December is not known for ground-breaking legal decisions, especially in light of the very few precedential decisions issued lately. So, in honor of end-of-the-year clean up, and general "keeping yourself busy," we're giving you the run down on some changes to rules and fees.
Recently in Court Rules Category
Courts are creatures of habit. They like to stick to precedent, and have a hard time changing course. Last week, the First Circuit had to give the district courts in the circuit some guidance on the new "plausibility" standards in federal civil pleadings.
A First Circuit Court of Appeals case headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, Ray Haluch Gravel v. Central Pension Fund, raises the question of whether a federal district court's ruling on the merits that leaves unresolved a request for contractual attorneys' fees is a final decision -- and thus appealable under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 -- or whether the decision is not appealable until the court has ruled on contractual attorneys' fees.
The parties: a Massachusetts landscaping company and a union. The amount in question: $350,000 in alleged unpaid union contributions and attorney fees. How did this modest dispute manage to get plucked from certiorari obscurity and wind up on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2013 docket?
The Supreme Judicial Court's Rules Committee would like you to weigh in on proposed amendments to Rule 23(e) of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure.
The proposed amendments would require that at least fifty percent (50%) of class action residual funds be given to the Massachusetts IOLTA Committee to "support activities and programs that promote access to the civil justice system" for low income Massachusetts residents, according to the notice.
In the realm of airport body scanner lawsuits, pro se plaintiff-appellants Jeffrey H. Redfern and Anant N. Pradhan filed a constitutional claim against the TSA’s use of Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) body scanners and enhanced pat-downs.
But the case has been tossed as moot by the First Circuit Court of Appeals because of a software upgrade.
Due to the upgrade, the AIT scanners used at passenger screening checkpoints no longer generate the TMI images of passengers’ bodies that spawned this lawsuit; instead, they have been displaying a generic outline of a person for all passengers.
Political patronage is a dirty word to many. It is one of the principles of the American Idea that in this land of opportunity, we'll choose the best person for the job, no matter their political affiliation. For about a century after our modern Constitutional government was formed, patronage was the name of the game and each change in administration meant a massive civil service turnover, and of course, corrupt bargains and payoffs for positions.
The Feds fixed the issue in 1883 with the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. Puerto Rico had its own remedy, the Public Service Human Resources Administration Act of Puerto Pico, which espoused "merit principles" over patronage.
You probably grew up hearing the saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” (We’ve always preferred the Alice Roosevelt variation, “If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me,” but the advantages of that theory are a discussion for another time.)
Today, we’re considering if the converse of the “don’t say anything at all” adage is true in the context of federal court rules: If people don’t say anything, does it mean that they didn’t have anything nice to say? If so, then no one had anything nice to say about the amendments to the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ Local Rule 35.0. Despite a request in June for public comments on proposed amendments to the En Banc Determination rule, the public failed to respond with opinions about the changes.
Maybe it’s because the changes were non-substantive.
Timely service of process is just what the
doctor court ordered.
Plaintiff Sobeida Feliz argued to the First Circuit that a district court abused its discretion in dismissing her malpractice and wrongful death claims against a doctor for failure to make timely service of process. The First Circuit disagreed, concluding (in an opinion by Justice Souter, sitting by designation), that “dismissal well over a year after filing the complaint and after serial, unexplained delays without apparent effort to get service was within the district court’s discretion.”
To quote Macauley Culkin as Kevin McCallister in Home Alone, "This is it. Don't get scared now."
Really. There's no reason to get scared: We're just talking about proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure.