Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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Robert Rabe worked as a pipefitter in an Atchison Topeka & Sante Fe Railroad (“ATSF”) repair shop. In that capacity, he replaced pipe insulation on passenger cars manufactured by The Budd Company (“Budd”). Rabe died from malignant mesothelioma. Nancy Little, individually and as personal representative of Rabe’s estate, brought state common-law tort claims against Budd, claiming Rabe died from exposure to asbestos-containing insulation surrounding the pipes on Budd-manufactured railcars. A jury ruled in Little’s favor. On appeal, Budd contended Little’s state tort claims were preempted by the Locomotive Inspection Act (“LIA”), under a theory that all passenger railcars were “appurtenances” to a complete locomotive. The Tenth Circuit determined that because Budd did not raise this issue before the district court, and because Budd did not seek plain-error review, this particular assertion of error was waived. Alternatively, Budd contended Little’s tort claims were preempted by the Safety Appliance Act (“SAA”. The Tenth Circuit determined that assertion was foreclosed by the Supreme Court’s decision in Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Co. v. Georgia, 234 U.S. 280 (1914). Therefore, finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Little v. Budd Company" on Justia Law

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Intellisoft sued Acer in California state court, asserting state law claims, including misappropriation of trade secrets. After more than three years of litigation, Acer sought to plead a patent inventorship counterclaim under federal law and thereafter removed the action to a federal district court, which denied Intellisoft’s motion to remand and later entered final judgment in favor of Acer. The Federal Circuit reversed. Removal was not proper under 28 U.S.C. 1441. Acer’s arguments do not establish that Intellisoft’s trade secret claim necessarily raised patent law issues. Intellisoft did not need to establish patent infringement to prove trade secrets misappropriation. A plaintiff’s reliance on a patent as evidence to support its state law claims does not necessarily require the resolution of a substantial patent question. Removal was not proper under section 1454, which requires that the claim supporting removal must be contained in an operative pleading. Acer’s cross-complaint was not operative, the counterclaim was never “asserted” under section 1454. View "Intellisoft, Ltd. v. Acer America Corp." on Justia Law

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Myco believed its competitor, BlephEx, made false and misleading statements about Myco’s product and whether it infringed BlephEx’s patent, entitled “Method and Device for Treating an Ocular Disorder.” The district court preliminarily enjoined BlephEx from making allegations of patent infringement and from threatening litigation against Myco’s potential customers. The Federal Circuit reversed. Federal law requires a showing of bad faith before a patentee can be enjoined from communicating his patent rights. A showing of “bad faith” must be supported by a finding that the claims asserted were objectively baseless. There was no adequate basis to conclude that allegations of patent infringement would be false or misleading. Even if the injunction were narrowly tailored to allegations of infringement and threats of litigation against Myco’s potential customers, the “medical practitioner immunity” provision of 35 U.S.C. 287(c) does not blanketly preclude a patent owner from stating that a medical practitioner’s performance of a medical activity infringes a patent. Myco asked the court to assume, without any supporting evidence, that a doctor would have interpreted general statements as an accusation of patent infringement and a threat of litigation against the doctor herself. View "Myco Industries, Inc. v. Blephex, LLC" on Justia Law

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Jimmy Leftwich, Jr., appealed a circuit court's denial of his motion for a new trial in his negligence action against Steven Brewster. Leftwich alleged that Brewster breached a duty to competently inspect a house that Leftwich purchased. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Brewster. On appeal, Leftwich contended the trial court erred in failing to disqualify two jurors for cause and that the trial court erroneously excluded vital evidence that provided estimated costs to repair the home. After review, the Alabama Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed the judgment of the trial court. View "Leftwich v. Brewster" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the decision of the probate and family court judge's dismissal of Petitioner's third petition for adoption due to lack of jurisdiction, holding that the probate and family court had both subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. Petitioner was the biological father of the child at issue and was named as the child's parent on her birth certificate. Petitioner lived outside of the United States with his same-sex partner and the child, where the child was born outside of marriage to a gestational carrier, the child's birth mother, who lived in Massachusetts. Mother signed a surrender form indicating her desire to surrender the child to the care and custody of Father. Thereafter, Father filed three petitions in the probate and family court seeking to establish his status as the child's sole legal parent. Each petition was rejected. Father appealed the denial of his third petition, which was rejected on the basis that the court lacked jurisdiction. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that the probate and family court had subject matter jurisdiction under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 210, 1 and personal jurisdiction over the parties in this case. View "In re Adoption of Daphne" on Justia Law

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Theresa Driskell, with the help of an insurance agent, submitted applications for a life insurance policy and a disability income rider. When reviewing the application, the insurance company discovered Driskell was ineligible for the disability income rider. So it issued her a life insurance policy that varied from her application: a policy that did not provide disability income. Driskell received this policy and reviewed it. She did not reject or return it. Instead, she accepted the policy and began making premium payments. Nearly three years later, Driskell made a claim with the insurer for disability income. Because the policy did not include a disability income rider, the insurer denied her claim. Driskell sued the insurer, citing her expectation of disability income coverage. The insurer moved for summary judgment, which the trial judge denied. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted the insurer’s interlocutory appeal to decide if summary judgment was wrongly denied. After review, the Court determined it was clear the policy issued to Driskell and accepted by her did not include a disability income rider. Therefore, it reversed the denial of summary judgment and rendered a judgment in the insurer’s favor. View "Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co. v. Driskell" on Justia Law

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Appellants Eric Early and his election committee, Eric Early for Attorney General 2018 (collectively, Early), appealed the denial of their petition for writ of mandate to preclude respondent Xavier Becerra from running for Attorney General in 2018. Early contended that Becerra, appointed Attorney General by former Governor Brown in 2016, was not eligible for the office under Government Code section 12503. Becerra was an “inactive” member of the California State Bar from 1991 to the end of 2016. Government Code section 12503 provided: “No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General unless he shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state for a period of at least five years immediately preceding his election or appointment to such office.” Early argues that an “inactive” attorney may not practice law in California and therefore is not “admitted to practice” under Government Code section 12503. The Court of Appeal disagreed, finding both active and inactive attorneys were members of the State Bar. The phrase “admitted to practice” referred to the event of admission to the bar and the status of being admitted, and did not require engagement in the “actual” or “active” practice of law. Becerra did not cease to be “admitted to practice” in California when he voluntarily changed his status to “inactive.” View "Early v. Becerra" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Robert Weimer, Jr., purchased real property in Carnelian Bay in 1993. He refinanced the mortgage in 2006 with a loan from defendant Bank of America, N.A. (BANA). After defaulting, plaintiff entered into a loan modification process with BANA. Subsequently, loan servicing was transferred, successively, to defendants Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC (SLS) and Nationstar Mortgage, LLC (Nationstar). According to plaintiff, BANA, SLS, and Nationstar successively each engaged in deliberate and negligent misconduct in the loan modification process. In 2014, BANA transferred beneficial interest in the loan to defendant U.S. Bank, N. A. (U.S. Bank), as trustee for the Certificateholders of Banc of America Funding Corporation Mortgage Pass Through Certificates Series 2007-7. Eventually, Nationstar, acting as U.S. Bank’s agent, recorded a notice of trustee’s sale and had an agent enter onto the property and change the locks. After plaintiff commenced this action, BANA, U.S. Bank, and Nationstar demurred to a first amended complaint. The trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend as to BANA, concluding that the action against it was time-barred. As to the other defendants, the court sustained the demurrer with leave to amend. Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint, asserting intentional and negligent misrepresentation, negligence, trespass to land, seeking declaratory relief, and asserting violations of the unfair competition law. U.S. Bank and Nationstar demurred, SLS separately demurred, and the trial court sustained the demurrers without leave to amend. On appeal, plaintiff contended the trial court erred in concluding that the action against BANA was time-barred because BANA’s actions were part of a civil conspiracy with the other defendants, and the timeliness of plaintiff’s action against BANA must be measured from the last overt act. Plaintiff further asserted the trial court erred in sustaining the demurrers to the second amended complaint because he sufficiently stated each cause of action. Furthermore, plaintiff asserted the trial court should have granted him leave to amend, however, he largely contended his complaint required no amendment. In the unpublished portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal concluded that the action as asserted against BANA was indeed time-barred. The Court further concluded plaintiff sufficiently stated causes of action sounding in intentional and negligent misrepresentation and violations of the unfair competition law against the remaining defendants. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court concluded the remaining defendants had a duty of care and that plaintiff sufficiently stated a cause of action for negligence against them. Therefore, the Court reversed the judgments of dismissal as to U.S. Bank, SLS, and Nationstar and reversed the orders sustaining the demurrers as to the causes of action in the second amended complaint for intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, and violations of the unfair competition law. In all other respects, the judgments were affirmed. View "Weimer v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a voluntary dismissal with prejudice generally conveys "prevailing party" status upon the defendant for purposes of an award of attorney fees and costs under Nev. Rev. Stat. 18.010(2) and Nev. Rev. Stat. 18.020, but district courts should consider the circumstances surrounding the voluntary dismissal with prejudice in determining whether the dismissal conveys prevailing party status. The Residences at MGM Grand - Tower A Owners' Association (the Association) was sued after it was discovered that a unit at The Signature at MGM Grand had mold damage. The Association requested dismissal from the case because it was not a proper party to the action. Eventually, the parties stipulated to dismiss the Association from the case with prejudice. Thereafter, the Association moved for attorney fees and costs. The Trust argued that the Association could not be considered a prevailing party because the case had not proceeded to judgment. The district court concluded that the Association was the prevailing party and awarded attorney fees and costs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that under the facts of this case, the dismissal with prejudice was substantively a judgment on the merits, and therefore, the Association was a prevailing party for purposes of sections 18.010(2) and 18.020. View "145 East Harmon II Trust v. Residences at MGM Grand" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (Convention) does not apply when parties have agreed to waive formal service of process in favor of a specified type of notification. Defendant, a company based in China, and Plaintiff entered into a contract providing that the parties would submit to the jurisdiction of California courts and to resolve disputes between them through California arbitration. The parties further agreed to provide notice and service of process to each other through Federal Express or a similar courier. Plaintiff later sought arbitration. Defendant neither responded nor appeared for the arbitration, and the arbitrator awarded Plaintiff $414,601,200. Defendant moved to set aside default judgment for insufficiency of service of process, arguing that Plaintiff's failure to comply with the Convention rendered the judgment confirming the arbitration award void. The motion was denied. The court of appeal reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Convention applies only when the law of the forum state requires formal service of process to be sent abroad; and (2) because the parties' contract constituted a waiver of formal service under California law in favor of an alternative form of notification, the Convention does not apply. View "Rockefeller Technology Investments (Asia VII) v. Changzhou SinoType Technology Co." on Justia Law