Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion for extension of time to file notice of appeal pursuant to Bankruptcy Rule 8002(d)(1)(B) for failing to show excusable neglect. Appellant filed her motion one business day late as a result of her attorney’s preoccupation with his second job as a church’s music director. The district court concluded that counsel’s explanation for the delay amounted to mere inadvertence and did not constitute excusable neglect. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Appellant’s counsel’s inadvertence did not constitute excusable neglect and that Appellant was bound by counsel's carelessness. View "Sheedy v. Bankowski" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion to amend on the ground that the First Circuit’s earlier decision was law of the case. Plaintiff, acting on behalf of her daughter, brought suit against the Falmouth School Department (Falmouth) alleging that it failed to provide O.M. with a free appropriate public education (FAPE) as guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. The district court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff. The First Circuit reversed in Falmouth I, holding that Falmouth did not violate O.M.’s right to a FAPE. After the First Circuit’s decision in Falmouth I, Plaintiff sought to amend her complaint to include a claim that she had not included in her district court complaint. The district court denied the motion to amend. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly denied Plaintiff’s motion to amend under the law of the case doctrine. View "Ms. M. v. Falmouth School Department" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the denial of Plaintiff’s motion to vacate and order dismissing his lawsuit against Defendants in which Plaintiff alleged a variety of state law violations in connection with a foreclosure action against a property he owned in Nantucket, Massachusetts. The district court, sua sponte, dismissed Plaintiff’s suit for failure to prosecute after Plaintiff’s counsel failed to appear at a motion hearing. Plaintiff’s counsel subsequently filed a motion for relief from the district court order dismissing the case, citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) and claiming “mistake, inadvertence, carelessness or excusable neglect.” The district court denied the motion without prejudice. Plaintiff then refiled the motion, but the district court denied it without any further explanation. The First Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion to vacate the prior order dismissing his case and vacated the order dismissing his case, holding that, where Plaintiff provided the district court with an innocent and undisputed reason for counsel’s absence, dismissal with prejudice was too harsh given the circumstances. View "Keane v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Insurance Brokers West, Inc.’s (IBW) complaint alleging breach of contract against Liquid Outcome, LLC, f/k/a Astonish Results, LLC (Astonish) for failure to meet the amount-in-controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1332. In its amended complaint, IBW estimated its damages as exceeding $140,000. The district court dismissed the complaint, finding that IBW’s claims did not exceed $75,000, and therefore, IBW failed to meet the amount-in-controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that it was certain as a matter of law that IBW could not recover more than $75,000. View "Insurance Brokers West, Inc. v. Liquid Outcome, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendant on Plaintiff’s complaint brought under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 148B for employee misclassification. A Georgia state court concluded that Plaintiff was an employee of Defendant under Massachusetts law. The Georgia court of appeals reversed, concluding that Plaintiff was not an employee of Defendant for purposes of Section 148B. At the same time the case was making its way through the Georgia state-court system, a separate Massachusetts case was being litigated in the federal district court involving the same facts and the same parties. Ultimately, the district court judge granted preclusive effect to the Georgia decision and granted summary judgment for Defendant as to the Section 148B claim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the federal courts were bound by the Georgia court judgment under the doctrine of res judicata. View "Depianti v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court’s order denying Appellant’s motion to intervene in an adversary proceeding arising within the Commonwealth’s debt adjustment case under Title III of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), 48 U.S.C. 2161-2177, holding that 11 U.S.C. 1109(b) provides an “unconditional right to intervene” within the meaning of Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(1). Appellant, the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (UCC), intervened in an adversary proceeding initiated by Plaintiffs within a larger case brought by the Financial Oversight and Management Board on behalf of the Commonwealth. The Board had commenced quasi-bankruptcy proceedings to restructure the Commonwealth’s debt under a part of PROMESA referred to as Title III. The district court denied the UCC’s motion to intervene with respect both to intervention as of right and to permissive intervention. The First Circuit reversed, holding that section 1109(b) provided the UCC with an unconditional right to intervene in the adversary proceeding. View "Assured Guaranty Corp. v. Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors" on Justia Law

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On July 5, 2014, the First Circuit issued an opinion affirming the district court’s decision to grant Petitioner’s motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255. One week later, Respondent informed the court that Petitioner had died before the opinion issued and filed a motion for the withdrawal of the July 5, 2017 opinion. The First Circuit chose to exercise its discretion to grant Respondent’s motion for withdrawal of the July 5, 2017 because the case is now moot in light of Petitioner’s death. Thus, the opinion issued on July 5, 2017 is withdrawn and the judgment vacated as moot. The court remanded the case to the district court with instructions to dismiss the habeas petition. View "United States v. Bennett" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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In this action seeking to, among other things, quiet title to certain property, the district court did not err in granting judgment on the pleadings in favor of Defendants. After he was informed that his loan secured by a mortgage on his Massachusetts property was in default, Plaintiff sued Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC and US Bank, N.A. (collectively, Defendants), seeking unclouded title to the property, an injunction against foreclosure, and damages. The district court granted Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed all counts of Plaintiff’s complaint. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendants were entitled to judgment on the pleadings because Defendant failed to plead any set of facts that would entitle him to relief. View "Rezende v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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Ronald Brenner sought to amend his late wife’s putative class action complaint in order to name himself as lead plaintiff. Jacqueline Brenner filed the complaint against Williams-Sonoma, Inc., alleging that the company’s practice of collecting customers’ zip codes constituted unjust enrichment and violated Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 105(a). Ronald never became a party to the action. After Jacqueline died, Ronald moved pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2) to leave to amend the complaint to add himself as a plaintiff in his individual capacity. The district court ruled that the amendment would be futile. Ronald appealed. The First Circuit dismissed Ronald’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding (1) Ronald did not become a party below and there was no equitable reason to allow the appeal; and (2) Ronald was not a member to this action and lacked standing to appeal. View "Brenner v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc." on Justia Law

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This case concerned defects in the execution of two life insurance annuity polices that the decedent purchased through National Western Life Insurance Co. Plaintiffs, the decedent’s wife and children, sued National Western seeking a declaration that the policies were void and a return of the premiums paid by the decedent. National Western filed a motion to dismiss because Plaintiffs failed to join a necessary party - the decedent’s brother, who was named under both policies as the sole beneficiary - even though National Western had already paid him. The district court denied the motion, ruling that the beneficiary at issue was not “required to be joined if feasible” under Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a). The court then granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs. The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court, holding that the sole beneficiary of the annuities was required to be joined if feasible under rule 19(a). The court remanded the case to the district court to determine whether it was equitable for the case to proceed without him. View "Maldonado-Vinas v. National Western Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law