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    Civil Procedure

    Lee P. Dunham

    Recent Posts

    BANKRUPTCY: Effect of Prior Bankruptcies on Civil Litigation

    Posted by Lee P. Dunham on October 8, 2018 at 11:08 AM

    Lee Dunham, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

                Bankruptcy Code § 521(1) places an affirmative duty upon a debtor to disclose all assets to the bankruptcy court. A known cause of action that has accrued is an asset that must be scheduled under Bankruptcy Code § 521(1). See Eubanks v. CBSK Fin. Group, Inc., 385 F.3d 894, 897 (6th Cir. 2004); Cusano v. Klein, 264 F.3d 936, 945 (9th Cir. 2001). An unliquidated cause of action need not actually be filed prior to the commencement of the bankruptcy in order to qualify as an asset that must be scheduled. See Barletta v. Tedeschi, 121 B.R. 669, 671-72 (N.D.N.Y. 1990). However, debtors frequently neglect to list unliquidated causes of action as assets, whether because they have filed a bankruptcy without the assistance of a competent bankruptcy attorney or because, through simple oversight or lack of understanding, they failed to inform their bankruptcy counsel of their existing claims.

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    Topics: bankruptcy, unliquidated causes of action, listed as an asset, abandonment

    Issue Preclusion Between Claims Arising Under Two Different Statutes

    Posted by Lee P. Dunham on September 22, 2017 at 12:15 PM

    Lee Dunham, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

                Collateral estoppel, also known as "issue preclusion," prohibits relitigation of factual or legal issues that have been "actually and necessarily decided" in earlier litigation. See, e.g., Banga v. First USA, 29 F. Supp. 3d 1270, 1280-81 (N.D. Cal. 2014) (citing San Remo Hotel L.P. v. San Francisco City & County, 364 F.3d 1088, 1094 (9th Cir. 2004)).  Unlike the related doctrine of res judicata (or "claim preclusion"), which operates as a complete bar to relitigation of an entire claim, under collateral estoppel, the (new and different) claim may proceed, but "the prior judgment conclusively resolves an issue actually litigated and determined in the first action." DKN Holdings LLC v. Faerber, 61 Cal. 4th 813, 824, 352 P.3d 378, 386-87 (2015), reh'g denied (Aug. 12, 2015).  Claim preclusion bars litigation of all issues that were or could have been litigated in the original action under the original claim, while issue preclusion resolves only those issues that were actually litigated. Banga, 29 F. Supp. 3d at 1280-81.

                There are multiple prerequisite elements for the application of the doctrine of issue preclusion, including a prior proceeding that resulted in a final judgment on the merits and identity or privity of parties between the two proceedings.  However, this article will focus on the third element, "identity of issues" in cases where the "issue" is the satisfaction of a statutory requirement and where the claims in the first and second proceedings arise under different statutes.

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    Topics: issue preclusion, collateral estoppel, claims under different statutes

    CIVIL PROCEDURE: The Attorney Testimony Rule—Attorney Affidavits and Summary Judgment

    Posted by Lee P. Dunham on December 1, 2016 at 9:18 AM

    Lee Dunham, Senior Attorney, National Legal Research Group

          Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 3.7 contains the well-known prohibition on lawyer testimony known as the "Lawyer as Witness Rule" or the "Attorney Testimony Rule." It provides:

    (a) A lawyer shall not act as advocate at a trial in which the lawyer is likely to be a necessary witness unless:

    (1) the testimony relates to an uncontested issue;

    (2) the testimony relates to the nature and value of legal services rendered in the case; or

    (3) disqualification of the lawyer would work substantial hardship on the client.

    (b) A lawyer may act as advocate in a trial in which another lawyer in the lawyer's firm is likely to be called as a witness unless precluded from doing so by Rule 1.7 or Rule 1.9.

    Ann. Model Rules of Prof'l Conduct R. 3.7 ("Lawyer as Witness").

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    Topics: civil procedure, Lee Dunham, attorney testimony rule, Rule 3.7, professional conduct

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