Category Archives: General

COVID-19 and Emergency Extensions of Time in California State Courts (Just In Case)

In these troubling times of COVID-19, it’s useful to be reminded that the California Rules of Court have for some time contained provisions addressing extensions of time based on public emergencies and the illness of counsel.

Two rules in particular speak to this issue. Rule 8.63 of the California Rules of Court directs that the court “must consider” “illness of counsel” or “a personal emergency,” among many other factors, in determining good cause for a requested extension of time. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.63(b) (10).) The rule also directs that “[i]f good cause is shown, the court must extend the time.” (Rule 8.63(a)(3).) And on a broader scale, Rule 8.66 authorizes the Chair of the Judicial Council (i.e., the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court) to extend the time “to do any act required or permitted under the rules” up to 60 days on a statewide basis, if necessary.

Here’s the text of the rules:
Rule 8.63. Policies and factors governing extensions of time
(a) Policies
(1) The time limits prescribed by these rules should generally be met to ensure expeditious conduct of appellate business and public confidence in the efficient administration of appellate justice.
(2) The effective assistance of counsel to which a party is entitled includes adequate time for counsel to prepare briefs or other documents that fully advance the party’s interests. Adequate time also allows the preparation of accurate, clear, concise, and complete submissions that assist the courts.
(3) For a variety of legitimate reasons, counsel may not always be able to prepare briefs or other documents within the time specified in the rules of court. To balance the competing policies stated in (1) and (2), applications to extend time in the reviewing courts must demonstrate good cause-or an exceptional showing of good cause, when required by these rules-under (b). If good cause is shown, the court must extend the time.
(b) Factors considered
In determining good cause-or an exceptional showing of good cause, when required by these rules-the court must consider the following factors when applicable:
(1) The degree of prejudice, if any, to any party from a grant or denial of the extension. A party claiming prejudice must support the claim in detail.
(2) In a civil case, the positions of the client and any opponent with regard to the extension.
(3) The length of the record, including the number of relevant trial exhibits. A party relying on this factor must specify the length of the record. In a civil case, a record containing one volume of clerk’s transcript or appendix and two volumes of reporter’s transcript is considered an average-length record.
(4) The number and complexity of the issues raised. A party relying on this factor must specify the issues.
(5) Whether there are settlement negotiations and, if so, how far they have progressed and when they might be completed.
(6) Whether the case is entitled to priority.
(7) Whether counsel responsible for preparing the document is new to the case.
(8) Whether other counsel or the client needs additional time to review the document.
(9) Whether counsel responsible for preparing the document has other time-limited commitments that prevent timely filing of the document. Mere conclusory statements that more time is needed because of other pressing business will not suffice. Good cause requires a specific showing of other obligations of counsel that:
(A) Have deadlines that as a practical matter preclude filing the document by the due date without impairing its quality; or
(B) Arise from cases entitled to priority.
(10) Illness of counsel, a personal emergency, or a planned vacation that counsel did not reasonably expect to conflict with the due date and cannot reasonably rearrange.
(11) Any other factor that constitutes good cause in the context of the case.

Rule 8.66. Extending time because of public emergency
(a) Emergency extensions of time
If made necessary by the occurrence or danger of an earthquake, fire, or other public emergency, or by the destruction of or danger to a building housing a reviewing court, the Chair of the Judicial Council, notwithstanding any other rule in this title, may:
(1) Extend by no more than 14 additional days the time to do any act required or permitted under these rules; or
(2) Authorize specified courts to extend by no more than 30 additional days the time to do any act required or permitted under these rules.
(b) Applicability of order
(1) An order under (a) must specify whether it applies throughout the state, only to specified courts, or only to courts or attorneys in specified geographic areas, or applies in some other manner.

SCOTUS Rejects Bare-Metal Defense in Products Liability Cases Under Maritime Law

On March 19, 2019, the United States Supreme Court took a middle-ground approach in deciding when, under federal maritime law, a “bare-metal” manufacturer is liable for failure to warn of dangers posed by parts used with its products, even though they are made by other manufacturers. Rejecting both a “foreseeability” standard and the “bare metal defense,” the 6-3 majority in Air & Liquid Systems Corp. v. DeVries held that “[i]n the maritime tort context, a product manufacturer has a duty to warn when (i) its product requires incorporation of a part, (ii) the manufacturer knows or has reason to know that the integrated product is likely to be dangerous for its intended uses, and (iii) the manufacturer has no reason to believe that the product’s users will realize that danger.”

Read the full Duane Morris LLP Alert.

Duane Morris Partner Rob Byer Among Faculty at Advanced Appellate Advocacy 2019

Rob ByerDuane Morris partner Robert L. Byer will be among the faculty at PBI’s Advanced Appellate Advocacy 2019.  Join a panel of appellate judges and experienced appellate lawyers as they walk you through the process of appealing a case to a higher court. They’ll also identify potential minefields that you may encounter and provide guidance for side-stepping an explosion.

For more information or to register, please visit the PBI website.

Duane Morris’ Thomas Newman Recognized as the NYC Appellate “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers

Duane Morris’ Thomas Newman has been named by Best Lawyers as the 2019 “Lawyer of the Year” in New York City for Appellate Practice. The recognition is given to only one attorney for each practice area and city. Lawyers are selected based on high marks received during peer-review assessments conducted by Best Lawyers each year. Mr. Newman also received this distinction in 2018 and 2013.

Mr. Newman practices in the areas of insurance and reinsurance law, including coverage, claims handling, contract drafting and arbitration and litigation. In addition to his insurance/reinsurance practice, Mr. Newman has wide experience in appellate practice and has handled hundreds of appeals in both state and federal courts in New York and elsewhere and has argued 80 appeals in the New York Court of Appeals.

He is a member of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers; a life member of the American Law Institute; a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators; a member of the London Court of International Arbitration; a member of the American College of Coverage and Extracontractual Counsel; a member of ARIAS-U.S.; a member of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel; a Fellow of the New York State Bar Association Foundation; and a member of the New York State Office of Court Administration’s Advisory Committee on Civil Practice.

He is the original author of New York Appellate Practice, co-author of the Handbook on Insurance Coverage Disputes and the author of numerous articles on insurance/reinsurance and appellate practice.

Supreme Court Resolves Circuit Split: Single Asset Statement Reflects Debtor’s Financial Condition, Must Be Made in Writing

On June 4, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lamar, Archer & Cofrin, LLP v. Appling, 584 U.S. ___ (2018), resolving a circuit split on the issue of whether a debtor’s statement about a single asset constitutes “a statement respecting the debtor’s financial condition” for the purposes of 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2). Affirming the Eleventh Circuit’s decision, 848 F.3d 953 (11th Cir. 2017), the Supreme Court held that a debtor’s statement about a single or specific asset does fall within the scope of the statutory phrase “a statement respecting the debtor’s financial condition,” and therefore, such a statement must be made in writing in order to constitute grounds for nondischargeability.

Read the full text of this client Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

Robert Byer Presented with 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award by The Legal Intelligencer

Robert ByerThe Legal Intelligencer has presented Duane Morris partner Robert L. Byer with a 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes those who have left an imprint on the legal history of Pennsylvania during their career.

Please visit the Duane Morris website to read a profile of Rob originally published in The Legal Intelligencer.

Fifth Circuit Announces New Test to Determine if Certain Contracts for Services on Navigable Waters Are Maritime

In an important new en banc opinion, the Fifth Circuit has abandoned its historic criteria for determining whether a contract relating to servicing oil or gas drilling on navigable waters is controlled by maritime law in favor of a “simpler, more straightforward test.” See In re Larry Doiron, Inc., 879 F.3d 568, 569 (5th Cir. Jan. 8, 2018).

Historically, courts in the Fifth Circuit applied a six-factor test to determine whether a contract is governed by maritime law. As articulated in Davis & Sons, Inc. v. Gulf Oil Corp., 919 F.2d 313 (5th Cir. 1990), this six factor approach considered: (1) what the contract provides; (2) the actual work done by the crew; (3) whether the crew was assigned to work on a vessel in navigable waters; (4) the extent to which the work being done related to the vessel’s mission; (5) the principal work of the injured worker; and (6) the work the injured worker was actually doing at the time of the injury. Id. at 316. Continue reading Fifth Circuit Announces New Test to Determine if Certain Contracts for Services on Navigable Waters Are Maritime

Supreme Court May End Web Retailing As We Know It in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.

The manner in which small businesses can easily solicit orders and sell merchandise over the internet may soon end. In its place, the Supreme Court may require a more regimented and costly scheme that may force many small businesses to go out of business or limit their sales to certain states. It all depends on the outcome of a recent case in the Supreme Court called South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. While Wayfair itself is not a small business, a decision in this case could adversely impact many small businesses that argue, like Wayfair, that they should have some presence in the state (and thus be a user of state services) before a state can impose a tax or tax collection duty on them. On the other hand, many larger businesses, local nonweb businesses and the states believe all businesses, whether in a state or not, should collect sales/use tax to even the playing field, and if some small businesses can’t hack it or handle the administrative or financial cost, so be it. This is the background on the issues at play in Wayfair.

Read the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

 

How Long Does a Ninth Circuit Civil Appeal Take?

So how long does a Ninth Circuit civil appeal take? Using the most recent statistics from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts published in its Judicial Business 2017 report for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017, the median time from notice of appeal to decision in the Ninth Circuit was 22.8 months (and that is just the median time–half the appeals take longer.) (See Table B-4A to the report.) The next slowest circuit—the Third Circuit—handles civil appeals in just about the same length of time: 22.3 months from notice of appeal to final decision. (The Third Circuit’s disposition time is puzzling because it is usually closer to the median.) The 2017 median time from notice of appeal to decision across all Circuits is 12.1 months.

The Ninth Circuit is the largest circuit geographically, and it remains the busiest, with 11,096 appeals filed in the year ending September 30, 2017. The next busiest circuit—the Fifth—had 7,099 appeals filed in the same period. Measured by matters terminated on the merits per active judge and per panel, however, the Ninth Circuit ranked third among the circuits for the year ending September 30, 2017, with 463 merits-based terminations per judge and 771 per panel. The circuit with the heaviest workload, using this same measurement, is the Eleventh Circuit, with 762 merits-based dispositions per judge and 904 per panel. The lowest terminations per active judge is DC Circuit, with 137 per judge, and 131 per panel.