FindLaw Opinion Summaries - Civil Procedure

Daily civil procedure case summaries, brought to you by FindLaw.com.

Freestream Aircraft (Bermuda) Ltd. v. Aero Law Group

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that Nevada could constitutionally exercise personal jurisdiction over defendants who allegedly defamed an aircraft company at an aviation industry conference in Las Vegas. The defendants contended that the suit must be dismissed because they lacked minimum contacts with Nevada. Disagreeing, the Ninth Circuit reversed dismissal of the complaint. The panel also clarified what it described as the circuit's confusing case law as to the proper analytical approach to specific jurisdiction.
Posted: September 18, 2018, 8:00 am

Plixer International, Inc. v. Scrutinizer GMBH

(United States First Circuit) - Held that the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction over a German company in a trademark infringement action did not violate due process. The German company, which operated an English-language website, argued that it lacked the requisite minimum contacts with the United States. Disagreeing, the First Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling that the exercise of personal jurisdiction was constitutional.
Posted: September 13, 2018, 8:00 am

In re G.C.

(California Court of Appeal) - Dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The appellant contended that the juvenile court must expressly declare whether her Vehicle Code offenses were felonies or misdemeanors. However, the California Sixth Appellate District concluded that she failed to file a proper notice of appeal, expressing disagreement with the Fourth Appellate District's resolution of a similar issue in In re Ramon M., 178 Cal. App. 4th 665 (2009).
Posted: September 12, 2018, 8:00 am

Long v. SEPTA

(United States Third Circuit) - Held that job applicants had legal standing to pursue claims that a prospective employer violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by failing to send them copies of their background checks. The employer argued that the job applicants lacked standing because they alleged a bare procedural violation of the statute but no concrete injury in fact. Disagreeing, the Third Circuit reversed the district court in relevant part and remanded.
Posted: September 10, 2018, 8:00 am

Rynearson v. Ferguson

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that a constitutional challenge to Washington's cyberstalking law should not have been dismissed on grounds of abstention. Due to certain online postings, the plaintiff was the subject of a state court stalking protection order. He responded by filing an action in federal court seeking a declaration that Washington's cyberstalking law is unconstitutional. Reversing and remanding, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court erred in applying the doctrine to abstain from hearing the case.
Posted: September 7, 2018, 8:00 am

Brown v. Sage

(United States Third Circuit) - Held that a federal prisoner could proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) with a lawsuit alleging that prison employees violated his constitutional rights. The district court had denied the prisoner's IFP request, applying the so-called three strikes rule of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Reversing, the Third Circuit held that the prisoner had not accrued three strikes. The panel used its own precedent to evaluate whether his prior lawsuits were frivolous, malicious, or failed to state a claim, rather than that of the circuit from which the potential strikes emanated.
Posted: September 7, 2018, 8:00 am

InfoSpan, Inc. v. Emirates NBD Bank PJSC

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that there was no basis for personal jurisdiction over a United Arab Emirates bank in a commercial dispute with a technology firm. The firm argued that the bank had waived its personal-jurisdiction defense through its litigation conduct. Disagreeing, the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded with directions to dismiss the case because the bank lacked sufficient minimum contacts with the U.S.
Posted: September 7, 2018, 8:00 am

Martinez v. Landry's Restaurants, Inc.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed the dismissal of a wage-hour lawsuit because the plaintiff-employees failed to bring the case to trial within five years, as extended. The plaintiffs argued that the trial court made reversible errors in calculating the California Code of Civil Procedure's mandatory five-year period for bringing cases to trial. Unconvinced, the California Second Appellate District affirmed dismissal of the suit.
Posted: August 28, 2018, 8:00 am

Williams v The Pep Boys

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed in part and remanded. Plaintiffs, the surviving children of decedent J.D. Williams who died of mesothelioma allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos in brakes purchased from defendant. A San Francisco trial court found for defendants as to claims barred by statute of limitations and that damage awards on remaining claims were offset by settlements before trial. The California First District Appellate court affirmed the statute of limitations and the offset of damages, but reversed the decision not to award damages for home health services and the award of expert fees under a section 998.
Posted: August 23, 2018, 8:00 am

Vooys v. Bentley

(United States Third Circuit) - Dismissed a petition for certiorari review of a decision of the Virgin Islands Supreme Court due to lack of appellate jurisdiction. The defendant asked the Third Circuit to exercise its authority to review the Virgin Islands high court's decision in a breach-of-contract case. In an en banc ruling, the Third Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal because Congress has terminated its jurisdiction over certiorari petitions filed after December 28, 2012, regardless of when the case was originally filed.
Posted: August 21, 2018, 8:00 am

Murray v. City of Philadelphia

(United States Third Circuit) - Dismissed an appeal filed in a civil rights case by the estate of a man who was shot and killed by police officers. As the administrator of the estate, the man's mother filed suit alleging that the officers had used excessive force. When the jury returned a verdict in favor of the officers, she appealed pro se. Dismissing her appeal on grounds that she had filed it without counsel, the Third Circuit held that a non-attorney who is not a beneficiary of an estate may not conduct a case pro se on behalf of the estate.
Posted: August 21, 2018, 8:00 am

Paysys International, Inc. v. Atos IT Services Ltd.

(United States Second Circuit) - Held that a plaintiff was entitled to withdraw its motion to voluntarily dismiss a case. The district court had said the plaintiff must pay the defendant's attorney fees pursuant to a contractual fee-shifting provision if it wanted to voluntarily dismiss the case. On appeal, the Second Circuit agreed with the plaintiff that it was entitled to withdraw its motion and continue litigating the case rather than acquiesce to the court's terms for voluntary dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2).
Posted: August 20, 2018, 8:00 am

Levingston v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.

(California Court of Appeal) - Reinstated an optometrist's whistleblower lawsuit after her attorneys failed to file an opposition to a motion for summary judgment. The optometrist's new attorneys did not file an opposition to a summary judgment motion after they were substituted into the case following the disqualification of her former attorneys, leading the trial court to find inexcusable neglect and grant summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Reversing, the Fourth Appellate District held that the optometrist was entitled to a continuance to file an opposition to the summary judgment motion.
Posted: August 17, 2018, 8:00 am

In Re: Power Integrations, Inc.

(United States Federal Circuit) - Denied petitions for writ of mandamus. Plaintiff sought a writ challenging the decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board denying the institution of inter partes review of claims from three patents owned by Semiconductor Components industries, LLC.
Posted: August 16, 2018, 8:00 am

Labatte v. US

(United States Federal Circuit) - Reversed and remanded where the plaintiff appealed from a judgment of the Court of Federal Claims which had dismissed his complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. In reversing and remanding, the Federal Circuit held that the court erred in concluding that it lacked jurisdiction.
Posted: August 16, 2018, 8:00 am

Luminara Worldwide, LLC v. IANCU

(United States Federal Circuit) - Vacated in part and affirmed in part. Plaintiff owns patents for making flameless candles. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board held that certain claims by plaintiff were unpatentable and some claims were time barred. The Federal Circuit vacated the time barred decision as to one of the claims and affirmed the Board’s decision as to the other claims.
Posted: August 16, 2018, 8:00 am

Khoja v. Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc.

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Reversed in part the dismissal of a securities fraud class action alleging that a biotechnology firm misrepresented to investors the status of a clinical drug trial. An investor brought this suit contending that the company and certain top executives violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court erred in part in dismissing the complaint for failure to state a claim. The panel also ruled that the district court abused its discretion in judicially noticing certain facts and in incorporating certain documents into the complaint.
Posted: August 13, 2018, 8:00 am

Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively

(United States First Circuit) - Held that a defendant who won a summary judgment motion could not appeal to challenge unflattering statements found in the trial judge's opinion. In this tort lawsuit brought by a Ugandan gay-rights organization, the defendant religious leader successfully obtained summary judgment by arguing lack of extraterritorial jurisdiction but then appealed. The First Circuit concluded that a winner cannot appeal a judgment merely because there are passages in the court's opinion that displease him or her.
Posted: August 10, 2018, 8:00 am

Lopez-Catzin v. Thank You and Good Luck Corp.

(United States Second Circuit) - Vacated the district court's order that sua sponte revoked supplemental jurisdiction and dismissed a state law wage-hour case. Upon learning mere weeks before a scheduled trial that the plaintiffs would be relying solely on state law for their wage-hour claims, the judge issued an order revoking its exercise of supplemental jurisdiction and dismissed their case without affording the parties notice or an opportunity to be heard. On appeal, the Second Circuit held that this was an abuse of discretion.
Posted: August 8, 2018, 8:00 am

LandWatch San Luis Obispo Co. v. Cambria Comm. Serv. Dist.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed and published a previously unpublished opinion in which a non-profit organization petitioned for a writ against a public agency and elected to prepare the administrative record, but it never did so and the agency prepared it instead. The trial court found for the agency and awarded costs for preparing the record.
Posted: July 27, 2018, 8:00 am

Weinstein v. Blumberg

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed an order which had granted discovery sanctions on the ground that the sanctions were based upon an untimely motion. After the trial court imposed sanctions on a party, the party argued that the sanctions order should be reversed because the motion to compel that led the court to impose the sanctions was untimely. The Second Appellate District agreed, explaining that although the motion itself was served within the statutory deadline, the brief and other required supporting papers for the motion were not.
Posted: July 17, 2018, 8:00 am

L.G. v. M.B.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion brought by a wife who had been sued by a former nanny for defamation and other torts for allegedly making negative statements about her in a marital dissolution action. The wife's anti-SLAPP motion sought to dismiss the nanny's suit on the ground that statements made in judicial proceedings are privileged and nonactionable. However, in denying the wife's anti-SLAPP motion, the appellate court held that under the so-called divorce proviso the statements in question were not shielded, even though they also appeared in a request for a domestic violence restraining order.
Posted: July 13, 2018, 8:00 am

Pellegrino v. Transportation Security Admin.

(United States Third Circuit) - Affirmed the dismissal of tort claims against the Transportation Safety Administration brought by a married couple after an airport screening, on the grounds that the claims were barred by sovereign immunity. While the Federal Tort Claims Act waives sovereign immunity for certain intentional torts committed by investigative or law enforcement officers, in addressing a question of first impression, the Third Circuit determined that TSA screeners do not fall into either category so no waiver applied.
Posted: July 11, 2018, 8:00 am

National Asian American Coalition v. Brown

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed in part and reversed in part a decision concerning California's budget. The Governor and other state officials must retransfer $331 million from the state's General Fund to its National Mortgage Settlement Deposit Fund. The NMS Deposit Fund was created from monies California received from the settlement of a lawsuit it filed against large mortgage servicers in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis that began in 2007. In affirming, the appeals court held that separation of powers principles did not preclude a court from ordering the immediate return of these funds, which had been unlawfully appropriated for purposes inconsistent with the NMS.
Posted: July 10, 2018, 8:00 am

Caldera v. Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed an order granting a new trial in an employment discrimination case where a jury awarded a correctional officer $500,000 on his claim that he was severely harassed at work because he stuttered. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation requested a new trial on the issue of damages, which the trial court granted on its finding that the damages award was excessive. However on appeal, the Fourth Appellate District concluded that a new trial was not legally required and it reversed the new-trial order, affirming the judgment in all other respects.
Posted: July 9, 2018, 8:00 am

Kiobel v. Cravath, Swain & Moore, LLP

(United States Second Circuit) - Reversed an order which had allowed the plaintiff to subpoena documents from a U.S. law firm for use in litigation against Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands. The appeals court held that Shell's American counsel should not be compelled to deliver documents that would not be discoverable abroad and that were in counsel's hands solely because they were sent to the U.S. for the purpose of American litigation. The appeals court further determined that the district court abused its discretion under 28 U.S.C. section 1782 when it permitted the plaintiff to subpoena the documents.
Posted: July 9, 2018, 8:00 am

Padda v. Superior Court (GI Excellence, Inc.)

(California Court of Appeal) - Granted a peremptory writ of mandate. In an employment-related contract dispute involving physicians, the trial court should have granted a continuance of trial when the plaintiffs' expert witness became ill, the California Fourth Appellate District held.
Posted: July 6, 2018, 8:00 am

Fisher v. State Personnel Bd.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed the dismissal of a former administrative law judge by the State Personnel Board for performing legal work on the side for a law firm actively litigating cases before the SPB. The appeals court found that there was no legitimate grounds to challenge his dismissal.
Posted: July 6, 2018, 8:00 am

ACLU v. DOJ

(United States Second Circuit) - Vacated and remanded the district court's partial grant of summary judgment motions filed by both the plaintiff and defendant (government) in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit seeking lethal drone strike documentation that plaintiff initiated in 2011. In this latest appeal by the government the issue was whether the wording of the district court's order needed to keep a certain fact secret. The Second Circuit held that no decision need have been made by the district court regarding the certain fact.
Posted: July 5, 2018, 8:00 am

Clientron Corp. v. Devon IT Inc.

(United States Third Circuit) - Vacated and remanded. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, the district court was not required to shield a company's co-owner from a sanction imposed on her co-owner husband due to his discovery misconduct.
Posted: July 5, 2018, 8:00 am

Jameson v. Desta

(Supreme Court of California) - Reversed and remanded an order that had granted non-suit in favor of the defendant in a malpractice action against the defendant doctor for medical treatment that plaintiff received while incarcerated. Plaintiff qualified for a waiver of court filing fees because of his financial means which also qualified him for a waiver of court reporter fees, but the trial court did not provide him with a court reporter when it granted non-suit because of its policy to only provide court reports when paid for by the litigants. In reversing non-suit, the California Supreme Court determined that the failure to provide a court reporter and provide a record of the decision was not a harmless error.
Posted: July 5, 2018, 8:00 am

Lopez v. Sony Elec.Inc

(Supreme Court of California) - Reversed the trial court order which had granted summary judgment for defendant in a case where plaintiff (a minor) was born with multiple birth defects which were alleged to have been caused in utero by exposure to toxic chemicals while the mother worked for the defendant. Defendant's summary judgment motion had been granted on the grounds that the suit was time-barred, but the California Supreme Court held that the toxic exposure statute's two-year statute of limitations is tolled while the plaintiff is a minor.
Posted: July 5, 2018, 8:00 am

Fleshman v. Volkswagen

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed the denial of a motion to intervene filed by a Volkswagen owner in the federal government's Clean Air Act enforcement against Volkswagen. The court held that the Clean Air Act did not grant the plaintiff an unconditional right to intervene. The plaintiff could bring a separate suit under the Act, but had no statutory right to intervene in the government's enforcement action.
Posted: July 3, 2018, 8:00 am

Wayne Land and Mineral Group L v. Delaware River Basin Com.

(United States Third Circuit) - Vacated an order that had dismissed plaintiff's complaint where plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment to conduct hydraulic fracturing to obtain natural gas in Pennsylvania without the oversight of defendant. The district court dismissed plaintiffs complaint stating that the defendants had oversight of plaintiffs project, but the Third Circuit found that the definition of project was ambiguous and remanded the case for fact-finding.
Posted: July 3, 2018, 8:00 am

Wheeler v. City of Santa Clara

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed the dismissal of a complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act by the son of woman killed by police officers during a 911 call. The district court dismissed the complaint because the biological son had been adopted by other parents as an infant and thus had no legal interest as a successor. The Ninth Circuit held that the California survival statute applied and plaintiff did not meet the requirements of standing under that statute.
Posted: July 3, 2018, 8:00 am

Minarsky v. Susquehanna Cnty

(United States Third Circuit) - Vacated a summary judgment for defendant (a county) and remanded in a case where plaintiff sued defendants for sexual harassment and the trial court granted defendant summary judgment on the issue of vicarious liability by finding that it had established the elements for a Faragher-Ellerth affirmative defense as a matter of law. The Third Circuit disagreed stating that Faragher-Ellerth requires a determination of reasonable care and reasonable action which should be decided by a jury.
Posted: July 3, 2018, 8:00 am

Pacific Gas & Electric v. Sup. Ct.

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed an order denying summary judgment to plaintiff as to punitive damages. A devastating wildfire started when a tree came into contact with overhead powerlines. The real parties in interest claimed that plaintiff (PG&E) was responsible and sought punitive damages. PG&E had sought summary judgment as to the punitive damages claim which was denied by the trial court.
Posted: July 2, 2018, 8:00 am

Hassell v. Bird

(Supreme Court of California) - Reversed and remanded a default judgment against Yelp in a defamation case which had directed it to remove certain consumer reviews from its website. Yelp argued that its due process was violated because it was not named as a defendant in the underlying lawsuit and did not participate in the judicial proceedings. Further, Yelp argued that the lower court ruling was invalid under the Communications Decency Act of 1996 whereby providers of computer services are not treated as publishers and no cause of action or liability may be imposed upon them. The Supreme Court agreed.
Posted: July 2, 2018, 8:00 am

Brown v. Smith

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed the trial court's dismissal of a challenge to the California Constitution's amendment eliminating the personal beliefs exemption from mandatory school immunization. Plaintiffs argued that forced immunization violated their religious freedom, their right to attend school, their equal protection and due process rights, as well as statutes governing medical experiments. The Court held that since 1905, the court has recognized the police power of the State to compel vaccination and the state's interest in protecting health and safety of children outweighs the plaintiffs' arguments.
Posted: July 2, 2018, 8:00 am

Young v. Cal. Fish & Game Com.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed an order denying a writ of mandate in favor of defendant. Plaintiff operated Magic Jungle, a restricted wildlife sanctuary and alleged that the approximately $300 inspection fee should be waived. The defendant waived the permit fee and the application fee, but refused to waive the inspection fee. The court of appeals determined that the Fish and Game Code section 2150 does not give defendant the authority to waive the inspection fee.
Posted: July 2, 2018, 8:00 am

In re Marriage of Binette

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed an order setting aside a default judgment in favor of the wife in a family law case where the husband argued that the court relied on an incorrect legal standard in vacating the judgment. The appeals court held that neither party complied with the statutory requirements and that the trial court correctly found that there had been a mistake of fact by the parties.
Posted: July 2, 2018, 8:00 am

King v. Time Warner Cable Inc.

(United States Second Circuit) - Vacated and remanded an order granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiff on the claim that defendant violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The Second Circuit reasoned that the district court relied on an incorrect interpretation of the statute.
Posted: June 29, 2018, 8:00 am

Pinkette Clothing, Inc. v. Cosmetic Warriors LTD

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Judgment affirmed in favor of plaintiff regarding a trademark infringement matter. The court held that because of the delay of the defendant in challenging plaintiff's trademark, the doctrine of laches could be used as a defense. Further, the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to apply the doctrine of unclean hands or the inevitable confusion doctrine against plaintiff.
Posted: June 29, 2018, 8:00 am

Lo v. Lee

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed the order to sustain a demurrer in favor of the defendant in a case where defendant had defaulted on several loans made by plaintiff. Plaintiff received a judgment against defendant for the debt, but it was not paid and plaintiff sought to attach tuition monies paid by defendant for his daughter's college tuition arguing that these payments constituted a fraudulent transfer. The court held that it was not a fraudulent transfer because the daughter was not a transfer beneficiary.
Posted: June 28, 2018, 8:00 am

Ctr. For Biological Diversity v. Export-Import Bank of US

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed the district court grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant based on lack of standing. Plaintiffs sought relief based on the Endangered Species Act and National Historic Preservation Act to challenge defendant's financing of liquid natural gas projects near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The court determined that plaintiffs lacked standing because they had failed to establish redressability of the alleged environmental injury.
Posted: June 28, 2018, 8:00 am

Nat. Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. v. State of California

(Supreme Court of California) - Reversed and remanded the judgment of the Court of Appeal which had found that a court could declare a statute unenforceable when complying with the statute is impossible. In reversing, the California Supreme Court reasoned that courts can interpret a statue and can excuse non-compliance where compliance was impossible, but they cannot invalidate a statute altogether based on impossibility.
Posted: June 28, 2018, 8:00 am

Florida v. Georgia

(United States Supreme Court) - Remanded to Special Master for further findings. Florida sued Georgia over equitably apportioning of water from an interstate river basin. The Supreme Court, exercising original jurisdiction, appointed a Special Master. The Special Master recommended dismissing the Florida complaint. The Court held that the Special Master applied too strict of a standard and stating that further findings are needed to determine as there has been no determination key remedy-related matters.
Posted: June 27, 2018, 8:00 am

Peralta v. Vons Co.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming summary judgment for defendant where plaintiff slipped and fell at a Vons grocery store and sued for negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment for Vons as they found no triable issues for the jury and that Vons did not breach its duty of care and did not cause the plaintiff's injuries through any act or omission.
Posted: June 26, 2018, 8:00 am

National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra

(United States Supreme Court) - Reversed and remanded. The US Supreme Court held that the license notices required of crisis pregnancy centers – pro-life centers violate the First Amendment. The California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, comprehensive Care and Transparency Act (FACT) sought to require clinics that primarily serve pregnant women to provide notices that California provides free and low-cost services including abortions. The Court ruled that such notices abridge the freedom of speech.
Posted: June 26, 2018, 8:00 am

Samara v. Matar

(Supreme Court of California) - Affirmed. In this suit involving claim preclusion, plaintiff sued two dentists for professional negligence. The first dentist was granted a summary judgment on the grounds that the suit was untimely and no causation as to that dentist. The court of appeal refused to review the no causation portion of the decision. The second dentist then moved for summary judgment alleging that the earlier no-causation determination precluded liability. The trial court agreed. The appellate court reversed and remanded. The California Supreme Court granted review and held that People v. Skidmore (1865) 27 Cal. 287 was overruled, stating that the preclusive effect of the judgment should be evaluated as though the trial court had not relied on the unreviewed ground.
Posted: June 25, 2018, 8:00 am