Artis v. D.C.: A Small Case That Vastly Expands Federal Power

The Supplemental Jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1367, enacted in 1990, permits federal district courts to hear state-law claims not ordinarily within federal jurisdiction if those claims are part of the same case or controversy as a claim within the federal court’s jurisdiction. In the event the federal court declines jurisdiction of the state-law claims, subsection (d) of § 1367 tolls the state-law statutes of limitations while the case is pending in federal court and for 30 days thereafter, permitting litigants to refile the dismissed claims in state court. The question in Artis v. District of Columbia (United States Supreme Court, Jan. 22, 2018) was the meaning of the word “tolled” in § 1367(d).

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Federal Judge dismisses Lawsuit against "Black Lives Matter": Social Movements Can’t Be Sued

"Plaintiff … produced a Proposed Amended Complaint that not only fails to state a plausible claim for relief against any of the named Defendants, but that also attempts to hold a hashtag [#BlackLivesMatter] liable for damages in tort.  The Court therefore finds that granting leave to Plaintiff to attempt to file a Second Proposed Amended Complaint would be futile.  The Court also notes that Plaintiff’s attempt to bring suit against a social movement and a hashtag evinces either a gross lack of understanding of the concept of capacity or bad faith, which would be an independent ground to deny Plaintiff leave to file a Second Proposed Amended Complaint...." 

—Judge Brian A. Jackson, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana, September 28, 2017.

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Abortion Clinics: Shareholder Liability

It is settled law that corporate officers can be held responsible for damage they cause, even if the corporation itself is also found responsible. But what about shareholders of a corporation? Courts with equity powers (such as the DC courts) will deprive shareholders of the privilege of operating as a corporation and assign individual liability if the evidence shows misuse of the corporate form to perpetrate fraud or wrong. An egregious local example of shareholder liability for misuse of the corporate form is that of Mrs. Vuitch, ex-wife of abortion-purveyor Dr. Vuitch. His “clinic annex” was housed at their residence. Although Mrs. Vuitch moved out after their divorce, she remained as a shareholder in their business and as CFO. Educated in business and finance, she paid the bills for the vast clinic, and was aware of a brazenly illegal clinic policy that led to a gruesome injury and a jury finding of her personal liability, although she did not directly participate in the misconduct. The case was Vuitch v. Furr, 482 A.2d 811 (D.C. 1984).

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D.C.'s "Post-Condominium" Era?

Has the District of Columbia’s real estate market entered a “post-condominium” era? Could be, according to testimony at the D.C. Council’s December 2015 hearing on proposed legislation to strengthen the rights of condominium owners vis-a-vis Condominium Boards (“The Condominium Owners Bill of Rights Amendment Act of 2015,” 2015 Bill Text DC 443). Although the condo form of home ownership was originally intended to expand affordable housing options in D.C., the drive for profit-taking through the mechanism of non-judicial foreclosure of condo liens has created opportunities for abuse. So much so that, at the December 2015 hearing, a D.C. Council Member emphasized that one of the Council’s purposes for the hearing was to determine WHETHER THE CONDOMINIUM FORM OF HOME OWNERSHIP REMAINED A VIABLE ONE FOR THE DISTRICT ...

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Foreclosure of D.C. Condo Lien Extinguishes First Mortgage

Residential real estate lenders are still reeling from the August 2014 ruling of the D.C. Court of Appeals in Chase Plaza Condominium Association v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, in which D.C.’s highest municipal court held that foreclosure of a condo association’s “super-lien” (a super-priority lien for 6 months of unpaid assessments) extinguishes all junior liens, including a bank lien for a first mortgage (or deed of trust).

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Duty To Disclose “Non-Discoverable” Defects Before Selling Your Condo

There is a duty to disclose “non-discoverable” defects in an old condo unit. If you’re planning to sell real estate with defects that you know about (such as recurring water damage), it is unlawful to fix the defects just for the purpose of sale and fail to disclose the recurring damage to the potential buyer. Such actions may be construed as “active concealment,” and subject you to liability for misrepresentation and fraud.

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Move-In And Move-Out Fees: Are They Legal?

The Condo Association generally has broad authority to regulate the internal affairs of the condominium, but such power is not without limit. Move-in and move-out fees are assessments against individual unit owners, and, as such, are over and above the condo fees paid by unit owners each month according to their pro rata share of the condominium's expenses.

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“Owner Occupied” Condo Communities: Unreasonable Restrictive Covenants?

A condominium's governing documents frequently prevent condo purchasers from renting their units to residential tenants for a period of one year or so after the initial sale of a new unit.  Beyond the typical one-year period, rules and regulations of the Condominium Association may attempt to require owners who want to lease their units to place their names on a waiting list, with only a small percentage of units permitted to be rented at any one time.

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