Justia Legal Ethics Opinion Summaries
Articles Posted in U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
Homeowners challenged the validity of the foreclosure of their home mortgages. The district court dismissed the suit under Rule 12(b)(6). The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the law firm as fraudulently joined and concluded that the court had subject matter jurisdiction over the appeal because the doctrine of prior exclusive jurisdiction was inapplicable. The court concluded that Homeowners' pleadings mirrored those in Karnatcheva v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and affirmed the district court's dismissal. Homeowners have failed to plead factual content that permitted the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct where the pleadings contained nothing but naked assertions that one or more of the named defendants suspected that Wells Fargo lacked legal title to the mortgages yet chose to publish statements to the contrary. The district court was well within its discretion to file sanctions. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Dunbar, et al v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., et al" on Justia Law
Posted in: Banking, Legal Ethics, Professional Malpractice & Ethics, Real Estate & Property Law, U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
James Schottel brought this action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging a state court judge, Judge Patrick Young, violated his constitutional rights by conditioning the grant of his motion to withdraw as counsel on the repayment of a $1,600 retainer to the clients. The district court dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that because Judge Young's actions were judicial in nature and were not taken in the complete absence of all jurisdiction, Judge Young was entitled to judicial immunity for the claims brought against him in this section 1983 action. View "Schottel v. Young" on Justia Law
Plaintiff sued the attorney handling his father's estate, asserting diversity jurisdiction and alleging malpractice and constructive fraud. The court affirmed the district court's holding that the matter was not ripe because the estate was still open, no final distribution of the estate had yet taken place, and plaintiff could still assert his rights in probate. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing plaintiff's complaint without prejudice. View "Kennedy v. Ferguson" on Justia Law
Plaintiffs filed a complaint and moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, alleging section 16, article V, of the Iowa Constitution, as implemented by Iowa Code sections 46.2, 46.4-46.10, and 46.14, violated their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection under the laws. The court concluded that the State Judicial Nominating Commission was a "special limited purpose" entity for its sole function was to select the most qualified candidates for judicial appointments and forward the names of these candidates to the Governor for a final appointment. This narrow function had a disproportionate effect on a definable group of constituents - members of the Iowa Bar - over other voters in the state. Therefore, the election of the attorney members of the Commission was an election of special interest. Applying rational basis review, the court agreed that the district court's Iowa system of election for the Commission's attorney members by and from members of the Iowa Bar was rationally related to Iowa's legitimate interests. Therefore, Iowa's system did not violate plaintiffs' rights under the Equal Protection Clause. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Carlson, et al. v. Justice David Wiggins, et al." on Justia Law
Plaintiff commenced this action in federal court alleging that M&K violated multiple provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692d-f, by making false statements and misrepresentations in a memorandum filed in the state court action in support of Discover's motion for summary judgment. The complaint also asserted state law claims for malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and the recovery of treble damages for attorney deceit under Minn. Stat. 481.071. Plaintiff subsequently appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing these claims. The court affirmed the dismissal of the FDCPA claims on the merits where it was not false or misleading to submit a client affidavit and legal memorandum arguing M&K's legal position that plaintiff was liable for the unpaid account balance at issue. The court also affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's state law claims where plaintiff failed to submit sufficient evidence of intentional fraud and deceit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Hemmingsen v. Messerli & Kramer, P.A., et al." on Justia Law
Plaintiff sued defendants in Missouri state court, on behalf of a putative class of similarly situated borrowers, alleging that defendants engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in violation of Mo. Rev. State 484.020 when they charged certain fees in the course of refinancing plaintiff's mortgage. Defendants moved the suit to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d) and plaintiff subsequently appealed the district court's judgment. The court held that plaintiff failed to show that she was charged any fees, directly or indirectly, for legal work performed by non-lawyers. Therefore, plaintiff had not shown injury and did not have standing to bring her claim. In light of plaintiff's lack of standing, the district court should have dismissed for lack of jurisdiction rather than reaching the merits of the summary judgment motion. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded with instructions that the action be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. View "Hargis v. Access Capital Funding, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Posted in: Class Action, Consumer Law, Legal Ethics, Professional Malpractice & Ethics, Real Estate & Property Law, U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
A jury found defendant, a licensed attorney, responsible for trust fund recovery penalties imposed by the IRS pursuant to 26 U.S.C. (I.R.C.) 6672 for unpaid employment taxes owed by Iowa Trade Bindery, Inc. (ITB). Defendant appealed the district court's judgment and "all adverse rulings and orders in this case." The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting defendant's signed Form 2751 and an IRS officer's testimony about the form, or by instructing the jury with respect to the form and its effect. The court also held that the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law where the jury's verdict was supported by substantial evidence. The court concluded that defendant's remaining claims were without merit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.
Posted in: Legal Ethics, Professional Malpractice & Ethics, Tax Law, U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
Petitioner, an attorney appointed under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA), 18 U.S.C. 3006A, appealed from various orders of the district court, asking the district court to reimburse her for various extrajudicial activities undertaken "to delay and prevent" the execution of a Missouri convicted murderer. The court held that the CJA did not confer jurisdiction on a circuit chief judge to review a district court's reduction of a CJA voucher and therefore, petitioner's request for such review was dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.