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Richard Joyce appealed the decision of an appellate officer within the Office of Professional Regulation dismissing his appeal for failure to file a statement of questions for consideration on appeal and complete the record for appellate review by ordering a transcript. Joyce has been a licensed surveyor since 1969. In 2014, Joyce completed a survey of the boundary between two adjoining properties. One of the property owners filed a complaint with the Office of Professional Regulation, Board of Land Surveyors (OPR) regarding Joyce's compliance with professional surveying standards. OPR opened an investigation into the complaint and, after review ultimately dismissed the complaint. Months later, OPR sent Joyce a letter stating that "[n]ew evidence ha[d] been brought to [its] attention . . . that warrant[ed] further investigation and reconsideration." OPR did not disclose the nature or origin of the new evidence. OPR sent Joyce a letter notifying him that "[t]he State Prosecuting Attorney ha[d] filed the enclosed charges and ha[d] asked the Office of Professional Regulation to take disciplinary action against [his surveying] license." A hearing on the charges was held in June 2017; OPR fined Joyce $750 and placed a two-year condition on his surveying license, requiring that he complete additional surveying training within 180 days of the entry of the order. The order noted Joyce's right to file an appeal with an OPR appellate officer within thirty days of the entry of the order. The order also contained instructions on how to request forms for proceeding in forma pauperis, including a statement that in forma pauperis status would make Joyce eligible to receive a transcript of the June hearing without cost. In his filing, Joyce's attorney reiterated that the appeal presented two legal issues, both raised in the attorney's notice of appeal, and that a transcript was unnecessary for resolution of the appeal. Neither Joyce nor his attorney filed a statement of questions, ordered a transcript of the June 2017 hearing, or filed a brief. The Vermont Supreme Court found that because Joyce provided the appellate officer with neither a statement of questions nor a transcript, per OPR rules, the record was not complete, and the appellate officer was effectively unable to conduct a review of the proceedings below. The appellate officer correctly considered the factors relevant to the decision not to review Joyce's filings in a summary manner and to dismiss Joyce's appeal, specifically, the procedural irregularities in the appeal that essentially foreclosed appellate review. View "In re Richard H. Joyce" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims against defendant as premature. Plaintiffs alleged that Eisner, seeking to maintain its relationship with Leveraged and some related funds, participated in a scheme to trick plaintiffs into waiving their redemption rights. Louisiana has established a public accountant review panel to review claims against certified public accountants and accounting firms, and plaintiffs conceded that they did not seek panel review before filing suit. The court held that the district court dismissed plaintiffs' suit as premature because they failed to seek pre-suit review by the Louisiana public accountant review panel pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statutes 37:105. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to decide in the first instance whether defendants were entitled to dismissal with prejudice. View "Firefighters' Retirement System v. EisnerAmper, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the jury’s $2.75 million award for non-economic damages in this legal malpractice and breach of contract case, holding that the case did not qualify as one of the “rare” cases where non-economic damages can be recovered for breach of contract. Plaintiff sued Defendants for legal malpractice, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligent hiring, training, and supervision after Defendants failed to bring Plaintiff’s claim before the statute of limitations ran. The jury found in favor of Plaintiff on each of the claims, awarding her $750,000 in damages for breach of contract and $2.75 million for the emotional distress Plaintiff suffered as the result of the malpractice. The Supreme Court vacated the non-economic damages award, holding that, under either a breach of contract or breach of fiduciary duty theory, the district court erred in upholding the award for emotional distress damages. The Court also vacated the attorney fees award and held that the district court correctly denied Plaintiff’s litigation expenses. View "Gregory & Swapp, PLLC v. Kranendonk" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that summary judgment was improperly granted to a title company on negligence and breach of fiduciary duty claims that arose out of the company’s omission of a reserved mineral interest in a deed and its handling of a later conveyance. In granting summary judgment, the district court determined that the relevant statute of limitations barred the claims. A court of appeals panel reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) as to the negligence claim, a genuine issue of material fact existed as to when the cause of action accrued, and the case must therefore be remanded for further proceedings; and (2) the breach of fiduciary duty claim was not excusable from further litigation because of the statute of limitations, as the claim was brought well within the allowable period. View "LCL, LLC v. Falen" on Justia Law

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The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance (Commission) filed a formal complaint against Justice Court Judge Mary Curry, alleging she violated Canons 1, 2A, 2B, 3B(1), 3B(2), 3B(5), 3B(7), 3B(8), and 3C(1) of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Judge Curry stipulated she: (1) “has signed warrants based on affidavits sworn by her relatives . . . .” then would not set bond even though the charges were misdemeanors and recuse herself from the case; (2) displayed a pattern of dismissing Petition for Order of Protection From Domestic Abuse without having statutorily mandated hearings; (3) granted a bond reduction for a relative whose initial appearance she presided over; (4) waived an expungement fee and directed the clerks to void the receipts and refund the money; and (5) requested the complainant-clerk be transferred from her position as Justice Court Clerk once the Judge learned a complaint regarding her conduct had been filed. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted the parties’ joint motion for approval of the Commission’s recommendation and ordered Judge Curry be publicly reprimanded. Judge Curry was ordered to appear on the first day of the next term of the Circuit Court of Claiborne County in which a jury venire would be present, after the mandate in this case has issued, to be reprimanded by the presiding judge. View "Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance v. Curry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and in part reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, a physical therapy company and a hospital, on Plaintiffs’ negligence claims, holding that the physical therapist failed to demonstrate an absence of any genuine issue of material fact. The plaintiff patient in this case was diagnosed with a fractured femur after a physical therapy session following her hip surgery. Plaintiffs, the patient and her husband, alleged that the physical therapist was negligent during the physical therapy session and that the hospital was negligent in failing timely to diagnose the fractured femur. The circuit court granted Defendants’ motions for summary judgment. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court correctly granted the hospital summary judgment because Plaintiffs were required to, but did not, support their claim with proper expert testimony; and (2) there was sufficient evidence in the record to create a material issue of fact concerning whether the physical therapist deviated from the required standard of care. View "Hanson v. Big Stone Therapies, Inc." on Justia Law

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For five years, DeHaan, a licensed family‐practice physician working in the Chicago and Rockford areas, was affiliated with agencies providing medical services to homebound patients, and served as medical director of several home health agencies, assisted living facilities, and hospices. DeHaan billed Medicare at the highest levels for services to homebound patients that were ostensibly time‐consuming or complex, when in fact he had either conducted a routine, non‐complex patient visit or had not seen the patient at all on the occasion for which he was billing. At the behest of home health agencies, DeHaan certified as homebound patients whom he either knew did not meet Medicare’s criteria (42 U.S.C. 1395n(a)(2)(A)) for home care or as to whom he lacked meaningful knowledge. DeHaan pled guilty to two counts of a 23‐count indictment, admitting to overbilling and fraudulent certifications. The district court took evidence and found that he was responsible for fraudulently certifying the eligibility of least 305 individuals for home health care services, resulting in wrongful billings to Medicare of nearly $2.8 million. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding no error in the district court’s “conservative loss‐estimation methodology,” and upheld a within‐Guidelines sentence of 108 months in prison with an order to pay restitution of $2,787,054.58. View "United States v. DeHaan" on Justia Law

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The law firm of Crowell & Moring (Crowell) was vicariously disqualified from this insurance coverage action based on a newly-hired, but disqualified discovery associate in a geographically distant office. Then, while the disqualification appeal was pending with the California Court of Appeal, the associate left Crowell. At that point, Kirk v. First American Title Ins. Co., 183 Cal.App.4th 776 (2010) became the controlling authority. "Kirk" also involved a disqualified attorney who left a vicariously disqualified law firm during the pendency of an appeal, and the result was that the order of disqualification had to be reversed and remanded back for reconsideration by the trial court. In the process Kirk outlined a number of factors that controlled the case on remand with regard to the efficacy of what is called an ethical screen in retroactively deciding whether any of a former client’s confidential communications had been actually disclosed. Following Kirk, the Court of Appeal reversed the disqualification order and returned the case to the trial court with directions to reevaluate its disqualification decision in light of Kirk – specifically the Kirk factors as to whether any confidential information has actually been disclosed. View "Fluidmaster v. Fireman's Fund Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Pioneer Homestead on its professional negligence claim against Sargent Engineers, Inc. on the grounds that Pioneer’s claims were time-barred, holding that disputed issues of material fact existed with respect to whether Pioneer reasonably should have discovered Sargent’s alleged negligence. After Pioneer completed construction of an apartment building it discovered numerous design deficiencies in the building’s plans, as well as deviations from those plans in the building’s construction. Pioneer sued Sargent for professional negligence in the structural engineering services it provided during the design phase of the building’s construction. The district court ruled that Pioneer’s claims were time-barred as a matter of law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed as to when Pioneer should reasonably have been on notice that it needed to investigate the adequacy of the sign, plans, and specifications for the building. View "Pioneer Homestead Apartments III v. Sargent Engineers, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this case presenting the question of whether a treating therapist owes a duty of reasonable care to a nonpatient parent when treating that parent’s child for potential allegations of sexual abuse, the Supreme Court remanded this case for proceedings consistent with its opinion in Mower v. Baird, __ P.3d __ (Utah 2018), a companion case also decided today. As a result of the actions of Kayelyn Robinson, a therapist who treated Plaintiff’s child, Rocio Smith lost visitation with her children for several years and “endured personal defamation, lost income and employment, and incurred enormous legal expenses.” Smith filed suit against Robinson for malpractice and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The district court granted Robinson’s motion to dismiss the malpractice and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims. Smith appealed the district court’s decision on her malpractice claim. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for the district court to conduct proceedings consistent with its opinion in Mower. View "Smith v. Robinson" on Justia Law