Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order granting Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s refund action pursuant to Ark. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(8) based on the doctrine of res judicata, holding that res judicata did not bar Plaintiff’s suit. After receiving the Faulkner County Assessor’s valuation of its personal property, Plaintiff challenged the assessments. The Faulkner County Board of Equalization upheld the assessments, as did the Faulkner County Court. The circuit court dismissed Plaintiff’s valuation appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. During the discovery process in the valuation appeal, Plaintiff learned of errors regarding the issues in the first complaint. Plaintiff then filed a claim in the Faulkner County Court for a refund of its 2012 ad valorem taxes under Ark. Code Ann. 26-35-901 based on an erroneous assessment of its personal property and on the taxation of its exempt intangible property. The county court dismissed the refund action under Ark. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(8) because the earlier case involved the same parties and arose out of the same occurrence. Plaintiff appealed. The circuit court dismissed the refund action, finding that the refund claims were precluded by res judicata. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the valuation appeal was dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, there was no valid judgment in that case by a court with proper jurisdiction, and all of the required elements of claim preclusion were not satisfied. View "Desoto Gathering Co. v. Hill" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying the motion filed by Appellant, the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas, to dismiss an action brought by Appellee for violations of the overtime of the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (AMWA), Ark. Code Ann. 11-4-201 to -222. On appeal, Appellant argued that the doctrine of sovereign immunity applied, and therefore, the circuit court erred in denying the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the circuit court erred as a matter of law in denying Appellant’s motion to dismiss because it lacked jurisdiction over Appellee’s AMWA claim pursuant to the doctrine of sovereign immunity. View "Board of Trustees of University of Arkansas v. Andrews" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded in part and dismissed in part the circuit court’s denial of the motion filed by Appellants - employees of Arkansas State University - to dismiss Appellee’s complaint asserting that Appellants denied her due process under the Arkansas Constitution and violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In their motion to dismiss, Appellants argued that the complaint was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity because Appellee did not state a cognizable due process violation and that the FOIA claim failed as a matter of law because the records Appellant requested were shielded from disclosure under Ark. Code Ann. 25-19-105(b)(2). The Supreme Court held (1) Appellee’s complaint failed to state sufficient facts to support a due-process violation, and therefore, Appellee’s due-process claim was barred by sovereign immunity; and (2) because Appellant’s argument regarding Appellee’s FOIA claim did not implicate sovereign immunity, this issue was dismissed on appeal. View "Williams v. McCoy" on Justia Law

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A nonlawyer may not appeal a tax assessment to a county court on behalf of a corporation. Appellants appealed the county assessor’s tax assessment, and the letters were signed by Appellants’ representative, a nonattorney. The county court upheld the assessments. Appellants appealed, and the notice of appeal was filed by a licensed attorney. Appellees filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction because the notice of appeal constituted the unauthorized practice of law, rendering the petition to appeal a nullity and depriving the circuit court of jurisdiction. The circuit court granted the motion. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that, because a nonlawyer invoked the process of a court, the county court never acquired jurisdiction over Appellants’ appeal, thus depriving the circuit court of jurisdiction. View "USAC Leasing LLC v. Hill" on Justia Law

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In this case challenging a county board of equalization tax assessment, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Appellants’ appeal, holding that the circuit court did not err in dismissing Appellants’ appeal when Appellants’ representative, a nonlawyer, initiated the appeal on behalf of Appellants. Specifically, the court held that the notices of appeal that Appellants’ tax manager filed on behalf of Appellants must be deemed a nullity because they were filed in violation of the prohibition of the unauthorized practice of law. Therefore, the petitions of appeal were a nullity, and the county and circuit courts lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeals. View "DeSoto Gathering Co. v. Hill" on Justia Law

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In this case concerning a county board of equalization tax assessment, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Appellants’ appeal, holding that the circuit court did not err in dismissing the appeal when Appellants’ tax manager, a nonlawyer, initiated the appeal on behalf of Appellants. Specifically, the notices of appeal that Appellants’ tax manager filed on behalf of Appellants must be deemed a nullity because they were filed in violation of the prohibition of the unauthorized practice of law. Therefore, the petitions of appeal were a nullity, the county court did not have jurisdiction, and the circuit court did not have jurisdiction. View "DeSoto Gathering Co. v. Hill" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court granting class certification for a group of Appellants’ customers, including Appellees. The class definition included all who “owe or will incur debts” springing from business with Appellants. On appeal, Appellants argued that certification was improper because no class was “ascertainable” under Ark. R. Civ. P. 23. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the class as defined was not ascertainable as a threshold matter, and therefore, the circuit court abused its discretion by proceeding to a Rule 23 analysis and granting certification. The court remanded the case with instructions to decertify the class. View "Arch Street Pawn Shop LLC v. Gunn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed by Appellant challenging the circuit court’s order dismissing her case with prejudice based on the statute of limitations. The circuit court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss with prejudice because Appellant’s various complaints, including Appellant’s fourth amended complaint, were time-barred. In her complaints, Appellant named different defendants, and none of the amended complaints stated that they were incorporating Appellant’s earlier complaints. The Supreme Court held that Appellant’s appeal was not final because not all defendants were dismissed, and therefore, there were still claims pending against some Defendants. View "Henson v. Cradduck" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the denial of multiple pro se motions he filed in connection with a pro se civil-rights action he filed in the circuit court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, which rendered his two petitions for writ of certiorari, two amended petitions for certiorari, and multiple motions connected with the appeal moot. Appellant filed a complaint alleging that Appellees violated his civil rights. In addition to his civil complaint, Appellant filed multiple motions. The circuit court denied the motions and other pleadings on the basis that Appellant had failed to provide proof of service with respect to the complaint and the related pleadings. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction because there was no final order on the merits. View "Nooner v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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The circuit court imposed upon the City of Little Rock a fine for violations of Ark. R. Civ. P. 11 and found the City in contempt for failure to timely pay the time. The City appealed, arguing that the imposition of Rule 11 sanctions and the finding of contempt constituted a plain, manifest, and gross abuse of discretion. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part, holding (1) the City’s payment of the penalty rendered an appeal from the circuit’s court’s order imposing the fine moot; and (2) the finding of contempt was not clearly against the preponderance of the evidence. View "City of Little Rock v. Circuit Court of Pulaski County" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure