Civil Procedure

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 heard 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. Although Rigsby won her original case against State Farm under the FCA, the U.S. Court of Appeals immediately dismissed the case due to the procedural violation. 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?


  • 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.


  • 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?


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

Shapiro v. McManus - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 12-14-15 featuring Michael T. Morley
Michael T. Morley December 14, 2015

On December 8, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Shapiro v. McManus. In this case several Maryland citizens sued state election officials claiming that a 2011 redistricting plan violated their rights to political association and equal representation under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.  Although federal law normally requires such claims to be heard by a three-judge federal court, a single judge dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed.

The question before the Supreme Court was whether a single-judge federal district court may determine that a claim governed by the Three-Judge Court Act is insubstantial, and that three judges therefore are not required--not because it concludes that the complaint is wholly frivolous, but because it concludes that the complaint fails to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

By a vote of 9-0, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Fourth Circuit and remanded the case. Justice Scalia delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court, holding that the citizens’ redistricting challenge was not so insubstantial that it could be dismissed by a single judge, and should have been considered by a three-judge Court.

To discuss the case, we have Michael T. Morley, who is Assistant Professor at Barry University School of Law.