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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that Defendants' engagement of the judicial process implied that they intended to waive the requirements of Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 150.002, which requires that a sworn certificate of merit accompany any lawsuit complaining about a licensed professional engineer's services, and remanded this case for further proceedings. Defendants were professional engineers who were sued by Plaintiffs alleging contract and tort claims. Plaintiff never filed a certificate of merit in this lawsuit. Defendants, however, did not seek dismissal until the eve of trial - 1,219 days after suit was filed. The trial court granted Defendants' motion and dismissed Plaintiffs' lawsuit with prejudice. The court of appeals reversed, holding that Defendants impliedly waived section 150.002's requirements. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendants waived the statutory right to dismissal by waiving the certificate of merit requirement through their invocation of the judicial process. View "LaLonde v. Gosnell" on Justia Law

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In this legal malpractice action the Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court dismissing Appellants' claims, holding that the district court erred by finding that Appellants' claims against Respondents were time barred by Nevada's statute of limitations for legal malpractice claims. Appellants filed a complaint in Nevada's federal district court claiming legal malpractice as to Charles Damus, Esq. The federal court granted Damus' motion to dismiss. While the federal action was ongoing Appellants entered into a legal services agreement with Respondents. Appellants later filed a malpractice complaint in state court against Respondents arguing that Respondents failed to sue Damus in state court. At issue was the interplay between Nevada's litigation malpractice tolling rule and 28 U.S.C. 1367(d), a federal tolling statute, on a legal malpractice claim. The district court granted Respondents' motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court held (1) 28 U.S.C. 1367(d) tolled claims brought by Appellants only until the claims were dismissed, and therefore, the district court erred by finding that Appellants' claims against Damus were tolled until the remaining claims in the federal action were also dismissed; and (2) the litigation malpractice tolling rule did not apply to the claims against Respondents, and therefore, the district court erred by finding that Appellants' claims against Respondents were time-barred. View "Kim v. Dickinson Wright, PLLC" on Justia Law

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From 2011 to 2015, Appellant Attorney Joanna Vogel represented plaintiff-respondent Angele Lasalle in the dissolution of a registered domestic partnership with Minh Tho Si Luu. Lasalle repeatedly failed to provide discovery in that case, and the court defaulted her as a terminating sanction. She said her failure to provide discovery was caused by Vogel not keeping her informed of discovery orders, so she sued Vogel for legal malpractice. A default judgment was entered against Vogel. Vogel successfully moved to set aside the default judgment pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 473(b). In response, LaSalle’s new lawyer asked the trial court to take judicial notice of state bar disciplinary proceedings against Vogel which stayed her ability to practice law. The set aside motion was then denied, and a year later, a default judgment was entered against Vogel for $1 million. She appealed the default and denial of her motion to set aside the default. The Court of Appeal reversed: “[w]e sympathize with the court below and opposing counsel. We have all encountered dilatory tactics and know how frustrating they can be. But we cannot see this as such a situation, and cannot countenance the way this default was taken, so we reverse the judgment.” View "Lasalle v. Vogel" on Justia Law

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Francis Ruybalid committed numerous ethical violations arising out of cases that he either prosecuted or supervised while he was the District Attorney for the Colorado Third Judicial District. He argued he was entitled to the attorney’s fees and costs he incurred while defending these allegations. The counties of the Third Judicial District refused to reimburse Ruybalid for these expenses. The Colorado Supreme Court determined that because Ruybalid’s ethical violations were at times committed recklessly or knowingly, his attorney’s fees and costs were not necessarily incurred in the discharge of his official duties, therefore, he was not entitled to reimbursement for fees. View "Ruybalid v. Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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One morning in March 2011, Nixola Doan went to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital with her adult daughter, Tristana, who was coughing and having trouble breathing. Doan stayed with Tristana for much of the day. Around 7:00 p.m. Tristana’s condition worsened, and Doan was “ushered . . . out” of the room while Tristana was intubated. Doan remained in the waiting area and did not see Tristana again until approximately the time of her death at 11:41 p.m., when Doan reentered the room and saw her daughter’s body. As the personal representative of Tristana’s estate, Doan filed suit against a number of medical providers, alleging malpractice and wrongful death. Doan also brought her own claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Several of the defendants moved for summary judgment on the emotional distress claim, arguing it was legally untenable for Doan to understand, while Tristana was undergoing care, her caregivers were acting negligently. On appeal, the Alaska Supreme Court concluded a viable bystander claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress did not depend on the plaintiff’s contemporaneous realization that the injuries she observed were negligently caused. Therefore, the Court reversed the grant of summary judgment. View "Doan v. Banner Health, Inc." on Justia Law

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in 2005, the plaintiff in this matter, Ralph Colombo, was sued by his homeowners association, Nellie Gail Ranch Owners Association (Nellie Gail), in Orange County Superior Court. In March 2007, Nellie Gail obtained a judgment and injunction preventing Colombo from continuing construction of certain improvements on his property until he obtained approval for, and completed the construction of, a single-family residence. Colombo's attorney withdrew from the case in September 2008, and Colombo began to represent himself. Colombo's request to sue his attorneys for legal malpractice was denied by the superior court, as was his motion for reconsideration of that request. The Court of Appeal denied extraordinary relief. Undaunted, the vexatious litigant asked a different presiding judge to give him leave to file the identical legal malpractice complaint. This time, his request was granted and the action at issue here was filed. The trial court granted a defense motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed the action. The Court of Appeal held that as a matter of both substantive legal doctrine and fundamental fairness, litigants are only entitled to "one bite at the apple. But this vexatious litigant refuses to stop biting." The Court concluded the doctrine of res judicata precludes a litigant from filing successive prefiling requests, and therefore affirmed the judgment. View "Colombo v. Kinkle, Rodiger & Spriggs" on Justia Law

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The Idaho Board of Licensure of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors (the Board), through its executive director, Keith Simila, brought disciplinary proceedings against Chad Erickson for allegedly violating certain statutes and rules governing the surveying profession. Following an administrative hearing, the Board found that Erickson violated a number of the statutes and rules alleged and revoked his license as a professional land surveyor. Erickson appealed the revocation of his license to the district court. The district court upheld the Board’s finding that Erickson had committed certain violations; however, the district court reversed the portion of the Board’s Order revoking Erickson’s license and remanded the matter for further consideration of the appropriate sanction. Erickson appealed the district court’s decision, arguing that the evidence did not support the Board’s finding of any violations. In addition, Erickson argued numerous procedural errors made by the Board mandated reversal. The Idaho Supreme Court reversed, finding the Board's October 28, 2015 complaint against Erickson was time barred by IDAPA 10.01.02.011.01 and Idaho Code section 54-1220(2); the Board was aware of the allegations against him beginning in 2011, more than four years prior to the submission of the Executive Director’s complaint against him. "The failure to comply with a statute of limitations is jurisdictional and, therefore, this issue is dispositive." Accordingly, the district court’s Substituted Judicial Review Opinion was reversed and the Board’s Order was vacated because it was made upon unlawful procedure. View "Erickson v. Idaho Board of Licensure of Professional Engineers & Professional Land Surveyors" on Justia Law

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David Kosmann appealed a district court judgment relating to a dispute that arose from the sale of real property. He claimed the district court erred in enforcing an oral settlement agreement reached in mediation between Kosmann, Kevin Dinius, and Dinius & Associates, PLLC (collectively “Dinius”). Kosmann also argued the trial court erred in: (1) awarding attorney fees to Dinius as a sanction against Kosmann and his attorney; (2) declining to impose sanctions against Dinius and his attorney; and (3) striking an untimely memorandum and declaration in support of his motion to reconsider. After review of the trial court record, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Supreme Court determined the district court did not err in enforcing the settlement agreement; the court also did not err in declining to impose sanctions against Dinius on ethics violations. However, the Supreme Court determined the district court abused its discretion in imposing I.R.C.P. 11 sanctions against Kossman and his counsel: the district court did not act consistently with the applicable legal standard for imposing sanctions pursuant to I.R.C.P. 11(b). The Supreme Court declined to address all other issues Kossman raised, and determined he was not entitled to attorney fees on appeal. "The record in this case is so tarnished with questionable conduct that it has presented this Court with a vexing ethical and legal dilemma. While we are gravely concerned over the potential ethical lapses which allegedly occurred during the mediation of this matter, there are no findings in the record concerning these matters. Therefore, as the trial court determined, we will leave to the Idaho State Bar, if properly called upon, the responsibility to investigate this matter further and make the necessary findings and conclusions as to the ethical issues presented." View "Kosmann v. Dinius" on Justia Law

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The ethical mandate in N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.5(d), prohibiting planning and zoning board members from hearing cases when cases of personal interest "might reasonably be expected to impair [their] objectivity or independence of judgment," was at the heart of this appeal. The Conte family filed an application to develop three lots in the City of Garfield. The issue raised was whether any members of the Garfield Zoning Board of Adjustment had a disqualifying conflict of interest because of the involvement of certain Conte family members in the Zoning Board proceedings. The Piscitellis objected to the development project and claimed that a conflict of interest barred Zoning Board members who were employed or had immediate family members employed by the Board of Education from hearing the application. The Piscitellis also contended that any members who were patients or who had immediate family members who were patients of the Contes also had a disqualifying conflict. No Zoning Board member disqualified himself or herself on conflict-of-interest grounds. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, namely for the trial court to make findings of whether any Zoning Board member had a disqualifying conflict of interest in hearing the application for site plan approval and variances in this case. View "Piscitelli v. City of Garfield Zoning Board of Adjustment" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this case to the trial court for a redetermination of attorney's fees consistent with the Court's decision in Rohrmoos Venture v. UTSW DVA Healthcare, LLP, __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. 2019), also decided today, holding that, having clarified the law governing the award of attorney's fees, remand was necessary. Plaintiff brought a suit against Defendant for unpaid legal fees. The jury awarded the amount sought to Plaintiff. Plaintiff also sought attorney's fees pursuant to Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 38.001. After hearing expert testimony about the reasonableness and necessity of the attorney's fees, the jury awarded attorney's fees. Defendant filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, arguing that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the fee award. The trial court denied the motion, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court for a redetermination of attorney's fees consistent with its decision in Rohrmoos Venture. View "Barnett v. Schiro" on Justia Law