Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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Four groups of prospective intervenors challenged the district court's denials of their motions to intervene in a class action lawsuit by named plaintiff Connie Jean Smith against SEECO, as well as the district court's procedures for opting-out from the class. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling that Charter Land's motion to intervene was untimely because it merely repeated arguments already advanced by other attempted intervenors after the class was unsuccessful. The court dismissed the remaining appeals for lack of jurisdiction because the appeals were not filed within 30 days of the district court's order denying intervention. View "Smith v. Arnett" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff filed suit against defendant for injuries arising out of a car accident, he attempted to serve defendant by having a local sheriff's deputy leave a copy of the summons and complaint with defendant's father, who then handed them to defendant hours later. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the action and held that Minnesota recognizes "secondhand service." The court held that a simple intent to deliver the document to the intended recipient was all that was required, especially because the would-be process server must also know that a summons was being served. In this case, defendant intentionally delivered the papers to his daughter with knowledge of their contents. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Michaud v. Davidson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff and her three minor children's complaint against Children's Healthcare and a doctor. The action stemmed from the doctor's report to child protective services stating her concerns that plaintiff was harming one of the children. The juvenile court adjudicated that the child was in need of protection or services and ordered that he be placed in foster care. In this action, plaintiff sought relief under Minnesota and federal law, alleging that the doctor's report was false and caused the child to be separated from his family. The court applied Minnesota's law on collateral estoppel and held that the report's veracity was a central issue in the state court proceedings. Because the juvenile court implicitly ruled that the report was credible in its entirety, the court held that plaintiff was precluded from relitigating the issue. View "Peschong v. Children's Healthcare" on Justia Law

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In an action arising out of a fee dispute between a law firm and two clients, the action was removed to federal court and then the unpaid-fees claims proceeded to arbitration. The district court granted the firm relief from the stay and issued an order dividing the counterclaims into two categories: those the clients could raise in arbitration and those they could not. Determining that it had jurisdiction, the Eighth Circuit held that the clients' counterclaims were within the scope of what the parties agreed to arbitrate and the counterclaims seeking something else -- like money from the firm -- were not. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment, with one exception. The court held that the district court should not have decided that the clients terminated the relationship, because the arbitrator should decide the issue. View "Meierhenry Sargent LLP v. Williams" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of ex-wife's motion to dismiss an action brought by ex-husband, alleging violations of the anti-alienation provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), that arose from payments he made to her for almost three decades. The court held that a prior state court judgment was entitled to res judicata effect where ex-husband had an opportunity to litigate the question of whether the state court had jurisdiction to address his violations of ERISA claims. View "Schwartz v. Bogen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure, ERISA

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Medtronic's motion to remand an employment contract dispute back to state court. Applying Minnesota law, the court held that plaintiff waived his right to remove the case to federal court because the employment contract he signed contained an enforceable forum selection clause. In this case, Medtronic alleged that plaintiff failed to repay the company pursuant to the Repayment Agreement. The court held that the Employee Agreement contained a clear and unequivocal forum selection clause that unambiguously encompassed the Repayment Agreement. View "Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc. v. Gannon" on Justia Law

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The Estate appealed the district court's order denying its motion for reconsideration of an adverse grant of summary judgment. SPV cross-appealed the denial of its 28 U.S.C. 1927 and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(g)(3) sanctions against the Estate's attorneys. The Eighth Circuit affirmed in part, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in considering the Estate's motion for reconsideration because the Estate sought to use its motion for reconsideration for the impermissible purpose of introducing new arguments it could have raised earlier and failed to support those arguments with any evidence even after receiving additional time for discovery. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying 28 U.S.C. 1927 sanctions. The court reversed in part, holding that the district court erred by denying the Estate's request for sanctions under Rule 26(g)(1) with respect to Attorney Kroll. However, the district court did not abuse its discretion denying sanctions against Attorney Donahoe. View "SPV-LS, LLC v. The Estate of Nancy Bergman" on Justia Law

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American Family filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment against Vein Centers, its insured, disputing American Family's duty to defend and indemnify Vein Centers in a class action. St. Louis was the class representative in the underlying action against Vein Centers and later joined as a defendant in the declaratory judgment action. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for American Family, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that American Family satisfied its burden of establishing the minimum amount in controversy and summary judgment was proper because St. Louis Heart failed to provide any evidence that adequate notice of the policy exclusion was not provided to Vein Centers. View "American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. St. Louis Heart Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of default judgment against Pulmosan because the company was not properly served. The court held that, under basic principles of agency law, the death of an agent terminates his authority to act on behalf of the principal. In this case, the death of Pulmosan's registered agent prevented him from receiving service of process on behalf of Pulmosan; his death terminated any agency relationship he may have had with his apartment building's doorman to receive service; and the possible habitation of the agent's widow at her husband's former residence did not validate service based on her former status as a corporate officer. Therefore, the attempted service of process was invalid, the district court lacked jurisdiction over Pulmosan, and its subsequent judgment was void. View "Bell v. Pulmosan Safety Equipment Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment for Petco in a negligence and premises liability action filed by plaintiff against the company. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding plaintiff's expert evidence notwithstanding that Petco did not attempt to meet and confer with him before seeking sanctions. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the statements of plaintiff's treating physician to show causation. In this case, plaintiff failed to make any timely expert witness disclosures to Petco and never provided a summary of his treating physicians' expected testimony. View "Vanderberg v. Petco Animal Supplies Stores" on Justia Law