FindLaw Opinion Summaries - Civil Procedure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lawless v Steward Health Care Sys. LLC

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment and treble damages under the Massachusetts Wage Act for the plaintiff who alleged that defendant failed to pay all of her wages due at the time of her termination, instead making them at a later date.
Posted: June 25, 2018, 8:00 am

Culliane v. Uber Technologies, Inc.

(United States First Circuit) - Reversed and remanded in a case involving the enforcement of arbitration clauses in online contracts. Plaintiffs filed suit against defendant alleging violations of Massachusetts consumer-protection statute. Defendant operates a ride-sharing service requiring customers to register using the Uber App. In the app is a page that has a button that will take you to Terms and Conditions, which a user is not required to accept and which contains an agreement to arbitrate any dispute. The district court granted defendant's motion to compel arbitration and dismissed the complaint. In reversing and remanding the First Circuit held that the terms of the agreement were not reasonably communicated to plaintiffs.
Posted: June 25, 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

Gillis v. Chase

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming the dismissal for failure to state a claim where the plaintiff filed a civil suit after he was acquitted of vehicular homicide at trial for fatally striking a bystander while backing up a truck. Plaintiff sought vindication in two subsequent lawsuits against the police chief and district attorney alleging violations of his constitutional rights, which were dismissed for failure to state a claim and prosecutorial immunity, respectively. The present action against the police chief of a different town alleged that there was no probable cause for the vehicular homicide charge, but the First Circuit found that an evidentiary hearing was conducted which determined that probable cause existed.
Posted: June 25, 2018, 8:00 am

FHLMC/Freddie Mac v. SFR Investments Pool 1, LLC

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed summary judgment motion in favor of plaintiff in their declaratory relief action regarding foreclosures under Nevada state law. A Nevada homeowners association (HOA) sold five foreclosed homes to defendant. The Nevada Foreclosure Statute provides that foreclosure on a HOA lien quashes all other property liens. Plaintiffs had purchased mortgage loans on the properties and did not consent to the foreclosure or sale. The court reasoned that the Federal Foreclosure Bar applied which provides that the properties are not subject to foreclosure with the consent of the plaintiff.
Posted: June 25, 2018, 8:00 am

Clukey v. Camden

(United States First Circuit) - Affirmed. Plaintiff, a police dispatcher, was laid off when the dispatch operations was moved to the sheriffs department at a nearby town. Plaintiff sued alleging violation of due process because of the recall provision in the collective bargaining agreement. The trial court found that the recall right was subject to a condition precedent that was not fulfilled by plaintiff. The jury found in favor of the defendant. The 1st Circuit affirmed that verdict and that the appeal fails because there was no demonstration of error or prejudice.
Posted: June 25, 2018, 8:00 am

McNair v. Maxwell Morgan PC

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirming in part and reversing in part in a case where the plaintiffs alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in defendants' efforts to collect unpaid homeowners association assessments. The district court granted plaintiffs' summary judgment and the 9th Circuit held that defendants' collection efforts through judicial foreclosure constituted debt collection under the FDCPA and that defendants violated 15 USC section 1692e because they falsely represented the legal status of their request for attorney fees. The case was remanded for a determination of damages.
Posted: June 25, 2018, 8:00 am

Bermudez-Ariza v. Sessions

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Remanded to the Board of Immigration Appeals which had vacated a grant of asylum by an immigration judge who subsequently granted asylum relief. The Board then vacated this grant of asylum stating that the IJ exceeded the scope of his jurisdiction. The 9th Circuit held that Board did not expressly retain jurisdiction when it remanded to the IJ and therefore the IJ had jurisdiction to grant asylum. Remanded for the Board to address the grant of asylum on its merits.
Posted: June 25, 2018, 8:00 am

AHMC v. Healthcare, Inc. v. Sup. Ct.

(California Court of Appeal) - Petition granted; order denying plaintiffs motion for summary judgment reversed. State law requires employers to pay their employees for all the time employees are at work. Plaintiff-employer used a payroll system that automatically rounds employee time up or down to the nearest quarter hour. Both employees and employers moved for summary judgment on the issue and the trial court denied both. The appellate court ruled that the rounding system was neutral on its face and the parties presented no evidence of bias in the system, therefore the summary judgment for the employer should have been granted.
Posted: June 25, 2018, 8:00 am

Vogel v. Harbor Plaza Center LLC

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Vacating and remanding an attorney's fee award under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA awards the prevailing party attorney's fees using a lodestar approach, but the district court declined to use that approach and instead used a local rule as to the award. The 9th Circuit held that the lodestar approach should have been applied even if the case ended in a default judgment.
Posted: June 25, 2018, 8:00 am

In re Estate of Post

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed. California 1st Appellate District Court reversed the probate court order confirming life insurance proceeds to persons other than the primary beneficiary. The court held that the probate court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the life insurance proceeds.
Posted: June 22, 2018, 8:00 am

Moofly Productions v. Favila

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed. The California 2nd Appellate District Court determined that trial court order imposing sanctions under CCP section 1008 did not comply with the statutory requirements and therefore must be reversed. The trial court imposed terminating sanctions on plaintiff for abuse of the discovery process. After the court ordered such sanctions, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration failing to abide by the requirements for filing such a motion. The trial court denied the motion and imposed sanctions, but failed to provide plaintiff the statutorily required 21-day notice. Appellate court reversed sanction order.
Posted: June 22, 2018, 8:00 am

Shame on You Productions v. Elizabeth Banks

(United States Ninth Circuit) - In this copyright and attorney fees case the 9th Circuit affirmed the Central District Court opinion awarding attorneys fees to defendants under 17 USC section 505. Plaintiff file suit claiming copyright infringement and breach of implied contract alleging that the film, Walk of Shame, was copied from a screenplay given to the defendants seven years before the film was released. The District Court found that there was no substantial similarity between the screen play and the film and dismissed the federal copyright claim with prejudice and dismissed the state law contract claim without prejudice. Defendants filed a motion for attorneys fees and costs which was granted. The 9th Circuit, finding no abuse of discretion affirmed the attorney fee award.
Posted: June 21, 2018, 8:00 am

Meeks v. AutoZone, Inc.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming summary judgment and reversing a jury verdict in an employment law case where the plaintiff sued her employer alleging sexual harassment. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant employer on the retaliation claim and the jury returned defense verdicts on plaintiff's remaining claims. The appeals court affirmed the summary judgment ruling, but reversed the judgment on the remaining claims and remanded for a new trial based on evidentiary errors.
Posted: June 21, 2018, 8:00 am

Wassmann v. South Orange County Community College Dist.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. This employment case was brought by plaintiff alleging racial discrimination, age discrimination and harassment in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Defendants brought summary judgment motions on the ground that claims were barred by res judicata, collateral estoppel, or failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The trial court granted the summary judgment motions.
Posted: June 21, 2018, 8:00 am

NU Image Inc v IATSE

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed. In this labor law case the district court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court of appeals held that section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act grants jurisdiction only for suits that claim a violation of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). In this case, the employer alleged that the union engaged in misrepresentation to induce it to enter into a CBA. The appellate court reasoned that plaintiff was not seeking enforce a CBA, but rather, to void it, something that is outside of section 301(a).
Posted: June 20, 2018, 8:00 am

Carroll v. E One Inc

(United States Third Circuit) - Affirmed. Firefighters-plaintiffs allege hearing loss from manufacturer-defendant’s fire sirens. District court dismissed the case with prejudice and awarded defendant attorney fees and costs, because the lawsuit was time-barred and hearing loss for one firefighter was not related to siren noise. Plaintiff appealed the award of attorney’s fees and cost as improper under Rule 41(a)(2). The appellate court affirmed the award stating that fees and costs could be awarded when exceptional circumstances exist. In this case, the court found that plaintiff’s counsel made a habit of suing defendant-manufacturer all across the country bringing meritless claims and then dismissing them with prejudice after the opposing party and the judicial system had incurred substantial costs.
Posted: June 20, 2018, 8:00 am

Robert Stevens v. Corelogic, Inc.

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed. In this copyright law case, the 9th Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant. Plaintiffs, professional photographers, alleged that defendants removed copyright information metadata from their photographs in violation of 17 USC section 1202(b)(1)-(3). Section 1202 requires defendants to have known the prohibited act would induce, enable, facilitate or conceal infringement. Plaintiffs were unable to offer evidence to satisfy this requirement.
Posted: June 20, 2018, 8:00 am

Ohio Valley Environmental v. Scott Pruitt

(United States Fourth Circuit) - Reversed. Several environmental groups brought suit against the EPA for failing to perform duties under the Clean Water Act as to impaired waters in West Virginia. The district court found that plaintiffs have standing to bring the claim and granted summary judgment in their favor. The appellate court agreed that plaintiffs have standing, but reversed the grant of summary judgment. The appellate court reasoned that the doctrine of constructive submission under 33 USC section 1313(d)(2) which would have triggered the EPA’s duty to act was overcome by West Virginia’s partial compliance and agreement to do more. Therefore constructive submission would not apply and summary judgment improper.
Posted: June 20, 2018, 8:00 am

In Re: Wang

(United States Federal Circuit) - Appeal from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board which rejected certain patent claims as directed to non-statutory subject matter under 35 USC section 101. Plaintiff sought to patent a different phonetic symbol system that mapped letters to sounds. Court of Appeals affirmed the rejection stating that a patent is available per section 101, if it is a process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter, or an improvement thereof. Further, it must be in a physical or tangible form.
Posted: June 20, 2018, 8:00 am

In Re: App of George W. Schlich v. Board Institute

(United States First Circuit) - Affirmed. Plaintiff appealed from a decision to deny his petition for discovery under 28 USC section 1782, which allows a party t petition for discovery for use in a foreign proceeding. Plaintiff sought certain materials to be used in opposition proceedings before the European Patent Office. The district court held that under Intel Corp v. Advanced Micro Devices, 542 US 241 that the material sought was irrelevant and would not be used by the EPO. The appellate court affirmed.
Posted: June 20, 2018, 8:00 am