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

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Various states, municipalities, and organizations filed suit seeking a preliminary injunction against the implementation of DHS's Final Rule, which redefined the term "public charge" to require consideration of not only cash benefits, but also certain non-cash benefits. Under the Final Rule, an alien is a public charge if they receive one or more public benefits, including cash and non-cash benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Section 8 housing assistance, Section 8 project-based rental assistance, Medicaid (with certain exceptions), and Section 9 public housing. The Ninth Circuit granted a stay of two preliminary injunctions granted by two different district courts, holding that DHS has shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits because the Final Rule was neither contrary to law nor arbitrary and capricious; DHS will suffer irreparable harm because the preliminary injunctions will force it to grant status to those not legally entitled to it; and the balance of the equities and public interest favor a stay. View "City and County of San Francisco v. USCIS" on Justia Law

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The revocation of citizenship on the ground that the grant of citizenship was "illegally procured or . . . procured by concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation," 8 U.S.C. 1451(a), does not constitute a "penalty" for purposes of the five year statute of limitations generally applicable to civil fines, penalties, and forfeitures, under 28 U.S.C. 2462. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the government, holding that the purpose of denaturalization is to remedy a past fraud by taking back a benefit to which an alien is not entitled. Therefore, the panel held that section 2462 did not provide petitioner a statute of limitations defense, because denaturalization was not a penalty for purposes of section 2462. View "United States v. Phattey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of police officers in an action brought by a victim of domestic abuse under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and state law. The panel held that the officers' conduct violated plaintiff's constitutional right to due process by affirmatively increasing the known and obvious danger plaintiff faced. However, the panel held that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity because it was not clear at the time that their conduct was unconstitutional. The panel held that the state-created danger doctrine applies when an officer reveals a domestic violence complaint made in confidence to an abuser while simultaneously making disparaging comments about the victim in a manner that reasonably emboldens the abuser to continue abusing the victim with impunity. The panel also held that the state-created danger doctrine applies when an officer praises an abuser in the abuser's presence after the abuser has been protected from arrest, in a manner that communicates to the abuser that the abuser may continue abusing the victim with impunity. View "Martinez v. City of Clovis" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) claims based on lack of RICO standing in a putative class action brought against pharmaceutical companies. Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that the companies refused to change the warning label of their drug Actos or otherwise inform the public after they learned that the drug increased a patient’s risk of developing bladder cancer. The panel held that patients and health insurance companies who reimbursed patients adequately alleged the required element of proximate cause where they alleged that, but for defendant's omitted mention of a drug's known safety risk, they would not have paid for the drug. The panel agreed with the First and Third Circuits that plaintiffs' damages were not too far removed from defendants' alleged omissions and misrepresentations to satisfy RICO's proximate cause requirement. In this case, plaintiffs sufficiently alleged a direct relationship, and the Holmes factors weighed in favor of permitting their RICO claims to proceed. The panel explained that, although prescribing physicians served as intermediaries between defendants' fraudulent omission of Actos's risk of causing bladder cancer and plaintiffs' payments for the drug, prescribing physicians did not constitute an intervening cause to cut off the chain of proximate causation. The panel also held that plaintiffs have adequately alleged the reliance necessary to satisfy RICO's proximate cause requirement. View "Painters and Allied Trades District Council 82 Health Care Fund v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit filed (1) an order granting a request for publication, withdrawing the panel's prior memorandum disposition, and directing the filing of an opinion; and (2) an opinion affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs in an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) class action concerning pension contributions. Amendments 14 and 24 of the fund had the effect of withholding at least $1.00 per hour from all employer contributions. Plaintiff filed a class action against the trustees under ERISA. In a prior appeal, Lehman I, the panel held that the trustees could not keep the $1.00 hourly withholdings they had made pursuant to Amendment 14. The panel affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for plaintiff and awarded damages to the class. The panel then remanded for the district court to address Amendment 24. On remand, the district court again granted summary judgment in favor of the class. The panel affirmed the district court's determination that Amendment 24 violated the plain language of Article 5 of the Pacific Coast Pension Plan, which mandated that the Plan collect and transfer all contributions received on behalf of travelers. The panel explained that the trustee's interpretation of Amendment 24 with regard to travelers' contributions was inconsistent with the Plan's own definition of "contribution." View "Lehman v. Nelson" on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA
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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion challenging the validity of a conviction for use of a firearm during a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A). In this case, defendant walked into a pharmacy, pointed a gun at an employee, and demanded all of the pharmacy's OxyContin. The panel held that armed robbery involving controlled substances described in 18 U.S.C. 2118(c)(1) is a crime of violence under 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(A). The panel explained that, because robbery involving controlled substances by force or violence or intimidation is a crime of violence, so too is armed robbery involving controlled substances, which requires proof of all the elements of unarmed robbery involving controlled substances. View "United States v. Burke" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiff challenged the district court's attorneys' fee award, arguing that the entire award was arbitrary because the district court did not adequately explain its decision to cut the number of hours expended by class counsel by 25%. The underlying class action was brought by plaintiff on behalf of a nationwide class of consumers, alleging that defendants marketed James Bond DVD and Blu-ray sets as containing all the Bonds films, when in fact they failed to include two movies. The parties settled and the settlement agreement included defendants' agreement to pay attorneys' fees and cost. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the attorneys' fee award, holding that the district court's order, when read in its entirety, explained the lodestar calculation it conducted and its application of the percentage-of-recovery analysis as a cross-check for reasonableness. Therefore, the panel found that the district court adequately explained its reasoning and did not abuse its discretion. View "Johnson v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of class certification in an action challenging the procedures that the City and WSDOT uses to remove unauthorized encampments, camping equipment, and personal property left on city-owned property. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants engaged in a practice of "sweeps" that destroyed property, and violated the unreasonable seizure and due process clauses of the federal and state constitutions. The panel held that plaintiffs failed to proffer sufficient evidence and articulate a practice that was common to the claims of the proposed class in their motion for class certification. In this case, there was no evidence that every plaintiff has experienced the same challenged practice or suffered the same injury due to the implementation of the guidelines at issue. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in holding that an alleged practice affecting each of the plaintiffs was not discernible from the record and denying certification. View "Willis v. City of Seattle" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action
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The State appealed the district court's grant of federal habeas relief to petitioner, a state prisoner sentenced to death for the sexual assault, abuse, and felony murder of a four year old girl. The Ninth Circuit held that 28 U.S.C. 2254(e)(2), which precludes evidentiary hearings on claims that were not developed in state court proceedings, did not prohibit the district court from considering the evidence adduced at the Martinez v. Ryan hearing to determine the merits of petitioner's underlying ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) claim. The panel explained that when a district court holds an evidentiary hearing to determine whether a petitioner's claim is excused from procedural default under Martinez, it may consider that same evidence to grant habeas relief on the underlying claim. The panel also held that the district court did not err in determining that the assistance provided by petitioner's counsel was constitutionally deficient where he failed to perform an adequate pretrial investigation into whether the victim's injuries were sustained during the time she was with petitioner, and petitioner has demonstrated prejudice due to counsel's failures. In regard to Count Four, this failure only affected the jury's determination that petitioner had acted intentionally or knowingly, but not his underlying guilt on the lesser included offense of reckless misconduct. Therefore, the panel affirmed the grant of habeas relief, but vacated the district court's remedy, remanding for further proceedings. View "Jones v. Shinn" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion challenging the validity of a conviction for discharging a firearm during a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A). The panel held that assault with a dangerous weapon described in 18 U.S.C. 113(a)(3) is a crime of violence under section 924(c)(3)(A). The panel explained that the least violent form of each offense is the threat to use violent physical force through the use of a dangerous weapon that reasonably caused a victim to fear immediate bodily injury, which under precedent, necessarily entails at least the threatened use of violent physical force to qualify the offenses as crimes of violence under section 924(c)(3)(A)'s elements clause. View "United States v. Gobert" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law