Utah Republican Party and Utah Democratic Party v Cox

Republican Party appealed the district court summary judgment rejecting its challenge to the signature or signature and caucus path to the primary ballot and Democratic Party cross-appealed the denial of its motion for judgment on the pleadings. The panel, 2-1, affirmed. The majority held that the signature or signature and caucus provisions at most minimally impose a burden on republican Party’s associational rights as state have power to regulate how parties gain access to the ballot, United states Supreme Court dicta supports this conclusion and Supreme Court precedent in the area favors the rights of party members, rather than party leadership, to have their preferred candidate represent them at the general election. It held that given the minimal burden, Utah’s interests in managing elections, increasing voter participation and increasing access to the ballot were sufficient to sustain the provisions particularly as primary elections are de facto the election for most legislative districts. The majority rejected Republican Party’s challenge to the signature provisions holding that while it may be burdensome in some gerrymandered districts to gather the required percentage of voters to obtain access, the caucus system remains a constitutionally viable alternate means and the district court found the signature path is realistic. It held that Democratic Party’s argument that the Republican Party should be allowed only access through signatures was not ripe as Republican Party has not yet acted in violation of state law and may not choose to do so after this decision. The majority declined to sanction Republican Party counsel for untimely filings in this appeal, but, cautioned him to be more compliant in the future. Tymkovich dissented arguing the provisions change the types of nominees Republican Party will produce, allows unwanted candidates a path to nomination increases divisiveness within Republican Party and deceases party loyalty all of which combine to impose significant burdens on Republican Party’s associational rights and the asserted state interests (if even legitimate in this context) are insufficient to justify those burdens. He also argued the dicta relied upon by the majority is inconsistent with the actual logic an holdings in binding precedent and the dicta may have been overtaken by the decline in parties and thus cannot support the conclusions drawn by the majority.

The Pioneer Centres Holding Company Employee Stock Ownership Plan and Trust v Alerus Financial, N.A.

Plan appealed summary judgment to Alerus on its breach of fiduciary relationship claim. The panel, 2-1, affirmed. The majority held that Plan bore the burden of proof as to causation under ERISA as it is silent as to the burden and the default rule is burden on claimant and the common law of trusts does not change the outcome. It held Plan failed to meet its burden as to causation as Land rover (the brand that the car daelersips involved here sold) repeatedly told Pioneer Company that a transfer of stock to Plan would not be approved, state law requiring approval of the transfer did not alter Land Rover’s adamant refusal to approve the transfer and Plan’s expert testimony was properly excluded as it was based on speculation, contained legal conclusions and one expert was found not qualified to testify. Bacharach dissented arguing that under California and Colorado law, there is a genuine issue of fact as to whether Land Rover would have been required under an objective standard to approve the transfer and at the very least there is a genuine issue of fact as to whether refusal on these facts would have been reasonable.

Benham v Ozark Materials River Rock, LLC

Ozark appealed the remedy order in this Clean Water Act case. The panel affirmed. It held that Benham had standing as he swam dn fished in the river in question, testified the river’s quality degraded after Ozark started mining and order to restore wetland will redress the harm. It held the letter sent by Benham was sufficient notice under the Act as it identified the provision violated with date, the pollutants discharged and locations of the violations. It led there was no clear error in the finding that Ozark violated the Act as there was testimony Ozark built the road supported by photographic evidence and the fact that pollutants in wetlands are continuing violations. It held Ozark waived any argument relating to error in admitting documents prepared by an expert Ozark hired and did not call by inadequately briefing it. It held Ozark forfeited its constitutional argeutmns by failing to raise them below. It finally held there was no administrative proceeding involving the violations here and thus no basis to stay this citizen suit.

Auto-Owners Insurance Company v Summit Park Townhome Association (Harris and Pettinato Appellants)

Harris and Pettinato appealed the sanctions imposed for violation of a disclosure order. The panel affirmed. It held that the district court had jurisdiction over the subject matter and parties and Harris and Pettinato were obligated to comply with the disclosure order as they did tnoa launch an appellate attack on it. The panel held that Harris and Pettinato failed to provide the disclosures set out in the order when they did not disclose their appraiser was on contingency with their firm and openly stated he favored policyholders and had significant other connections with their firm. It held the district court reasonably interpreted the disclosure order to cover attorney fees an expenses incurred Company in preparing the sanctions motion and attorney fee applications as compliance with the disclosure order would have eliminated the need for these fees and expenses. It held Harris and Pettinato were provided due process by being given the opportunity to object to the request for fees filed. It finally held the fees awarded were reasonable given the amount at stake, the issues were complex, the fee rates were reasonable based on the local market, attorney qualifications and the contentiousness of the litigation and Company’s attorneys made concessions on the fees including using lower paid attorneys and staff.

Auto-Owners Insurance Company v Summit Park Townhome Association

Association appealed the vacating of an appraisal award, dismissal of its counterclaims and an award of interest to Company. The panel affirmed. It held the disclosure order that formed the basis for vacating the appraisal award was valid and Association violated it for reasons set out in the Harris opinion above. It held there was no error in vacating the award as the district court had power under its inherent authority and Rule of Civil Procedure 41 to punish violations of its orders. It held dismissal of the counterclaims was not an abuse of discretion as the district court found Association acted in bad faith and applied the pertinent factors. It finally held Association was provided due process as to the award of interest on the funds paid by Company under the initial appraisal ward as Company moved for interest under Colorado statute and Association objected to the request