Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
Baltrusaitis v. United Auto Workers
In 2011, the automaker FCA transferred the work that plaintiffs (engineers) had previously performed at FCA’s company headquarters to a new location. The plaintiffs filed a grievance with their union, UAW, in 2016. UAW failed to pursue it. In 2017, plaintiffs filed essentially the same grievance, but UAW again did not pursue it. By this time, plaintiffs had learned of a massive bribery scheme involving FCA and UAW; they believed that those bribes had affected the 2011 job-relocation process and UAW’s treatment of their grievances. In 2018, plaintiffs filed the same grievance again. Nearly two years later, UAW found the grievance meritorious.Plaintiffs sued FCA, UAW, and individual defendants in 2020, raising claims under the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. 185(a), and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claims as untimely under the LMRA’s six-month limitations period. Plaintiffs pursuing a hybrid LMRA claim must sue once they “reasonably should know that the union has abandoned” their claim. Plaintiffs learned of their RICO injuries as early as 2011 and learned of the bribery allegations in 2017 but waited until 2020 to file their complaint, with no explanation for the delay. View "Baltrusaitis v. United Auto Workers" on Justia Law
Zilka v. Tax Review Bd. City of Phila.
In April 2017 and June 2017, Appellant Diane Zilka filed petitions with the Philadelphia Department of Revenue (the “Department”), seeking refunds for the Philadelphia Tax she paid from 2013 to 2015, and in 2016, respectively. During the relevant tax years, Appellant resided in the City, but worked exclusively in Wilmington, Delaware. Thus, she was subject to four income taxes (and tax rates) during that time: the Philadelphia Tax; the Pennsylvania Income Tax (“PIT”); the Wilmington Earned Income Tax (“Wilmington Tax”); and the Delaware Income Tax (“DIT”). The Commonwealth granted Appellant credit for her DIT liability to completely offset the PIT she paid for the tax years 2013 through 2016; because of the respective tax rates in Pennsylvania versus Delaware, after this offsetting, Appellant paid the remaining 1.93% in DIT. Although the City similarly credited against Appellant’s Philadelphia Tax liability the amount she paid in the Wilmington Tax — specifically, the City credited Appellant 1.25% against her Philadelphia Tax liability of 3.922%, leaving her with a remainder of 2.672% owed to the City — Appellant claimed that the City was required to afford her an additional credit of 1.93% against the Philadelphia Tax, representing the remainder of the DIT she owed after the Commonwealth credited Appellant for her PIT. After the City refused to permit her this credit against her Philadelphia Tax liability, Appellant appealed to the City’s Tax Review Board (the “Board”). The issue this case presented for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's review as whether, for purposes of the dormant Commerce Clause analysis implicated here, state and local taxes had to be considered in the aggregate. The Court concluded state and local taxes did not need be aggregated in conducting a dormant Commerce Clause analysis, and that, ultimately, the City’s tax scheme did not discriminate against interstate commerce. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the Commonwealth Court order. View "Zilka v. Tax Review Bd. City of Phila." on Justia Law
Keim v. Above All Termite & Pest Control
Above All Termite & Pest Control ("Above All") employed Henry Keim as a salaried pest-control technician and provided him with an employer authorized vehicle for work use. Above All’s policy limited the quantity of supplies technicians could keep in their authorized vehicles overnight. When technicians needed to replenish supplies, Above All authorized them to drive their vehicles to Above All’s shop instead of driving directly to a worksite, to retrieve whatever they required, and then to go from the shop to the scheduled sites. On the morning of the accident, Keim clocked in, received his schedule, and concluded that his vehicle lacked sufficient supplies. On his way to the shop for supplies, Keim sustained injuries in a car accident. The Judge of Compensation dismissed Keim’s claim petition with prejudice, concluding that Keim was merely commuting to work when he sustained injuries. The Appellate Division applied the “authorized vehicle rule” and reversed the dismissal order. The New Jersey Supreme Court concurred with the appellate court, finding Keim was “in the course of employment” under the “authorized vehicle rule” at the time of the accident because Above All authorized a vehicle for him to operate and his operation of that identified vehicle was for business expressly authorized by Above All. View "Keim v. Above All Termite & Pest Control" on Justia Law
Boucher v. Town of Moultonborough
Plaintiff Jason Boucher appealed a superior court order granting defendant Town of Moultonborough's (Town) motion to dismiss. He contended that: (1) the court erred in finding that he failed to exhaust administrative remedies under RSA 41:48 (Supp. 2022); and (2) he has stated a claim for which relief may be granted. Plaintiff served as a police officer for the Town for nineteen years, mostly in a full-time capacity. At the time he filed his complaint, he most recently held the rank of sergeant. Up until the final four months of his employment, no formal disciplinary actions had been taken against him while employed by the Town’s police department. Due to his past involvement in assisting local officers to form a union, and his previous support of a candidate for police chief that the Board of Selectmen (Board) opposed, plaintiff believed the Board did not support him. In early 2020, the police chief retired and was replaced by an interim police manager “who was under the direct control of the [Board].” Shortly thereafter, plaintiff became “the subject of serial internal investigations orchestrated by” the interim manager and the lower-ranking officer “for simply attempting to conduct the ordinary business of a police Sergeant.” In total, plaintiff was subjected to four investigations over six weeks. According to plaintiff, the interim manager’s conduct “was very clearly aimed at undermining and isolating him.” In May 2021, plaintiff filed suit alleging one count of “Constructive Termination in Violation of RSA 41:48.” The court reasoned that if plaintiff “considers himself a terminated officer in violation of RSA 41:48, even if only constructively, it logically follows that he is required to follow the procedures contained within RSA 41:48.” The Town represented at oral argument that there were several processes plaintiff could have followed to attempt exhaustion, including requesting a hearing before the Board, articulating the issue to the Board, or “engaging” with the Board informally. Yet, the New Hampshire Supreme Court found none of these processes were set forth in the plain language of RSA 41:48. Accordingly, the Court found the trial court erred in its dismissal of plaintiff's case, and reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Boucher v. Town of Moultonborough" on Justia Law
Morley v. IDOL
Moranda Morley lost one of her two jobs due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Morley applied for and received state unemployment compensation benefits and federal pandemic unemployment assistance through the Idaho Department of Labor. However, it was later determined that Morley was ineligible for benefits because she was still employed full-time at her other job. Morley appealed that determination to the Appeals Bureau of the Idaho Department of Labor, which affirmed her ineligibility. Morley then appealed to the Idaho Industrial Commission (“the Commission”), which dismissed Morley’s initial appeal and later denied her request for reconsideration, finding both to be untimely. Morley then appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court, but her notice of appeal was timely only as to the denial of her request for reconsideration. Thereafter, the Supreme Court issued an order dismissing the appeal as to the issues that were determined to be untimely. What remains was a limited review of whether the Commission properly denied her request for reconsideration. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s denial of reconsideration. View "Morley v. IDOL" on Justia Law
Women’s Care Specialists, P.C. v. Potter
Consolidated appeals arose from an employment dispute between Dr. Margot Potter and her former employer, Women's Care Specialists, P.C. ("Women's Care"), and out of a dispute between Potter and three Women's Care employees: Dr. Karla Kennedy, Dr. Elizabeth Barron, and Beth Ann Dorsett ("the WC employees"). In case no. CV-21-903797, Potter alleged claims of defamation, tortious interference with a business relationship, and breach of contract against Women's Care. In case no. CV-21-903798, Potter alleged claims of defamation and tortious interference with a business relationship against the WC employees. After the cases were consolidated by the circuit court, Women's Care and the WC employees moved to compel arbitration on the basis that Potter's claims were within the scope of the arbitration provision in Potter's employment agreement with Women's Care and that the arbitration provision governed their disputes even though Potter was no longer a Women's Care employee. The trial court denied those motions. In appeal no. SC-2022-0706, the Alabama Supreme Court held Potter's breach of-contract claim and her tort claims against Women's Care were subject to arbitration. In appeal no. SC-2022-0707, the Court likewise held Potter's tort claims against the WC employees were subject to arbitration. The trial court's orders were denied and the cases remanded for further proceedings. View "Women's Care Specialists, P.C. v. Potter" on Justia Law
Protective Life Insurance Company v. Jenkins
Protective Life Insurance Company ("Protective") appealed a circuit court judgment dismissing its action against Andrew Chong Jenkins pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Ala. R. Civ. P. Jenkins was an executive employed by Protective at its corporate headquarters in Birmingham. In October 2019, Jenkins gave notice to Protective that he was terminating his employment. A month after the notice's effective date, $105,230 was entered into Protective's accounting system as the amount of deferred compensation owed to Jenkins. In reality, Protective owed Jenkins only $1,052.30. After Protective deducted taxes and withholdings, Jenkins was mistakenly overpaid by $73,752.64. Protective asserted the reason for the two-digit mistake was a data-entry error. Protective's payroll department discovered the error and communicated this fact to Jenkins, ultimately sending him a letter detailing the overpayment and asking him to repay the money. When he didn't return the money, Protective Life filed suit, asserting claims of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, money paid by mistake, and account stated. Jenkins moved to dismiss, arguing, among other things, that Protective's claims were barred under the two-year statute of limitations contained in § 6-2-38(m), Ala. Code 1975. The circuit court granted the motion to dismiss, finding that the purpose of the action was to recover wages and, thus, that it was barred under § 6-2-38(m). Protective unsuccessfully moved to vacate, and appealed. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the statute of limitations contained in § 6-3-38(m) is inapplicable to this case. Accordingly, the circuit court's judgment was reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Protective Life Insurance Company v. Jenkins" on Justia Law
Ex parte Insurance Express, LLC, et al.
Petitioners Insurance Express, LLC ("Insurance Express"), Wayne Taylor, and Julie Singley sought a writ of mandamus to direct a circuit court to vacate an order staying the underlying action against defendants Lynne Ernest Insurance, LLC ("LEI"), Lynne Ernest, Chynna Ernest, and Deadra Stokley. According to the complaint, Lynne and Stokley were longtime employees of Insurance Express. It alleged that they, while still employed by Insurance Express, entered Insurance Express's office after business hours and, without authorization, made electronic copies of various business records related to Insurance Express's clients and insurance policies. Lynne and Stokley resigned soon after and began employment with LEI, which purportedly had been formed by Lynne and Chynna and was a direct competitor of Insurance Express. Lynne and Stokley, it is alleged, then induced some Insurance Express clients to transfer their policies to LEI. Insurance Express sought injunctive relief to, among other things, prevent defendants from communicating with past or current customers of Insurance Express and to require defendants to return any customer information taken by them. It further sought damages for breach of contract, conversion, intentional interference with business relations, breach of fiduciary duty, and civil conspiracy. After review, the Alabama Supreme Court found petitioners established they had a clear legal right to the relief they sought. The Court granted their petition and directed the trial court to vacate its order granting a stay. View "Ex parte Insurance Express, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Ex parte Morgan, et al.
Dr. William Morgan, Dr. Carol Zippert, Morris Hardy, Leo Branch, Sr., and Carrie Dancy, each of whom is or was a member of the Greene County Board of Education ("the Board"), petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Greene Circuit Court to enter a summary judgment in their favor on the individual-capacity claims asserted against them by Dr. Rhinnie B. Scott. Scott had been an employee of the Board for over two decades. For most of that time, she served as "Vocational Director." During the 2007-2008 school year, Scott was asked by the president of the Board at that time, Elzora Fluker, to serve as "Acting Principal" at Greene County High School ("GCHS"). During a search for a school principal in the 2010-2011 school year, Scott was tapped to serve as "Instructional Leader" for GCHS in addition to her regular function of Vocational Director. The purpose of such designation was for Dr. Scott to serve as the leader of the school until a principal was selected. At the time of that decision, the period of time of the designation was thought to be only a few weeks at most. Problems arose, however, with the selection, and Dr. Scott ended up having to serve in the position for the entire 2010-2011 school year. Scott filed a grievance with the Board in 2014 concerning her claim that she had not been compensated for her service as "Instructional Leader," which she deemed to be service as the de facto acting principal, at GCHS during the 2010-2011 school year. Additionally, Scott presented a claim that she had been "underpaid by approximately $1,664.00" each year since 2007 because, she asserted, the Board had "inadvertently reduc[ed] the annual pay for the Vocational Director." The Board denied Scott's grievance claims. Because Scott conceded that no genuine issues of material fact remained to be decided with respect to her individual-capacity claims against the Board members, the Board members were entitled to summary judgment concerning those remaining claims. Therefore, the Supreme Court granted the Board members' petition for a writ of mandamus. View "Ex parte Morgan, et al." on Justia Law
In Re: TikTok, Inc.
A writ of mandamus is reserved for extraordinary circumstances. TikTok, Incorporated, and various related entities contend that the district court’s denial of their motion to transfer to the Northern District of California was so patently erroneous that this rare form of relief is warranted. The district court denied Petitioners’ motion to transfer after finding that five of the eight factors were neutral, and three weighed against transferring to California.The Fifth Circuit granted the petition for writ of mandamus, finding that denying Petitioners’ motion to transfer was a clear abuse of discretion. The court explained that in the district court’s view, Petitioners’ large presence in the Western District of Texas raises an “extremely plausible and reasonable inference” that these employees possess some relevant documents. But the district court cannot rely on the mere fact that Petitioners have a general presence in the Western District of Texas because Volkswagen commands courts to assess its eight factors considering the circumstances of the specific case at issue. Further, the court explained that under Volkswagen’s 100-mile threshold, the Northern District of California is a clearly more convenient venue for most relevant witnesses in this case. The district court committed a clear abuse of discretion in concluding otherwise. View "In Re: TikTok, Inc." on Justia Law