May 22, 2015

Colorado Court of Appeals: Announcement Sheet, 5/21/2015

On Thursday, May 21, 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued four published opinions and 30 unpublished opinions.

Dempsey v. Denver Police Department

State of Colorado v. Vaden Law Firm, LLC

People v. Martinez-Huerta

Tubbs v. Farmers Insurance Exchange

Summaries of these cases are forthcoming, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 5/21/2015

On Thursday, May 21, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and one unpublished opinion.

Hassler v. Miller

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

 

Tenth Circuit: Citizenship of LLC for Diversity Jurisdiction Based on Citizenship of Each LLC Member

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Siloam Springs Hotel, L.L.C. v. Century Surety Co. on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

Siloam Springs Hotel, L.L.C. operates a Hampton Inn in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. It purchased a commercial general liability insurance policy from Century Surety Co. During the applicable coverage period, the heating element of an indoor swimming pool suddenly malfunctioned, causing a sudden carbon monoxide leak and injuring several guests. Siloam sought coverage from Century, but Century denied coverage, relying on an exclusion in the insurance policy for injuries arising from noxious characteristics of indoor air. In response, Siloam filed suit in Oklahoma state court, seeking a declaration of coverage. Century removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, asserting complete diversity jurisdiction and an amount in controversy exceeding $75,000. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment in district court, and the district court granted summary judgment to Century.

Siloam timely appealed, challenging the district court’s ruling that the indoor air exclusion barred coverage. After the parties filed their merits briefs, the Tenth Circuit recognized a jurisdictional defect in Century’s notice of removal, which labeled Siloam as a “corporation” and asserted it was organized under Oklahoma law and had its primary place of business in Arkansas. The Tenth Circuit ordered Century to show cause regarding the discrepancy, noting that although the Tenth Circuit had not addressed the issue, every other circuit to consider citizenship of an LLC for diversity jurisdiction purposes has held citizenship of the LLC is defined by citizenship of its members.

Century responded by arguing the LLC’s citizenship should be determined by treating it as a corporation, or, alternatively, the court should find Siloam’s citizenship to be of Oklahoma, Florida, New York, North Carolina, and Texas. The Tenth Circuit disagreed. First, the Tenth Circuit found that Oklahoma law defines an LLC as an unincorporated association or proprietorship, not a corporation. Following Supreme Court precedent, the Tenth Circuit determined that citizenship of an unincorporated association or proprietorship is decided based on citizenship of all its members. Next, the Tenth Circuit rejected Century’s offer that the LLC’s citizenship be Oklahoma, Florida, New York, North Carolina, and Texas, since Century based its determination on an unsworn letter from Siloam’s counsel dated after the notice of removal. The Tenth Circuit found two flaws with Century’s argument. First, residence is not equivalent to domicile, and domicile is used to determine citizenship, so the information in the unsworn letter regarding residence of the LLC’s members did not adequately address domicile. Second, the letter was dated after the notice of removal, and relevance regarding removal is to be determined at the time of removal, not after.

Without addressing the merits of the appeal, the Tenth Circuit remanded to the district court to consider whether diversity jurisdiction is proper and whether the insurance coverage questions would be better answered by certification to the appropriate state court.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 5/20/2015

On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and one unpublished opinion.

United States v. Pascal

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Colorado Supreme Court: Protecting the Secrecy of Jury Deliberations is of Paramount Importance in Our Justice System

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Pena-Rodriguez v. People on Monday, May 18, 2015.

Secrecy of Jury Deliberations—CRE 606(b)—Sixth Amendment Right to Impartial Jury.

After entry of a guilty verdict, defense counsel obtained juror affidavits suggesting that one of the jurors exhibited racial bias against defendant during deliberations. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider whether CRE 606(b) applies to such affidavits and, if so, whether the Sixth Amendment requires their admission. The Court held that the affidavits regarding the juror’s biased statements fall within the broad sweep of CRE 606(b) and that they do not satisfy the rule’s “extraneous prejudicial information” exception. The Court further held that the trial court’s application of CRE 606(b) did not violate defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: District Court Within Discretion to Disregard “Unwieldy Mass” of Unnumbered Exhibits

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London v. Garmin International, Inc. on Friday, March 27, 2015.

Garmin International was testing a new product in experimental, home-built aircraft, and installed one in Henry Bartle’s airplane. Garmin also sent employees to Bartle’s hanger in order to draw illustrations for a manual for the product. Bartle designed a custom bracket for the product and sold it through his company for use with the Garmin product. While Bartle was flying with his stepdaughter, her friend, and her friend’s daughter, the plane crashed short of the runway and all four were injured. Bartle’s passengers and their friends brought suit in California, alleging claims of strict product liability, negligence, breach of express and implied warranties, and loss of consortium. Bartle claimed that the aircraft was built in a joint venture with Garmin and Garmin’s insurance policy included coverage for such joint ventures. Garmin denied any business relationship with Bartle and denied that he was a covered insured under any of its policies.

Garmin’s insurance provider subsequently brought suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas under the Declaratory Judgment Act, seeking a declaration that Bartle fell outside the definition of “insured” in any of its policies with Garmin. Bartle submitted over 700 pages of evidence and exhibits, but failed to comply with the court’s numbering and particularity requirements, thus the district court disregarded most of his evidence. The district court granted summary judgment to Garmin, finding Bartle was not covered by the insurance policies.

The Tenth Circuit first addressed whether the district court abused its discretion in disregarding the evidence that did not comply with District of Kansas Rule 56.1. Bartle explained that the court’s e-filing system limited the sizes of exhibits and assigned new document and page numbers to electronically filed exhibits, which made his citations incorrect. Although the Tenth Circuit was sympathetic to Bartle’s explanations of difficulties with the e-filing system, it found the district court was well within its discretion in setting aside Bartle’s “unwieldy mass of data.”

Turning next to the merits of the appeal, the Tenth Circuit found the plain language of Garmin’s policy required Bartle and Garmin to have more than a joint venture. In order to be covered, Bartle would have had to create one of the specifically described business entities and allowed Garmin to exercise control or have an ownership interest. Since there was no evidence of control by Garmin, the district court correctly found Bartle was not insured.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 5/19/2015

On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and three unpublished opinions.

Holly v. Bravo

United States v. Gallegos

In re Schupbach: Bank of Commerce & Trust Co. v. Schupbach

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Colorado Supreme Court: Announcement Sheet, 5/18/2015

On Monday, May 18, 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court issued one published opinion.

Pena-Rodriguez v. People

The summary of this case is forthcoming, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 5/18/2015

On Monday, May 18, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued two published opinions and seven unpublished opinions.

London v. Beaty

United States v. Steele

United States v. Washington

United States v. Helton

United States v. Ailsworth

United States v. Tucker

Yellowbear v. Ashe, Director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Tenth Circuit: No Error in Admission of Anonymous 911 Call for Purpose of Explaining Investigation

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Edwards on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

After an anonymous 911 call alerted McAlester, Oklahoma police about two men transporting drugs, Maurice Edwards and Tony Washington were arrested. Both were charged with aiding and abetting each other to possess controlled substances with intent to distribute. At trial, Edwards objected to admitting the phone call into evidence, but the trial court ruled that the call was admitted for the limited purpose of explaining why an investigation was undertaken and therefore was not hearsay. The jury found defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of either possession with intent to distribute or aiding and abetting possession with intent of marijuana and 5 grams or more of methamphetamine.

Edwards raised three arguments on appeal: (1) the phone call was testimonial hearsay and its admission violated the Confrontation Clause; (2) his indictment charged him only as an aider and abettor, not a principal, so the trial evidence and jury instructions constructively amended his indictment; and (3) in order for him to have been convicted as an aider and abetter, the jury was required to find beyond a reasonable doubt that someone else was the principal.

The Tenth Circuit first addressed the anonymous 911 call. Even assuming the call was inadmissible hearsay, the Tenth Circuit found any error was harmless because other evidence of Edwards’ guilt was overwhelming, the trial court issued a limiting instruction, and the Tenth Circuit found Edwards’ proffered defense “utterly implausible.”

Next, the Tenth Circuit evaluated Edwards’ constructive amendment argument for plain error since it was not properly preserved below. The Tenth Circuit found that Edwards’ argument failed at the first prong of the plain error test because there was no error. His indictment was sufficient to charge him both as a principal and an aider and abettor. The Tenth Circuit noted the indictment allowed Edwards to assert a double jeopardy defense.

The Tenth Circuit next evaluated Edwards’ argument that the aiding and abetting instruction omitted the essential element that someone else committed the crime. Again, the Tenth Circuit’s review was for plain error because the argument was not preserved below. The Tenth Circuit first noted there was no requirement for the district court to follow pattern jury instructions, and found that if there was any error in the proffered instructions, it was not plain.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed Edwards’ conviction.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Announcement Sheet, 5/14/2015

On Thursday, May 14, 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and 41 unpublished opinions.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 5/15/2015

On Friday, May 15, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and seven unpublished opinions.

United States v. Raymonde

United States v. Allen

United States v. Allen

United States v. Jackett

Warden v. City of Grove, Oklahoma

Jimenez v. Stone

Whitmore v. Mask

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.