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

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The Ninth Circuit dismissed, based on lack of appellate jurisdiction, defendants' appeal of the district court's denial of summary judgment, which resulted in a denial of qualified immunity, and the district court's denial to reconsider the summary judgment order. In this case, defendants grounded their motion for reconsideration in the district court ostensibly on both Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59(e) and 60(b). At oral argument, defendants acknowledged that their motion for reconsideration was brought under Rule 59(e) to alter or amend the judgment. The panel held that it lacked jurisdiction over the appeal of the summary judgment order in this case, because it is untimely where there is no dispute that the appeal was filed nearly a year after the underlying summary judgment order. Furthermore, the filing of an untimely motion will not toll the running of the appeal period. The panel also held that it lacked jurisdiction over the order denying the Rule 59(e) motion for reconsideration of a denial of qualified immunity, where it did not have jurisdiction over the appeal of the underlying order. Finally, the panel declined to exercise its discretion to award plaintiff attorney's fees for this appeal. View "Hanson v. Shubert" on Justia Law

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A district court order denying a government motion to dismiss a False Claims Act case under 31 U.S.C. 3730(c)(2)(A) is not an immediately appealable collateral order. In this case, the Ninth Circuit dismissed, based on lack of jurisdiction, the government's appeal from the district court's order denying a government motion to dismiss a FCA case. The panel noted that this issue was not before the Supreme Court in United States ex rel. Eisenstein v. City of New York, 556 U.S. 928 (2009). The panel held that the collateral order doctrine did not apply because the district court's order did not resolve important questions separate from the merits. Because the interests implicated by an erroneous denial of a government motion to dismiss a FCA case in which it has not intervened are insufficiently important to justify an immediate appeal, the panel held that they fall outside of the collateral order doctrine's scope. View "United States v. United States ex rel. Thrower" on Justia Law

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A request for judicial relief under Nevada's Foreclosure Mediation Rules is the exclusive remedy under Nevada law for challenging a lender's conduct in the foreclosure mediation process. Plaintiffs filed suit alleging contractual and tortious breaches of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing against BNYM and its agents, Sables and Bayview. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that plaintiffs' claims rest on defendants' asserted failure to comply with the various requirements of the foreclosure mediation program, and these claims could have been raised in a timely request for review under the Foreclosure Mediation Rules. The panel explained that plaintiffs' exclusive remedy under Nevada law for addressing these deficiencies was a timely request for judicial review filed within the applicable 10-day period set forth in Nevada F.M.R. 20(2). Therefore, the district court correctly held that plaintiffs' state common-law claims and related requests for declaratory and injunctive relief failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. View "Tobler v. Sables, LLC" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his convictions for possession of a machinegun in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(o) and possession of an unregistered machinegun in violation of 26 U.S.C. 5861(d). The Ninth Circuit held that a weapon is "designed to shoot" automatically if it has a specific configuration of objective structural features that, in the absence of any minor defect, would give the weapon the capacity to shoot automatically. The panel also held that the challenged phrase is not unconstitutionally vague on its face where it relies on the objective features of the device even when it is combined with the statutory phrase "framer or receiver." The panel further held that defendant's remaining challenges concerning the application of section 5845(b) lacked merit. In this case, there was no plain error in the jury instruction's objective focus on "specific machinegun design features which facilitate automatic fire;" there is no reasonable possibility that the jury here relied on an impermissibly expansive reading of the instruction in convicting defendant; and defendant had fair notice that Exhibit 12 qualified as such a device based on its configuration of objective features. Therefore, the panel rejected defendant's vagueness challenge. Finally, the panel rejected defendant's challenges to his section 5861(d) conviction, but agreed with defendant that his two convictions are improperly multiplicitous. The panel remanded with instructions to vacate one of the two convictions. View "United States v. Kuzma" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Prisoners moved to enforce a civil rights class action settlement agreement stemming from California's housing of the plaintiff prisoners in solitary confinement based only upon their gang affiliation. The prisoners contend that California breached the agreement when it transferred some prisoners from Security Housing to General Population but did not give those prisoners increased out-of-cell time. Furthermore, prisoners contend that California broke the settlement agreement when it limited another inmate group's direct physical contact during yard time. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's ruling that California violated the settlement agreement. The panel held that California has complied with Paragraph 25's requirements and agreed with California's contention that Paragraph 25 of the agreement requires inmate transfer from Security Housing to General Population but does not control General Population conditions. The panel also held that California has substantially complied with Paragraph 28's requirements for restricted custody inmates and, given the institution's safety concerns, the limitations are only minor deviations from Paragraph 28's requirements. The panel vacated the district court's remedial orders and remanded for further proceedings. View "Ashker v. Newsom" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit dismissed an appeal and cross-appeal arising from the magistrate judge's order extending the supervision of the case based on alleged due process violations. This action arose from a class action settlement agreement stemming from California's housing of the plaintiff prisoners in solitary confinement based only upon their gang affiliation. Before the settlement agreement was set to expire, the prisoners moved to extend its duration. A magistrate judge granted the motion on two claims, but denied a third claim, extending the settlement agreement for one year. The panel agreed with the prisoners that it cannot reach the merits of the appeal because the magistrate judge lacked authority to enter a final extension order under 28 U.S.C. 636(c)(1). Because Article III supervision was lacking here, the panel explained that the parties cannot appeal from the extension order under section 636(c)(3). Therefore, the panel cannot reach the merits of the appeal. The panel remanded to the district court to consider construing the magistrate judge's extension order as a report and recommendation. View "Ashker v. Newsom" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying plaintiff's motion for class certification in an action challenging the written rest-break policy of O'Reilly Auto. Plaintiff raised procedural and substantive arguments on appeal. The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in setting and enforcing a deadline for moving to certify the class; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's motion for class certification while at the same time granting her an additional month to develop evidence and submit a supplemental brief; and plaintiff was unable to establish that there were questions of law or fact common to the class where she failed to offer any evidence that the written policy was applied to employees. Finally, plaintiff waived her right to appeal the dismissal of her wage-statement claim. View "Davidson v. O'Reilly Auto Enterprises, LLC" on Justia Law

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After debtor filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, she wanted to keep her leased Toyota vehicle. Debtor sent Toyota a signed assumption agreement and then received her bankruptcy discharge the next day. Debtor alleged that her obligations under the lease did not survive the bankruptcy discharge because the assumption agreement had not been reaffirmed under 11 U.S.C. 524(c). The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment affirming the bankruptcy court's determination that lease assumptions survive discharge even if they are not reaffirmed under section 524(c). The panel also held that the parties' failure to comply with the procedures does not nullify debtor's agreement to assume the vehicle lease. Furthermore, debtor and Toyota mutually waived section 365(p)'s writing and timing requirements. View "Mather Bobka v. Toyota Motor Credit Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy
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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order denying EPIC's request for a preliminary injunction, challenging the Forest Service's approval of the Ranch Fire Roadside Hazard Tree Project in Northern California. In this case, rather than preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Project, the Forest Service relied on a categorical exclusion (CE) for road repair and maintenance in 36 C.F.R. 220.6(d)(4). The panel held that EPIC will likely succeed on the merits of its claim that an extensive commercial logging project that includes felling large, partially burned merchantable trees is not considered "repair and maintenance" within the meaning of section 220.6(d)(4). The panel also held that EPIC will suffer irreparable, though limited harm. Furthermore, EPIC has demonstrated that the balance of the equities and the public interest weigh in its favor. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Environmental Protection Information Center v. Carlson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law
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After USCIS denied plaintiff's application for lawful-permanent-resident status by finding that he failed to continuously maintain lawful status prior to the filing of his application and was thus ineligible for an adjustment of status pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1255(c)(2), plaintiff filed suit alleging that his lapse in lawful status was excused. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the USCIS and held that plaintiff was ineligible for adjustment of status to lawful-permanent-resident status because he failed to establish that his lapse in lawful immigration status was "through no fault of his own or for technical reasons." The panel held that a "technical violation" occurs under 8 C.F.R. 245.1(d)(2)(ii) only if the violation is a consequence or effect of USCIS's inaction on a pending application. In this case, a "technical violation" occurs only if the alien's application to maintain lawful status is ultimately granted. The panel concluded that the text is not "genuinely ambiguous" and noted that it need not grant Auer deference. The panel stated that plaintiff's lapse in lawful status was not caused by USCIS's inaction. Rather, plaintiff's lapse resulted from his substantive ineligibility for an extension of his B-1 visa. View "Attias v. Crandall" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law