FindLaw Opinion Summaries - Civil Procedure

Daily civil procedure case summaries, brought to you by

DeCoster v. Waushara County Highway Dept.

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that claim preclusion barred a landowner from bringing suit in federal court under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act to collect attorney fees that he said the county owed him in connection with litigation over highway improvements. He had to present his claim in a previous state court proceeding.
Posted: November 15, 2018, 8:00 am

Huerta v. Kava Holdings, Inc.

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a fired restaurant server who brought an unsuccessful employment lawsuit was not required to reimburse his employer $50,000 in costs and expert witness fees, even though he had rejected the employer's pretrial Code of Civil Procedure section 998 settlement offer. Reversed the lower court's order, and in doing so discussed recent legislative changes affecting awards of costs and attorney and expert witness fees under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Posted: November 14, 2018, 8:00 am

1550 Laurel Owner's Association, Inc. v. Appellate Division of Superior Court (Munshi)

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that an anti-SLAPP motion cannot be brought in a limited civil case. Granted an association's petition for writ of mandate, in its dispute with an individual over his alleged breach of a settlement agreement.
Posted: November 7, 2018, 8:00 am

Dvorak v. Granite Creek GP Flexcap I

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed the dismissal of an investor's lawsuit on procedural grounds. Although the rules of civil procedure gave him a privilege to voluntarily dismiss his suit without prejudice once, he had previously done so on two occasions.
Posted: November 6, 2018, 8:00 am

SCF Waxler Marine, LLC v. Aris T M/V

(United States Fifth Circuit) - In a revised decision, dismissed an interlocutory appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, in a case involving excess insurers' liability for damage resulting from a vessel collision on the Mississippi River. Held that the interlocutory order did not determine the rights and liabilities of the parties.
Posted: October 30, 2018, 8:00 am

Ashford v. Aeroframe Services, LLC

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that there was no basis for federal diversity jurisdiction. One of the defendants removed an employment-related lawsuit to federal court, arguing that the only non-diverse defendant was effectively a plaintiff in the case. Disagreeing in a 2-1 decision, the Fifth Circuit discussed broad theories of federal removal jurisdiction, vacating and remanding with instructions to remand to state court.
Posted: October 26, 2018, 8:00 am

Hernandez v. Results Staffing, Inc.

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed that an employment staffing agency was entitled to relief from a judgment finding it liable for violating a former employee's rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, in a case where the parties contested the proper application of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b).
Posted: October 24, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Conner

(United States Fifth Circuit) - On reconsideration, held that a taxpayer had 60, not 30, days to file his notice of appeal from an order finding him in contempt of court for failure to fully comply with an Internal Revenue Service summons. Withdrew a prior order dismissing his appeal.
Posted: October 22, 2018, 8:00 am

Pagnini v. Union Bank, N.A.

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that the plaintiff was entitled to be relieved from his counsel's mistaken failure to timely respond to a dismissal motion, under a section of California's Code of Civil Procedure addressing mandatory relief from judgment. Reversed the dismissal of the plaintiff's wrongful foreclosure action.
Posted: October 17, 2018, 8:00 am

Teamsters Local 404 Health Services and Insurance Plan v. King Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

(United States Second Circuit) - Held that it was proper to remand to New York state court a case in which a labor union health plan sought disclosure of a patent dispute settlement agreement between pharmaceutical companies and the generic manufacturer of the EpiPen. Affirmed the district court's remand order, in this special proceeding under New York law seeking pre‐action disclosure.
Posted: October 16, 2018, 8:00 am

State Bank and Trust Co. v. C and G Liftboats, LLC

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Dismissed an appeal in a case where a bank sought to foreclose on four ship mortgages and seize three vessels. Held that appellate jurisdiction was lacking because the district court had not finally determined the rights or obligations of the parties.
Posted: October 16, 2018, 8:00 am

Ramirez v. Young

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that a non-English speaking prisoner who brought a lawsuit over alleged constitutional wrongs was excused from the requirement to exhaust his administrative remedies because no prison official ever informed him of the existence of a grievance process in a language he could understand. The prisoner, who spoke Spanish, argued that his failure to exhaust administrative remedies should be excused. Finding merit in his argument, the Seventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of his lawsuit and remanded for further proceedings.
Posted: October 9, 2018, 8:00 am

Cheveldave v. Tri Palms Unified Owners Association

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that the trial court erred by granting a homeowner association's anti-SLAPP motion to block a lawsuit filed by individual homeowners, who challenged whether the homeowner association had legal standing to enter into a bankruptcy-related settlement agreement concerning the community's golf course. Reversed the order granting the anti-SLAPP motion.
Posted: October 3, 2018, 8:00 am

Hammer v. US Department of Health and Human Services

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that the district court erred in abstaining from a dispute between the federal government and a defunct health insurance company's liquidator concerning certain monies owed in connection with the Affordable Care Act. Reversed and remanded for further proceedings, concluding also that the district court construed its removal jurisdiction too narrowly.
Posted: September 25, 2018, 8:00 am

Sindhi v. Raina

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed a default judgment entered against an individual residing in India who was being sued by his former employer for allegedly stealing computer source code and using it to create a competing business, in a case where the individual contested personal jurisdiction but failed to follow certain local rules.
Posted: September 25, 2018, 8:00 am

Fidelitad, Inc. v. Insitu, Inc.

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that the proper forum for a reseller's claims against a manufacturer of aerial military and civilian drones was state court. The manufacturer had removed the case to federal court under a removal provision that pertains to civil actions against federal officers or persons acting under them. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit concluded that this removal provision was inapplicable here, and reversed with instructions to remand the case to state court.
Posted: September 25, 2018, 8:00 am

Moss Bros. Toy, Inc. v. Ruiz

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed an order granting an individual's anti-SLAPP motion to strike a complaint his former employer had filed against him, in a case involving whether the individual had breached an arbitration agreement.
Posted: September 20, 2018, 8:00 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(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

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

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