Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Denver Homeless Out Loud, et al. v. Denver, Colorado, et al.
Various City of Denver officials, and certain State of Colorado officials, authorized and/or conducted sweeps of homeless encampments throughout Denver, Colorado. The advocacy organization, Denver Homeless Out Loud and several people experiencing homelessness (“DHOL Plaintiffs”), alleged these sweeps violated the rights of persons experiencing homelessness and breached a settlement agreement resolving related litigation. The DHOL Plaintiffs therefore filed this putative class action and corresponding motion for a preliminary injunction, asking the federal district court in Colorado to enjoin all sweeps or, in the alternative, require seven days’ advanced notice for all sweeps. The district court granted the motion in part after concluding the DHOL Plaintiffs’ procedural due process claim was likely to succeed on the merits. The district court then issued a preliminary injunction requiring the Denver Defendants to satisfy additional notice and procedural requirements before conducting future sweeps. The Denver Defendants filed an interlocutory appeal challenging the injunction. Finding that the district court abused its discretion in ruling the first preliminary injunction factor weighed in the DHOL Plaintiffs' favor (and ultimately granting the preliminary injunction), the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court's order. View "Denver Homeless Out Loud, et al. v. Denver, Colorado, et al." on Justia Law
Allen, Jr., et al. v. Environmental Restoration
During excavation of an inactive gold mine in southwestern Colorado, a blowout caused the release of at least three million gallons of contaminated water into Cement Creek. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) conceded its responsibility for the spill and its impacts. The State of New Mexico, the Navajo Nation, and the State of Utah separately filed civil actions, under the Clean Water Act, in New Mexico and Utah against the owners of the mine, the EPA, and the EPA’s contractors. Defendant Environmental Restoration, LLC moved to transfer the Utah case to the District of New Mexico for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings. The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation granted the motion and centralized proceedings in New Mexico. Later, the Allen Plaintiffs (individuals who farm land or raise livestock along the Animas River or San Juan River) filed a complaint in New Mexico that included state law claims of negligence, negligence per se, and gross negligence. The district court consolidated the Allen Plaintiffs’ suit, including the state law claims, into the Multidistrict Litigation. Defendant Environmental Restoration, LLC moved to dismiss the Allen Plaintiffs’ Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that the Allen Plaintiffs did not file their complaint within Colorado’s two-year statute of limitations and therefore they failed to state a claim. The district court denied the motion to dismiss, reasoning that New Mexico’s three-year statute of limitations applied to the Allen Plaintiffs’ state-law claims. The district court certified the issue for interlocutory appeal. The Tenth Circuit held that the district court had to apply the point source state’s statute of limitations to state law claims preserved under the CWA. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Allen, Jr., et al. v. Environmental Restoration" on Justia Law
OXY USA v. DOI, et al.
OXY USA, Inc. appealed a decision of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue (“ONRR”) ordering it to pay an additional $1,820,652.66 in royalty payments on federal gas leases that were committed to the Bravo Dome Unit (“the Unit”). The owner of the leases OXY subsequently acquired - Amerada Hess Corporation (“Hess”) - used almost all of the CO2 it produced in the Unit for its own purposes rather than sale. ONRR rejected Hess’s valuation method and established its own. Hess appealed, and ONRR’s Director issued a decision reducing the amount Hess owed but affirming the remainder of ONRR’s order. Hess appealed to the Interior Board of Land Appeals, but the Board did not issue a final merits decision prior to the 33-month limitations period. On appeal to the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, the district court rejected OXY’s challenge to the amount of royalties owed and affirmed the Director’s decision. Finding ONRR's interpretation and application of the marketable-condition rule to this case was not plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the applicable regulations, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. View "OXY USA v. DOI, et al." on Justia Law
Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah v. McKee, et al.
This case arose from a long-running irrigation-water dispute between Plaintiff Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation and Defendant Gregory McKee, who was not a member of the Tribe. Defendant owned non-Indian fee land within the Ute reservation’s exterior boundaries and used water from two irrigation canals flowing through his property. Plaintiff claimed the water belonged to the United States in trust for the Tribe. Plaintiff sued Defendant in the Ute tribal court, alleging that Defendant had been diverting the Tribe’s water for years, and won. Plaintiff then petitioned the district court to recognize and enforce the tribal-court judgment. But the district court dismissed the case after holding that the tribal court lacked jurisdiction to enter its judgment. Because the Tenth Circuit also concluded the tribal court lacked jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s dispute with a nonmember of the Tribe arising on non-Indian fee lands, it affirmed. View "Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah v. McKee, et al." on Justia Law
Seale v. Peacock
In late 2017, someone sent anonymous letters containing personal and derogatory information about appellant Bryan Seale to his acquaintances. In December 2018, Seale discovered that someone had accessed his real estate business software account without authorization. Seale brought this action asserting claims against: (1) his ex-husband and ex-employee, Gary Peacock, for accessing his real estate business account without authorization; and (2) unnamed defendants for sending the anonymous letters. The magistrate judge dismissed the claims in two separate orders: (1) granting with prejudice Peacock’s motion to dismiss the claims alleged against him for failure to state a claim; and (2) denying Seale’s motion to amend the complaint to substitute Peacock for the unnamed defendants and dismissed the remaining claims without prejudice. Seale appealed both orders. The Tenth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the magistrate court's order. Specifically, the Court affirmed dismissal of Seale’s Stored Communications Act (SCA) claim under Rule 12(b)(6). The Court affirmed the dismissal with prejudice of the statutory civil theft claim. The Court reversed and remanded the dismissal with prejudice of the SCA claim and the invasion of privacy by appropriation of name or likeness claim and instructed the magistrate court to dismiss these claims without prejudice. View "Seale v. Peacock" on Justia Law
Herrera, et al. v. City of Espanola, et al.
Appellants Darren Herrera and Paula Garcia purchased a home in the City of Espanola, New Mexico (the “City”). At the time Appellants purchased the home, the existing owner, Charlotte Miera, was not current on her water and sewer bill. Although the City initially provided water service to Appellants, it discontinued service in February 2017, and declined to recommence it until someone paid the water and sewer bill. In June 2020, Appellants filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and the New Mexico Tort Claims Act (“NMTCA”) based on the City’s refusal to provide them water service unless someone paid Miera’s bill. The City filed a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion, arguing the statute of limitations had elapsed before Appellants filed their action. Although Appellants conceded a three-year statute of limitations governed their section 1983 claims, and a two-year statute of limitations governed their NMTCA claim, they argued the limitations period had not expired on their claims because the City repeatedly denied their requests for water service between February 2017 and February 2020. They expressly relied on the continuing violation doctrine to extend the limitations period, and also argued facts consistent with the related repeated violations doctrine. The district court granted the City’s motion to dismiss. The Tenth Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part and reversed in part. The Court agreed with the district court that Appellants’ action first accrued no later than March 2017. Further, although it held the continuing violation doctrine was available within the section 1983 context, the Court concurred with the district court that it did not save Appellants’ claims against the City or their NMTCA claim. The Court found Appellants’ claims premised on the City’s alleged policy of conditioning water service to new property owners on the payment of bills owed by prior property owners was not time-barred under the repeated violation doctrine and Hamer v. City of Trinidad, 924 F.3d 1093 (10th Cir. 2019). View "Herrera, et al. v. City of Espanola, et al." on Justia Law
SEC v. GenAudio Inc., et al.
Taj Jerry Mahabub, founder and Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of GenAudio, Inc. (“GenAudio”; collectively referred to as “Appellants”) attempted to secure a software licensing deal with Apple, Inc. (“Apple”). Mahabub intended to integrate GenAudio’s three-dimensional audio software, “AstoundSound,” into Apple’s products. While Appellants were pursuing that collaboration, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) commenced an investigation into Mr. Mahabub’s conduct: Mahabub was suspected of defrauding investors by fabricating statements about Apple’s interest in GenAudio’s software and violating registration provisions of the securities laws in connection with sales of GenAudio securities. The district court found Mahabub defrauded investors and violated the securities laws. The court determined that Appellants were liable for knowingly or recklessly making six fraudulent misstatements in connection with two offerings of GenAudio’s securities in violation of the antifraud provisions of the securities laws. Appellants appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the SEC. View "SEC v. GenAudio Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Eighteen Seventy, et al. v. Jayson
Over four years, Plaintiffs-Appellants Eighteen Seventy, LP and the Marie Kennedy Foundation (the “Kennedy Entities” or “Entities”) lost more than $10 million they invested in CRUPE Pte. Ltd. (“CRUPE”) and its subsidiaries. CRUPE was a foreign company organized under the laws of Singapore and managed in Zurich, Switzerland. Believing that CRUPE’s co-founder and CFO, Defendant-Appellee Richard Jayson, induced their investment losses through misrepresentations and material omissions, the Kennedy Entities sued Jayson for gross negligence and breach of fiduciary duty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming. The Entities, both of which had their principal place of business in Wyoming, averred that Jayson surreptitiously used their financial support to compensate himself and another company co-founder while failing to provide the Kennedy Entities with information about CRUPE’s viability and the true nature of their investments. Jayson, a domiciliary and resident of the United Kingdom, moved to dismiss the Kennedy Entities’ suit, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), arguing that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over him. The district court agreed with Jayson and dismissed the complaint. The Kennedy Entities appealed appeal, claiming the district court erred when it held Jayson lacked the requisite minimum contacts with Wyoming to afford the court personal jurisdiction. They contended Jayson purposefully directed activities at Wyoming by preparing investment documents that encouraged the Kennedy Entities’ investments and by communicating with the Entities’ owners about the investments. These contentions notwithstanding, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s dismissal of this case for want of personal jurisdiction. “Although the Kennedy Entities meet the first prong of the purposeful direction test, they fail to satisfy the second: that is, they fail to show that Mr. Jayson expressly aimed his conduct at Wyoming.” View "Eighteen Seventy, et al. v. Jayson" on Justia Law
Wells Fargo Bank v. Mesh Suture, et al.
Plaintiff Wells Fargo Bank filed a statutory-interpleader action after facing conflicting demands for access to the checking account of Mesh Suture, Inc. Mark Schwartz, an attorney who founded Mesh Suture with Dr. Gregory Dumanian, was named as a claimant-defendant in the interpleader complaint but was later dismissed from the case after the district court determined that he had disclaimed all interest in the checking account. The district court ultimately granted summary judgment to Dr. Dumanian as the sole remaining claimant to the bank account, thereby awarding him control over the funds that remained. Schwartz appealed, arguing: (1) the district court lacked jurisdiction over the case because (a) there was not diversity of citizenship between him and Dr. Dumanian and (b) the funds in the checking account were not deposited into the court registry; (2) he did not disclaim his fiduciary interest in the checking account, and (3) the award of funds to Dr. Dumanian violated various rights of Mesh Suture. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court judgment. View "Wells Fargo Bank v. Mesh Suture, et al." on Justia Law
Northern New Mexico Stockman, et al. v. United States Fish & Wildlife Service, et al.
In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service exercised its authority under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to designate nearly 14,000 acres of riparian land in New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona as critical habitat for the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse. Two New Mexico ranching associations whose members graze cattle on the designated land challenged the Service’s critical habitat determination. The district court rejected each argument and upheld the Service’s critical habitat designation. After review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed, concluding: (1) the Service’s method for assessing the economic impacts of critical habitat designation complied with the ESA; (2) the Service adequately considered the effects of designation on the ranching association members’ water rights; and (3) the Service reasonably supported its decision not to exclude certain areas from the critical habitat designation. View "Northern New Mexico Stockman, et al. v. United States Fish & Wildlife Service, et al." on Justia Law