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

by
TWA challenged the Navy's decision to relocate troops to Guam and construct training facilities on the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The U.S.-Japan Alliance Agreement was entered into by the United States and Japan to adapt their alliance to the changing regional and global security environment, resulting in the determination to move Marine troops from Okinawa to Guam.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Navy and rejected TWA's procedural challenges under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), holding that the Marine relocation and the placing of training facilities on Tinian are not connected for the purposes of an environmental impact statement (EIS). Furthermore, the Navy did not violate NEPA's mandate by deferring consideration of the cumulative impacts to a future EIS. The panel also held that TWA's remaining claim—that the Navy failed to consider stationing alternatives beyond Guam and the CNMI for Marines relocating out of Okinawa—also fails based on lack of standing because TWA's claim is not redressable by the judicial branch. Therefore, the panel affirmed the dismissal of this claim. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying TWA's request for leave to amend. View "Tinian Women Ass'n v. United States Department of the Navy" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a putative class action against CSSU in favor of arbitration. After plaintiff filed suit alleging that he was owed deferred compensation, CSSU moved to dismiss based on an arbitration clause and general class waiver set forth in an Employee Dispute Resolution Program.The panel rejected plaintiff's argument that FINRA Rule 13204(a)(4) invalidates the Program's class waiver. Because the class waiver survives, the panel held that plaintiff relinquished his right to bring class claims in any forum, and because he is left with only individual claims, Rule 13204(a)(4)'s prohibition on enforcing arbitration agreements directed at putative or certified class claims has no application here. Therefore, the panel held that the district court correctly ordered the parties to arbitrate plaintiff's remaining individual claims, and aligned itself with the Second Circuit's decision in Cohen v. UBS Fin. Servs., Inc., 799 F.3d 174 (2d Cir. 2015). View "Laver v. Credit Suisse Securities (USA), LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order on a motion to compel arbitration of a grievance in which the union asserted that the Hospital placed certain types of patients with nurses who did not have the appropriate training for those patients and that the Hospital was violating nurse-to-patient ratios established by state law. At issue in this appeal is whether the arbitrability of an issue is itself arbitrable, where the relevant agreement includes a broad arbitration clause but is otherwise silent on the question.In First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938 (1995), the Supreme Court established that a court, not the arbitrator, must make the determination whether the arbitrability of an issue is itself arbitrable when the relevant agreement is silent on that question. In United Bhd. Of Carpenters & Joiners of Am., Local No. 1780 v. Desert Palace, Inc., 94 F.3d 1308 (9th Cir. 1996), this court stated that labor cases are different, and in those cases, an arbitrator should decide arbitrability as long as the agreement includes a broad arbitration clause.The panel held that the rationale in Desert Palace is clearly irreconcilable with the reasoning or theory of intervening higher authority in Granite Rock Co. v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 561 U.S. 287, 300–01 (2010), where the Supreme Court expressly rejected the notion that labor arbitration disputes should be analyzed differently than commercial arbitration disputes. Therefore, the panel was not bound by Desert Palace and remanded to the district court to consider whether the union's grievance is arbitrable. View "SEIU Local 121RN v. Los Robles Regional Medical Center" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit reversed defendant's conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. In United States v. Du Bo, 186 F.3d 1177, 1179 (9th Cir. 1999), an indictment missing an essential element that is properly challenged before trial must be dismissed. At issue in this appeal was whether defendant properly challenged his indictment pre-trial, thereby triggering the Du Bo rule.The panel followed its well-established obligation to construe pro se filings liberally and held that defendant properly challenged his indictment under Du Bo's automatic-dismissal rule. In this case, defendant's indictment neither tracked the language of 18 U.S.C. 922(g) nor set forth the elements of the offense, because it did not allege that he had knowledge of his felon status pursuant to Rehaif v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 2191 (2019). Therefore, the panel directed the district court to dismiss his indictment. View "United States v. Qazi" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's denial of immigration relief to petitioner. The panel held that Matter of Wu, 27 I. & N. Dec. 8 (BIA 2017), which held that California Penal Code section 245(a)(1), which proscribes certain aggravated forms of assault, is categorically a "crime involving moral turpitude" for purposes of the immigration laws, is consistent with Ceron v. Holder, 747 F.3d 773 (9th Cir. 2014) (en banc) and entitled to deference. Therefore, the panel held that the BIA correctly determined that petitioner's conviction under section 245(a)(1) was for a crime involving moral turpitude and that he was therefore inadmissible under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The panel lacked jurisdiction to consider petitioner's challenges to the denial of his waiver under section 212(h) of the INA, because he failed to raise a cognizable legal or constitutional question concerning that determination. View "Safaryan v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
by
The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision, holding that petitioner has adequately exhausted his particularly serious crime argument but that the BIA and IJ did not err in concluding that petitioner's conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1) and 924(A)(2), constitutes a particularly serious crime barring withholding of removal.The panel also held that the termination of petitioner's grant of asylum by reopening his asylum-only proceeding was not error, and the IJ did not have jurisdiction to consider his request for an adjustment of status because of the limited scope of such proceedings. The panel stated that petitioner's request for an adjustment of status should have been made to the USCIS, not the IJ. View "Bare v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a putative class action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that deduction of union dues from plaintiffs' paychecks violated the First Amendment. The Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, 138 S. Ct. 2448 (2018), held that compelling nonmembers to subsidize union speech is offensive to the First Amendment.The panel held that plaintiffs' claims against the union fails under section 1983 for lack of state action, a threshold requirement. The panel also held that plaintiffs' First Amendment claim for prospective relief against Washington state also fails because employees affirmatively consented to deduction of union dues. The panel stated that Janus did not extend a First Amendment right to avoid paying union dues, and in no way created a new First Amendment waiver requirement for union members before dues are deducted pursuant to a voluntary agreement. The panel further held that neither state law nor the collective bargaining agreement compels involuntary dues deduction and neither violates the First Amendment. Therefore, in the face of their voluntary agreement to pay union dues and in the absence of any legitimate claim of compulsion, the district court appropriately dismissed the First Amendment claim against Washington. View "Belgau v. Inslee" on Justia Law

by
After Gardens Regional filed for bankruptcy, the State deducted certain "fees"—which Gardens Regional had failed to pay to the State—from various payments that the State was obligated to make to Gardens Regional under its Medicaid program. The bankruptcy court and the Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP) both agreed that the deductions were permissible recoupments rather than impermissible setoffs.Although the bankruptcy court and the BAP held that all of the State's withholdings of unpaid Hospital Quality Assurance Fee (HQAF) amounts constituted legitimate instances of equitable recoupment rather than setoff, the Ninth Circuit held that the bankruptcy court and BAP's holding rested on an overly generous conception of what qualifies as "the same transaction or occurrence" for purposes of recoupment. The test remains whether the relevant rights being asserted against the debtor are sufficiently logically connected to the debtor's countervailing obligations such that they may be fairly said to constitute part of the same transaction.The panel affirmed the judgment of the BAP insofar as it holds that California's deduction of unpaid HQAF assessments from the supplemental payments made to Gardens Regional was permissible under the doctrine of equitable recoupment, but the panel reversed its judgment as to the fee-for-service payments. The panel remanded to the BAP with instructions to remand to the bankruptcy court for further proceedings. View "Gardens Regional Hospital & Medical Center Liquidating Trust v. California" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy
by
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal for lack of standing of a tribal health organization's action seeking declaratory relief regarding alleged violations of a federal law concerning the provision of health services to Alaska Natives. The panel held that SCF alleges an injury in fact sufficient to confer Article III standing in two distinct ways: first, that ANTHC infringed SCF's governance and participation rights under Section 325 of the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1998 by delegating the full authority of the fifteen-member Board to the five-person Executive Committee; and second, that ANTHC erected informational barriers in the Code of Conduct and Disclosure Policy that deprived SCF of its ability to exercise effectively its governance and participation rights. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Southcentral Foundation v. Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to AXIS in an action seeking reimbursement of an insurance payment that it made, as a secondary excess insurer, to Northrop. AXIS argued that underlying insurers paid an uncovered claim arising from Northrop's settlement of alleged Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) violations, thereby "improperly eroding" their policies' liability limits and prematurely triggering AXIS's excess coverage.The panel held that, consistent with the limited caselaw and secondary sources that have addressed excess insurer claims of "improper erosion," "improper exhaustion," "wrongful exhaustion," and similar challenges to the payment decisions of underlying insurers, an excess insurer may not challenge those decisions in order to argue that the underlying liability limits were not (or should not have been) exhausted absent a showing of fraud or bad faith, or the specific reservation of such a right in its contract with the insured.In this case, the panel held that no reasonable insured in Northrop's position would understand that it might have to justify its underlying insurers' payment decisions as a prerequisite to obtaining excess coverage from AXIS. The district court misapplied the panel's unpublished decision in Shy v. Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, 528 F. App'x 752 (9th Cir. 2013), ignored the weight of authority rejecting "improper erosion" as a valid basis for denying coverage, and misconstrued the "covered loss" provision in AXIS's excess policy as a reservation of the right to second-guess other insurers' payments. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "AXIS Reinsurance Co. v. Northrop Grumman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law