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Jaworski provided construction services to Master Hand, an Illinois general contractor, over several years. Some of these services went unpaid. Jaworski alleged violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, and the Employee Classification Act, which makes it unlawful for construction firms to misclassify an employee as an independent contractor. The Classification Act presumes that the complainant is an employee unless the contractor proves otherwise; a misclassified employee is entitled to double “the amount of any wages, salary, employment benefits, or other compensation denied or lost to the person by reason of the violation.” The judge held that Master Hand had misclassified Jaworski and was entitled to the compensation guaranteed by the Minimum Wage Law and Wage Payment and Collection Act without having to prove that he is an employee. Those statutes do not include the presumption that plaintiffs are employees. The judge rejected Master Hand’s insolvency defense and ordered Master Hand to pay $200,000 in damages, plus $150,000 in attorneys’ fees. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, adding attorneys’ fees for the frivolous appeal. The court declined to review the rulings challenged by Master Hand, as a sanction for failure to follow court rules. View "Jaworski v. Master Hand Contractors, Inc." on Justia Law

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Jaworski provided construction services to Master Hand, an Illinois general contractor, over several years. Some of these services went unpaid. Jaworski alleged violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, and the Employee Classification Act, which makes it unlawful for construction firms to misclassify an employee as an independent contractor. The Classification Act presumes that the complainant is an employee unless the contractor proves otherwise; a misclassified employee is entitled to double “the amount of any wages, salary, employment benefits, or other compensation denied or lost to the person by reason of the violation.” The judge held that Master Hand had misclassified Jaworski and was entitled to the compensation guaranteed by the Minimum Wage Law and Wage Payment and Collection Act without having to prove that he is an employee. Those statutes do not include the presumption that plaintiffs are employees. The judge rejected Master Hand’s insolvency defense and ordered Master Hand to pay $200,000 in damages, plus $150,000 in attorneys’ fees. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, adding attorneys’ fees for the frivolous appeal. The court declined to review the rulings challenged by Master Hand, as a sanction for failure to follow court rules. View "Jaworski v. Master Hand Contractors, Inc." on Justia Law

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The district court ordered Jackson to pay Cooke the death benefit on her husband’s life insurance policy and to reimburse Cooke’s legal expenses. The court concluded that her husband died before the end of a grace period allowed for late premium payments and that Jackson should have expedited the litigation by attaching documents to its answer and by making some arguments sooner. The court’s order granted Cooke summary judgment but stated: This case is hereby dismissed with prejudice. The Seventh Circuit dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction under the final-decision rule, 28 U.S.C. 1291. The order is contradictory and does not provide relief. It states that a motion has been granted and an award made, but it does not say who is entitled to what; it “transgresses almost every rule applicable to judgments.” A second document avoided the internal contradiction but lacked vital details and the judge’s signature. The court later entered an order specifying that Jackson must pay $191,362.06 on the insurance policy, plus 10% per annum simple interest, which Jackson paid, but did not specify the amount of attorneys’ fees. A declaration of liability, including an award of attorneys' fees, lacking an amount due is not final and cannot be appealed. View "Cooke v. Jackson National Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's postjudgment order concluding that neither plaintiff nor defendant was the prevailing party in litigation over an assignment fee, and thus neither of them was entitled to attorney fees or costs. The court held that the trial court did not err by determining that there was no prevailing party in this case. The court reasoned that a party's failure to obtain its preferred litigation objective did not mean that the other party was ipso facto the prevailing party. The court also held that the trial court had discretion to allow costs, or not to allow costs, under the circumstances of this case where plaintiff recovered monetary relief and obtained declaratory relief. View "Marina Pacifica Homeowners Assoc. v. Southern California Financial Corp." on Justia Law

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The Sauter Estate filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York against Citigroup, Banamex and Banamex U.S.A., seeking information pertaining to Sauter’s accounts. The Estate's amended complaint added Grupo as a defendant and added a claim for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act Infractions, 18 U.S.C. 1961-1968. After defendants moved to dismiss, the Estate filed a notice of voluntary withdrawal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(i). The defendants unsuccessfully moved to vacate that notice and to dismiss with prejudice and requested sanctions under 28 U.S.C. 1927 and the court’s “inherent powers to impose sanctions as a deterrent against continued vexatious litigation." The court noted that the Federal Rules provide safeguards in case the plaintiff commences a second action, including ordering plaintiff to pay all of defendants’ costs and fees in the dismissed action, Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(B)(d). The Estate subsequently filed a complaint in the Delaware District Court, naming only Citigroup. Citigroup moved for costs, including attorneys’ fees, under Rule 41(d). The district court granted the motion for costs but concluded that because the plain language of Rule 41(d) does not provide for an award of attorneys’ fees. The Third Circuit affirmed. Attorneys’ fees may only be awarded as “costs” under Rule 41(d) when the substantive statute under which the lawsuit was filed defines costs to include attorneys’ fees; no such statute is involved here. View "Garza v. Citigroup Inc" on Justia Law

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The Sauter Estate filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York against Citigroup, Banamex and Banamex U.S.A., seeking information pertaining to Sauter’s accounts. The Estate's amended complaint added Grupo as a defendant and added a claim for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act Infractions, 18 U.S.C. 1961-1968. After defendants moved to dismiss, the Estate filed a notice of voluntary withdrawal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(i). The defendants unsuccessfully moved to vacate that notice and to dismiss with prejudice and requested sanctions under 28 U.S.C. 1927 and the court’s “inherent powers to impose sanctions as a deterrent against continued vexatious litigation." The court noted that the Federal Rules provide safeguards in case the plaintiff commences a second action, including ordering plaintiff to pay all of defendants’ costs and fees in the dismissed action, Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(B)(d). The Estate subsequently filed a complaint in the Delaware District Court, naming only Citigroup. Citigroup moved for costs, including attorneys’ fees, under Rule 41(d). The district court granted the motion for costs but concluded that because the plain language of Rule 41(d) does not provide for an award of attorneys’ fees. The Third Circuit affirmed. Attorneys’ fees may only be awarded as “costs” under Rule 41(d) when the substantive statute under which the lawsuit was filed defines costs to include attorneys’ fees; no such statute is involved here. View "Garza v. Citigroup Inc" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme court reversed the circuit court’s disqualification of counsel for Appellant. The circuit court dismissed counsel on the basis that counsel had a conflict and was disqualified from representing Appellant. On appeal, Appellant argued, among other things, that the circuit court erred in disqualifying Appellant’s counsel based solely on opposing counsel’s statement that the attorney would be called as a witness. The Supreme Court remanded the matter for further proceedings, holding that the circuit court’s decision to impose “the drastic measure” of disqualifying counsel constituted an abuse of discretion because there was no motion to disqualify counsel or any consideration of the factors set forth in Weigel v. Farmers Insurance Co., 158 S.W.3d 147, 150-51 (Ark. 2004). View "Helena County Club v. Brocato" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motion to compel payment of attorneys' fees that they say should have been but were not paid as a result of PBGC doing too little to identify and make payments to class members. The court's de novo interpretation of the wrap-up agreement gave it no reason to question the district court's conclusion that PBGC fully performed notwithstanding class counsel's unsupported assertions to the contrary. The court also held that PBGC did not prevent class counsel's performance of the wrap-up agreement. In this case, the parties intended that the wrap-up would be complete within ten years. This ten year period was unambiguous and has expired. View "Collins v. PBGC" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motion to compel payment of attorneys' fees that they say should have been but were not paid as a result of PBGC doing too little to identify and make payments to class members. The court's de novo interpretation of the wrap-up agreement gave it no reason to question the district court's conclusion that PBGC fully performed notwithstanding class counsel's unsupported assertions to the contrary. The court also held that PBGC did not prevent class counsel's performance of the wrap-up agreement. In this case, the parties intended that the wrap-up would be complete within ten years. This ten year period was unambiguous and has expired. View "Collins v. PBGC" on Justia Law

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Petitioners California Self-Insurers’ Security Fund (the Fund) and Nixon Peabody LLP (Nixon Peabody or the firm) sought a writ of mandate to direct the trial court to vacate its order disqualifying Nixon Peabody from representing the Fund in the underlying case. Petitioners argued the trial court mistakenly believed it was compelled by law to disqualify the firm; the court instead should have made further factual findings and exercised its discretion. Real parties in interest contended disqualification was mandatory and therefore no discretion needed to be exercised. The Court of Appeal concluded that automatic disqualification was not required under these facts. View "CA Self-Insurers' Sec. Fund v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law