by
At issue was what findings a court must make in order to require attorney’s fees to be paid to an adverse party who was subjected to proceedings that were brought in bad faith or lacked substantial justification and what the appropriate means are for calculating attorney’s fees when a court determines that a party’s complaint includes claims that have substantial justification and claims that lack substantial justification. Respondents prevailed in having the trial judge dispose of Petitioner’s claims after the close of the evidence. The hearing judge found no substantial justification for each of Petitioner’s claims against Respondents and awarded $300,000 in attorney’s fees to Respondents. The court of special appeals vacated the circuit court’s judgment, concluding that there was substantial justification as to some of Petitioner’s claims. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the hearing judge (1) did not commit clear error in finding no substantial justification for the claims brought by Petitioner; but (2) abused his discretion in assessing $300,000 in attorney’s fees against Petitioner without articulating how he calculated his fees. View "Christian v. Maternal-Fetal Medicine Associates of Maryland, LLC" on Justia Law

by
Katherine Heffernan appealed the trial court’s decision dismissing her complaint, which sought indemnification from the State on a default judgment she obtained against a state employee and which claimed that the State was vicariously liable for the employee’s conduct. The State determined that the acts alleged by Heffernan were outside the scope of the employee’s official duties and that, therefore, the State did not have a duty to defend the employee against Heffernan’s action. Heffernan, unable to locate the employee to make service of process, eventually served him through process by publication. Heffernan notified the State that she had served the employee, and the State again declined to take any action. The employee did not appear or offer any defense in Heffernan’s suit, and the trial court eventually issued a default judgment against him. The court subsequently held a hearing on damages and awarded Heffernan both punitive and compensatory damages. The Vermont Supreme Court found that while Heffernan presented complex arguments, its decision regarding both of her theories of State liability was controlled by the plain language of Vermont’s statutory scheme concerning each issue. Pursuant to the clear limitations on liability in Vermont’s Tort Claims Act, the State retains sovereign immunity relative to the actions alleged in Heffernan’s complaint. As such, the trial court did not err in dismissing her case. View "Heffernan v. Vermont" on Justia Law

by
Paul Irwin, Jr., appealed a final judgment of the Jefferson Circuit Court dismissing his claim for injunctive relief against the Jefferson County Personnel Board ("the Board") and the City of Trussville ("Trussville"). This case arose from Trussville's desire to hire a police chief following the retirement of its former chief. Trussville interviewed Irwin and two other candidates from a certified list of candidates. Trussville did not hire Irwin or any other candidate from the certified list supplied by the Board in January 2017. Instead, Trussville returned the list to the Board and requested that the Board administer a new test for the position of Police Chief II. On January 23, 2017, the Board "expired" the eligibility list. On January 27, 2017, the Board also approved Trussville's request to hire a provisional police chief until such time as a new assessment examination could be administered and a new eligibility list generated. On March 1, 2017, Irwin sued the Board and Trussville, contending that, once the Board issued to Trussville a certified list of eligible candidates for the position of police chief, Trussville was required to hire a candidate from that list and had no discretion to leave the position unfilled. The complaint sought only injunctive relief. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the specific actions Irwin sought to enjoin –- the administration of a new examination for the position of Trussville's police chief and the appointment of a candidate to the position of police chief who was not on the January 2017 certified list –- have since occurred. Accordingly, it was impossible to provide Irwin the relief he requested. Irwin's appeal was dismissed. View "Irwin v. Jefferson County Personnel Board" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court sustaining Appellant’s motion for summary judgment insofar as it awarded her benefits for two scheduled injuries but denied her claim that she was permanently and totally disabled. The Court held (1) there was no merit to Appellant’s first assignment of error that Appellant’s employer admitted, through its responses to Appellant’s requests for admission, that Appellant was permanently and totally disabled; but (2) the trial court erred in weighing the evidence in the summary judgment matter and concluding that Appellant was not permanently and totally disabled. View "Wynne v. Menard, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Judith Chavez and other registered nurses (nurses) sought class certification in their wage action against their employer, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital at Pasco d/b/a Lourdes Medical Center and John Serle (Lourdes). The trial court denied class certification, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. At issue before the Washington Supreme Court was whether the trial court properly found that the nurses failed to satisfy the predominance and superiority requirements necessary for class certification. The Court held the trial court abused its discretion by finding that individual issues predominate and by failing to compare alternative methods of adjudication. Furthermore, the Supreme Court held that predominance was met because the dominant and overriding issue in this litigation was whether Lourdes failed to ensure the nurses could take rest breaks and second meal periods and could record missed breaks. Superiority was met because a class action was superior to other methods of adjudication for the resolution of these claims. View "Chavez v. Our Lady of Lourdes Hosp. at Pasco" on Justia Law

by
The definition of “claimant” for purposes of Ohio Rev. Code 4123.931(G) is any party who is eligible to receive compensation, medical benefits, or death benefits from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Further, a claimant becomes eligible at the time of the injury or death that occurred during the course of employment and remains eligible unless and until a determination that the claimant is not entitled to benefits has been made and has become final or, if no claim is filed, until the time allowed for filing a claim has elapsed. Loretta Verlinger, a benefits applicant, appealed the denial of her application to the Industrial Commission. During the pendency of the appeal, Verlinger settled claims with Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company and Foremost Property and Casualty Insurance Company. The Commission subsequently allowed Verlinger’s claim. The trial court granted summary judgment for Verlinger, concluding that she was not a claimant pursuant to section 4123.931. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding (1) Verlinger was a claimant at the time she settled with the insurance companies; and (2) Metropolitan and Foremost were jointly and severally liable to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, a statutory subrogee, for the full amount of its subrogation interest. View "Bureau of Workers' Compensation v. Verlinger" on Justia Law

by
As a matter of first impression, the Eleventh Circuit held that it was sufficient for an opt-in plaintiff to file a written consent pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 216(b), to confer party-plaintiff status. In this case, appellants were parties to the litigation upon filing consents and, absent a dismissal from the case, remained parties in the litigation. The court affirmed the district court's denial of conditional certification and vacated the district court's clarification order, remanding with instructions for the district court to either dismiss appellants from the case without prejudice to refile, or to go forward with appellants' individual cases since discovery has been completed. The court also held that appellants were entitled to statutory tolling of their claims beginning on the dates they filed their written consents. View "Houston v. Country Club, Inc." on Justia Law

by
College of DuPage hired Breuder as its president. After extensions, his contract ran through 2019. In 2015 newly-elected members of the Board of Trustees, having campaigned on a pledge to remove Breuder, discharged him without notice or a hearing. Board resolutions stated that Breuder had committed misconduct. The Board did not offer him a hearing and refused to comply with clauses in his contract covering severance pay and retirement benefits. Breuder filed suit, citing Illinois contract and defamation law and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Board as an entity moved to dismiss the complaint, contending that Breuder never had a valid contract because, under Illinois law, a governmental body whose members serve limited terms may not enter into contracts that extend beyond those terms. Individual Board members moved to dismiss the 1983 claim on qualified immunity grounds. The Seventh Circuit affirmed denial of both motions. The court noted precedent allowing Illinois Community Colleges to grant their presidents tenure beyond the date of the next board election. Rejecting claims of qualified immunity, the court noted that a hearing is required whenever the officeholder has a “legitimate claim of entitlement.” In discharging Breuder, the Board stated that he had committed misconduct. Even a person who has no property interest in a public job has a constitutional entitlement to a hearing before being defamed during a discharge, or at least a name-clearing hearing after the discharge. View "Breuder v. Hamilton" on Justia Law

by
McCall resigned from Shaw and later became the CEO of Allied, Shaw’s direct competitor. Shaw sued, citing noncompete and nonsolicitation agreements in McCall’s employment contract. Those agreements call for arbitration and state that the employer may seek injunctive relief without waiving the right to arbitrate. The state court issued a Joint Protective Order. Aptim acquired the rights to McCall’s employment agreement but withdrew a subsequent motion for substitution in the suit. Aptim filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association. Shaw filed an amended petition, deleting its request for damages, and a motion to dismiss the amended petition with prejudice. McCall filed an opposition, an answer, a counterclaim, a petition for declaratory judgment, a motion to consolidate, and a motion for constructive contempt against Aptim for demanding arbitration in violation of the protective order, though Aptim was not then a party to the case. Aptim, without Shaw, sued in federal court to compel arbitration and to stay the state-court proceeding. Before the federal court ruled, the state court issued an order joining Aptim in the state-court action, retroactively effective, finding that Aptim and Shaw had waived their arbitration rights. The federal district court then ordered arbitration and stayed the state-court action. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, finding that the factors weighed against abstention because the case does not involve jurisdiction over a thing and federal law provides the rules of decision on the merits and strongly favors arbitration. View "Aptim Corp. v. McCall" on Justia Law

by
The Castillos were employed and paid by GCA, a temporary staffing company, to perform work on-site at Glenair. Glenair was authorized to and did record, review, and report the Castillos’ time records to GCA so that the Castillos could be paid. In a wage and hours putative class action, the Castillos characterized GCA and Glenair as joint employers. While their case was pending, a separate class action brought against, among others, GCA resulted in a final, court-approved settlement agreement, “Gomez,” which contains a broad release barring settlement class members from asserting wage and hour claims such as those alleged by the Castillos against GCA and its agents. The Castillos are members of the Gomez settlement class and did not opt out of that settlement. The Castillos claims against Glenair involve the same wage and hour claims, for the same work done, covering the same time period as the claims asserted in Gomez. The court of appeal affirmed summary judgment rejecting the Castillo suit. Because Glenair is in privity with GCA (a defendant in Gomez) and is an agent of GCA, the Gomez settlement bars the Castillos’ claims against Glenair as a matter of law. View "Castillo v. Glenair, Inc." on Justia Law