service, LLC v. Gardens at Glenlakes Property Owners Association, Inc., et al.
In the first action ("the 2014 action"), The Gardens at Glenlakes Property Owners Association, Inc., Lake View Villas Association, Inc., Lake View Estates Property Owners Association, Inc., Glenlakes Unit One Property Owners Association, Inc., and Glenlakes Master Association, Inc. ("the Associations"), sued Baldwin County Sewer Service, LLC ("BCSS"), challenging a sewer-service rate increase. In the second action ("the 2017 action"), Dan Gormley, Mike Willis, Janet Maxwell, Larry Morgan, David Vosloh, and Dick Dayton ("the individual plaintiffs") sued BCSS, challenging the same rate increase. The trial court ultimately consolidated the actions in 2020, and it entered an order determining that the Associations and the individual plaintiffs were the real parties in interest in the actions. BCSS appealed that order. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the order was nonfinal, and could not support an appeal. View "Baldwin County Sewer Service, LLC v. Gardens at Glenlakes Property Owners Association, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Montgomery Piggly Wiggly, LLC, et al. v. Accel Capital, Inc.
Montgomery Piggly Wiggly, LLC ("Piggly Wiggly"), and Scott Scoggins appealed a circuit court order denying their motion to quash a garnishment proceeding filed by Accel Capital, Inc. ("the judgment creditor"). The Alabama Supreme Court determined the garnishment proceeding had advanced only to the discovery phase, and no final disposition occurred. "An order merely ruling on a motion to quash a garnishment proceeding, without condemning and distributing garnished funds, cannot support an appeal." Accordingly, the appeal in this case was premature and was dismissed. View "Montgomery Piggly Wiggly, LLC, et al. v. Accel Capital, Inc." on Justia Law
Ex parte Jason Grimmett.
A circuit court entered a judgment divorcing Jason Grimmett from April Grimmett on the ground of adultery by Jason, and divided the couple's marital property. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the judgment without an opinion, and Jason petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for certiorari review. The Supreme Court issued the writ to examine, among other things, a potential conflict in the law regarding whether adultery committed after a party files for divorce was a ground for divorce. Because the language chosen by the Legislature, specifying adultery as a ground for divorce, did not limit this ground to prefiling conduct, and because the Supreme Court's early cases distinguishing between prefiling and postfiling adultery had to be read in light of the procedural restrictions of equity practice under which they were decided, the Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment. View "Ex parte Jason Grimmett." on Justia Law
The Estate of Richard S. Daniels, by and through Julie Lyford in her capacity as Executor et al.
Plaintiff Richard Daniels appealed a trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants Attorney James Goss, Attorney Matthew Hart, and law firm Facey Goss & McPhee P.C. (FGM), arguing the court erred when it concluded he could not prove defendants caused his injury as a matter of law. Defendants represented plaintiff in a state environmental enforcement action where he was found liable for a hazardous-waste contamination on his property. On appeal, plaintiff claimed defendants failed to properly raise two dispositive defenses: the statute of limitations and proportional liability. After review, the Vermont Supreme Court concluded plaintiff would not have prevailed on either defense if raised and therefore affirmed the grant of judgment to defendants. View "The Estate of Richard S. Daniels, by and through Julie Lyford in her capacity as Executor et al." on Justia Law
Town of Pawlet v. Banyai
Landowner Daniel Banyai appealed an Environmental Division decision upholding a notice of violation, granting a permanent injunction, and assessing $46,600 in fines, relating to alleged zoning violations and the construction of a firearms training facility in the Town of Pawlet. Banyai argued he had a valid permit, certain exhibits were improperly admitted at the merits hearing, and the fines were excessive. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the Environmental Division's decision. View "Town of Pawlet v. Banyai" on Justia Law
Hennessy v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming an order of the circuit court that domesticated a Mexican judgment in favor of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., and against Daniel and Jane Hennessy, holding that Wells Fargo's judgment against the Hennessys was properly domesticated.On appeal, the Hennessys asserted that the circuit court erred in holding that the foreign judgment was valid and personally enforceable against them under Mexican law and erred in domesticating the Mexican judgment under principles of comity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Wisconsin principle that a foreign country's law must be proven before a circuit court as a question of fact is hereby affirmed; (2) the circuit court's interpretation of Mexican law was not clearly erroneous; and (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by choosing to recognize the Mexican judgment in Wisconsin. View "Hennessy v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law