Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries
Johnson v. Preleski
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's dismissal of Petitioner's petition for a new trial brought against Respondent, the state's attorney, as time barred, holding that the Appellate Court improperly disregarded the remedial purpose of Conn. Stat. Ann. 52-593a in concluding that the successful fax transmission of process to the state marshal is not personal delivery as contemplated by the savings statute. Petitioner was convicted of murder and sentenced to forty-five years imprisonment. Petitioner subsequently sought to file a petition for a new trial on the basis of newly discovered evidence. Respondent claimed that the petition as time barred because Petitioner did not serve process on him until one day after the expiration of the three-year limitation period. The trial court agreed, determining that there was no proof of timely delivery of process to the state marshal for purposes of section 52-593a because the state marshal did not endorse the date of delivery, and Petitioner failed to provide support for the proposition that a fax constituted personal delivery as a matter of law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Petitioner satisfied the personal delivery requirement via successfully faxing process to the state marshal for service. View "Johnson v. Preleski" on Justia Law
West Pleasant-CPGT, Inc. v. U.S. Home Corporation
In 2005, U.S. Home Corporation entered into a contract to purchase two contiguous tracts of land, one of which was owned by West Pleasant-CPGT, Inc. Under the contract, West Pleasant and the other landowner were to gain certain approvals permitting development of the properties. Pursuant to the contract, U.S. Home paid advances to the landowners totaling over $1.5 million. As security for the advances, West Pleasant executed a mortgage and note on its property; the other landowner did not. When a contract dispute arose in 2006, U.S. Home sought to terminate the contract and get a return of its total advance. U.S. Home prevailed in arbitration and was awarded a judgment in the full amount of the advance, plus interest. The Appellate Division affirmed the judgment in 2009. When the judgment was not satisfied, U.S. Home commenced foreclosure actions against the properties. The foreclosure proceedings were stayed when West Pleasant and the other property owner filed for bankruptcy. In West Pleasant’s bankruptcy action, U.S. Home moved to dismiss and for relief from the automatic stay. West Pleasant and U.S. Home executed a Consent Order, in which West Pleasant dismissed its bankruptcy proceeding, waived a fair market valuation and its right to object to a sheriff’s sale of its property, and released U.S. Home from any claims in law or equity. U.S. Home never proceeded with any deficiency action against either landowner. Nonetheless, the landowners commenced the affirmative litigation that gave rise to this appeal, seeking a declaration that the arbitration award was fully satisfied, as well as compensation “in the amount of the excess fair market value of the properties obtained by defendant U.S. Home over the amount of its outstanding judgment.” The second property owner then assigned its rights to West Pleasant. After trial, the court valued the second property as worth almost $2.4 million and West Pleasant’s property as worth almost $2 million. The court ordered U.S. Home to pay the fair market value of the West Pleasant property, plus interest, and extinguished the arbitration award on the second property. On appeal, the Appellate Division determined that West Pleasant had waived its right to a fair market valuation on its property but that it was owed a fair market value credit for the second property. The Appellate Division remanded the matter to the trial court for recalculation of damages. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed, finding use of fair market value credit by this debtor to obtain a money judgment against a creditor, in the absence of a deficiency claim threatened or pursued or any objection being raised at the time of the sheriff’s sales, was "inconsistent with sound foreclosure processes and, moreover, inequitable in the circumstances presented." The judgment of the Appellate Division was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "West Pleasant-CPGT, Inc. v. U.S. Home Corporation" on Justia Law
McAlpine v. Norman
Plaintiff Christi McAlpine filed a medical malpractice action against defendant Dr. Daniel Norman for injuries she suffered as a result of colonoscopies performed on her in 2015. In 2018, with trial approaching, Norman filed a summary judgment motion, supported by a declaration from an expert who reviewed McAlpine’s medical records, and opined that Norman’s actions were within the standard of care. McAlpine opposed the motion, but did not submit a competing expert opinion. While the summary judgment motion was pending, McAlpine sought leave to amend her complaint. The trial court denied leave to amend and granted summary judgment. McAlpine appealed the grant of summary judgment and the order denying her motion for leave to amend, arguing that the expert declaration presented in support of the motion for summary judgment was conclusory and insufficient to meet the initial burden for summary judgment. She also argued the trial court abused its discretion in denying her request for leave to amend. The Court of Appeal found no abuse of discretion in the order denying leave to amend, but agreed the trial court improperly granted summary judgment based on an expert opinion unsupported by factual detail or reasoned explanation. Accordingly, the Court reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "McAlpine v. Norman" on Justia Law
Little v. Kia Motors America, Inc.
Plaintiff Regina Little asserted claims on her own behalf and on behalf of other New Jersey owners and lessees of 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000 Kia Sephia vehicles distributed by defendant Kia Motors America, Inc., alleging that those vehicles had a defective brake system. The central question in this appeal was whether the trial court properly permitted plaintiff’s theory of damages based on the cost of brake repairs to be asserted classwide, supported only by aggregate proofs. The jury determined that defendant had breached its express and implied warranties and that the class had sustained damages. The jury found that the class members had suffered $0 in damages due to diminution in value but that each class member had sustained $750 in damages “[f]or repair expenses reasonably incurred as a result of the defendant’s breach of warranty.” The trial court granted defendant’s motion to decertify the class as to the quantum of damages each individual owner suffered. The parties cross-appealed. The Appellate Division reversed the trial court’s post-trial determinations, reinstated the jury’s award for out-of-pocket repair costs based on plaintiff’s aggregate proofs, and remanded for an award of attorneys’ fees. The appellate court held that, notwithstanding the jury’s rejection of plaintiff’s diminution-in-value theory, the trial court should have ordered a new trial on both theories of damages, which it found were not “fairly separable from each another.” Although aggregate proof of damages can be appropriate in some settings, the New Jersey Supreme Court considered such proof improper as presented in this case. The trial court erred when it initially allowed plaintiff to prove class-members’ out-of-pocket costs for brake repairs based on an estimate untethered to the experience of plaintiff’s class. The trial court properly ordered individualized proof of damages on plaintiff’s brake-repair claim based on the actual costs incurred by the class members. Thus, the trial court’s grant of defendant’s motions for a new trial and for partial decertification of the class were a proper exercise of its discretion. View "Little v. Kia Motors America, Inc." on Justia Law
Investors Bank v. Torres
Defendant Javier Torres signed a promissory note (Note) secured by a residential mortgage (Mortgage). Torres defaulted on the Note. CitiMortgage, Inc., discovered that it had lost the original Note but had retained a digital copy setting forth its terms. CitiMortgage assigned the Mortgage and its interest in the Note to plaintiff Investors Bank (Investors). In this appeal, the issue presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court's review was whether Investors could enforce the Note. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court: Investors Bank could enforce the note. Relying on two statutes addressing assignments, N.J.S.A. 2A:25-1 and N.J.S.A. 46:9-9, as well as common-law assignment principles, the Court held Investors had the right as an assignee of the Mortgage and transferee of the Note to enforce the Note. The Court construed N.J.S.A. 12A:3-309 to address the rights of CitiMortgage as the possessor of a note or other instrument at the time that the instrument was lost, but not to supplant New Jersey assignment statutes and common law in the setting of this appeal or to preclude an assignee in Investors’ position from asserting its rights according to the Note’s terms. Read together, "N.J.S.A. 12A:3-309, N.J.S.A. 2A:25-1, and N.J.S.A. 46:9-9 clearly authorized the assignment and entitled Investors to enforce its assigned Mortgage and transferred Note." View "Investors Bank v. Torres" on Justia Law
Fitbit, Inc. v. Valencell, Inc.
Valencell’s patent, entitled “Methods and Apparatus for Generating Data Output Containing Physiological and Motion-Related Information,” concerns systems for monitoring information such as blood oxygen level, heart rate, and physical activity. Apple sought inter partes review (IPR) of claims 1–13. The Patent Board instituted review of several claims but denied review of claims 3–5. Fitbit then filed an IPR petition for claims 1, 2, and 6–13 and moved for joinder with Apple’s IPR. The Board granted Fitbit’s petition, terminating Fitbit’s separate proceeding. The Supreme Court then held that all patent claims challenged in an IPR petition must be reviewed by the Board if the petition is granted. The Board re-instituted conducted further proceedings and issued a Final Written Decision, finding claims 1, 2, and 6–13 unpatentable, and claims 3–5 not unpatentable. Following the decision, Apple withdrew from the proceeding. Valencell challenged Fitbit’s right to appeal as to claims 3–5. The Federal Circuit held that Fitbit has a right to appeal but vacated as to claims 3–5. Fitbit’s rights as a joined party apply to the entire proceedings and include the right of appeal, conforming to the statutory purpose of avoiding redundant actions by facilitating consolidation, while preserving statutory rights, including judicial review. The court remanded for review of the patentability of claims 3-5 in light of claims of obviousness. View "Fitbit, Inc. v. Valencell, Inc." on Justia Law
In re: Application and Petition of Hanwei Guo
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition for discovery pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782(a), seeking discovery from four investment banks related to their work as underwriters in the Tencent Music IPO. Petitioner alleged that he intended to use the documents in his pending CIETAC arbitration against the Ocean Entities and its founder. 28 U.S.C. 1782(a) authorizes federal courts to compel the production of materials "for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal" upon "the application of any interested person." In In National Broadcasting Co. v. Bear Stearns & Co., 165 F.3d 184 (2d Cir. 1999) ("NBC"), the court held that the phrase "foreign or international tribunal" does not encompass "arbitral bod[ies] established by private parties." The court held that nothing in the Supreme Court's decision in Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., 542 U.S. 241 (2004), alters its prior conclusion in NBC that section 1782(a) does not extend to private international commercial arbitrations. Furthermore, the arbitration at issue here is a non-covered, private, international commercial arbitration. View "In re: Application and Petition of Hanwei Guo" on Justia Law
Monadnock Regional School District v. Monadnock District Education Association, NEA-NH
Defendant Monadnock District Education Association, NEA-NH (the Association) appealed a superior court order granting summary judgment to plaintiff Monadnock Regional School District (the District), and denying the Association’s cross-motion for summary judgment. The superior court ruled that $392,381 in unexpended appropriations set aside over a period of four years pursuant to the parties’ collective bargaining agreement had lapsed. The New Hampshire Supreme Court determined the funds at issue did not lapse because they were encumbered by an enforceable obligation for their expenditure that arose prior to the end of the fiscal years for which they were appropriated. The Court therefore reversed trial court's ruling to the contrary. View "Monadnock Regional School District v. Monadnock District Education Association, NEA-NH" on Justia Law
Firefighters’ Retirement System v. Citco Group, Ltd.
Plaintiffs, a group of Louisiana pension funds, filed suit against various defendants for their alleged involvement in a Ponzi scheme. The district court later entered summary judgment for a set of defendants—the Citco Group and various related entities. The Funds then voluntarily dismissed one defendant without prejudice and then resolved all remaining claims either by settlement or default judgment. The Fifth Circuit dismissed the appeal for want of appellate jurisdiction, holding that Williams v. Taylor Seidenbach, Inc., 958 F.3d 341, 343 (5th Cir. 2020) (en banc), was controlling in this case. In Williams, the court held that there is no final decision if a plaintiff voluntarily dismisses a defendant without prejudice, because the plaintiff is entitled to bring a later suit on the same cause of action. Furthermore, under Rule 54(b), in a suit against multiple defendants, there is no final decision as to one defendant until there is a final decision as to all defendants. In this case, the only difference between this case and Williams is the order of dismissals after the adverse decision. The Funds voluntarily dismissed one defendant without prejudice and then adjudicated their claims against other defendants. The court explained that that is a distinction without a difference. View "Firefighters' Retirement System v. Citco Group, Ltd." on Justia Law
Boulder County Commissioners v. Suncor Energy
The issue this case presented for the Tenth Circuit's review centered on whether federal court was the proper forum for a suit filed in Colorado state court by local governmental entities for the global warming-related damage allegedly caused by oil and gas companies in Colorado. Suncor Energy and ExxonMobil advanced seven bases for federal subject matter jurisdiction in removing the action to federal court, each of which the district court rejected in its remand order. Suncor Energy and ExxonMobil appealed, reiterating six of those bases for federal jurisdiction. After review, the Tenth Circuit held that 28 U.S.C. 1447(d) limited its appellate jurisdiction to just one of them: federal officer removal under 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1). And because the Court concluded ExxonMobil failed to establish grounds for federal officer removal, the Court affirmed the district court’s order on that basis and dismissed the remainder of this appeal. View "Boulder County Commissioners v. Suncor Energy" on Justia Law