Tag Archives: litigation

In Minnesota, Amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure Highlight Proportionality

On February 4, 2013, the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota adopted amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure, including those affecting discovery.  Of particular note were amendments to Rules 1 and 26.  Specifically (and significantly), Rule 1 was amended to state that it is the responsibility of the parties and the court to assure proportionality throughout the litigation.  Accordingly, Rule 1 now states (new language is underlined):

These rules govern the procedure in the district courts of the State of Minnesota in all suits of a civil nature, with the exceptions stated in Rule 81.  They shall be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.

It is the responsibility of the court and the parties to examine each civil action to assure that the process and the costs are proportionate to the amount in controversy and the complexity and importance of the issues.  The factors to be considered by the court in making a proportionality assessment include, without limitation: needs of the case, amount in controversy, parties’ resources, and complexity and importance of the issues at stake in the litigation.

Similarly, in addition to other significant amendments to Rule 26, Rule 26.02(b) has been amended to require that the scope of discovery “comport with the factors of proportionality, including without limitation, the burden or expense of the proposed discovery weighed against its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties’ resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues.”  While such limitations to discovery were previously acknowledged, the amended rule more strongly emphasizes the importance of proportionality.

Significant amendments to other rules were also adopted.  Notably, an order attaching “corrective amendments” was entered several days later.  Those orders are available HERE and HERE.  The newly adopted amendments become effective July 1, 2013.

via In Minnesota, Amendments to the Rules of Civil Procedure Highlight Proportionality : Electronic Discovery Law.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under courts, discovery, District Court, electronic discovery, Judges, legal decision, Minnesota, rules, sanctions

ERISA – changing the reason for denial not allowed

I came across this interesting ERISA cases.  In both cases, the court held that the claims administrator could just not change the reason for denying the benefits.

In both of these cases, the courts ultimately held that the record and the basis for denying benefits were effectively frozen and could not be changed at a later time.

In Rossi v. Precision Drilling Oilfield Servs. Corp. Employee Benefits Plan, 11-50861 (5th Cir. 2013), the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the claims administrator was not allowed to change the basis for a denial of benefits during the internal appeal.

Initially, the claims administrator denied the benefits because Rossi was not receiving sufficient medical care to be incurring medical expenses.  During the administrative appeal, however, the claims administrator changed his rationale.  The claims administrator denied the benefits because the plan had an exclusion for inpatient care.  The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment and remanded the case.

In Sun Life Health Ins., SACV 11-01516, the District Court for the Central District of California held that the claims administrator was not allowed to deny benefits based on factual investigation during the litigation.

In this case, Sun Life granted short-term disability benefits, but denied the plaintiff long-term disability (LTD) benefits.  Sun Life denied the LTD benefits because plaintiff had failed to satisfy the 180 elimination period, and because plaintiff was not employed at the time the medical evidence supported the disability.

During the litigation, Sun Life identified other facts to support its allegation that the claims should be denied.  As a side note, none of the facts raised during the litigation (which never came up during the investigation or appeal) were reviewed by any doctors.

  • First, Sun Life stated that the denial was supported by the fact that plaintiff “did not seek or receive any treatment” prior to the mental-breakdown event.  Sun Life explained that the treatment that plaintiff received after the mental-breakdown event was not his choice.
  • Second, Sun Life stated that plaintiff was unlikely to be disabled because prior to the mental-breakdown, he had gone on a gambling spree.
  • Third, Sun Life stated that after the mental-breakdown but before the hospitalization of plaintiff, plaintiff “appeared to have lived with his family…without incident.”

The district court did two things.  First, it stated that those rationales were inapplicable because they were not raised before and never reviewed by medical professionals.  Second, the court went through the factual rationales and explained why they were unsupported based on the facts.

 

via Don’t Look Back, Something Might Be Gaining On You: Whether a Plan Administrator Can Raise New Bases For Denying a Claim Beyond Those Raised in the Initial Denial of Benefits : Boston ERISA Law Blog.

Leave a comment

Filed under ERISA, legal decision

City of Detroit Faces Default Judgment

Good reminder to Defendants why they need to respond to a lawsuit.  If you don’t, you will likely face default judgment.

The City of Detroit is facing a $1.1 million judgment in a civil rights suit, after failing to respond to the litigation and being held in default by a federal judge.  Caleb Sosa, who is now 19, says he was coerced at age 14 into initialing a confession he couldnt read, to a murder he had nothing to do with, and held in juvenile detention for two years before he was acquitted at trial. His lawyer, Ronnie Cromer Jr., said he might well have been able to persuade a jury to award even more than U.S. Judge Sean Cox did had the case gone to trial, the Associated Press reports.  The city has declined to discuss the management of the Sosa case and why no response was ever filed to the 2010 suit, even after an amended complaint was filed in 2011 and hand-delivered to Detroits law department. The suit accused city police of faking Sosas confession and covering up evidence in his favor.

via After City of Detroit Ignores Civil Rights Suit, Federal Judge Declares Default, Awards $1.1M – News – ABA Journal.

Leave a comment

Filed under civil rights, sanctions

District of Minnesota amendments to Local Rules

Starting on July 23, 2012, the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota’s amendments will come into play.  Most of these amendments are stylistic.  However, there are a couple of substantive changes.

As of note, this summary is intended only as a summary of these changes.  This summary is not exhaustive. The summary is not intended to be legal advice on the rules.

 

The amendments for the Local Rules are as follows:

Local Rule 1.3, Sanctions

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.  In addition, LR 1.3 now specifies that it applies to “an attorney, law firm, or party.”

 

Local Rule 3.1, Civil Cover Sheet

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 4.1, Service

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 4.2, Fees

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.Subsection (a)(2) replaced the phrase “motion for permission to proceed in forma pauperis” with the actual title of the form from the clerk’s office, “application to proceed in district court without prepaying fees or costs.”

Subsection (a)(2) deleted the sentence “If permission to proceed in forma pauperis is later denied, the complaint shall be stricken.”  The District Court explained that “if the court denies a party’s application to proceed without prepaying fees or costs, the court gives the party an opportunity to pay those fees or costs before the court strikes the party’s complaint.”

Local Rule 5.3,  Time for Filing After Service

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 5.5, Redaction of Transcripts

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

The new subsection (f) reflects the substance of the last sentence of former subsection (b).  Subsection (f) states “The court does not review transcripts to assess whether personal identifiers should be redacted.  Attorneys and unrepresented parties must do so themselves.”

Local Rule 6.1, Continuance

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 7.1, Civil Motion Practice

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

LR 7.1 was reorganized to add subsections (a) Meet and confer requirement, and (d) Motions for Emergency injunctive relief

Under subsection (a), parties must meet and confer before filing any civil motion, except a TRO, and file a meet and confer statement with the motion.  Parties must file a joint stipulation if parties agree on the resolution of all or part of the motion after the meet and confer statement is filed.

Under subsections (b) and (c), the District Court clarified that parties should file motions and supporting documents simultaneously.  In addition, the method of calculating deadlines has been changed.  Deadlines are now based on the filing date of the moving party’s motion and supporting documents, rather than on the hearing date.  Parties also now have 14 days to prepare a reply brief for a dispositive motion rather than the 7 days previously provided.

Subsection (b)(4) identifies types of motions that are considered nondispositive:  (i) motions to amend pleadings; (ii) motions with respect to third party practice; (iii) discovery-related motions; (iv) motions related to joinder and intervention of parties; and (v) motions to conditionally certify a case as a collective action.

Subsection (c) was amended to reflect the different practices of district judges.

Subsection (d) was added to provide guidance on filing motions for emergency injunctive relief.

Subsection (e) was amended to clarify that after filing a timely post-trial or post-judgement motion, the moving party must contact the judge’s calendar clerk to obtain a briefing schedule.

Local Rule 9.3,  Standard forms for habeas corpus petitions and motions by prisoners

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 15.1, Amended pleadings and motions to amend

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 16.1, Control of Pretrial Procedure by Individual Judges

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.  In addition, the language regarding ADR was moved to 16.5.  The language requiring parties to consider the use of ADR was removed because it was addressed in LR 26.1 and Forms 3-4.

Local Rule 16.2, Initial Pretrial Conference and Scheduling Order

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

The previous language in (a) was moved to LR 26.1 regarding the initial pretrial conference.

Subsections (c) and (d)(2) were added to specify that issues related to confidential or protected documents must be addressed at the initial pretrial conference and may be addressed in the scheduling order.

Subsection (d)(3) clarifies the nature of discovery deadlines.  The language states, “The discovery deadlines… are deadlines for completing discovery, not for commencing discovery.  To be timely, a discovery request must be served far enough in advance of the applicable discovery deadline that the responding party’s response is due before the discovery deadline.”

Local Rule 16.3, Modification of a Scheduling Order

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

The changes to subsections (a) and (b) are intended to clarify for parties that they cannot simply stipulate to a change in a scheduling order.  Instead, parties must move to modify a scheduling order.

Local Rule 16.4, Case Management Conference

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 16.5, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Mediated Settlement Conference

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

The rule was amended to emphasize that a mediated settlement conference is not required in certain actions.

The time limit (which previously required a mediated settlement conference to be held within 45 days prior to trial) was eliminated.  Subsection (b) states that the mediated settlement conference must occur before trial (except in a proceeding listed in Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1)(B)).

Other subsections were amended to conform to the language of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act, 28 USC 651-658.

Local Rule 16.6, Final Pretrial Conference

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Subsection (b) clarified that although parties must be prepared to discuss the listed subjects, if some of the subjects are not relevant in a particular issue, the court is not required to discuss them.

Subsection (b)(13) clarified that the final pretrial conference can embrace any subjects identified in the relevant provisions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Local Rule 16.7, Other Pretrial Conferences

This section was abrogated as redundant.

Local Rule 17.1, Settlement of Action or Claim brought by Guardian or Trustee

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 23.1, Designation of “Class Action” in the Caption

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 26.1, Conference of the Parties Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(f); Report; Protective Orders

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

The new subsections (a) and (b) clarify the parties’ obligations to meet and confer and file a report (Form 3 or 4).  Forms 3 and 4 were revised.

The new subsection (c) was added to require the parties to address whether a protective order is necessary and incorporates reference to Forms 5 and 6.

Local Rule 26.2, Form of Certain Discovery Documents

 

This local rule was abrogated.  It was considered unnecessary due to the direction provided in LR 37.1.

Local Rule 26.3, Disclosure and Discovery of Expert Testimony

 

This local rule was abrogated.

Local Rule 26.4, Filing of Discovery Documents

 

This local rule was abrogated.

Local Rule 37.1, Form of Discovery Motions

The former LR 37.1 was abrogated.  LR 37.2 was renumbered was LR 37.1.

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

This rule was amended to require parties to meet and confer before filing any motion, and to file a meet and confer statement with the motion.

Local Rule 37.2,

 

It was renumbered was LR 37.1 after the former LR 37.1 was abrogated.

Local Rule 38.1, Demand for a Jury Trial

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.  The rule now instructs parties that they may demand a jury trial either by the method prescribed in LR 38.1 or by any other method that complies with Fed.R.Civ.P. 38(b).

Local Rule 54.3, Time Limit for Motions for Award of Attorney’s Fees and for Costs other than Attorney’s Fees

 

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

Local Rule 72.2, Review of Magistrate Judge Rulings

The language was amended in accordance with the restyling process.

The new subsection (d) clarifies that the format and filing requirements apply to objections and responses to objections filed under this rule in all cases, whether civil or criminal.

via United States District Court – District of Minnesota.

Leave a comment

Filed under courts, District Court, Minnesota, rules