Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The Missouri River overlies the western boundary of South Dakota's Crow Creek Indian Reservation, established in 1863. Under the Supreme Court’s 1908 “Winters” decision, the creation of a Reservation carries an implied right to unappropriated water “to the extent needed to accomplish the purpose of the reservation.” The Tribe possesses “Winters rights.” The Tribe sued, seeking $200 million in damages for the taking of its water rights. The complaint notes the federal Pick-Sloan flood control project on the River, with construction of the Fort Randall and Big Bend Dams; a 1996 statute that established a trust fund for the Tribe, funded with $27.5 million in hydroelectric-power revenue from Pick-Sloan; a 2012 settlement between the Tribe and the government, unrelated to water rights; and the generally poor economic prospects of the Reservation; it alleged that the government breached its fiduciary duty to “[a]ppropriately manag[e] the natural resources" of the Reservation, 25 U.S.C. 162a(d)(8). The complaint did not allege that the government’s actions deprived the Tribe of sufficient water to fulfill the reservation’s purposes or that those actions would cause the Tribe to lack sufficient water in the future. The Claims Court dismissed, stating that the complaint did not suggest that the Tribe is experiencing a water shortage and that it could not identify an injury "that has yet occurred.” The Federal Circuit affirmed, concluding that the Tribe failed to even allege that it has suffered the requisite injury in fact. View "Crow Creek Sioux Tribe v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 1999, Native American farmers sued, alleging that the USDA had discriminated against them with respect to farm loans and other benefits. The court certified a class, including LaBatte, a farmer and member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Tribe. Under a settlement, the government would provide a $680 million compensation fund. The Track A claims process was limited to claimants seeking standard payments of $50,000. Track A did not require proof of discrimination. Under Track B, a claimant could seek up to $250,000 by establishing that his treatment by USDA was "less favorable than that accorded a specifically identified, similarly situated white farmer(s),” which could be established “by a credible sworn statement based on personal knowledge by an individual who is not a member of the Claimant’s family.” A "Neutral" would review the record without a hearing; there was no appeal of the decision. LaBatte's Track B claim identified two individuals who had personal knowledge of the USDA’s treatment of similarly-situated white farmers. Both worked for the government's Bureau of Indian Affairs. Before LaBatte could finalize their declarations, the government directed the two not to sign the declarations. The Neutral denied LaBatte’s claim. The Claims Court affirmed the dismissal of LaBatte’s appeal, acknowledging that it had jurisdiction over breach of settlement claims, but concluding that it lacked jurisdiction over LaBatte’s case because LaBatte had, in the Track B process, waived his right to judicial review to challenge the breach of the agreement. The Federal Circuit reversed. There is no language in the agreement that suggests that breach of the agreement would not give rise to a new cause of action. View "LaBatte v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Department of Commerce published antidumping and countervailing duty orders on certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells imported from China (CSPV Orders). Sunpreme, a U.S. company, imports solar modules produced in China that are composed, in part, of solar cells designed, developed, and tested at Sunpreme’s California facility. Sunpreme’s solar modules had been imported as entry type “01,” ordinary consumption entries not subject to any antidumping or countervailing duties. In April 2015, Customs requested that Sunpreme file its entries under type “03,” entries subject to duties. Sunpreme provided Customs with lab results from an independent third party and invited Customs to its California facility to observe its production process, arguing that its products were not within the scope of the CSPV orders. Customs performed its own laboratory testing. Sunpreme sought relief in the Trade Court. Commerce initiated a formal scope inquiry. The Trade Court issued a preliminary injunction, holding that Customs acted outside its authority in its unilateral interpretation of the scope language of the CSPV Orders to include Sunpreme’s solar modules. Commerce issued its final scope determination concluding that Sunpreme’s products fall within the scope of those Orders. The Federal Circuit reversed, holding that the Trade Court lacked jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1581. Sunpreme was required to exhaust administrative remedies by a scope ruling inquiry and scope ruling determination. View "Sunpreme Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Diem and Express filed patent infringement suits against BigCommerce in the Eastern District of Texas. BigCommerce is incorporated in Texas and lists Austin, Texas, where it is also headquartered, as its registered office. Austin lies in the Western District of Texas. BigCommerce has no place of business in the Eastern District. During the discovery phase of the cases, the Supreme Court issued its 2017 decision, “TC Heartland,” which reaffirmed that a domestic defendant corporation “resides” under 28 U.S.C. 1400(b) only in its state of incorporation. BigCommerce moved to dismiss Diem’s case and transfer Express’s case, arguing that it resides only in the Western District. The court denied the motion. The Federal Circuit disagreed, holding that a domestic corporation incorporated in a state having multiple judicial districts “resides” for purposes of the patent-specific venue statute, 28 U.S.C. 1400(b), only in the single judicial district within that state where it maintains a principal place of business, or failing that, the judicial district in which its registered office is located. View "In re: BigCommerce, Inc." on Justia Law

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GNC sued ZTE in the Eastern District of Texas alleging infringement of its patents. ZTE moved to dismiss for improper venue under 28 U.S.C. 1406 and 1400(b). While that motion was pending, ZTE sought transfer to the Northern District of Texas or the Northern District of California under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a). The magistrate concluded that venue was proper in the Eastern District of Texas under the 1404(a) convenience analysis but did not rule on the motion to dismiss for improper venue under section 1406(a). The case was assigned to a new judge and a new magistrate, who denied the motion to dismiss, finding that ZTE failed to show it did not have a regular and established place of business in the Eastern District of Texas as required under the second prong of 28 U.S.C. 1400(b). The magistrate placed the burden on the objecting defendant to show improper venue and determined that ZTE had contracted with a call center in Plano, Texas, operated by another company, which constituted a physical place, and that ZTE transacted business there. The district court agreed. The Federal Circuit granted mandamus relief and remanded. The district court incorrectly assigned the burden of proof on venue and failed to fully consider the factors relevant to the question of whether the call center was that of ZTE. View "In re: ZTE (USA) Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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M-I Drilling, a U.K. company owns five U.S. patents; M-1 LLC, a U.S. company, is an exclusive licensee of the patents, which are claimed to cover pneumatic conveyance systems installed around oil drilling rigs and used to transfer drill cuttings from the oil rigs to ships. DAL, organized under the laws of and with its principal place of business in Brazil, is a subsidiary of Dynamic, a Minnesota corporation. The Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras requested proposals for the installation of pneumatic conveyance systems on ships. DAL won the bid and designed, manufactured, and operated conveyance systems from offshore oil drilling rigs onto two U.S.-flagged ships. M-I sued DAL in the District of Minnesota, alleging infringement. The court dismissed the case, finding that, although the alleged infringing activities took place on U.S.-flagged ships that are U.S. territory, the contract between Petrobras and DAL did not identify the ships on which DAL would make installations, so DAL did not purposefully avail itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the U.S. The Federal Circuit reversed. The district court erroneously focused on the contract between Petrobras and DAL. Even if the contract directed where the systems were installed and operated, DAL controlled the specifics of its continued performance. DAL kept the systems operating on the ships. Such deliberate presence of DAL and its systems in the U.S. enhance its affiliation with the forum and “reinforce the reasonable foreseeability of suit there.” View "M-I Drilling Fluids, U.K. Ltd. v. Dynamic Air Ltda." on Justia Law

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Defendants produce or sell patented drug products containing the antiviral agent tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF), which is used in the treatment of AIDS. Healthcare provides medical care to persons afflicted with AIDS, including providing antiviral drugs, including the TAF products that Healthcare buys from Defendants. Healthcare sought declarations of invalidity for patents purportedly covering TAF and various combination products so that it could partner with generic makers and purchase generic TAF on the expiration of the five-year New Chemical Entity exclusivity s(21 U.S.C. 355(j)(5)(F)(ii)). Healthcare filed suit two months after the FDA approved Genvoya®—the first TAF-containing product to receive FDA approval; other TAF products were still undergoing clinical trials. No unlicensed source was offering a TAF product or preparing to do so. Healthcare told the court that “none of the generic makers wanted to enter the market because there was the fear of liability.” The court ruled that Healthcare’s actions in encouraging others to produce generic TAF products and interest in purchasing such products did not create an actual controversy under the Declaratory Judgment Act. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The declaratory requirement of immediacy and reality is not met by litigation delay. Healthcare has not otherwise shown that there is a controversy of sufficient immediacy and reality to create declaratory judgment jurisdiction. Liability for inducing infringement requires that there be direct infringement. An interest in buying infringing product is not an adverse legal interest for declaratory jurisdiction. View "AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Inc. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendants produce or sell patented drug products containing the antiviral agent tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF), which is used in the treatment of AIDS. Healthcare provides medical care to persons afflicted with AIDS, including providing antiviral drugs, including the TAF products that Healthcare buys from Defendants. Healthcare sought declarations of invalidity for patents purportedly covering TAF and various combination products so that it could partner with generic makers and purchase generic TAF on the expiration of the five-year New Chemical Entity exclusivity s(21 U.S.C. 355(j)(5)(F)(ii)). Healthcare filed suit two months after the FDA approved Genvoya®—the first TAF-containing product to receive FDA approval; other TAF products were still undergoing clinical trials. No unlicensed source was offering a TAF product or preparing to do so. Healthcare told the court that “none of the generic makers wanted to enter the market because there was the fear of liability.” The court ruled that Healthcare’s actions in encouraging others to produce generic TAF products and interest in purchasing such products did not create an actual controversy under the Declaratory Judgment Act. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The declaratory requirement of immediacy and reality is not met by litigation delay. Healthcare has not otherwise shown that there is a controversy of sufficient immediacy and reality to create declaratory judgment jurisdiction. Liability for inducing infringement requires that there be direct infringement. An interest in buying infringing product is not an adverse legal interest for declaratory jurisdiction. View "AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Inc. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a patent infringement suit in the District of Delaware against HTC, a Taiwanese corporation with its principal place of business in Taiwan, and its wholly owned U.S. based subsidiary, HTC America, a Washington corporation with its principal place of business in Seattle. HTC and HTC America moved to dismiss for improper venue or, in the alternative, to transfer the case to the Western District of Washington pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) or 1406(a). The district court found that venue was not proper as to HTC America but was proper as to HTC. Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their suit against HTC America without prejudice. HTC filed a mandamus petition seeking dismissal for improper venue. The Federal Circuit denied relief, rejecting HTC’s attempts to characterize the legal issue as “unsettled.” Suits against alien defendants are outside the operation of the federal venue laws. View "In re: HTC Corp." on Justia Law

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In returns for 1995, 1996, and 1997, Stephens a shareholder of SF, a subchapter S corporation, reported "passive activity" passthrough income and passive activity losses (deductible from passive activity income) and passive activity credits (claimed against taxes allocable to passive activities). The IRS audited SF’s returns and Stephens’s individual returns for 1995 and 1996; the 1997 return was audited separately. The IRS concluded that Stephens had materially participated in some SF activities, finalized its audit of the 1995 and 1996 returns, and, in 2009, sent Stephens a notice of deficiency, as proposed in 2003 and 2008. Stephens did not contest the notice but made payment and never filed a formal refund claim, allegedly believing he could carry over the disallowed passive activity losses to 1997. The IRS extended the deadline for a 1997 refund claim to 2008. In 2009, Stephens mailed an amended 1997 return, seeking to carry over the 1995 and 1996 passive activity losses. In 2011, Stephens asserted the mitigation provisions, which, in specified circumstances, “permit a taxpayer who has been required to pay inconsistent taxes to seek a refund” otherwise barred by section 7422(a) (requiring that a “claim for refund or credit has been duly filed”) or section 6511(a), specifying the limitations period for refund claims. The IRS proposed to disallow the Stephenses’ refund claim as untimely and rejected an equitable recoupment argument. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the Stephenses suit, concluding that a timely refund claim was a “prerequisite for a refund suit.” View "Stephens v. United States" on Justia Law