Justia Professional Malpractice & Ethics Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Arkansas Supreme Court
Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission v. Bourne
The Supreme Court granted a petition sought by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission for expedited consideration and report of uncontested sanction following its investigation of complaints against Pope County District Court Judge Don Bourne, holding that Judge Bourne's conduct warranted sanctions.Several complaints involving two counts were filed against Judge Bourne involving his conduct toward unrepresented litigants. Judge Bourne did not contest either count, waived a formal disciplinary hearing, and accepted the investigatory panel's recommended sanction of suspension without pay for ninety days, with seventy-five days held in abeyance for one year. The commission accepted the recommended sanction. The Supreme Court suspended Judge Bourne from the bench without pay for ninety days with seventy-five days held in abeyance if he agrees to, among other things, never again to hold judicial office after his current term expires, ordering that the mandate shall issue immediately. View "Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission v. Bourne" on Justia Law
Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission v. Sims
The Supreme Court accepted the findings of fact by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission and its recommendation that the Court suspend the Honorable Barry Sims of the Sixth Judicial District, Seventh Division, from his duties based on certain misconduct, holding that suspension was warranted.The report of uncontested sanction arose from complaints lodged against Judge Sims concerning his courtroom comments and conduct toward members of the Bar. Judge Sims agreed that sanction of suspension was appropriate. The Supreme Court accepted the recommendation of suspension and suspended Judge Sims from his duties without pay for thirty days with an additional sixty days suspended on the condition that he performs certain remedial actions. View "Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission v. Sims" on Justia Law
Ahmad v. Beck
The Arkansas State Medical Board found Dr. Mahmood Ahmad in violation of the Arkansas Medical Practices Act. While Ahmad’s administrative appeal was pending in the circuit court, Ahmad filed a complaint for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against the Board and the Board’s chairman (collectively, the Board), alleging that portions of the Chronic Intractable Pain Treatment Act and certain Board regulations were unconstitutional. The Board moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that, because Ahmad’s exclusive remedy was an administrative appeal of the Board’s order, Ahmad’s complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief was barred as a matter of law. Ahmad responded by filing a motion for temporary restraining order seeking an order prohibiting the Board from pursuing any administrative action against him until both his administrative appeal and his declaratory and injunctive action were concluded. The circuit court granted the Board’s motion to dismiss and denied Ahmad’s motion for a restraining order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in dismissing Ahmad’s complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies; and (2) the circuit court did not err in denying, on jurisdictional grounds, Ahmad’s request for a temporary restraining order. View "Ahmad v. Beck" on Justia Law
First Ark. Bank & Trust v. Gill Elrod Ragon Owen & Sherman, P.A.
Developers purchased forty acres with the intent to develop it. Appellants secured a mortgage on the property with a bank. Later Developers formed a municipal property owners' district (the District). Law Firm was retained by the District as legal counsel for the proposed issuance of improvement bonds to finance public improvements in the development. At issue in this case were certain bonds issued by the District that were sold to several banks (Appellants). Developer defaulted on payment of the capital improvement use fees on the bonds and subsequently defaulted on the original mortgage, and the property was sold. Appellants sued Law Firm, alleging that Law Firm had a duty to inform Appellants of the mortgage on the real property and that it failed to inform them. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Law Firm. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the circuit court (1) correctly found Law Firm was not liable under the Arkansas Security Act; (2) erred in granting judgment on the issue of attorney malpractice; and (3) correctly found Law Firm had no duty to Appellants under contract, negligence, or breach of a fiduciary duty. View "First Ark. Bank & Trust v. Gill Elrod Ragon Owen & Sherman, P.A." on Justia Law
HPD LLC v. TETRA Techs., Inc.
HPD, LLC and TETRA Technologies Inc. entered into an agreement for HPD to supply equipment to be used in TETRA's future facility. The contract contained a provision for binding arbitration. After the construction of the plant was completed, TETRA filed a complaint against HPD, alleging that the equipment designed by HPD did not perform to expectations. TETRA also sought a declaratory judgment that the contract and the embedded arbitration clause were illegal and thus void because HPD performed engineering services without obtaining a certificate of authorization as allegedly required by Ark. Code Ann. 17-30-303. HPD moved to compel arbitration. After a hearing, the circuit court rule in TETRA's favor that it would determine the threshold issues of arbitrability before deciding whether the case must proceed to arbitration. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for the entry of an order compelling arbitration, holding that the circuit court erred by not honoring the parties' clear expression of intent to arbitrate the existing disputes. View "HPD LLC v. TETRA Techs., Inc." on Justia Law
Ark. Found. for Med. Care v. Circuit Court
This petition for writ of certiorari arose out of two pending nursing home malpractice cases alleging abuse and neglect at Bryant Healthcare Center (Bryant). The plaintiffs below served a subpoena on the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care (AFMC) that demanded the production of all emails between the Arkansas Innovative Performance Program (AIPP) personnel and Bryant administrators. Petitioners, Bryant, AFMC, and others, filed a motion to quash, arguing the information was privileged and federally protected. The circuit court denied the motion to quash. The instant petition for writ of certiorari was then filed with the Supreme Court. The Court denied the petition because the order at issue was a mere discovery order in which an alleged discovery violation occurred and because an appeal would provide an adequate remedy. View "Ark. Found. for Med. Care v. Circuit Court " on Justia Law
BDO Seidman, LLP v. SSW Holding Co.
SSW Holding filed a complaint against BDO Seidman and other defendants, asserting several causes of action and seeking damages arising from a tax-advantaged investment strategy involving investments in distressed debt that SSW entered into and utilized on its federal tax returns for the 2001-2005 tax years. BDO filed an amended motion to compel arbitration and stay the motion, asserting that it and SSW entered into two consulting agreements that provided for arbitration before the American Arbitration Association. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) SSW's claims fell within the scope of the arbitration provisions; and (2) the circuit court erred in finding that the arbitration provisions were unenforceable and invalid due to fraud and procedural and substantive unconscionability. Remanded. View "BDO Seidman, LLP v. SSW Holding Co." on Justia Law
Carter v. Cline
Ernie and Karen Cline sued M. Jay Carter for breach of contract after Carter signed a real estate contract with the intent to purchase residential property from the Clines but was unable to do so because he failed to obtain financing approval. Carter filed a third-party complaint against the real estate agent and company that represented him in the transaction (Jones Defendants). The circuit court consolidated the two lawsuits for trial. The jury returned a verdict (1) against Carter and in favor of the Clines on their breach of contract claim, and (2) against the Jones Defendants and in favor of Carter on Carter's negligence claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred by denying Carter's motion for a directed verdict and his subsequent motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict because there was a condition precedent included in the real estate contract that required Carter to obtain financing for the purchase, which he was unable to do, and as a result, there was no contract. Remanded. View "Carter v. Cline" on Justia Law