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

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In light of the Montana Supreme Court’s August 16, 2022, opinion in response to the Ninth Circuit's August 6, 2021, certification order, this case is reversed and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. (“The certified facts establish that the Officer was not, as a matter of law, acting outside the scope of his employment when he sexually assaulted L.B. and the question is one for a trier of fact.”). View "L. B. V. USA, ET AL" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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Petitioner asserted that, if he were removed to his native country of El Salvador, he would be identified as a gang member based on his gang tattoos and face a significant risk of being killed or tortured—either by Salvadoran officials or by members of a rival gang with the acquiescence of the Salvadoran government. The Board concluded that Petitioner failed to demonstrate a clear probability of torture because he did not establish that every step in a hypothetical chain of events was more likely than not to happen.   The Ninth Circuit filed: (1) an order amending its opinion filed on June 24, 2022, otherwise denying a motion to amend, and stating that petitions for rehearing and for rehearing en banc may be filed, and (2) an amended opinion granting Petitioner’s petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision affirming denial of protection under the Convention Against Torture, and remanding. In the amended opinion, the panel held that the Board erred by failing to adequately consider Petitioner’s aggregate risk of torture from multiple sources, and erred in rejecting Petitioner’s expert’s credible testimony solely because it was not corroborated by additional country conditions evidence.   The panel concluded that the Board erred by failing to assess Petitioner’s aggregate risk of torture. The panel concluded that the Board also erred by disregarding credible testimony from Petitioner’s expert. The panel remanded for the agency to properly assess the aggregate risk that Petitioner will be tortured if he is removed to El Salvador and, as part of that assessment, to properly consider the expert testimony. View "MIGUEL VELASQUEZ-SAMAYOA V. MERRICK GARLAND" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denied Petitioner’s cancellation of removal concluding that his receipt of temporary protected status (TPS) was not admission and, therefore, he could not meet the statutory requirement that he has seven years of continuous residence in the United States after admission. The BIA also denied Petitioner’s application for asylum concluding that his 2016 domestic-violence conviction was a “particularly serious crime” that barred him from relief. Petitioner challenges the BIA’s decision raising two primary arguments: (1) under Ninth Circuit precedent, his TPS does constitute an admission “in any status” under the cancellation statute, 8 U.S.C. Section 1229b(a), and (2) the BIA applied an improper legal standard in deciding that his 2016 conviction was for a particularly serious crime.   The Ninth Circuit filed: (1) an order amending the opinion filed June 28, 2022, otherwise denying the petitions for rehearing and rehearing en banc and stating that no further petitions for rehearing would be accepted, and (2) an amended opinion denying Petitioner’s petition for review of the BIA decision. In the amended opinion, the panel held that: (1) Petitioner’s receipt TPS was not an admission, and he, therefore, could not meet the statutory requirement that he has seven years of continuous residence in the United States after admission for purposes of lawful permanent resident cancellation of removal; and (2) the BIA properly concluded that Petitioner’s domestic-violence conviction was a particularly serious crime (“PSC”) that barred him from obtaining asylum. The panel rejected Petitioner’s argument that the BIA legally erred in its PSC determination by considering the cumulative effect of his three domestic-violence convictions. View "JOSE HERNANDEZ V. MERRICK GARLAND" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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In a case in which the Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit’s decision filed April 7, 2020, and reported at 954 F.3d 1251 (9th Cir. 2020), the panel filed an amended order granting the government’s motion to reinstate portions of April 7, 2020, opinion, to the following extent:   The panel reversed the district court’s judgment on Counts Four (money laundering) and Ten (possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence). The panel affirmed—for the reasons explained in April 7, 2020, opinion—on all remaining Counts: One, Eight (conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery); Two (Hobbs Act robbery); Three (possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence); and Nine (attempt to commit Hobbs Act robbery). The panel remanded to the district court for resentencing consistent with United States v. Taylor, 596 U.S. —, 2022 WL 2203334 (June 21, 2022), which held that attempted Hobbs Act robbery does not qualify as a “crime of violence” under 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c)(3)(A) because no element of the offense requires proof that the defendant used, attempted to use, or threatened to use force. View "USA V. MONICO DOMINGUEZ" on Justia Law

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Defendant argued that she should be able to withdraw her guilty plea at the sentencing hearing because the district court “rejected” the non-binding sentencing recommendation under Rule 11(c)(1)(B). She asserted that the district court erred by not allowing her to withdraw her guilty plea because it supposedly treated her plea agreement as a binding plea agreement under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C).   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the criminal judgment. Reviewing for plain error, the panel held that Defendant had no right to withdraw her plea. Explaining that the district court’s use of “reject” in the context of Rule 11(c)(1)(B) plea agreement has no legal effect, the panel wrote that the “rejection” of a recommended sentence under a Rule 11(c)(1)(B) agreement could logically mean only that the court rejected the recommendation itself, and the district court thus did not plainly err in not providing Defendant an opportunity to withdraw her plea. The panel wrote that Defendant was permitted to withdraw her guilty plea before sentencing only if she could show a fair and just reason for requesting the withdrawal and that she has not done so. The panel held that Defendant’s remaining arguments fail. The magistrate judge’s failure to specifically mention a “jury” trial during the plea colloquy, as required by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(b)(1)(C), did not affect Defendant’s substantial rights. The district court properly considered and explained its reasons for rejecting Defendant’s variance requests. The district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing a 100-month sentence. View "USA V. CYNTHIA MONTOYA" on Justia Law

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The Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation have a cross-deputization agreement with the State of Montana under which the Tribes have agreed to commission state police to act as tribal police where there is a gap between their respective criminal jurisdictions. Defendant challenges the validity of the cross-deputization agreement, arguing that the Tribes lack the inherent sovereign authority to enter into a cross-deputization agreement with the State of Montana.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence. The panel emphasized that the cross-deputization agreement deputizes state officers to enforce tribal law, not state law, and emphasized that Congress has expressly provided for the Tribes’ authority to enter into such compacts.   Defendant also argued that the Tribes explicitly conditioned the cross-deputization agreement on federal approval, which they did not receive. The panel did not read the agreement’s use of the word “approve” as giving the Bureau of Indian Affairs veto power over the agreement.   The panel wrote that even if the lack of a signature from the BIA representative on the 2003 amendment to the agreement impaired the validity of the amendment, it would not invalidate the trooper’s commissioned status. The panel wrote that the trooper’s failure to carry an identification card was plainly a violation of the agreement.  The panel noted, however, that none of the sovereign parties to the agreement appears to consider the violation sufficiently serious to seek any remedy for it. View "USA V. ERIC FOWLER" on Justia Law

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Nexus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nexus) developed the trademarked and FDA-approved drug Emerphed, ready-to-use ephedrine sulfate in a vial. Drug compounding by “outsourcing facilities” is permitted without FDA approval, but 21 U.S.C. Section  353b, a part of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, excludes from this exception compounded drugs that are “essentially a copy of one or more approved drugs.” To avoid the Act’s bar on private enforcement, Nexus alleged violation of state laws that prohibit the sale of drugs not approved by the FDA.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal, for failure to state a claim, of state law claims brought by Nexus against Central Admixture Pharmacy Services, Inc., operator of a network of compounding pharmacies that sold the drug ephedrine sulfate pre-loaded into ready-to-use syringes without FDA approval.   The panel affirmed the district court’s conclusion that, under the implied preemption doctrine, Nexus’s state law claims were barred because they were contrary to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act’s exclusive enforcement provision, which states that proceedings to enforce or restrain violations of the Act, including the compounding statute, must be by and in the name of the United States, not a private party. The panel held that all of Nexus’s claims depended on a determination of whether Central Admixture’s ephedrine sulphate was “essentially a copy” of Nexus’s Emerphed, and the plain text of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act left that determination in the first instance to the FDA and its enforcement process. View "NEXUS PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. V. CAPS, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs are a married couple who have each been deaf since early childhood. They appealed the district court’s judgment, entered following a three-day bench trial, on their claims under (1) the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), (2) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), (3) Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and (4) California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh Act) against Defendant Doctors Medical Center of Modesto, Inc. (DMC), an acute care hospital. Plaintiffs alleged that DMC failed to afford them effective communication during a series of hospital stays between 2015 and 2017.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment, after a bench trial, in favor of Defendants. The panel affirmed the district court’s dismissal as moot of plaintiffs’ ADA claims for injunctive relief.   As to the Section 504 Rehabilitation Act claims, the panel held that the district court properly ruled that Plaintiffs failed to show that they were denied program benefits on the basis of their disabilities because they did not show that the hospital failed in its affirmative obligation to provide the auxiliary aids necessary to afford them effective communication. The panel held that the district court did not err by failing to apply “primary consideration,” an ADA Title II rule, to the Section 504 claims, because there is no evidence that Section 504 contains an implicit requirement that a covered entity give primary consideration to the requests of the individual with disabilities when determining what types of auxiliary aids to use. Because Plaintiffs did not establish that the hospital engaged in any disability discrimination, their California Unruh Act claims also failed. View "MARK BAX, ET AL V. DOCTORS MED. CTR. OF MODESTO, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Various parties appealed the dismissal of their action challenging Reclamation’s current operating procedures, which were adopted in consultation with other relevant federal agencies to maintain specific lake levels and instream flows to comply with the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) and to safeguard the federal reserved water and fishing rights of the Hoopa Valley and Klamath Tribes (the “Tribes”). The Tribes intervened as of right but then moved to dismiss the action on the ground that they were required parties who could not be joined due to their tribal sovereign immunity   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal, due to a lack of a required party under Fed. R. Civ. P. 19. The panel held that the district court properly recognized that a declaration that Reclamation’s operating procedures were unlawful would imperil the Tribes’ reserved water and fishing rights. The panel affirmed the district court’s conclusion that the Tribes were required parties who could not be joined due to sovereign immunity, and that in equity and good conscience, the action should be dismissed.   The panel disagreed with Plaintiffs’ argument that the Tribes were not required parties to this suit because the Tribes’ interests were adequately represented by Reclamation. Because Reclamation is not an adequate representative of the Tribes, the Tribes are required parties under Rule 19. The court explained that The McCarran Amendment waives the United States’ sovereign immunity in certain suits. 43 U.S.C. Section 666(a). The panel held that even if the McCarran Amendment’s waiver of sovereign immunity extends to tribes as parties, the Amendment does not waive sovereign immunity in every case that implicates water rights. View "KLAMATH IRRIGATION DISTRICT, ET AL V. U.S. BUREAU OF RECLAMATION, ET AL" on Justia Law

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The United States appealed to the Ninth Circuit, contesting only the district court’s award of $10 million in extraordinary damages in an FTCA suit alleging negligence on the part of NeighborCare Health Center, a federally qualified community health center. The government argued that under Washington law, the federal government could not be held liable for the unforeseeable harm to plaintiff S.L.P., a minor child, who was born with a rare medical disability. The Ninth Circuit certified an unsettled issue of Washington law to the Washington Supreme Court.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s award of damages in a Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) action after receiving an answer to a certified question to the Washington Supreme Court. The Washington Supreme Court concluded: “[a]s a matter of Washington law, damages for negligent reproductive health care may include extraordinary costs associated with raising a child with birth defects, even if Plaintiff did not seek contraception to prevent conceiving a child later born with birth defects.” The panel held that Washington law was now clear, and it foreclosed the government’s arguments that the extraordinary damages awarded here were impermissible as a matter of law. The panel affirmed the district court’s award of damages in the amount of $10,042,294.81. View "YESENIA PACHECO, ET AL V. USA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury