Articles Posted in Nevada Supreme Court

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After four people died from carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping in a room above a pool heater in a motel, the motel sought coverage for the deaths from its insurer. The insurer denied coverage based on two provisions of the motel’s general liability policy, the absolute pollution exclusion and the indoor air quality air quality exclusion. The federal district court determined that the policy exclusions were ambiguous and interpreted the ambiguity in the motel’s favor. On appeal, the federal court of appeals certified questions of Nevada law to the Nevada Supreme Court. The Court answered the questions in the negative, concluding that neither the pollution exclusion nor the indoor air quality exclusion clearly excluded coverage for carbon monoxide exposure under the circumstances of this case. View "Century Sur. Co. v. Casino W., Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellants were injured in automobile accidents, but Geico, which insured both Appellants, denied coverage of their medical expenses. Appellants subsequently instituted a class action of behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, alleging that Geico violated Nev. Rev. Stat. 687B.145(3), which provides that a motor vehicle insurer must offer its insured the option of purchasing medical payment coverage, because, while Geico may have offered its insureds medical payment coverage, it did not obtain written rejections from them of the offered coverage. The district court granted Geico’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 687B.145(3) does not require a written rejection of medpay coverage, and therefore, Appellants’ claims failed. View "Wingco v. Gov't Employees Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a civil complaint against The Power Company, Inc. (“TPCI”) and TPCI’s president, Rick Rizzolo. Less than five years after Plaintiffs filed their action, they entered into a settlement agreement with TPCI and Rizzolo providing that Plaintiffs would receive $9 million upon the sale of Crazy Horse Too, which TPCI owned. More than five years after Plaintiffs filed their complaint, TPCI and Rizzolo filed two motions to dismiss Plaintiffs’ action under Nev. R. Civ. P. 41(e) for want of prosecution. The district court denied the motions. After the Crazy Horse Too sold at a foreclosure sale, Plaintiffs filed a third motion to reduce the settlement agreement to judgment. The district court granted the motion. TPCI and Rizzolo appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Rule 41(e)’s provision requiring dismissal for want of prosecution does not apply to an action in which the parties enter into a binding settlement agreement before Rule 41(e)’s five-year deadline has expires, and therefore, the district court properly denied TPCI and Rizzolo’s motions to dismiss for want of prosecution; and (2) the district court did not err in reducing the parties’ settlement agreement to judgment. View "The Power Co., Inc. v. Henry" on Justia Law

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Randall and Toni Faehnrich were Mississippi residents when they entered into an automobile insurance policy with Progressive Gulf Insurance Company that was negotiated, delivered, and renewed in Mississippi. The policy contained a choice-of-law provision providing that disputes about coverage shall be governed by Mississippi law. The couple subsequently divorced, and Toni moved to Nevada. While driving the Jeep that she and Randall co-owned, Toni was involved in an accident in which the couple’s two boys, who were Nevada residents when the accident occurred, suffered serious injuries. Randall presented a claim to Progressive for his sons’ injuries, but Progressive denied coverage, citing a household exclusion included in the policy that eliminated coverage for the boys’ claims against Toni. The district court held that the exclusion violated Nevada public policy, and, in accordance with Nevada choice of law rules, Mississippi law validating such exclusions did not apply. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of Nevada public policy to the Supreme Court, which answered by holding that Nevada’s public policy did not preclude giving effect to the choice-of-law provision in the insurance contract, even when that effect would deny recovery to Nevada residents who were injured in Nevada. View "Progressive Gulf Ins. Co. v. Faehnrich" on Justia Law

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The developer (“Developer”) of a residential community hired a general contractor (“Contractor”) to construct homes in the community, and Contractor subcontracted with Subcontractor for construction services. Subcontractor performed services on several homes, including Appellant’s. Because Subcontractor was not fully paid, it recorded liens on properties within the community, including Appellant’s. Subcontractor filed a civil action against Developer, Contractor, Appellant, and other homeowners, seeking to foreclose on its liens. Appellant filed a cross-claim against Developer and Contractor for breach of contract and seeking to recover attorney fees as damages. The district court denied Appellant’s request to recover attorney fees, concluding that, under the standard set forth in Horgan v. Felton regarding the recovery of attorney fees in cloud-on-title cases, because the breach of contract in this case related to title of real property, and because Appellant failed to allege and prove slander of title, she could not recover the attorney fees that she sought as special damages. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s judgment to the extent that it denied Appellant’s request for special damages, holding that Horgan did not apply to preclude such recovery in this case. View "Liu v. Christopher Homes, LLC" on Justia Law

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Appellants appealed a district court judgment in a real property contract action. Based on Appellants’ failure to file their opening brief and appendix by the deadline and failure to comply with court rules and directives, Appellants’ appeals were dismissed. Appellants sought the en banc Court’s reconsideration, arguing that the dismissal of their appeals were based on the missteps of their lead appellate attorney, and therefore, the dismissal was contrary to the Supreme Court’s precedent recognizing public policy favoring dispositions on the merits. The Supreme Court denied en banc reconsideration, holding that precedential uniformity did not provide a basis to reinstate these appeals, as the policy was not absolute and must be balanced against countervailing policy considerations such as the public’s interest in expeditious resolution of appeals and judicial administration concerns. View "Huckabay Props., Inc. v. NC Auto Parts, LLC" on Justia Law

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Steven Jacobs filed an action against Las Vegas Sands Corp. and related entities (collectively, “Sands”). During a hearing to consider sanctions as a result of Sands’s conduct in the discovery process, Sands attorney Justin Jones admitted that, prior to testifying, he had reviewed his billing records and e-mails from Jacobs that refreshed his memory as to the timing of events. Jacobs argued that the billing records and e-mails were openly discoverable because Nev. Rev. Stat. 50.125 requires a party to disclose any documents used to refresh a witness’s recollection. Sands objected based on the work product doctrine and the attorney-client privilege. Without deciding the discovery issue, the district court imposed sanctions on Sands. Two months later, Jacobs filed a motion to compel production of the disputed documents, which the district court granted. The Supreme Court granted Sands’s request for a writ of prohibition to halt the production of the purportedly privileged documents, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, where Jacobs failed to demand production, inspection, and admission of the documents at or near the sanctions hearing and waited until well after the district court had entered its order, Jacobs’s demand was untimely under section 50.125(1). View "Las Vegas Sands Corp. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court " on Justia Law

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Downing, Thorpe & James Design, Inc. (DTJ) was an architectural firm incorporated in Colorado. Thomas Thrope, one of DTJ’s three founding principals, was allowed to practice individually as a foreign architect in Nevada, but DTJ was not allowed to practice as a foreign corporation in Nevada. In 2004, DTJ contracted with a Nevada developer to provide architectural services for a Las Vegas subdivision owned by Prima Condominiums, LLC (Prima). Prima obtained a loan from First Republic Bank in exchange for a promissory note secured by a deed of trust on one of the subdivision’s units. After Prima defaulted on its payments, DTJ recorded a notice of mechanic’s lien against the property for unpaid services. First Republic then foreclosed and purchased the property. DTJ subsequently brought an action against First Republic for lien priority and unjust enrichment. The district court granted summary judgment for First Republic. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because DTJ had failed to comply with Nevada’s statutory registration and filing provisions, it was barred from maintaining an action in Nevada for compensation for its architectural services; and (2) Thorpe’s individual status had no bearing on whether DTJ could bring or maintain an action for compensation for its services. View "DTJ Design, Inc. v. First Republic Bank" on Justia Law

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Frank Sorichetti contracted Respondent to buy his property. Sorichetti reneged so Respondent sued and recorded a lis pendens against the property. Due to misinformation about the lis pendens, Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. loaned Sorichetti money secured by deeds of trust against the property. Sorichetti defaulted and Countrywide initiated foreclosure. Respondent sued Countrywide. Countrywide argued that it was entitled to equitable subrogation in amount of the sum that it had paid off in prior loans against the property. Eventually, the case reached the Supreme Court for a second time. In Zhang II, the Court reversed and remanded the case, determining that the district court erred in concluding that Respondent’s lis pendens should not be given priority over Countrywide’s deeds of trust. On remand, Countrywide asked for a decision on its equitable subrogation claim, which the district court declined to give because it was “not given jurisdiction to do so by the Supreme Court.” The Supreme Court subsequently vacated the district court’s judgment in favor of Respondent and remanded with instructions to decide Countrywide’s equitable subrogation claim, holding that the district court erred in failing to resolve the equitable subrogation issue. View "Recontrust Co., N.A. v. Zhang" on Justia Law

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Petitioners were sued by Investors who alleged that Petitioners had breached various statutory, contractual, and fiduciary duties. Petitioners filed numerous counterclaims alleging (1) Dana Gentry, a local television reporter, helped Investors investigate and prepare their lawsuit in order to manufacture news stories intended to embarrass Petitioners; and (2) Gentry received personal favors from Investors in connection with the news stories. During discovery, Petitioners served a subpoena on Gentry requesting information relating to Gentry's relationship with Investors. Gentry filed a motion to quash the subpoena, arguing that the information sought was protected by Nevada's news shield statute, which protects journalists from being required to reveal information gathered in their professional capacities in the course of developing news stories. The district court granted the motion to quash. The Supreme Court denied Petitioners' petition for extraordinary relief, concluding that Gentry's motion to quash the subpoena properly asserted the news shield privilege and that Petitioners failed to overcome this privilege. View "Aspen Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court" on Justia Law