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

Articles Posted in Aviation

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Petitioner seeks review of the NTSB's decision affirming the FAA's order revoking his aircraft registration certificate. After petitioner admitted to the FAA that he used his aircraft to transport marijuana, the FAA revoked his registration certificate because “the aircraft was used to carry out, or facilitate, an activity that is punishable” as a drug-related felony. 49 U.S.C. 44106(b)(1)(A). Separate, state court criminal proceedings against defendant were dismissed after the trial court suppressed the drug evidence found on his plane. The court concluded that, under the statute’s plain language, the proper inquiry is whether the “activity” is “punishable,” not whether the certificate holder is at risk of being punished. In this case, because the activity—transporting marijuana—was punishable as a felony, the court concluded that defendant's certificate was properly revoked even though he may no longer be subject to punishment under state law. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Connors v. NTSB" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the FAA's decision that no Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is necessary to commence operating commercial passenger service at Paine Field in Snohomish County. The court held that the scope of the FAA's demand-based projections were not arbitrary and capricious. In this case, the FAA determined that there were no connected actions for this project and petitioners have failed to provide anything more than mere speculation that the FAA’s actions now will lead to more aircraft activity at Paine Field in the future than covered in the Environmental Assessment (EA). Therefore, it was not arbitrary for the FAA to have included no connected actions in the final EA. The court also concluded that the FAA’s Finding of No Significant Impact was not predetermined by the creation of an optimistic schedule for completing the environmental review or statements favoring commercial service at Paine Field. Here, the FAA performed its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321-4370h, obligations in good faith and did not prematurely commit resources to opening the terminal. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "City of Mukilteo v. US DOT" on Justia Law

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The Federation filed a class action against United, alleging that the airline’s policy of using automatic kiosks inaccessible to blind travelers violates California’s antidiscrimination laws. The district court dismissed the suit on the grounds that the Federation’s claims were expressly preempted under the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA), 49 U.S.C. 41713, and impliedly field preempted under the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (ACAA), 49 U.S.C. 41705, and its implementing regulations, issued by the DOT. Under its interpretation of section 41713(b)(1) of the ADA, the court concluded that the Federation’s claims do not relate to a “service” provided by United. Moreover, the court's conclusion that United's kiosks fall outside the statutory definition of “services” is consistent with the ADA’s deregulatory purpose. Therefore, the Federation’s claims are not expressly preempted under the ADA. Absent any specific indication that Congress sought to preserve all state-law claims not expressly preempted under the ADA, the court adopted the Geier v. Am. Honda Motor Co. approach and applied ordinary implied field preemption principles to the Federation’s claims. Applying the court's precedent concerning field preemption, the court concluded that the DOT ACAA regulations covering matters other than the use of airline ticketing kiosks are not pertinent to the court's field preemption inquiry; the new regulation is pervasive and intended to occupy the field of kiosk accessibility; and DOT acted within its delegated authority in promulgating the new regulation. Therefore, the Federation’s state-law claims are impliedly field preempted under the ACAA. The court affirmed the judgment. View "Nat'l Fed. of the Blind v. United States" on Justia Law

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CTTA filed suit challenging Articles 30 and 30.1 of the San Francisco Police Code (the “Permit Scheme”), which comprehensively regulate the towing industry within the city and provide a number of conditions and requirements concerning the towing permits. CTTA claimed that the Permit Scheme was preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA), 49 U.S.C. 14501. On remand, the district court upheld nearly all of the Permit Scheme. The court concluded that the FAAAA’s safety exception does not, as CTTA contends, limit the set of valid safety rationales in this context to those concerned only with the safe physical operation of the tow trucks themselves; the permit requirements of sections 3000 and 3050 are “genuinely responsive” to the set of real safety concerns that underlay enactment of the Permit Scheme, fall within the Act’s safety exception, and are exempted from preemption; the application requirements, including the criminal history disclosure requirements, fall within the scope of section 14501(c)(2)(A), and are therefore not preempted; the fee and penalty provisions fall under the safety exception and are not preempted; the possession and display requirements are not preempted; the business plan requirement is preempted by the FAAAA, but the requirement is severable from the valid complaint requirement contained in section 3052(4), and from the Permit Scheme more generally; and the recordkeeping and brochure requirements fall within the FAAAA’s safety exception, and are therefore saved from preemption. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "CTTA v. City & Cnty. of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from a dispute over an integrated seniority list of pilots after US Airways merged with America West Airlines. East Pilots and West Pilots were both represented by the ALPA where East Pilots advocated a list based on date of hire, while West Pilots advocated a list based on the strength of their pre-merger airline. After an unfavorable arbitration result, the East Pilots forced the decertification of ALPA and the creation of a new union, the USAPA. USAPA was expressly opposed to the enforcement of the arbitrator's award and openly committed to a seniority list based on date of hire. At issue on appeal is whether USAPA violated its duty of fair representation to the West Pilots. The court first determined that the case was ripe for review. On the merits, the court concluded that USAPA breached its duty of fair representation to the West Pilots where USAPA’s manifest disregard for the interests of the West Pilots and its discriminatory conduct towards them constitutes a clear breach of duty. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "Addington v. US Airline Pilots Ass'n" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a class action against defendants, motor carriers, alleging that defendants routinely violate California's meal and rest break laws, Cal. Lab. Code 226.7, 512; Cal. Code Regs. tit.8, 11090. The district court held on summary judgment that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994, 49 U.S.C. 14501(c)(1), preempts those state laws as applied to motor carriers. The court concluded that the Act does not preempt California's meal and rest break laws as applied to defendants because those laws are not related to defendants' prices, routes, or services. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Dilts v. Penske Logistics, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against JAL, alleging that JAL retaliated against him for reporting safety concerns and constructively terminated him for reasons related to his medical and mental fitness. At issue on appeal was whether the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (FAA), 49 U.S.C. 40103 et seq., preempted plaintiff's state law claims. The court concluded that the FAA and accompanying regulations preempted plaintiff's retaliation and constructive termination claims. The court held that federal law preempted state law claims that encroached upon, supplemented, or altered the federally occupied field of aviation safety and presented an obstacle to the accomplishment of Congress's legislative goal to create a single, uniform, system of regulating that field. Further, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's motion for reconsideration where he conceded that the conduct giving rise to his claims occurred in U.S. airspace. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of JAL. View "Ventress v. Japan Airlines" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was criminally charged, plaintiff filed a civil action against United Airlines in state court, alleging that its personnel falsified police reports, falsely diagnosed an epileptic seizure, and threatened him with an ice mallet, among other things. United removed the case to district court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. The court granted United's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff then filed the present action against defendant, the Prosecuting Attorney of King County, contending that he had no jurisdiction to file a criminal complaint against plaintiff. Defendant moved for summary judgment, plaintiff did not file any response, and the district court granted the motion. Plaintiff did not file anything further in the district court, and, instead, filed this appeal to the court. The court agreed with plaintiff that, under the Federal Rules, a motion for summary judgment could not be granted based on a failure to file an opposition to the motion, regardless of any local rule that suggested the contrary. However, on the merits, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment where defendant was entitled to summary judgment based on any of his three arguments presented in his motion. View "Heinemann v. Satterberg" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, who has difficulty walking because of certain health problems, alleged that United did not provide her with adequate assistance moving through the airport on two airplane trips and that she suffered physical and emotional injuries as a result. The court held that the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), 49 U.S.C. 40101 et seq., and its implementing regulations preempted state and territorial standards of care with respect to the circumstances which airlines must provide assistance to passengers with disabilities in moving through the airport. The ACAA did not, however, preempt any state remedies that could be available when airlines violated those standards. The court also held that the ACAA and its implementing regulations did not preempt state-law personal injury claims involving how airline agents interact with passengers with disabilities who requested assistance in moving through the airport. Finally, the court held that a terminal used for transportation by aircraft was excluded from definition as a Title III-covered place of public accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12181 et seq. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded in part. View "Gilstrap v. United Air Lines, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought suit against an airline alleging a common law breach of contract under the implied covenant of god faith and fair dealing. The district court held that Plaintiff's claim was preempted by the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA) and dismissed the claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court after examining the purpose, history, and language of the ADA, along with Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit precedent, leading the Court to conclude that the ADA does not preempt a contract claim based on the doctrine of good faith and fair dealing. View "Ginsberg v. Northwest, Inc." on Justia Law