Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Tims filed a class-action lawsuit against Black Horse, his former employer, alleging violations of the Biometric Information Privacy Act (740 ILCS 14/15(a)), concerning the retention and deletion of biometric information, and sections 15(b) and 15(d), concerning the consensual collection and disclosure of biometric identifiers and biometric information. The Cook County circuit court denied a motion to dismiss the complaint as untimely, reasoning that it was timely filed because the five-year limitations period (Code of Civil Procedure section 13-205) applied to the Act, which does not contain a limitations period. Tims subsequently amended his complaint to name an additional class representative. Black Horse moved to reconsider its motion to dismiss and to certify, for immediate appeal, the question of which limitations period controlled. The circuit court certified the question. The appellate court allowed the interlocutory appeal and held that the one-year limitations period (section 13-201) governs actions under section 15(c) and 15(d) of the Act and that the five-year limitations period governs actions under section 15(a), 15(b), and 15(e) of the Act.The Illinois Supreme Court held that the five-year default limitations period governs claims under the Act, noting the need to ensure certainty, predictability, and uniformity as to when the limitations period expires in each subsection. View "Tims v. Black Horse Carriers, Inc." on Justia Law

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Citizen groups challenged the Bureau of Land Management’s (“BLM”) environmental assessments (“EAs”) and environmental assessment addendum analyzing the environmental impact of 370 applications for permits to drill (“APDs”) for oil and gas in the Mancos Shale and Gallup Sandstone formations in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico. These challenges came after a separate but related case in which the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded to the district court with instructions to vacate five EAs analyzing the impacts of APDs in the area because BLM had failed to consider the cumulative environmental impacts as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). BLM prepared an EA Addendum to remedy the defects in those five EAs, as well as potential defects in eighty-one other EAs that also supported approvals of APDs in the area. Citizen Groups argued these eighty-one EAs and the EA Addendum violated NEPA because BLM: (1) improperly predetermined the outcome of the EA Addendum; and (2) failed to take a hard look at the environmental impacts of the APD approvals related to greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions, water resources, and air quality. BLM disagreed, contending the challenges to some of the APDs were not justiciable because the APDs had not yet been approved. The district court affirmed the agency action, determining: (1) Citizen Groups’ claims based on APD’s that had not been approved were not ripe for judicial review; (2) BLM did not unlawfully predetermine the outcome of the EA Addendum; and (3) BLM took a hard look at the environmental impacts of the APD approvals. The Tenth Circuit agreed with BLM and the district court that the unapproved APDs were not ripe and accordingly, limited its review to the APDs that had been approved. Turning to Citizen Groups’ two primary arguments on the merits, the appellate court held: (1) BLM did not improperly predetermine the outcome of the EA Addendum, but, even considering that addendum; (2) BLM’s analysis was arbitrary and capricious because it failed to take a hard look at the environmental impacts from GHG emissions and hazardous air pollutant emissions. However, the Court concluded BLM’s analysis of the cumulative impacts to water resources was sufficient under NEPA. View "Dine Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, et al. v. Haaland, et al." on Justia Law

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While working as a standup forklift operator, Anderson hit a bump and fell onto the floor. The forklift continued moving and ran over her leg; the resulting injuries necessitated its amputation. Anderson sued the forklift’s manufacturer, Raymond, alleging that the forklift was negligently designed. The parties disputed the admissibility of the testimony of Dr. Meyer, one of Anderson’s experts. Meyer believed that Raymond could have made several changes to its design that would have prevented Anderson’s accident. Meyer’s primary suggestion was a door to enclose the operating compartment, which would prevent operators from falling into the forklift’s path. Like other standup forklift manufacturers, Raymond offers doors as an option but does not fit doors to its forklifts as standard, claiming that a door could impede the operator’s ability to make a quick exit if the forklift runs off a loading dock or begins to tip over. The district court concluded that Meyer’s opinion about a door was inadmissible because it did not satisfy Federal Rule of Evidence 702 or the “Daubert” test but admitted Meyer’s opinions on other potential design improvements.The Seventh Circuit reversed a judgment in Raymond's favor. The exclusion of Meyer’s opinion was substantially prejudicial to Anderson’s case. Meyer has a “full range of practical experience," academic, and technical training and his methodology rested on accepted scientific principles, Raymond’s critiques go to the weight his opinion should be given rather than its admissibility. View "Anderson v. Raymond Corp." on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed a judgment of the district court committing him to the custody of the Attorney General for medical care and treatment under 18 U.S.C. Section 4246. The court found that Defendant presently suffered from a mental disease or defect as a result of which his release from custody posed a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person or serious damage to the property of another.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the findings underlying the commitment were not clearly erroneous. The court explained that the district court’s finding that Defendant posed a substantial risk to persons or property was adequately supported in the record. The court relied on the unanimous recommendation of the experts. The experts observed that the most reliable predictor of future violence is past violence, and they detailed Defendant’s history of random and unpredictable violent actions. The court further found that the parties have not made a sufficient showing to justify sealing the briefs in this appeal. View "United States v. Dewayne Gray" on Justia Law

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Suspecting that Troconis-Escovar was involved in the illegal drug business, the DEA searched his vehicle. Agents found $146,000 in cash, which they believed represented drug proceeds. DEA notified Troconis-Escovar that it intended to effect an administrative forfeiture of the funds (to declare them to be government property). Illegal drug proceeds are eligible for civil forfeiture under 21 U.S.C. 881(a)(6), subject to the procedural safeguards of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. 983. Troconis-Escovar’s attorney tried to contest the forfeiture, but filed the wrong form—a “petition for remission” rather than a “claim.” Only a claim may be used to challenge a proposed forfeiture. After the mistake was discovered, DEA gave Troconis-Escovar an extra 30 days to supplement his petition for remission. Troconis-Escovar did not do so and lost the money. He filed a Motion for the Return of Property under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(g).The district court dismissed his lawsuit, finding that it lacked jurisdiction. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The dismissal was correct, but not because jurisdiction was lacking. Troconis-Escovar does not explain why he should be able to obtain relief outside section 983 when Congress expressly conditioned relief from civil forfeiture on circumstances that do not apply to him. He did not explain his argument about the untimeliness or sufficiency of the DEA’s notice. View "Troconis-Escovar v. United States" on Justia Law

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Jawbone sued Google for patent infringement in the Western District of Texas after being assigned ownership of the nine asserted patents and seven months after being incorporated in Texas. Jawbone rents space in Waco to store documents relating to the patents, from which it conducts some distribution and sales activities. No Jawbone personnel work at any location in the Western District. Google moved under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) to transfer the action to the Northern District of California, arguing that: the relevant technical aspects of the accused earbuds, smartphones, speakers, displays, and software products were researched, designed, and developed at Google’s headquarters within Northern California; the technology underlying the asserted patents assigned to Jawbone was likewise developed and prosecuted in Northern California; witnesses and sources of proof (prototypes, Google’s key personnel, and four of the six named inventors) were primarily located in Northern California; no witnesses or sources of proof were located in Western Texas.The Federal Circuit ordered the district court to grant the motion. The center of gravity of this action, focusing on the “Volkswagen factors” and the overriding convenience inquiry, is clearly in the Northern District of California, not in the Western District of Texas. Four factors favor transfer and four factors are neutral. No factor weighs against transfer. View "In Re Google LLC" on Justia Law

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The government served Appellant with three subpoenas directed at three business entities for which he is the document custodian. The subpoenas commanded the companies to appear and testify before the Grand Jury, produce documents, and certify that the records satisfied the business records exception to the hearsay rule. Appellant moved to quash the subpoenas and asserted a Fifth Amendment act-of-production privilege, arguing the requested documents could incriminate him as the sole manager, registered agent, owner, and operator of the companies. The district court denied Appellant’s motion and, since Appellant refused to comply with the subpoenas, found Appellant in civil contempt. The district court stayed issuance of sanctions pending appeal.   The Eleventh Circuit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because the district court has not yet imposed noncontingent sanctions. The court explained that the court’s precedents requiring a sanction to be imposed contemporaneously with a finding of contempt in order to be directly appealable are not inconsistent with the directives in United States v. Ryan. View "In re: Grand Jury Subpoena" on Justia Law

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The Partnership filed a contract claim in a Chinese court against Wan, his company, and his brother. The Chinese court entered a default judgment against Wan after he failed to appear. A year later, the Partnership filed a complaint in the Central District of Illinois, seeking enforcement of the Chinese judgment under the Illinois foreign judgment recognition law, predicating subject matter jurisdiction on diversity of citizenship. The district court, determining that the Chinese judgment was enforceable under Illinois law, granted the Partnership summary judgment.The Seventh Circuit vacated, finding the factual predicates for the district court’s jurisdiction not established firmly in the existing record. The Partnership, which had the burden on the issue, failed to present “competent proof” of its citizenship; it did not present any evidence establishing its citizenship or the citizenship of its several partners. The Partnership submitted a declaration by its employee who stated simply that it “is and was domiciled in Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, People’s Republic of China.” However, a partnership does not have a “domicile” for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. Rather, to establish subject matter jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship, the citizenship of each partner must be established. There is no evidence to support a finding of complete diversity. View "Yancheng Shanda Yuanfeng Equity Investment Partnership v. Wan" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Alive Church of the Nazarene, Inc. (the “Church”) purchased 17 acres of land — zoned primarily for agricultural use — on which the Church sought to conduct religious assemblies. After Defendant Prince William County, Virginia (the “County”), denied the Church’s request to worship on its property before the Church complied with the zoning requirements, the Church initiated a lawsuit in district court. By its Complaint, the Church has alleged six claims against the County — three claims under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), and three federal constitutional claims. For reasons explained in its Memorandum Opinion of November 2021, the district court dismissed those claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.   The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that allowing religious institutions to conduct worship services does not further the purpose of the Agricultural Zoning Ordinance — that is, to promote farming. Specific to the Church, allowing services would not increase its ability to continue farming its land. Accordingly, the court wrote it cannot agree with the Church that it is similarly situated to farm wineries and limited-license breweries with regard to the Ordinance. The Church has failed to meet its initial burden of proof by providing a similarly situated comparator with which it has been treated unequally, and has thereby failed to state an RLUIPA equal terms claim. View "Alive Church of the Nazarene, Inc. v. Prince William County, Virginia" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, employees at the Maid-Rite meatpacking plant, were exposed to COVID-19 in 2020. Maid-Rite issued masks and face shields but allegedly forced workers to work shoulder-to-shoulder. Plaintiffs sent OSHA an inspection request on May 19. Two days later, OSHA requested a response from Maid-Rite within a week, treating the inspection request as “non-formal,” so that it initially proceeded through document exchange. On May 27, Plaintiffs asserted that they continued to face an imminent danger of COVID-19; they also contacted OSHA on June 2, requesting Maid-Rite’s response and reasserting that conditions had not changed. They sent OSHA another letter on June 29th. On July 8, OSHA informed Maid-Rite that OSHA would inspect the plant the following day. OSHA acknowledged that advance notice of an inspection was not “typical,” but cited the need “to protect [OSHA’s] employees” from COVID-19. Plaintiffs claimed the notice allowed Maid-Rite to direct its employees to change their conduct and created the appearance of compliance with mitigation guidance. OSHA determined that the plant's conditions did not constitute an imminent danger and did not seek expedited relief.Plaintiffs sued under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. 662(d), limited private right of action. While OSHA’s motion to dismiss was pending, OSHA concluded its standard enforcement proceedings and declined to issue a citation. The Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, holding that the Act mandated the dismissal of the claim once enforcement proceedings were complete. View "Doe v. Scalia" on Justia Law