Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 12:55 PM

Quick Notes on a Few Cases

Here are some quick notes on a few of today’s opinions

Hodges v. Moore

After the trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff requested that the trial court make findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding its ruling. The plaintiff appealed the trial court’s refusal to make the requested findings of fact and conclusions of law.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision and held that “the provisions of Rule 52 of the Rules of Civil Procedure do not apply to orders granting summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56.” The Court reasoned the trial court acted appropriately in refusing to issue the findings of fact because “[t]here is no necessity for findings of fact where facts are not at issue, and summary judgment presupposes that there are no triable issues of material fact.”

Griffith v. Curtis

In late 2007, the plaintiff initiated divorce proceedings against the defendant. As part of the proceedings, the plaintiff sought an unequal distribution of marital property in her favor. On May 30, 2008, after pre-trial mediation, the parties entered into a Memorandum of Judgment regarding a variety of outstanding issues, including the distribution of marital assets. On June 11, 2008, a Consent Judgment that mirrored the terms of the Memorandum of Judgment was entered by the court.

After a dispute arose over the terms of the Consent Judgment, the plaintiff filed a motion for relief from judgment on the grounds that the Consent Judgment was unconscionable. The trial court denied the motion for relief and plaintiff appealed.

The Court of Appeals held that a party may not have a consent judgment set aside on the basis of unconscionability. Instead, “[p]arties seeking to set aside a consent judgment are limited to proving lack of consent, fraud, mutual mistake, or unilateral mistake under some misconduct.”

McCraw v. Aux

This case, involving an action to enforce protective covenants, yielded two interesting points regarding the impact of failing to join necessary parties to a suit. First, trial courts have a responsibility to raise the issue of failure to join a necessary party even if the issue is not raised by one of the parties to the proceeding. Second, any judgment rendered without all the necessary parties being joined in a case is “null and void.”

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