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Civil Procedure

State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. v. U.S. ex rel. Rigsby Decided - Podcast

Litigation Practice Group Podcast
Lawrence S. Ebner January 18, 2017

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court upheld the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the respondent. The respondent, Cori Rigsby, violated the seal requirement of the False Claims Act (FCA) by disclosing her complaint against State Farm, regarding allegedly fraudulent actions taken post-Katrina, before the defendant was served. State Farm argued that the case should have been immediately dismissed due to the procedural violation. The question at hand was whether a claim made under the FCA should be dismissed because the complaining party violated the seal requirement.

Mr. Lawrence Ebner, founder of Capital Appellate Advocacy, author of multiple pieces on the case, and Counsel of Record on the DRI Amicus Brief in support of the petitioner, joined us to discuss the decision and its implications for the future.

Featuring:

  • Mr. Lawrence Ebner, Founder, Capital Appellate Advocacy

Courthouse Steps: State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. v. U.S. ex rel. Rigsby - Podcast

Litigation Practice Group Podcast
Cory L. Andrews November 03, 2016

On Tuesday, November 1, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument on the case State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. v. U.S. ex rel. Rigsby. The defendant, Cori Rigsby, violated the seal requirement of the False Claims Act (FCA) by disclosing her complaint against State Farm before the defendant was served. Rigsby won her original case against State Farm under the FCA, but State Farm appealed, arguing that the U.S. Court of Appeals should immediately dismiss the case due to the procedural violation. The U.S. Court of Appeals refused to do so. The question the Supreme Court must answer is what standards should be used to determine whether a claim made under the False Claims Act should be dismissed because the complaining party violated the seal requirement?

Featuring:

  • Cory Andrews, Senior Litigation Counsel, Washington Legal Foundation

Changing the Rules of Discovery - Podcast

Litigation Practice Group Podcast
Alexander R. Dahl, A. Benjamin Spencer August 19, 2016

A “requester pays” amendment to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) would require that those seeking discovery pay for its costs, moving federal civil litigation away from the current “American rule” that requires all parties to bear their own litigation expenses, including the costs of responding to discovery requests. Supporters of “requester pays” argue that discovery requests can be so broad and costs can be so high that they become a disincentive to defend. Opponents claim that the amendment would make legal proceedings even more expensive for individual litigants, who would be unable to pay for the discovery necessary to make a case against larger and more powerful defendants. Here to discuss this idea are Alex Dahl of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP and Professor Benjamin Spencer of UVA School of Law.

Featuring:

  • Alexander R. Dahl, Shareholder, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
  • Prof. A. Benjamin Spencer, Earle K. Shawe Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law

Dietz v. Bouldin - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 7-12-16 featuring Brad Shannon
Bradley Shannon July 12, 2016

On June 9, 2016, the Supreme Court decided Dietz v. Bouldin. Petitioner Rocky Dietz sued respondent Hillary Bouldin for negligence for injuries suffered in an automobile accident. Bouldin removed the case to Federal District Court. At trial, Bouldin admitted liability and stipulated to damages of $10,136 for Dietz’ medical expenses. The only disputed issue remaining was whether Dietz was entitled to more. During deliberations, the jury sent the judge a note asking whether Dietz’s medical expenses had been paid and, if so, by whom. Although the judge was concerned that the jury may not have understood that a verdict of less than the stipulated amount would require a mistrial, the judge, with the parties’ consent, responded only that the information being sought was not relevant to the verdict. The jury returned a verdict in Dietz’ favor but awarded him $0 in damages. After the verdict, the judge discharged the jury, and the jurors left the courtroom. Moments later, the judge realized the error in the $0 verdict and ordered the clerk to bring back the jurors, who were all in the building—including one who may have left for a short time and returned. Over the objection of Dietz’s counsel and in the interest of judicial economy and efficiency, the judge decided to recall the jury. After questioning the jurors as a group, the judge was satisfied that none had spoken about the case to anyone and ordered them to return the next morning. After receiving clarifying instructions, the reassembled jury returned a verdict awarding Dietz $15,000 in damages. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed. 

The question before the Supreme Court was whether a federal district court can recall a jury it has discharged, or whether the court can remedy the error only by ordering a new trial. By a vote of 6-2, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Ninth Circuit. Justice Sotomayor delivered the opinion of the Court, which held that a federal district court has a limited inherent power to rescind a jury discharge order and recall a jury in a civil case for further deliberations after identifying an error in the jury's verdict. The district court did not abuse that power here. Justice Sotomayor’s majority opinion was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Kagan. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Kennedy joined.

To discuss the case, we have Brad Shannon, who is Professor of Law at Florida Coastal School of Law.

When Enough is not Enough: Frank v. Poertner - Podcast

Litigation Practice Group Podcast
Theodore H. Frank January 11, 2016

In this class action case, counsel for the plaintiffs received over 94% of the total cash recovery provided for in settlement – while the attorneys received $5,680,000 in fees, the millions of class members realized only $344,850. Objector Ted Frank’s petition for cert in the U.S. Supreme Court is pending. The petition essentially asks whether such an award is fair, reasonable and adequate under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. What will this case mean for the future of cy pres and class action litigation?

Featuring:

  • Theodore H. Frank, Senior Attorney, Director of the Center for Class Action Fairness, Competitive Enterprise Institute