Oracle Corp. v. SAP AG

Oracle filed suit against SAP alleging that TomorrowNow, an enterprise software company recently acquired by SAP, was engaging in systematic and pervasive illegal downloading of Oracle's software. SAP stipulated to liability and the parties went to trial solely on damages. On appeal, Oracle challenged several of the district court's rulings. The court affirmed the district court's grant of judgment as a matter of law to SAP where the hypothetical-license damage award was based on undue speculation and Oracle failed to provide sufficient objective evidence of the market value of the hypothetical license underpinning the jury's damages award; for the same reasons, the court affirmed the district court's grant of SAP's motion for a new trial based on remittitur; and the court rejected Oracle's claim that the district court erred in limiting the second trial to damages based on a lost-profits and infringer's-profits theory, barring Oracle's pursuit of hypothetical-license damages. The court concluded that the district court, in selecting a $272 million remittitur amount, abused its discretion in selecting the $36-million lost-profits figure rather than the $120.7-million one. Therefore, the court vacated and remanded to the district court for it to offer Oracle the choice between a $356.7-million remittitur and proceeding to a second trial. The court affirmed on the four rulings related to the second trial and did not reach the questions presented by the other three rulings. View "Oracle Corp. v. SAP AG" on Justia Law

United States v. Nora

After law enforcement officers arrested Defendant they obtained a warrant to search his home. The search of Defendant’s home resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs and firearms. Defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his suppression motion. On appeal, Defendant argued that the officers lacked probable cause to arrest him, and because the search warrant was based on information acquired as a result of his unlawful arrest, the warrant was invalid and the evidence discovered during the search must be suppressed. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s order denying Defendant’s suppression motion, holding (1) although Defendant’s arrest was supported by probable cause, the manner in which the officers made the arrest violated Payton v. New York; (2) evidence obtained as a result of Defendant’s unlawful arrest must be suppressed, and the remaining untainted evidence did not provide probable cause to issue a warrant; and (3) consequently, the entire warrant was invalid, and all evidence seized pursuant to it must be suppressed. View "United States v. Nora" on Justia Law

United States v. Luis

Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to engage in prohibited monetary transactions in property for his part in the purchase of two parcels of real property with fraudulently obtained loans. The district court ordered Defendant to pay $615,935 in restitution to JP Morgan Chase, a loan purchaser, and $329,767 in restitution to CitiGroup, a loan originator. Defendant appealed the restitution order. The Ninth Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s determination that the requirements of the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act were met in this case; (2) affirmed the calculation of restitution owed to CitiGroup; and (3) vacated and remanded for the district court to recalculate the amount owed to Chase because the court applied a formula for a loan originator, although Chase had purchased the loans. View "United States v. Luis" on Justia Law

Lacano Invs., LLC v. Sullivan

Plaintiffs allege that they hold land patents, issued by the federal government before Alaska entered the Union, giving title to certain Alaska streambeds. In 2010- 2011, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources determined that the waterways above these streambeds were navigable in 1959, the year Alaska was admitted to the Union, and remain navigable. Under the Submerged Lands Act of 1953, all land beneath such waterways belongs to the state, 43 U.S.C. 1311(a). Plaintiffs argue that Alaska’s determination that the waterways have been navigable since 1959 does not disturb the title to the land that was granted to them and that, under the Act, streambeds that had already been patented by the federal government were not granted to Alaska upon its statehood. The district court dismissed Plaintiffs’ declaratory judgment action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. Alaska has a sufficient interest in the lands to assert Eleventh Amendment immunity. Plaintiffs’ action was “close to the functional equivalent” of a quiet title action; the lands at issue are submerged lands beneath navigable waters, which have a “unique status in the law” insofar as “[s]tate ownership of them has been considered an essential attribute of sovereignty.” View "Lacano Invs., LLC v. Sullivan" on Justia Law

Cruz v. City of Anaheim

In 2009, a confidential informant told Anaheim police officer Stauber that Cruz was a gang member who sold methamphetamine and carried a gun. Stauber determined that Cruz had prior convictions including a felony involving a firearm. Later, the informant told Stauber where Cruz was, what his vehicle looked like, that he was armed and carried in his waistband, and that he had stated that “he was not going back to prison.” Stauber notified other officers, who converged on Cruz’s location. Officers noticed that Cruz’s vehicle had a broken tail light, executed a traffic stop, and surrounded him in a parking lot. Cruz attempted to escape, backing his SUV into a patrol car, but eventually stopped. The officers emerged with weapons drawn and shouted for Cruz to get on the ground as he was emerging from the vehicle. According to four officers, he ignored their commands and reached for his waistband. Fearing that he was reaching for a gun, five officers fired 20 shots. A bystander witnessed most of the event from the other side of Cruz’s vehicle, but didn’t see whether Cruz reached for his waistband. After they ceased firing, the officers approached to find Cruz’s body tangled in and hanging from his seatbelt. Cutting the body loose, they found no weapon, but a loaded nine-millimeter was later recovered from the passenger seat. Cruz’s relatives sued. The district court granted defendants summary judgment, finding that plaintiffs had not presented anything to contest the officers’ version of events. The Ninth Circuit reversed, except as to one officer, noting “curious and material factual discrepancies.” View "Cruz v. City of Anaheim" on Justia Law

White, et al v. University of California

In 1976, Gail Kennedy, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles ("UCLA"), led an archaeological field excavation project on the property of the Chancellor's official residence at the University of California-San Diego. During the excavation, the archaeological team discovered a double burial site and uncovered two human skeletons (the "La Jolla remains"). Scientists estimated the remains were between 8977 to 9603 years old, making them among the earliest known human remains from North or South America. The property on which the La Jolla remains were discovered was aboriginally occupied by members of the Kumeyaay Nation. Since their discovery, the University has maintained custody of the La Jolla remains, but they have been stored at multiple locations, including UCLA, the San Diego Museum of Man, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian Institution. Central to the heart of this case was custody of the La Jolla remains. The Tribes and their representatives claimed the right to compel repatriation of the La Jolla remains to one of the Kumeyaay Nation's member tribes. Plaintiffs Timothy White, Robert Bettinger, and Margaret Schoeninger ("the Scientists"), professors in the University of California system, opposed repatriation because they wished to continue to study the La Jolla remains. The issue this case presented to the Ninth Circuit was whether the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act ("NAGPRA") abrogated tribal sovereign immunity and, if not, whether the district court properly dismissed this declaratory judgment action because the tribes and their representatives were indispensable parties under Fed. R. Civ. P. 19 and could not be joined in the action. The Court concluded that NAGPRA did not abrogate tribal sovereign immunity and that the affected tribes and their representatives were indispensable parties. Therefore, the Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "White, et al v. University of California" on Justia Law

Wharton v. Martel

Petitioner George Wharton appealed the district court's denial of habeas relief. Police officers arrested Petitioner after finding the body of his live-in girlfriend stuffed in a barrel in their kitchen. Petitioner admitted killing her but claimed at trial that he had been provoked into the killing and, therefore, was guilty only of second-degree murder. The jury disagreed and convicted him of first-degree murder. In this habeas proceeding, Petitioner argued that his due process rights were violated when jurors saw him shackled and that his trial lawyer provided ineffective assistance. The Ninth Circuit found no reversible error and affirmed: although some jurors occasionally saw Petitioner in shackles while being transported through the halls of the courthouse, those sporadic sightings outside the courtroom did not rise to the level of a constitutional violation. The district court also correctly held that Petitioner's trial lawyer chose a constitutionally permissible guilt-phase strategy of forgoing certain defenses for fear of opening the door to the jury's learning about Petitioner's significant criminal history, which included a prior murder and rape. View "Wharton v. Martel" on Justia Law

Slayman, et al v. FedEx Ground Package System

Named plaintiffs, former FedEx drivers, represented two classes of plaintiffs comprising approximately 363 individuals who were full-time delivery drivers for FedEx in Oregon at any time between 1999 and 2009. Plaintiff class members worked for FedEx's two operating divisions, FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery. FedEx contended its drivers were independent contractors under Oregon law. Plaintiffs contended they were employees. In a consolidated appeal, plaintiffs claimed that "FedEx improperly classified its drivers as independent contractors, thereby forcing them to incur business expenses and depriving them of benefits otherwise owed to employees" under Oregon law. The Ninth Circuit agreed with plaintiffs, and reversed the Multidistrict Litigation Court's grant of summary judgment to FedEx Ground, its denial of plaintiff FedEx drivers' motion for partial summary judgment, and its certification of plaintiffs' classes insofar as they sought prospective relief. View "Slayman, et al v. FedEx Ground Package System" on Justia Law

Alexander, et al v. FedEx Ground Package System

The named plaintiffs represented a class comprising approximately 2300 individuals who were full-time delivery drivers for FedEx in California between 2000 and 2007. FedEx contended its drivers were independent contractors under California law. Plaintiffs contended they were employees. This appeal involved a class action originally filed in the California Superior Court in December 2005 on behalf of a class of California FedEx drivers, asserting claims for employment expenses and unpaid wages under the California Labor Code on the ground that FedEx had improperly classified the drivers as independent contractors. Plaintiffs also brought claims under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), which similarly turned on the drivers' employment status. FedEx removed to the Northern District of California based on diversity. Between 2003 and 2009, similar cases were filed against FedEx in approximately forty states. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated these FedEx cases for multidistrict litigation ("MDL") proceedings in the District Court for the Northern District of Indiana ("the MDL Court"). Plaintiffs moved for class certification. The MDL Court certified a class for plaintiffs' claims under California law. It declined to certify plaintiffs' proposed national FMLA class. Plaintiffs in all the MDL cases moved for partial summary judgment, seeking to establish their status as employees as a matter of law. In this case, FedEx cross-moved for summary judgment. The MDL Court denied nearly all of the MDL plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment and granted nearly all of FedEx's motions, holding that plaintiffs were independent contractors as a matter of law in each state where employment status was governed by common-law agency principles. The MDL Court remanded this case to the district court to resolve the drivers' claims under the FMLA. Those claims were settled, and the district court entered final judgment. Plaintiffs appealed, challenging the MDL Court's grant of summary judgment to FedEx on the employment status issue. FedEx conditionally cross-appealed, arguing that if we reverse the MDL Court's grant of summary judgment to FedEx, we should also reverse the MDL Court's class certification decision. Upon review, the Ninth Circuit held that plaintiffs were employees as a matter of law under California's right-to-control test. Accordingly, the Court reversed both the MDL Court's grant of summary judgment to FedEx and its denial of plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment. The case was remanded to the district court with instructions to enter summary judgment for plaintiffs on the question of employment status. View "Alexander, et al v. FedEx Ground Package System" on Justia Law


ASARCO, LLC ("Asarco") appealed the district court's dismissal of its contribution action brought under section 113(f) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA"). Asarco sought to recover from Union Pacific Railroad Co. and Union Pacific Corp. a share of $482 million in cleanup costs Asarco paid for environmental harm at the Coeur d'Alene Superfund Site in Northern Idaho. The district court dismissed the action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), concluding that although Asarco's claim was timely, it was barred by a 2008 settlement agreement between the parties that settled Union Pacific's claims against Asarco at the same site. Upon review, the Ninth Circuit concluded that Asarco's claim was timely, but that the parties' 2008 settlement agreement did not unambiguously release Asarco's claim in this case. Therefore reversed the district court's judgment dismissing the case under Rule 12(b)(6). View "ASARCO LLC v. UPRC, et al" on Justia Law