CCL's Peck Interviewed on Supreme Court Jurisdiction Case

October 10th, 2020

     CCL President Robert S. Peck told TRIAL magazine that oral argument in a major personal jurisdiction case before the Supreme Court demonstrated unexpected dissatisfaction by members of the Court with their recent jurisprudence. Over the past decade, the Court has increasingly restricted the authority of state courts over out-of-state defendants.

     However, in Ford v. Montana Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct., consolidated with another Ford case from Minnesota, the justices seemed to realize that it made little sense to say that there was some type of fundamental unfairness to making Ford appear in the Montana and Minnesota courts for injuries that occurred in those states from an allegation of product defect. In both instances, the vehicle was originally sold in another state, but the same model was sold and serviced in the forum states.

      Ford asked the Court to rule that it may only be sued in its place of incorporation, its headquarters state, the state where the car was manufactured, or, possibly, the place of first sale. Justices who had been part of the precedents that had restricted jurisdiction questioned the meaning of fair play under the Due Process Clause, that had led to a narrowing of personal jurisdiction. 

     The case, originally slated to be argued last April but postponed due to the pandemic, will be decided before the current Supreme Court term ends next June.

CCL Wins Discovery Limitation Battle for City of Sacramento against Wells Fargo

October 9th, 2020

     The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a motion to limit the discovery the City of Sacramento could take in connection with its allegations that Wells Fargo & Co. had issued discriminatory mortgage loans in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). CCL's Robert S. Peck argued the motion for the City on March 6. The court indicated that the coronavirus pandemic delayed resolution of the argued motion before today.

     The City alleged that, since 2004, the bank had issued loans that were either more expensive or riskier on the basis of race, resulting in a significant number of foreclosures to minority borrowers and reducing the City's property-tax revenue. Wells Fargo, which had used the same tactic in other similar cases, moved to bifurcate discovery, limiting the scope of discovery to the two-year period before the complaint was filed and then challenging the City to prove its entire case on that basis before being permitted to show a continuing violation.

     Peck argued, and the court agreed, that the information then obtained would not be statistically significant and would be inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court FHA jurisprudence that treats continuing-violations, as defined in the statute, differently from isolated violations. The court held that limiting the period of discovery to the two-year period would unfairly handicap the City's case and denied Wells Fargo's motion.

     The case now moves into the discovery phase.