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

Articles Posted in Aviation

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Defendant was convicted, on a plea of guilty, of serving as an airman without an airman's certificate. Defendant appealed from his sentence on the ground that the district court procedurally erred by sentencing him pursuant to U.S.S.G. 2A5.2 rather than U.S.S.G. 2B1.1. The court held that, by relying on defendant's uncharged relevant conduct in selecting the applicable guidelines, the district court incorrectly calculated defendant's guidelines range. In doing so, the district court committed procedural error in sentencing him and therefore, the court vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing under the correct guideline.

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This case arose when the Port of Los Angeles prohibited motor carriers from operating drayage trucks on port property unless the motor carriers entered into concession agreements with the port. The concession agreements set forth fourteen specific requirements covering, among other things, truck driver employment, truck maintenance, parking, and port security. The agreements were adopted as part of the port's "Clean Truck Program," adopted in response to community opposition that had successfully stymied port growth. Plaintiff challenged the concession agreements, arguing that they were preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAA Act), 49 U.S.C. 14501 et seq. The court held that the district court meticulously identified and applied the governing law. The court affirmed the district court's holding that the financial capability, maintenance, off-street parking, and placard provisions were not preempted. The court reversed the district court's conclusion that the employee-driver provision was saved from preemption by the market participant doctrine, and remanded for further proceedings.

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Plaintiff sued Icelandair in federal district court, alleging that it was liable for her injuries under Article 17 of the Convention of the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Transportation by Air (Montreal Convention), which established that air carriers were liable for accidents that occurred to passengers while they were boarding, aboard, or disembarking aircraft, S. Treaty Doc. No. 106-45, 33. At issue was whether the district court properly granted summary judgment on behalf of Icelandair. The court held that a plaintiff did not have to prove that an airline violated a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standard to establish that there was an "accident" under Article 17 of the Montreal Convention. The court also held that because the district court held otherwise, requiring plaintiff to provide evidence that the airline had failed to meet FAA requirements in order to survive summary judgment, the court reversed and remanded.

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Plaintiffs, working as auditors in The Boeing Company's ("Boeing") IT Sarbanes-Oxley ("SOX") Audit group, filed SOX whistleblower complaints under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, U.S.C. 1514(a)(1), with the Occupation Safety and Health Administration after they were terminated by Boeing when they spoke with a reporter from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ("Post-Intelligencer") about Boeing's compliance with SOX. At issue was whether plaintiffs' disclosures to the Post-Intelligencer were protected under section 1514(a)(1), which protected employees of publicly-traded companies who disclose certain types of information. The court held that section 1514(a)(1) did not protect employees of publicly-held companies from retaliation when they disclosed information regarding designated types of fraud or securities violations to members of the media.