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

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Allergan in an action under state law alleging that plaintiff suffered injuries when her breast implants bled silicone into her body. Through the Medical Device Amendments (MDA) to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), Congress permitted FDA oversight of medical devices; the MDA expressly preempts state law regulation of medical devices; and for a state law claim regarding a Class III medical device to survive express preemption by the MDA, a plaintiff must establish that the defendant violated an FDA requirement. In this case, the panel held that plaintiff failed to show that Allergan violated a federal requirement for its Style 20 breast implant. The panel held that plaintiff failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact that Allergan violated the FDA's pre-market approval and Current Good Manufacturing Practices. Therefore, plaintiff has now shown a violation of an FDA requirement, which she must for her state law claims to fit through the narrow exception to MDA preemption. View "Weber v. Allergan, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's habeas corpus petition challenging his Nevada conviction and death sentence for four counts of first degree murder. Given that petitioner's underlying ineffective assistance of counsel claims lack merit, the panel need not resolve whether the relevant Nevada law was adequate or if it is, whether petitioner can overcome his procedural default and obtain federal review of the merits of his ineffective assistance claims. Even if the panel held in petitioner's favor in either of those questions and reached the merits of the claims, the panel would affirm the district court's denial of relief. The panel also held that the Nevada Supreme Court's determination -- that petitioner's constitutional rights were not violated when the state's expert made reference during his testimony to test results that he had obtained from petitioner's expert -- was not contrary to or an unreasonable application of controlling Supreme Court case law. Furthermore, the panel rejected petitioner's claim regarding change of venue, the testimony of the mother of the victim, and improper statements by the prosecutor. Finally, the panel declined to expand the certificate of appealability. View "Floyd v. Filson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) after two boys were killed when a tree limb fell onto their tent in Yosemite National Park. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the fraudulent concealment claim, and reversed the dismissal of the negligence-based claims. The panel held that, regardless of whether the FTCA's discretionary function exception might apply to some hypothetical decision not to inspect the campground, the panel must decide whether park officials are shielded from liability for their conduct in actually inspecting that area once they undertook to do so; once they undertook to inspect trees in the campground, park officials were required to do so in accordance with their established policies; and while it was unclear whether the families will succeed in showing that officials were actually negligent in evaluating the tree under the park's Seven-Point system, such evaluation was not exempt from the scope of the FTCA. The panel also held that the discretionary function exception did not bar plaintiffs' claim that the government negligently failed to give park visitors any warning about the tree. In regard to the fraudulent concealment claim, the panel held that the district court did not err in dismissing the claim under the FTCA's misrepresentation exception. View "Kim v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order directing the DOE to publish four energy conservation standards in the Federal Register and rejected DOE's challenges to the district court's assertion of jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. 6305(a)(2). The panel held that DOE relinquished whatever discretion it might have had to withhold publication of the rules when it adopted the error-correction rule. Furthermore, the absence of genuine ambiguity in the rule's meaning precluded the panel from deferring to DOE's contrary interpretation. The panel also held that section 6305(a)(2) provides the necessary "clear and unequivocal waiver" of sovereign immunity from citizen suits predicated on a non-discretionary duty imposed either by statute or regulation. Therefore, plaintiffs properly invoked the Energy Policy and Conservation Act's citizen-suit provision to challenge DOE's failure to perform its nondiscretionary duty to submit the four rules at issue. View "Natural Resources Defense Council v. Perry" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment in favor of Medicare in an action brought by CIGA, seeking declaratory relief after Medicare paid for and demanded reimbursement from CIGA for medical expenses of certain individuals whose workers' compensation benefits CIGA was administering. The panel held that Medicare, as a secondary payer, was entitled to seek reimbursement from a beneficiary's primary payer, typically private insurance. However, CIGA was not a primary plan, and specifically was not a workmen's compensation law or plan. Rather, the panel held that CIGA was an insolvency insurer of last resort. The panel explained that insurance regulation was a field traditionally occupied by the states, and it must presume that the Medicare secondary payer provisions do not preempt state insurance laws unless Congress clearly manifested its intent to do so. Furthermore, nothing in the Medicare statute or its implementing regulations suggested that Congress meant to interfere with state schemes to protect against insurer insolvencies. View "California Insurance Guarantee Assoc. v. Azar" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence for illegal reentry into the United States after deportation in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1326. The panel held, and the government conceded, that the district court erred in concluding that, in calculating the Sentencing Guidelines range, proof of continuous presence in the United States was not required. The panel gave some weight to the inference that a non-citizen who had previously returned after being removed and who had family in the United States would have made efforts to stay in the country, but that inference was not enough to carry the government's burden. The panel also held that the district court erred in its alternative holding that defendant was continuously present in the United States from 2004 to 2017. The panel applied the clear and convincing standard, and held that the government failed to meet its burden of proving defendant's continuous presence. Accordingly, the panel remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Valle" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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A challenge to the timeliness of a partnership proceeding must be raised in the partnership proceeding itself and that failure to do so results in a forfeiture of the argument. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the tax court's dismissal of taxpayers' petition challenging adjustments to a Final Partnership Administrative Adjustment (FPAA) involving taxpayers' partnership. In an earlier appeal, the panel upheld the validity of the partnership proceeding and the adjustments made therein. The panel held that taxpayer's challenges in this case essentially amounted to a collateral attack on the partnership proceeding. In this case, the taxpayers had an opportunity to challenge the FPAA during the partnership proceeding, but elected not to do so. View "Bedrosian v. Commissioner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Tax Law
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The Ninth Circuit filed an order amending its prior opinion, denying panel rehearing, and denying, on behalf of the court, rehearing en banc; and an amended opinion and dissent. The panel reversed the district court's judgment for plaintiffs in an action brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), alleging that Fannie Mae falsely communicated to potential mortgage lenders, via its proprietary software, called Desktop Underwriter, that plaintiffs had a prior foreclosure on a mortgage account. The panel held that Fannie Mae is not a consumer reporting agency because, even if it assembles or evaluates consumer information through Desktop Underwriter, it does not do so for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties. Therefore, the panel held that the district court erred by granting plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and denying Fannie Mae's cross-motion on this issue. The court also vacated the award of attorney's fees and costs to plaintiffs. View "Zabriskie v. Federal National Mortgage Association" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, alleging California Business & Professions Code 19858 and 19858.5 as facially unconstitutional under the Dormant Commerce Clause. The district court dismissed the action as time-barred. The panel reversed and held that, although it has not applied a state statute of limitations to a facial challenge under the Dormant Commerce Clause, it saw no reason to treat such a claim differently from facial constitutional claims under the First, Fifth, or Fourteenth Amendments. Therefore, consistent with its case law, the panel held that plaintiffs' claims were subject to the forum state's statute of limitations. In this case, the relevant statute of limitations was two years. The panel held that, assuming for the sake of analysis that sections 19858 and 19858.5 violate the Dormant Commerce Clause, plaintiffs have demonstrated a continuing violation. Therefore, plaintiffs' injuries fell within the relevant statutory period and the district court erred by concluding otherwise. View "Flynt v. Shimazu" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit withdrew its previous opinion and filed an amended opinion vacating defendant's sentence and remanding for resentencing. In this case, defendant had pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of a firearm as a felon. The panel held that a district court does not need to decide a defendant's eligibility for an acceptance-of-responsibility reduction in his Guidelines level before listening to the defendant's allocution. The panel held that the sentencing court erred by concluding that it could not first hear from the defendant before determining whether a reduction for acceptance of responsibility was warranted under the Guidelines. The court further held that this misapprehension was plain error. View "United States v. Green" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law