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Plaintiffs David and Hedda Schmidt appeal from a judgment entered in favor of defendants Citibank, N.A., as Trustee for Structured Asset Mortgage Investments II Trust 2007-AR3 Mortgage Pass Through Certificates Series 2007-AR3, and Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. (defendants). In January 2007, the Schmidts obtained a $1,820,000 loan, secured by a residence at 2415 Rue Denise in La Jolla, California (the Property). The deed of trust was assigned to Citibank, N.A., as Trustee for Structured Asset Mortgage Investments II Trust 2007-AR3 Mortgage Pass Through Certificates Series 2007-AR3. The Schmidts defaulted on the loan and entered into a loan modification agreement in February 2013 with their loan servicer at the time, JPMorgan Chase Bank. Within approximately seven months, the Schmidts defaulted on the loan modification agreement. The Schmidts would apply for and be denied loan modification every year from 2013 to 2017. They sued defendants, alleging violations of the Homeowners' Bill of Rights and Business and Professions Code section 17200, seeking to prevent the completion of a trustee's sale of their residence. The defendants moved for summary judgment and presented evidence of extensive and numerous telephone calls between the Schmidts and Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc., the loan servicer, during which the Schmidts' financial situation was discussed, as were possible options to avoid foreclosure. The trial court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment and entered judgment in their favor. On appeal, the Schmidts contended summary judgment should not have been granted because there remained triable issues of fact to be determined. The Court of Appeal disagreed and affirmed the judgment. View "Schmidt v. Citibank, N.A." on Justia Law

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A Settlement Agreement sought to end a longstanding, complex dispute dating from 2008. In 2008, environmental groups led by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (collectively, “SUWA”) challenged six resource management plans (“RMPs”) and associated travel management plans (“TMPs”) adopted by the United States Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”). Six other parties intervened as respondents, including the State of Utah and several counties in Utah (collectively, “Utah”). When BLM, SUWA, and multiple intervenors entered into a settlement and sought to dismiss the case in January 2017, Utah challenged the settlement. Utah contended, among other arguments, that the Settlement Agreement illegally codified interpretative BLM guidance into substantive rules, impermissibly binds the BLM to a past Administration’s policies, infringes valid federal land rights (known as “R.S. 2477 rights”), and violated a prior BLM settlement. The district court disagreed and approved the Settlement Agreement. On appeal to the Tenth Circuit, Utah sought to reverse the district court for primarily the same issues raised at trial. The Tenth Circuit concluded it lacked jurisdiction over the claims and dismissed. View "Southern Utah Wilderness v. Burke" on Justia Law

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Thomas Lanham appealed the dismissal of his legal malpractice action against his former attorney, Douglas Fleenor. Fleenor represented Thomas in a will contest regarding Thomas’s father. After the magistrate court ruled against Lanham at the summary judgment stage, Fleenor filed an untimely appeal, which was rejected on that basis. Because the appeal brought by Fleenor was untimely, Lanham brought a legal malpractice action against Fleenor in district court, alleging that the failure to timely appeal the magistrate’s ruling proximately caused him financial loss because he had a meritorious appeal that he never got to pursue due to Fleenor’s negligence. The district court dismissed Lanham’s legal malpractice claim, reasoning that a timely appeal by Fleenor would have been unsuccessful on the merits; hence, Lanham did not suffer any injury as a result of Fleenor’s alleged malpractice. Lanham argued on appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court that the interpretation of the will, in which the deceased attempted to disinherit Lanham, did not properly dispose of all of the estate because it did not contain a residuary clause. Lanham argued these failures should have resulted in various assets passing to him through intestate succession. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Lanham’s malpractice case. View "Lanham v. Fleenor" on Justia Law

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Dvorak’s suits contend that the defendants mishandled a capital call for a limited partnership in which he had invested. Dvorak’s first suit, in federal court, claiming diversity jurisdiction, named the partnership among the defendants. His lawyer failed to investigate the citizenship of other partners and overlooked that the suit did not come within federal subject-matter jurisdiction. Dvorak refiled the suit in state court. A state judge dismissed one of his claims on the merits. Rather than wait for a decision on his remaining claims, Dvorak dismissed the state suit and filed this third action in federal court, omitting both the partnership and the theory on which he had lost in state court. The district judge deemed Illinois law applicable and dismissed the third suit with prejudice. A plaintiff may dismiss a federal suit once without prejudice to refiling: “[I]f the plaintiff previously dismissed any federal- or state-court action based on or including the same claim, a notice of dismissal operates as an adjudication on the merits,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(B). Illinois follows the same rule, 735 ILCS 5/13-217. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal. The stipulated dismissal of Dvorak’s first federal suit counts under section 5/13-217, making the current suit his third. View "Dvorak v. Granite Creek GP Flexcap I, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Jacob McGehee and Steven Ray Heath appealed a district court’s grant of summary judgment to defendants Forest Oil Corp. and Lantern Drilling Co. Forest and Lantern leased a drilling device from Teledrift, plaintiffs’ employer, and returned the device after using it in drilling operations. Plaintiffs then proceeded to clean and disassemble it. McGehee discovered several small bolts had fallen into the device. While he attempted to remove them, the lithium battery inside the device exploded, injuring himself and Heath. They sued Forest and Lantern for negligently causing the explosion by allowing bolts to fall into the device. Following discovery, Forest and Lantern moved for summary judgment, which the district court granted, holding they did not owe the plaintiffs a duty of care under Oklahoma tort law. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "McGehee v. Southwest Electronic Energy" on Justia Law

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From 2009 until 2012, Debbi Potts worked as the campus director of the Cheyenne, Wyoming campus of CollegeAmerica Denver, Inc. (CollegeAmerica), a predecessor of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education, Inc. (the Center). Potts alleged she resigned because CollegeAmerica’s business practices were unethical. In particular, she alleges that CollegeAmerica violated its accreditation standards and “actively deceiv[ed]” its accreditor to maintain accreditation. In September 2012, Potts and CollegeAmerica entered a written agreement by which CollegeAmerica agreed to pay Potts $7,000 and support her unemployment claim, and Potts agreed to (1) “refrain from personally (or through the use of any third party) contacting any governmental or regulatory agency with the purpose of filing any complaint or grievance,” (2) “direct any complaints or issues against CollegeAmerica . . . to CollegeAmerica’s toll free compliant [sic] number,” and (3) “not intentionally with malicious intent (publicly or privately) disparage the reputation of CollegeAmerica.” Despite the agreement, Potts disparaged the Center in an e-mail she sent to another former employee. After learning of this, the Center sued Potts in Colorado state court for violating the agreement, seeking the $7,000 it had paid to Potts under the agreement. In February 2013, Potts sent a written complaint to the Center’s accreditor, the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), concerning the Center’s alleged deceptions in maintaining its accreditation. After learning this, the Center amended its state-court complaint to add breach of contract. In response, Potts sued the Center in federal district court, alleging that the Center’s state claim violated the False Claims Act’s anti-retaliation provision. The Tenth Circuit considered whether this anti-retaliation statute applied when no retaliatory discrimination occurred until after employment ends. The Court concluded that it did not, and affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Potts’s retaliation claim. View "Potts v. Center for Excellence" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether an order by the General Division of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas requiring Appellant, a Cuyahoga County court reporter, to submit sealed grand-jury materials for in camera court inspection was a final and appealable under Ohio Rev. Code 2505.02(B)(4). The Eighth District Court of Appeals dismissed Appellant’s appeal for lack of a final, appealable order, concluding that only when the trial court compelled disclosure of the materials would there be a final, appealable order for appellate review. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that an order for a trial court’s in camera inspection of grand-jury materials is not a final, appealable order. View "Daher v. Cuyahoga Community College District" on Justia Law

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In this property tax appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) concluding that the Marion County Board of Revision (BOR) and the River Valley Local School District Board of Education (school board) were barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel from seeking to enforce a recorded covenant that purported to prohibit Kohl’s Illinois, Inc., the property owner in this case, from contesting the Marion County auditor’s valuations of the property, holding that the BTA properly applied collateral estoppel. After the Supreme Court remanded this case in Kohl’s I, the BTA remanded the matter to the BOR to determine value. No appeal was taken from this decision. On remand at the BOR, Kohl’s introduced an appraisal report and testimony in support of a reduced value. When the BOR retained the auditor’s valuation, Kohl’s appealed. The BTA held that it had already decided not to enforce the covenant at issue in its earlier decision and that the BOR and school board were barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel from seeking enforcement of the covenant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the BTA did make a determination as to the covenant issue. View "Kohl's Illinois, Inc. v. Marion County Board of Revision" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Audubon Society of Greater Denver sought review of the Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of a project to store more water in the Chatfield Reservoir in Colorado. Audubon argued the Corps’ review and approval of the project failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act. The district court denied the petition for review after concluding that the Corps’ decision was not arbitrary or capricious. Audubon also moved to supplement the administrative record. The district court denied the motion because it found that the administrative record sufficiently informed the Corps’ analysis. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court. View "Audubon Society v. US Army Corps of Engineers" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Donald and Preston Sweet, who are father and son, sued defendants Roy and Catherine St. Pierre in June 2014 alleging that defendants failed to pay them wages for their work improving a stand of maple trees on defendants’ land for maple sugaring. Plaintiffs appealed the trial court’s judgment in favor of defendants on plaintiffs’ claim for unpaid wages under the Prompt Pay Act (PPA). Plaintiffs argued the trial court erred in concluding that no contract existed between the parties as required to support a PPA claim. Defendants cross-appealed, arguing the court should have awarded them attorney’s fees because they were the substantially prevailing party and erroneously excluded evidence relevant to their assault claim. The Vermont Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision on the merits, but reversed and remanded for it to award reasonable attorney’s fees to defendants. View "Sweet v. St. Pierre" on Justia Law