Articles Posted in Federal Jurisdiction

Vanessa Noboa used Orbitz to book and pay for a room at the Barceló Los Cabos Palace Hotel on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico.

She signed up for an all-terrain vehicle tour with Rancho Carisuva. During the tour, the all-terrain vehicle overturned and killed Noboa. Her family brought a lawsuit against Rancho Carisuva and Barceló Corporación Empresarial, a Spanish corporation. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

The presiding judge granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss for lack of specific personal jurisdiction. Neither of the defendants had personal contact with Illinois.

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In a civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983, Danny Farley hired an attorney who began the process of filing the complaint in the Southern District of Illinois in East St. Louis, Ill. The local rules in the district require that documents be filed electronically through the CM/ECF system. Attorneys must use this system to file documents unless they have received a special exemption.

Under the rules in place at the time, e-filers could not open a new case in CM/ECF on their own. Rather, they had to submit civil cases by e-mail in PDF form to the proper divisional mailbox. Upon receipt, the division clerk would open a new case in the CM/ECF system and inform the attorney that they could proceed in filing further documents.

On March 8, 2011 at 4:15 p.m., an assistant to Farley’s attorney e-mailed the complaint and civil cover sheet to the proper e-mail address. The clerk’s office responded at 5:11 p.m. with a notice stating that a new civil case had been opened, but the complaint was not being filed with the clerk until it was transmitted to the CM/ECF system.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago has found an Illinois resident did not establish the minimum state contacts for a case to be heard in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.

William Kipp purchased a ski ticket at Devil’s Head Ski Resort in Merrimac, Wis., on Jan. 6, 2012. As Kipp was attempting to board the ski lift, the speed of the lift caused him to be thrown from the chair. He suffered a left clavicle, collar bone fracture.

Kipp sued Ski Enterprise, the lift operator, claiming that the lift’s operating speed was the too fast and that the operator was negligent, causing his injuries.

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Takata Corp. is headquartered in Japan and manufactures millions of airbags installed in American vehicles. The company has agreed to recall 33.8 million airbags. That number doubles the already massive recall.

A consent agreement was entered into between Takata and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There is a federal class action injury lawsuit pending in the Miami Federal District Court related to the defective airbags.

The agreement with NHTSA and Takata was reduced to an agreed order in the federal district court class action case. There are 10 automobile manufacturers that installed Takata airbags. According to a recent Chicago Law Daily Bulletin report, 17 million of those vehicles with Takata airbags are in the United States.

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The Federal Tort Claim Act (FTCA) provides that a tort claim against the United States “shall be forever barred” unless the claimant meets two deadlines. First, the claim must be presented to the appropriate federal agency for administrative review “within two years after [the] claim accrues.” 28 U.S.C. §2401(b). Second, if the agency denies the claim, the claimant may file a suit in federal court “within six months” of the agency’s denial. Id.

In this United States Supreme Court decision, Kwai Fun Wong and Marlene June, respondents in Nos. 13-1074 and 13-1075, respectively, each missed one of those deadlines. Wong failed to file her FTCA claim in federal court within 6 months, but argued that was only because the District Court had not permitted her to file that claim until after the period expired. June failed to present her FTCA claim to the federal agency within 2 years, but argued that her untimely filing should be excused because the government had, in her view, concealed facts vital to her claim.

In each of these cases, the District Court dismissed the FTCA claim for failure to satisfy §2401(b)’s time bars, holding that, despite any justification for delay, those time bars are jurisdictional and not subject to equitable tolling. The Ninth Circuit reversed in both cases, concluding that §2401(b)’s time bars may be equitably tolled.

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago has affirmed a decision by the district court judge regarding circumstantial evidence without an expert witness. In this case, the plaintiffs, Howard Piltch and Barbara Nelson-Piltch, were driving in their 2003 Mercury Mountaineer in 2006 when they were involved in an accident; the airbags of their vehicle did not deploy. After the crash, the couple repaired their car, but did not confirm whether the restraint control module, which monitors a crash and electronically decides whether to deploy airbags, was reset during or after repair work.

One year later, the Piltches were driving the car when it hit a patch of black ice. This caused the car to slide off of the road and hit a wall. On impact, none of the cars’ airbags deployed.

After the second crash, the couple had their Mountaineer repaired at the same repair shop that had repaired the car after the 2006 incident. In 2009, the Piltches sold the car to a mechanic who reprogrammed the vehicle’s black box, wiping out the data that might have been remaining from either of the two crashes.

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In the model years 2009 and 2010, Toyota’s Corolla has been targeted as a dangerous vehicle because of the electric power steering (ETS) system. In fact, two Toyota Corolla owners, one in New York and one in Pennsylvania, filed suit. The Corolla owners have alleged that the steering system’s defect caused their cars to drift out of control. The lawsuits claim that the steering system defect is a serious safety problem and that Toyota was aware of the problem but did nothing to fix it.

It was alleged in the lawsuit that the defect in the electric power steering system caused a driver to spin out of control on a highway, cross the center line into oncoming traffic before crashing into an embankment. The plaintiffs have alleged that the defect in the electric power steering system is significant and widespread, and they seek to have a class certified by the court.

Toyota, on the other hand, has argued that the court should not allow class certification nationwide because the vehicle shares no common problem. Toyota said the defect in the steering system affects only a small number of Corolla owners. Toyota also said it has reviewed the reports of steering problems and has found that the individual complaints may relate to the way steering feels to them or tire conditions on the particular vehicle.

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A federal jury has entered an $11 million verdict for victims of the design defect of the 1996 Toyota Camry.

The jurors indicated that Toyota was 60% at fault for the 2006 crash that left two people dead and two seriously injured. They also found that another defendant, Koua Fong Lee, who had insisted that he tried to stop his car before it slammed into another vehicle, was 40% at fault for the crash. Lee and his family members, the family of a girl who died and two others who were seriously injured, sued Toyota Motor Corp. in the United States District Court in Minneapolis, Minn.

The lawsuit alleged this crash was caused by the acceleration defect in Lee’s Toyota. Toyota maintained that there was no design defect and that Lee was negligent and the sole cause of the crash.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago has affirmed a decision by a United States district court judge regarding subject-matter jurisdiction and a voluntary dismissal of a complaint.

Mieczyslaw Kuznar, a native of Poland, moved to the United States leaving his wife, Emilia, and his son, Thomas, behind. While living in the United States, Kuznar married Anna, but never divorced Emilia. Kuznar died intestate in 1995. Anna began collecting spousal benefits from his pension the year of his death.

In 1997, Thomas, by that time an adult, opened a probate estate in the Illinois state court seeking judicial administration of his father’s estate. Thomas was acting on his mother’s behalf; she continued to live in Poland.

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Robert Lodholtz was seriously injured in 2011 while working at a plant owned by Pulliam Enterprises in Indiana. Lodholtz filed a personal-injury lawsuit against Pulliam in the Indiana state court. Pulliam called on Granite State Insurance Co., its primary liability insurer, along with New Hampshire Insurance Co., to defend and indemnify it against the lawsuit.

Granite State refused to indemnify Pulliam stating that Lodholtz as an employee should pursue his claim for worker’s compensation. Lodholtz disagreed arguing that he was employed by another company while he worked at Pulliam’s plant and therefore had no basis for a worker’s compensation claim.

Pulliam chose not to file an answer to the complaint, so Lodholtz moved for default judgment, which was granted. Lodholtz then agreed with Pulliam not to pursue the default judgment and in return Pulliam assigned to Lodholtz its rights against Granite State. Granite State then moved to intervene in Lodholtz’s lawsuit. The Indiana state court denied the motion to intervene.

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