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Nevada Standards of Review on Appeal—A Digest

Abuse of Discretion

In General

“An abuse of discretion is a plain error, discretion exercised to an end not justified by the evidence, a judgment that is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts as are found.”  Rabkin v. Oregon Health Sciences Univ., 350 F.3d 967, 977 (9th Cir. 2003) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); In re Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd., 642 F.3d 685, 698 n.11 (9th Cir. 2011).

Under the abuse of discretion standard, a reviewing court cannot reverse absent a definite and firm conviction that the district court committed a clear error of judgment in the conclusion it reached upon a weighing of relevant factors.  McCollough v. Johnson, Rodenburg & Lauinger, LLC, 637 F.3d 939, 953 (9th Cir. 2011); Valdivia v. Schwarzenegger, 599 F.3d 984, 988 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing SEC v. Coldicutt, 258 F.3d 939, 941 (9th Cir. 2001)); Harman v. Apfel, 211 F.3d 1172, 1175 (9th Cir. 2000) (noting reversal under abuse of discretion standard is possible only “when the appellate court is convinced firmly that the reviewed decision lies beyond the pale of reasonable justification under the circumstances”).

The abuse of discretion standard requires an appellate court to uphold a district court determination that falls within a broad range of permissible conclusions.  Kode v. Carlson, 596 F.3d 608, 612-13 (9th Cir. 2010) (per curiam); Grant v. City of Long Beach, 315 F.3d 1081, 1091 (9th Cir. 2002), amended by 334 F.3d 795 (9th Cir. 2003).

When a district court “exercises its discretion in clear disregard of the guiding legal principles, this action may constitute an abuse of discretion.” Cole-Monahan v. Salvo, No. 62849, 2014 WL 5686290, at *1 (Nev. Nov. 3, 2014).  Furthermore, “a court may not award attorney’s fees unless authorized by statute, rule or contract.” State, Dep’t of Human Res. v. Fowler, 109 Nev. 782, 784, 858 P.2d 375, 376 (1993).

A court abuses its discretion when it does not apply the correct law or rests its decision on a clearly erroneous finding of a material fact.  Jeff D. v. Otter, 643 f.3d 278 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing   362 F.3d 1254, 1257 (9th Cir. 2004)).

A court abuses its discretion when it rules in an irrational manner.  Chang v. United States, 327 F.3d 911, 925 (9th Cir. 2003); Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Indian Cmty. v. California, 618 F.3d 1066, 1084 (9th Cir. 2010) (concluding district court did not rule in an irrational manner).

“An abuse of discretion occurs if the district court’s decision is arbitrary or capricious or if it exceeds the bounds of law or reason.” Foster v. State, 396 P.3d 150 (Nev. 2017) (citing; State v. Hambright, 388 P.3d 613, 619 (Kan. Ct. App. 2017) (“A judicial action constitutes an abuse of discretion if the action is (1) arbitrary, fanciful, or unreasonable; (2) based on an error of law; or (3) based on an error of fact.”); State v. Montiel, 122 P.3d 571, 575 (Utah 2005) (“A failure to exercise discretion is generally encompassed within the meaning of abuse of discretion.”)).

“An abuse of discretion occurs if the district court’s decision is arbitrary or capricious or if it exceeds the bounds of law or reason.” Crawford v. State, 121 Nev. 744, 748, 121 P.3d 582, 585 (2005) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Under abuse of discretion review, courts do “not [to] substitute [their] judgment for that of the district court.” Young v. Johnny Ribeiro Eldg., Inc., 106 Nev. 88, 92, 787 P.2d 777, 779 (1990).

A court abuses its discretion when it makes an error of law.  Koon v. United States, 518 U.S. 81, 100 (1996); Strauss v. Comm’r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 635 F.3d 1135, 1137 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Koon); Forest Grove School Dist. v. T.A., 523 F.3d 1078, 1085 (9th Cir. 2008) (applying Koon); United States v. Martin, 278 F.3d 988, 1001 (9th Cir. 2002) (applying Koon).

A court abuses its discretion by erroneously interpreting a law, United States v. Beltran‑Gutierrez, 19 F.3d 1287, 1289 (9th Cir. 1994), or by resting its decision on an inaccurate view of the law, Richard S. v. Dep’t of Dev. Servs., 317 F.3d 1080, 1085-86 (9th Cir. 2003).  Fox v. Vice, 131 S. Ct. 2205, 2211 (2011) (recognizing trial court has wide discretion “but only when, it calls the game by the right rules”).

A court abuses its discretion when the record contains no evidence to support district court’s decision. Oregon Natural Res. Council v. Marsh, 52 F.3d 1485, 1492 (9th Cir. 1995).

A district court’s decision to either admit or exclude evidence is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Fulbrook v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 61567, 2015 WL 439598, at *2 (Nev. Jan. 30, 2015); LVMPD v. Yeghiazarian, 129 Nev. 760, 764, 312 P.3d 503, 507 (2013); Turner v. Richards, 126 Nev. 764, 367 P.3d 829 (2010); Chavez v. State, 125 Nev. 328, 339, 213 P.3d 476, 484 (2009); M.C. Multi–Family Dev., L.L.C. v. Crestdale Assocs., Ltd., 124 Nev. 901, 913, 193 P.3d 536, 544 (2008); Vaughan v. Harrah’s Las Vegas, Inc., 124 Nev. 1515, 238 P.3d 863 (2008); Thomas v. State, 122 Nev. 1361, 1370, 148 P.3d 727, 734 (2006), cert. denied, 552 U.S. 1140, 128 S.Ct. 1061, 169 L.Ed.2d 806 (2008); Mclellan v. State, 124 Nev. 263, 267, 182 P.3d 106, 109 (2008) (However, “failure to object precludes appellate review of the matter unless it rises to the level of plain error.”  Anderson v. State, 121 Nev. 511, 516, 118 P.3d 184, 187 (2005)); Hansen v. Universal Health Servs. of Nevada, Inc., 115 Nev. 24, 29, 974 P.2d 1158, 1161 (1999) (citing McCourt v. J.C. Penney Co., 103 Nev. 101, 103, 734 P.2d 696, 698 (1987) (the district court abuses its discretion when it excludes critical evidence that the plaintiff needs to prove an essential element of his disputed claim)).

A clear disregard of the guiding legal principles may constitute an abuse of discretion. Gunderson v. D.R. Horton, Inc., 130 Nev. Adv. Op. 9, 319 P.3d 606, 615 (2014) (quoting Bergmann v. Boyce, 109 Nev. 670, 674, 856 P.2d 560, 563 (1993)); Ozawa v. Vision Airlines, Inc., 125 Nev. 556, 562, 216 P.3d 788, 792 (2009); Allianz Ins. Co. v. Gagnon, 109 Nev. 990, 993, 860 P.2d 720, 722–23 (1993).

To the extent that the district court failed to apply the full, applicable legal analysis, it abused its discretion. Gunderson v. D.R. Horton, Inc., 130 Nev. Adv. Op. 9, 319 P.3d 606, 615 (2014).

“An abuse of discretion occurs when no reasonable judge could reach a similar conclusion under the same circumstances.” Leavitt v. Stems, 130 Nev. 503, 509, 330 P.3d 1, 5 (2014).

A district court abuses its discretion when it “fail[s] to apply the full, applicable legal analysis,” Gunderson v. D.R. Horton, Inc., 130 Nev, 67, 82, 319 P.3d 606, 616 (2014), or “bases its decision on a clearly erroneous factual determination or it disregards controlling law,” MB Am., Inc. v. Alaska Pac. Leasing Co., 132 Nev. ––––, ––––, 367 P.3d 1286, 1292 (2016).

When determining if the district court abused its discretion, this court examines whether the decision was supported by substantial evidence and guided by applicable legal principles.  Kwist v. Chang, 127 Nev. 1152, 373 P.3d 933 (2011); Franklin v. Bartsas Realty, Inc., 95 Nev. 559, 562–63, 598 P.2d 1147, 1149 (1979).

Abuse of discretion is defined as a clearly erroneous interpretation or application of the law and arbitrary or capricious exercise of discretion as “one founded on prejudice or preference rather than on reason” or “contrary to the evidence or established rules of law” State v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court (Armstrong), 127 Nev. ––––, ––––, 267 P.3d 777, 780 (2011).

 

Administrative Agency

Decisions made by an administrative agency are reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Triex Fin. Servs., Inc. v. State, Dep’t of Bus. & Indus., Fin. Institutions Div., 126 Nev. 763, 367 P.3d 828 (2010); City Plan Dev. v. State, Labor Comm’r, 121 Nev. 419, 426, 117 P.3d 182, 186–87 (2005).

 

Change of Venue

A district court’s order on a motion to change venue is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Roethlisberger v. McNulty, 256 P.3d 955, 957 (2011).

 

Conduct at Trial

A district court’s regulation of closing arguments is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Manley v. State, 115 Nev. 114, 125, 979 P.2d 703, 709–10 (1999).

 

Continuance

A district court’s decision to deny a continuance is reviewed for abuse of discretion).  Klett v. Meyers, 126 Nev. 730, 367 P.3d 790 (2010); Bongiovi v. Sullivan, 122 Nev. 556, 570, 138 P.3d 433, 444 (2006).

 

Costs, Attorney Fees, and Contempt

A district court’s decision on an award of attorney fees and costs is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Gunderson v. D.R. Norton, Inc., 130 Nev. ––––, ––––, 319 P.3d 606, 615 (2014); LVMPD v. Yeghiazarian, 129 Nev. 760, 766, 312 P.3d 503, 508 (2013); Wyeth v. Rowatt, 126 Nev. 446, 477, 244 P.3d 765, 786 (2010); Ozawa v. Vision Airlines, 125 Nev. 556, 562, 216 P.3d 788, 792 (2009); Vaughan v. Harrah’s Las Vegas, Inc., 124 Nev. 1515, 238 P.3d 863 (2008); Wynn v. Smith, 117 Nev. 6, 13, 16 P.3d 424, 428–29 (2001); Nelson v. Peckham Plaza Partnerships, 110 Nev. 23, 26, 866 P.2d 1138, 1139 (1994).  Although explicit findings with respect to the Beatty factors are preferred, the district court’s failure to make explicit findings is not a per se abuse of discretion. Wynn v. Smith, 117 Nev. 6, 13, 16 P.3d 424, 428 (2001); Schwartz v. Estate of Greenspun, 110 Nev. 1042, 1049, 881 P.2d 638, 642 (1994).

A district court’s decision regarding contempt orders is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Lewis v. Lewis, 132 Nev. Adv. Op. 46, 373 P.3d 878, 880 (2016); Friedman v. Friedman, 128 Nev. 897, 381 P.3d 613 (2012); Matter of Water Rights of Humboldt River, 118 Nev. 901, 907, 59 P.3d 1226, 1230 (2002).

A district court’s decision regarding whether a party is the prevailing party is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Friedman v. Friedman, 128 Nev. 897, 381 P.3d 613 (2012).

A district court’s decision on attorney lien adjudications is reviewed for abuse of discretion standard. Furer v. Petroni, 126 Nev. 712, 367 P.3d 770 (2010) (citing Sarman v. Goldwater, Taber and Hill, 80 Nev. 536, 542, 396 P.2d 847, 850 (1964), overruled on other grounds by Argentena Consol. Mining Co. v. Jollev Urga, 125 Nev. ––––, 216 P.3d 779 (2009)).

 

Damages, Remedies, and Settlement

A district court’s decision whether to bifurcate the liability and damages phases of a trial is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Vaughan v. Harrah’s Las Vegas, Inc., 124 Nev. 1515, 238 P.3d 863 (2008); Verner v. Nevada Power Co., 101 Nev. 551, 554, 706 P.2d 147, 150 (1985).

A district court’s decision regarding the calculation of an award of damages will not be disturbed on appeal absent an abuse of discretion. Gadbois v. Marathon Racing, Inc., No. 60167, 2013 WL 7156050, at *2 (Nev. Dec. 18, 2013) (quoting Diamond Enterprises, Inc. v. Lau, 113 Nev. 1376, 1379, 951 P.2d 73, 74 (1997).

A district court’s decision regarding an order of remittitur is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Harris v. Zee, 87 Nev. 309, 311, 486 P.2d 490, 491 (1971).

A district court’s decision to award more than $1,500 in expert fees is reviewed for abuse of discretion. State v. Lynch, 131 Nev. at ––––, 357 P.3d at 373 (2015)

A district court’s determination of good faith settlement is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Velsicol Chemical v. Davidson, 107 Nev. 356, 360, 811 P.2d 561, 563 (1991) (stating that “determination of good faith should be left to the discretion of the trial court based upon all relevant facts available, and that, in the absence of an abuse of that discretion, the trial court’s findings should not be disturbed”). “This standard of review vests the district court with considerable discretion.” Doctors Company v. Vincent, 120 Nev. 644, 652, 98 P.3d 681, 687 (2004).

A district court’s determination of equitable remedies is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Zhang v. Recontrust Co., N.A., 405 P.3d 103 (Nev. 2017); Am. Sterling Bank v. Johnny Mgmt. LV, Inc., 126 Nev. 423, 428, 245 P.3d 535, 538 (2010).

 

Dismissal, New Trial, and Motions to Alter, Amend, or Set Aside Judgment

 A district court’s of a motion for a new trial is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Wyeth v. Rowatt, 126 Nev. 446, 460, 244 P.3d 765, 775 (2010); Allstate Ins. Co. v. Miller, 125 Nev. 300, 308, 212 P.3d 318, 324 (2009); Lehrer McGovern Bovis v. Bullock Insulation, 124 Nev. ––––, ––––, 197 P.3d 1032, 1037–38 (2008); Vaughan v. Harrah’s Las Vegas, Inc., 124 Nev. 1515, 238 P.3d 863 (2008); Nelson v. Heer, 123 Nev. 217, 223, 163 P.3d 420, 424–25 (2007); Krause Inc. v. Little, 117 Nev. 929, 933, 34 P.3d 566, 569 (2001); Allum v. Valley Bank of Nevada, 114 Nev. 1313, 1316, 970 P.2d 1062, 1064 (1998); Dow Chemical Co. v. Mahlum, 114 Nev. 1468, 1505, 970 P.2d 98, 122 (1998)(citing Hazelwood v. Harrah’s, 109 Nev. 1005, 1010, 862 P.2d 1189, 1192 (1993)).

A district court’s decisions decision regarding a motion for a mistrial based upon juror misconduct is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Meyer v. State, 119 Nev. 554, 561, 80 P.3d 447, 453 (2003); Chavez v. State, 125 Nev. 328, 346–47, 213 P.3d 476, 489 (2009); Valdez v. State, 124 Nev. 97, ––––, 196 P.3d 465, 475 (2008).

A district court’s decisions decision regarding a motion for a mistrial is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Chavez v. State, 125 Nev. 328, 346–47, 213 P.3d 476, 489 (2009); Rose v. State, 123 Nev. 24, 163 P.3d 408, 417 (2007).

A district court’s decision regarding a Rule 60 motion to set aside a judgment is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  NC–DSH, Inc. v. Garner, 125 Nev. 647, 657–58, 218 P.3d 853, 861 (2009); Rogers v. Foster, 281 P.3d 1214 (Nev. 2009); Cook v. Cook, 112 Nev. 179, 181–82, 912 P.2d 264, 265 (1996).  Orders regarding motions to alter or amend a judgment are similarly reviewed for abuse of discretion.  AA Primo Builders, LLC v. Washington, 126 Nev. 578, 589, 245 P.3d 1190, 1197 (2010).

“A court’s decision regarding a motion to set aside a default judgment will not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion.” Energetic Lath & Plaster, Inc. v. Cimini, 386 P.3d 998 (Nev. 2016) (quoting McKnight Family, LLP v. Adept Mgmt. Servs. Inc., 129 Nev., Adv. Op. 64, 310 P.3d 555, 559 (2013)); Abreu v. Gilmer, 115 Nev. 308, 312, 985 P.2d 746, 749 (1999) (stating that “[t]his court reviews due diligence determinations for an abuse of discretion”).

A district court’s decision on a motion to dismiss for failure to effect timely service of process is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Hicks v. Leyba, No. 57427, 2013 WL 3929194, at *1 (Nev. July 24, 2013); Abreu v. Gilmer, 115 Nev. 308, 312, 985 P.2d 746, 749 (1999).

A district court’s dismissal for failure to properly effect service of process is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Abreu v. Gilmer, 115 Nev. 308, 312–13, 985 P.2d 746, 749 (1999).

A district court’s grant or denial of a motion to amend under NRCP 15(b) is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Upper Deck Co. v. Matt Const., LLC, 128 Nev. 941, 381 P.3d 671 (2012); University & Cmty. Coll. Sys. v. Sutton, 120 Nev. 972, 988, 103 P.3d 8, 19 (2004).

A district court’s decision on a motion for reconsideration is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  AA Primo Builders, LLC v. Washington, 126 Nev. ––––, ––––, 245 P.3d 1190, 1197 (2010).

A district court’s decision on a request for trial de novo is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Gittings v. Hartz, 116 Nev. 386, 391, 996 P.2d 898, 901 (2000).

A district court’s order on a motion to dismiss an action for forum non conveniens is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Provincial Gov’t of Marinduque v. Placer Dome, Inc., 131 Nev. Adv. Op. 35, 350 P.3d 392, 395–96 (2015); Payne v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 97 Nev. 228, 229, 626 P.2d 1278, 1279 (1981), overruled on other grounds by Pan v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 120 Nev. 222, 228, 88 P.3d 840, 844 (2004).

A district court’s dismissal for failure to oppose a motion to dismiss is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Olausen v. State Dep’t of Corr., 281 P.3d 1206 (Nev. 2009); Walls v. Brewster, 112 Nev. 175, 912 P.2d 261 (1996).

 

Discovery Matters

A district court’s decisions as to discovery matters, including sanctions, are reviewed for abuse of discretion.  MEI-GSR Holdings, LLC v. Peppermill Casinos, Inc., 134 Nev. Adv. Op. 31, 416 P.3d 249, 255 (2018) (quoting Okada v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 131 Nev. ––––, 359 P.3d 1106, 1110 (2015)); Prestige of Beverly Hills, Inc. v. Weber, 128 Nev. 927, 381 P.3d 652 (2012) (absent clear abuse of discretion, the supreme court will not disturb a district court’s management of discovery); Harrison v. Harrison, 385 P.3d 52 (Nev. 2016); Chipman v. Burton, 127 Nev. 1125, 373 P.3d 903 (2011); Foster v. Dingwall, 126 Nev. 56, 65, 227 P.3d 1042, 1048 (2010); Banks v. Sunrise Hospital, 120 Nev. 822, 830, 102 P.3d 52, 58 (2004).

A district court’s decision regarding joinder will not be overturned unless the court abused its discretion. Zana v. State, 125 Nev. 541, 548, 216 P.3d 244, 249 (2009).

 

Domestic Relations

A district court’s child custody decision, including visitation, relocation, and support, will not be overturned absent an abuse of discretion.  Stoklos v. Hager, 373 P.3d 965 (Nev. 2011); Klett v. Meyers, 126 Nev. 730, 367 P.3d 790 (2010); Flynn v. Flynn, 120 Nev. 436, 444, 92 P.3d 1224, 1229 (2004); Wallace v. Wallace, 112 Nev. 1015, 922 P.2d 541 (1996).

A district court’s division of community property is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Davies v. Davies, No. 63975, 2014 WL 7157655, at *1 (Nev. Dec. 15, 2014).

Evidentiary Matters

 A district court’s evidentiary rulings are reviewed for abuse of discretion. Chavez v. State, 125 Nev. 328, 339, 213 P.3d 476, 484 (2009); Mclellan v. State, 124 Nev. 263, ––––, 182 P.3d 106, 109 (2008).

A district court’s decision to admit expert testimony is reviewed for abuse of discretion. In re Mosley, 120 Nev. 908, 921, 102 P.3d 555, 564 (2004); LVMPD v. Yeghiazarian, 129 Nev. 760, 764, 312 P.3d 503, 507 (2013).

The exclusion of a witness from the courtroom is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Milicevic v. Fletcher Jones Imports, Ltd., 402 F.3d 912, 915 (9th Cir. 2005) (applying this standard when considering the exclusion of a witness pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 615, which is analogous to NRS 50.155); see also Hallmark v. Eldridge, 124 Nev. 492, 498, 189 P.3d 646, 650 (2008) (observing that “federal court decisions discussing [an analogous federal rule of evidence] may provide persuasive authority” to assist in the interpretation of Nevada’s evidentiary rules). Fulbrook v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 61567, 2015 WL 439598, at *3 (Nev. Jan. 30, 2015).

Decisions regarding the scope of a witness’ testimony are reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  Johnson v. Egtedar, 112 Nev. 428, 436, 915 P.2d 271, 276 (1996).

A district court’s decision regarding the competency of a witness is reviewed for abused of discretion. Fraser v. State, 126 Nev. 711, 367 P.3d 769 (2010).

A district court’s decision to accept an untimely memorandum of costs pursuant to NRS 18.110(1) is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Valladares v. DMJ, Inc., 110 Nev. 1291, 1293, 885 P.2d 580, 582 (1994).

A district court’s decision to admit hearsay evidence is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Fields v. State, 125 Nev. 785, 795, 220 P.3d 709, 716 (2009).

A district court’s admission of evidence of other bad acts (under NRS 48.045(2) to show “motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident,” or for other appropriate purposes) is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Guler v. State, No. 67341, 2016 WL 917775, at *1 (Nev. App. Mar. 4, 2016) (citing Newman v. State, 129 Nev. –––, ––––, 298 P.3d 1171, 1178 (2013)).

A district court’s decision to admit or deny a psychological examination is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Guler v. State, No. 67341, 2016 WL 917775, at *1 (Nev. App. Mar. 4, 2016) (citing Abbott v. State, 122 Nev. 715, 723, 138 P.3d 462, 467 (2006).

A district court’s decision to admit or deny expert testimony is reviewed for abuse of discretion).  Khoury v. Seastrand, 132 Nev. Adv. Op. 52, 377 P.3d 81, 90 (2016) (citing FCH1, LLC v. Rodriguez, 130 Nev., Adv. Op. 46, 335 P.3d 183, 190 (2014) (reviewing for an abuse of discretion a district court’s decision to allow physician testimony without an expert witness report and disclosure)); Hallmark v. Eldridge, 124 Nev. 492, 498, 189 P.3d 646, 650 (2008).

“The competency of an expert witness is a question for the sound discretion of the district court, and we will not disturb the ruling absent a clear abuse of discretion.” Yamaha Motor Co., U.S.A. v. Arnoult, 114 Nev. 233, 241, 955 P.2d 661, 666 (1998) (quoting Brown v. Capanna, 105 Nev. 665, 671, 782 P.2d 1299, 1303 (1989); see also General Electric Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136, 118 S.Ct. 512, 139 L.Ed.2d 508 (1997) (reiterating that an abuse of discretion is the proper standard by which to review a district court’s decision to admit or exclude expert testimony)).

A district court’s ruling on a motion in limine is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Peters v. State, 128 Nev. 925, 381 P.3d 650 (2012); Whisler v. State, 121 Nev. 401, 406, 116 P.3d 59, 62 (2005)

 

Failure to Oppose a Motion

A district court’s dismissal for failure to oppose a motion to dismiss is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Olausen v. State Dep’t of Corr., 281 P.3d 1206 (Nev. 2009); Walls v. Brewster, 112 Nev. 175, 912 P.2d 261 (1996).

A district court’s decision to grant a motion due to failure to oppose the same is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Sheckler v. Chaisson JRJ Investments, LLC, 373 P.3d 960 (Nev. 2011); Las Vegas Fetish & Fantasy v. Ahern Rentals, 124 Nev. 272, 277–78, 182 P.3d 764, 768 (2008); Walls v. Brewster, 112 Nev. 175, 178–79, 912 P.2d 261, 263 (1996); Olausen v. State Dep’t of Corr., 281 P.3d 1206 (Nev. 2009); Walls v. Brewster, 112 Nev. 175, 912 P.2d 261 (1996).

 

Findings of Fact

A district court’s findings of fact are reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Collins v. Burns, 103 Nev. 394, 399, 741 P.2d 819, 822 (1987), distinguished on other grounds by Goodrich & Pennington Mortg. Fund, Inc. v. J.R. Woolard, Inc., 120 Nev. 177, 101 P.3d 792 (2004).

 

Injunctions

The grant or denial of a request for injunction or restraining order is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Lexus Project, Inc. ex rel. Mittasch v. City of Henderson, No. 60977, 2013 WL 7156060, at *1 (Nev. Dec. 19, 2013); Chateau Vegas Wine, Inc. v. S. Wine & Spirits of Am., Inc., 127 Nev. 818, 824, 265 P.3d 680, 684 (2011), as corrected on denial of reh’g (Apr. 17, 2012) (citing Commission on Ethics v. Hardy, 125 Nev. 285, 291, 212 P.3d 1098, 1103 (2009)); Labor Comm’r of State of Nev. v. Littlefield, 123 Nev. 35, 39, 153 P.3d 26, 28 (2007).

 

Juries—Instructions and Misconduct

A district court’s decision to give or refuse to give a specific jury instructions is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Gibson v. State, 127 Nev. 1136, 373 P.3d 917 (2011); Allstate Ins. Co. v. Miller, 125 Nev. 300, 308, 212 P.3d 318, 324 (2009); Skender v. Brunsonbuilt Const. & Dev. Co., 122 Nev. 1430, 1435, 148 P.3d 710, 714 (2006) (“However, we review de novo whether a proffered instruction is an incorrect statement of the law.” Fulbrook v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 61567, 2015 WL 439598, at *3 (Nev. Jan. 30, 2015)); Banks v. Sunrise Hospital, 120 Nev. 822, 830, 102 P.3d 52, 58 (2004).

A district court’s determination on a request to submit the special interrogatories to the jury is reviewed for abuse of discretion.  Allstate Ins. Co. v. Miller, 125 Nev. 300, 308, 212 P.3d 318, 324 (2009); Lehrer McGovern Bovis v. Bullock Insulation, 124 Nev. ––––, ––––, 197 P.3d 1032, 1037–38 (2008); Skender v. Brunsonbuilt Const. & Dev. Co., 122 Nev. 1430, 1435, 148 P.3d 710, 714 (2006).

A district court’s decision whether to excuse potential jurors for cause is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Khoury v. Seastrand, 132 Nev. Adv. Op. 52, 377 P.3d 81, 90 (2016); Weber v. State, 121 Nev. 554, 580, 119 P.3d 107, 125 (2005).

 

Recusal

A judge’s decision not to recuse herself will not be overturned absent a clear abuse of discretion.  Ogilvie v. Ogilvie, 127 Nev. 1163, 373 P.3d 947 (2011); Rivero v. Rivero, 125 Nev. ––––, ––––, 216 P.3d 213, 233 (2009).

 

Special Master

A district court’s decision to appoint a special master, as well as the adoption of the master’s report is reviewed for abuse of discretion. CSA Serv. Ctr., LLC v. Air Design Sys., LLC, No. 57674, 2013 WL 3272479, at *5 (Nev. May 31, 2013) (citing Russell v. Thompson, 96 Nev. 830, 835, 619 P.2d 537, 540 (1980); Venetian Casino Resort, LLC v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 118 Nev. 124, 132, 41 P.3d 327, 332 (2002)).

 

Arbitrary and Capricious

Review of agency determinations is limited to whether the agency’s action was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law, or if it was taken without observance of procedure required by law.  5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A); see also Barnes v. U.S. Dep’t of Transp., 655 F.3d 1124, 1132 (9th Cir. 2011) (“Review under the arbitrary and capricious standard is narrow, and we do not substitute our judgment for that of the agency.”); Gardner v. U.S. Bureau of Land Mgmt., 638 F.3d 1217, 1224 (9th Cir. 2011); City of Los Angeles v. U.S. Dep’t of Commerce, 307 F.3d 859, 874 (9th Cir. 2002).  “An agency decision will be upheld as long as there is a rational connection between the facts found and the conclusions made.”  Barnes, 655 F.3d at 1132 (citing Siskiyou Reg’l Educ. Project v. U.S. Forest Serv., 565 F.3d 545, 554 (9th Cir. 2009)).

Under the arbitrary and capricious standard, a reviewing court must consider whether an agency’s decision was based on a consideration of the relevant factors and whether there has been a clear error of judgment.  See Envtl. Def. Ctr., Inc. v. EPA, 344 F.3d 832, 858 n.36 (9th Cir. 2003).  The court may reverse only when the agency has relied on impermissible factors, failed to consider an important aspect of the problem, offered an explanation for its decision that runs counter to the evidence or is so implausible it could not be ascribed to a difference in view or to agency expertise.  See id.; County of Los Angeles v. Leavitt, 521 F.3d 1073, 1078 (9th Cir. 2008).  The standard is “highly deferential, presuming the agency action to be valid and affirming the agency action if a reasonable basis exists for its decision.”  See Ranchers Cattleman Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of Am. v. U.S. Dep’t of Agriculture, 499 F.3d 1108, 1115 (9th Cir. 2007) (internal quotations and citation omitted); see also Sacora v. Thomas, 628 F.3d 1059, 1068 (9th Cir. 2010); Northwest Ecosystem Alliance v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 475 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 2007); Arizona Cattle Growers’ Ass’n v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife, 273 F.3d 1229, 1236 (9th Cir. 2001) (court must determine whether the agency articulated a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made); Price Rd. Neighborhood Ass’n v. U.S. Dep’t of Transp., 113 F.3d 1505, 1511 (9th Cir. 1997) (court must consider whether the agency’s decision is based on a reasoned evaluation of the relevant factors).

 

De Novo

A district court’s decision whether a jury instruction is an accurate statement of law is reviewed de novo. Allstate Ins. Co. v. Miller, 125 Nev. 300, 319, 212 P.3d 318, 331 (2009); Cook v. Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center, 194 P.3d 1214, 1217 (2008). If a jury instruction is a misstatement of the law, it only warrants reversal if it caused prejudice and “but for the error, a different result may have been reached.” Id. 194 P.3d at 1219; Nay v. State, 123 Nev. 326, 330, 167 P.3d 430, 433 (2007).

Questions of statutory interpretation are reviewed de novo.  MEI-GSR Holdings, LLC v. Peppermill Casinos, Inc., 134 Nev. Adv. Op. 31, 416 P.3d 249, 253 (2018); D.R. Horton, Inc. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 125 Nev. 449, 456, 215 P.3d 697, 702 (2009). When interpreting a statute, if the statutory language is “facially clear,” this court must give that language its plain meaning. Id.

Issues of subject matter jurisdiction are reviewed de novo. Ogawa v. Ogawa, 125 Nev. 660, 667, 221 P.3d 699, 704 (2009).

Lien claims are subject to de novo review.  J.D. Constr. v. IBEX Int’l Grp., 126 Nev. 366, 375, 240 P.3d 1033, 1039–40 (2010).

A district court’s application of law to facts is reviewed de novo.  24/7 Ltd v. Schoen, 399 P.3d 916 (Nev. 2017) (citing Beazer Homes Nev., Inc. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 120 Nev. 575, 579, 97 P.3d 1132, 1135 (2004); D.R. Horton, Inc. v. Green, 120 Nev. 549, 553, 96 P.3d 1159, 1162 (2004)).

All questions of law are reviewed de novo.  Franchise Tax Bd. of State of California v. Hyatt, 407 P.3d 717, 733 (Nev. 2017), cert. granted sub nom. Franchise Tax Bd. of California v. Hyatt, No. 17-1299, 2018 WL 1335506 (U.S. June 28, 2018); Matter of L.J.A., 401 P.3d 1146 (Nev. 2017).

Whether a district court has complied with the Supreme Court’s mandate on remand is a question of law that is reviewed de novo. State Eng’r v. Eureka Cty., 402 P.3d 1249, 1251 (Nev. 2017) (citing Wheeler Springs Plaza, LLC v. Beemon, 119 Nev. 260, 263, 71 P.3d 1258, 1260 (2003). “[W]here an appellate court deciding an appeal states a principal or rule of law, necessary to the decision, the principal or rule becomes the law of the case and must be adhered to throughout its subsequent progress both in the lower court and upon subsequent appeal.” LoBue v. State ex rel. Dep’t of Highways, 92 Nev. 529, 532, 554 P.2d 258, 260 (1976)).

An appeals officer’s determinations on pure issues of law are reviewed de novo. Roberts v. State Indus. Ins. Sys., 114 Nev. 364, 367, 956 P.2d 790, 792 (1998).

A district court’s interpretation of a settlement agreement is subject to de novo review. Dalaimo v. Dalaimo, 390 P.3d 166 (Nev. 2017).

A district court’s order on a motion for judgment as a matter of law is reviewed de novo.  Reyburn Lawn & Landscape Designers, Inc. v. Plaster Dev. Co., 127 Nev. 331, 341, 255 P.3d 268, 275 (2011).

An order on a motion for summary judgment is reviewed de novo.  Pressler v. City of Reno, 118 Nev. 506, 509, 50 P.3d 1096, 1098 (2002).

A district court’s order granting summary eviction is reviewed de novo.  Anvui, LLC v. G.L. Dragon, LLC, 123 Nev. 212, 215, 163 P.3d 405, 407 (2007).

A district court’s order denying declaratory relief is reviewed de novo. Johnson v. Wells Fargo Bank Nat’l Ass’n, 132 Nev. Adv. Op. 70, 382 P.3d 914, 916 (2016) (citing Nevadans for Nev. v. Beers, 122 Nev. 930, 942, 142 P.3d 339, 347 (2006)).

An order on a motion to dismiss is reviewed de novo.  Buzz Stew, LLC v. City of N. Las Vegas, 124 Nev. 224, 227–28, 181 P.3d 670, 672 (2008).

A district court’s order vacating or confirming an arbitration award for exceeding the arbitrator’s authority is reviewed de novo. Thomas v. City of N. Las Vegas, 122 Nev. 82, 97, 127 P.3d 1057, 1067 (2006).

District court orders vacating or confirming an arbitration award for evident partiality is reviewed de novo.  Leibowitz v. Hunt, 417 P.3d 1116 (Nev. 2018); Thomas v. City of N. Las Vegas, 122 Nev. 82, 97, 127 P.3d 1057, 1067 (2006).

Determinations of whether a statute is constitutional are reviewed de novo. Hernandez v. Bennett-Haron, 128 Nev. 580, 586, 287 P.3d 305, 310 (2012); Flamingo Paradise Gaming v. Att’y General, 125 Nev. 502, 509, 217 P.3d 546, 551 (2009).

Constitutional issues are questions of law reviewed de novo. Nevadans for Nev. v. Beers, 122 Nev. 930, 939, 142 P.3d 339, 345 (2006).

A district court’s determination of personal jurisdiction is reviewed de novo. Fulbright & Jaworski LLP v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 131 Nev., Adv. Op. 5, 342 P.3d 997, 1001 (2015).

Legal conclusions regarding court rules are reviewed de novo.  Casey v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 128 Nev. 713, 715, 290 P.3d 265, 267 (2012).

A district court’s conclusions of law are reviewed de novo.  White v. Cont’l Ins. Co., 119 Nev. 114, 116, 65 P.3d 1090, 1091 (2003).

The sufficiency of a pleading is reviewed de novo. Sadler v. Pacificare of Nev., Inc., 130 Nev. ––––, ––––, 340 P.3d 1264, 1266 (2014).

A district court’s interpretation of the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure is reviewed de novo. Ford v. Branch Banking & Tr. Co., 131 Nev. Adv. Op. 53, 353 P.3d 1200, 1202 (2015) (citing Moseley v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 124 Nev. 654, 662, 188 P.3d 1136, 1142 (2008); see also Webb ex rel. Webb v. Clark Cnty. Sch. Dist., 125 Nev. 611, 618, 218 P.3d 1239, 1244 (2009)).

To the extent an evidentiary ruling rests on a legal interpretation of the evidence code, de novo review is appropriate. Davis v. Beling, 128 Nev. 301, 311, 278 P.3d 501, 508 (2012); Stephans v. State, 127 Nev. ––––, ––––, 262 P.3d 727, 730 (2011).

The applicability of a legal privilege  is reviewed de novo. Jacobs v. Adelson, 130 Nev. Adv. Op. 44, 325 P.3d 1282, 1285 (2014) (citing Cucinotta v. Deloitte & Touche, L.L.P., 129 Nev. ––––, ––––, 302 P.3d 1099, 1101 (2013)).

“Whether state law is preempted by a federal statute or regulation is a question of law, subject to our de novo review.” Pacificare of Nevada, Inc. v. Rogers, 127 Nev. 799, 805, 266 P.3d 596, 600 (2011) (quoting Nanopierce Tech. v. Depository Trust, 123 Nev. 362, 370, 168 P.3d 73, 79 (2007)).

About the Author

Jay Young is a Las Vegas, Nevada attorney. His practice focuses on business law, business litigation, and acting as an Arbitrator and Mediator.

Mr. Young can be reached at 702.667.4868 or at jay@h2law.com.