Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

By
Plaintiff, a citizen of Egypt and a lawful permanent resident of the United States, challenged the district court’s denial of his naturalization application. The court concluded that the district court's failure to make specific findings with respect to the materiality of plaintiff's statements made to the Sacramento Superior Court regarding his marital status prevents the court from reviewing the district court's determination that he committed unlawful acts that adversely reflect upon his moral character. Furthermore, because a violation of 8 C.F.R. 316.10(b)(3)(iii) is not a per se bar, the district court abused its discretion in failing to consider all relevant factors in making its ultimate determination that plaintiff failed to show he is of good moral character. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hussein v. Barrett" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Petitioner, a native and citizen of Guatemala, seeks review of the IJ's determination that he lacked a reasonable fear of torture and is therefore not entitled to relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) from his reinstated removal order. The court concluded that the IJ's determination is not limited to the question whether it was “facially legitimate and bona fide.” The court reviewed the IJ's negative reasonable fear determination for substantial evidence. In this case, the court held that substantial evidence supports the IJ’s conclusion that petitioner failed to demonstrate government acquiescence in torture sufficient to establish a reasonable possibility of future torture under CAT. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Andrade-Garcia v. Lynch" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Patrick Sogbein was convicted of running a conspiracy to defraud Medicare by providing power wheelchairs to people who did not need them. Sogbein’s wife, Adebola Adebimpe, was convicted of participating in the conspiracy by supplying many of the wheelchairs through a medical equipment company that she owned. The court affirmed the district court's application of a two-level enhancement under USSG 3B1.3 for abusing a position of trust with respect to Medicare. The court held that medical equipment suppliers can have the requisite “professional or managerial discretion” for the abuse-of-trust adjustment to apply, if they are responsible for determining the need for the equipment they provide and personally certify the validity of their claims to Medicare. In this case, the district court’s conclusion that Sogbein and Adebimpe’s abuse of their positions of trust significantly furthered the offense was not clearly erroneous. View "United States v. Adebimpe" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Bruce Barton filed suit against ADT under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1132, seeking claims related to his request for pension benefits. On appeal, Barton challenges the district court's conclusion that the Plan Administrator did not abuse its discretion in denying Barton’s request for pension benefits. The court concluded that the district court incorrectly placed the burden of proof on Barton for matters within defendants’ control. The court held that where a claimant has made a prima facie case that he is entitled to a pension benefit but lacks access to the key information about corporate structure or hours worked needed to substantiate his claim and the defendant controls such information, the burden shifts to the defendant to produce this information. The district court correctly held that to recover statutory penalties based on a plan administrator’s refusal to comply with ERISA’s disclosure obligations, a plaintiff must qualify as a plan participant. The court reversed and remanded for the district court to apply the now-clarified burden of proof in this case. View "Estate of Barton v. ADT" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Defendant, charged with allegedly making phone calls to authorities at LAX instructing them to evacuate the airport, appealed the district court's order authorizing the BOP to forcibly medicate him to restore his competency to stand trial. In Sell v. United States, the Supreme Court recognized that the government may involuntarily medicate a defendant charged with a serious crime to restore that defendant to competency to stand trial. The court held that the district court clearly erred in finding that the proposed course of treatment was in defendant’s best medical interests. The court concluded that the fourth Sell factor is lacking, and the district court clearly erred in finding that the proposed treatment was in defendant’s best medical interest. The record demonstrates that the proposed treatment includes dosages higher than are generally recommended and that the use of a long-acting medication does not conform to the standard of care. Furthermore, the court could not credit the expert's testimony that the medication and dosage was appropriate without exploring and answering the questions posed by contradictory evidence in the record. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "United States v. Onuoha" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Jesse Vasquez was convicted of drug-related crimes for his part in a gang's drug trafficking operations. The district court sentenced Vasquez to life imprisonment because his two prior California felonies qualified him for a mandatory sentence enhancement under 21 U.S.C. 841. Vasquez then successfully petitioned a California court to reclassify one of his prior California felonies as a misdemeanor pursuant to Proposition 47. In this appeal, Vasquez argues that his federal enhancement should be invalidated because he no longer stands convicted of two prior felonies as section 841 requires. The court has previously held that a state granting postconviction relief from a state conviction cannot undermine a federal sentence enhancement based on that conviction. The court has upheld this rule even where a state dismisses or expunges the underlying state conviction the federal enhancement is based on. Therefore, the court affirmed Vasquez's sentence of life imprisonment under section 841. View "United States v. Diaz" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Plaintiff, a California-based dentist specializing in tooth implants, filed a class action complaint against Nobel alleging a defect in the NobelDirect implant. On appeal, Nobel challenges the district court's order awarding class counsel more than $2.3 million in attorneys’ fees. The court concluded that defendants have not waived their due process argument where the record demonstrates that defendants raised the issue with sufficient specificity and vigor. On the merits, the court concluded that the district court’s use over defendants’ objection of ex parte, in camera submissions to support its fee order violated defendants’ due process rights. The court remanded for the district court to allow defendants access to the information at issue, to allow plaintiffs to respond to defendants' objections and for defendants to reply, and then the district court can decide the appropriate fee award. The court concluded that the district court’s discount of the lodestar for lack of success was not erroneous because the district court concisely and clearly explained its reduction of the lodestar, and because there was sufficient support for its finding that plaintiffs' claims were related to a common goal. The court agreed that the district court likely overstated its monetary valuation of the settlement. But where, as here, classwide benefits are not easily monetized, a cross-check is entirely discretionary. The court vacated the fee order and remanded. View "Yamada v. Nobel Biocare Holding AG" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Marilyn Scheer, an attorney with a suspended California law license, contends that the district court erred when it held that her debt to a former client was nondischargeable under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(7). In this case, there were no costs or fees assessed for disciplinary reasons. Rather, the debt at issue was effectively the amount that Scheer improperly received from a client, but did not pay back. At its core, the $5775 at issue is not a fine or penalty, but compensation for actual loss. The court concluded that the the debt to her client does not fall within the section 523(a)(7) nondischargeability exception. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Scheer v. State Bar of CA" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Plaintiff filed suit alleging that defendant violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., when it failed to return her to a full time position following her medical leave. The district court granted summary judgment to defendant. The court concluded that the district court properly granted summary judgment to defendant on plaintiff’s disability discrimination and disparate treatment claims because plaintiff failed to raise a triable dispute as to whether defendant’s legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for not returning plaintiff to full-time work was pretextual. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., does not affect the court's analysis where plaintiff's claims in this case are distinguishable. The court reiterated that its ADA cases, which require a plaintiff who alleges disparate treatment to show that a discriminatory reason more likely than not motivated the defendant, remain good law. The court also concluded that the district court properly granted summary judgment to defendant on plaintiff's reasonable accommodation claim because plaintiff failed to establish that a full-time position was available. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Mendoza v. RCALA" on Justia Law

By
Chance Gordon, a licensed California attorney, appealed the district court's order of summary judgment for the CFPB on its enforcement action for violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act, 12 U.S.C. 5531, 5536, and Regulation O, 12 C.F.R. 1015.1-11. On January 4, 2012, President Obama, relying on his recess-appointment power, named Richard Cordray as the CFPB’s initial Director. President Obama renominated Cordray as Director on January 24, 2013. The parties agree that while Cordray’s initial January 2012 recess appointment was invalid, his July 2013 confirmation was valid. The court concluded that, while the failure to have a properly confirmed director may raise Article II Appointments Clause issues, it does not implicate the court's Article III jurisdiction to hear this case. That its director was improperly appointed does not alter the Executive Branch’s interest or power in having federal law enforced. The subsequent valid appointment, coupled with Cordray’s August 30, 2013 ratification, cures any initial Article II deficiencies. Because the CFPB had the authority to bring the action at the time Gordon was charged, Cordray’s August 2013 ratification, done after he was properly appointed as Director, resolves any Appointments Clause deficiencies. On the merits, the court concluded that CFPB is entitled to summary judgment on all counts because there is no dispute as to material fact regarding Gordon's liability. Because the district court conscientiously tailored the injunction at issue, it did not abuse its discretion in granting equitable judgment. However, because the district court may have impermissibly entered a monetary judgment against Gordon for a time period prior to the enactment or effective date of the relevant provisions of the CFPA and Regulation O, the court vacated and remanded for further consideration. View "Consumer Fin. Prot. Bureau v. Gordon" on Justia Law