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The Ninth Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion by not staying this federal case in deference to pending state court proceedings under Colo. River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800, 817-19 (1976). Accordingly, the panel reversed the district court's condemnation order, and remanded for the district court to stay the proceedings. On cross-appeal, the panel affirmed the district court's decision to deny Montanore's motion to determine the validity of the Subject Claims. View "Montanore Minerals Corp. v. Bakie" on Justia Law

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Contest Promotions filed suit challenging San Francisco's billboard prohibition, arguing that the distinction between commercial and noncommercial signs violates the First Amendment. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that the distinction drawn between commercial and noncommercial signs in Article 6 of the Planning Code survives intermediate scrutiny under Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission, 447 U.S. 557 (1980). In this case, the distinctions directly advanced San Francisco's substantial interests in safety and aesthetics, and Article 6 was not constitutionally underinclusive. View "Contest Promotions, LLC v. City and County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question of state law to the Supreme Court of California: Is time spent on the employer's premises waiting for, and undergoing, required exit searches of packages or bags voluntarily brought to work purely for personal convenience by employees compensable as "hours worked" within the meaning of California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 7? View "Frlekin v. Apple, Inc." on Justia Law

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Debtors appealed the district court's order vacating the bankruptcy court's confirmation of their chapter 13 plan. The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal, holding that, under Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank, 135 S. Ct. 1686 (2015), the district court's order vacating confirmation was not a final appealable order because the district court did not finally dispose of a discrete dispute. The panel also held that debtors had other opportunities to seek circuit court review pursuant to the certification methodologies in the general interlocutory appeals statute, 28 U.S.C. 1292(b), and the bankruptcy-specific certification procedures, 28 U.S.C. 158(d)(2). View "Bank of New York Mellon v. Watt" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment affirming the ALJ's denial of plaintiff's applications for disability benefits and supplemental security income (SSI). The panel held that the ALJ failed to credit plaintiff's testimony regarding the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of his symptoms to the extent that testimony was "inconsistent with the residual functional capacity assessment [(RFC)]"; this boilerplate language encouraged an inaccurate assessment of a claimant's credibility and also permitted determination of RFCs that were inconsistent with truly credible testimony; the approach taken by the ALJ was inconsistent with the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C 301-1397m, and should not be used in disability decisions; and the ALJ did not give clear and convincing reasons for rejecting plaintiff's symptom testimony. View "Laborin v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Public Benefits

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Hilton on plaintiff's age discrimination claims. Plaintiff was 60 years old when he was terminated from his position as part of a reduction-in-workforce (RIF) in 2012. Applying the McDonnell Douglass test, the panel held that plaintiff satisfied the elements for establishing a prima facie case of discrimination; Hilton produced evidence showing that it acted for a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason; and plaintiff failed to introduce sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the reasons Hilton articulated were pretexts for age discrimination. The panel considered the context of this case, including Hilton's lost profits during the economic downturn, a series of layoffs, the overall age of the workforce, the fact that plaintiff survived previous RIFs, and the business reasons for selecting his position for elimination. Consequently, plaintiff's remaining claims also failed. View "Merrick v. Hilton Worldwide, Inc." on Justia Law

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After Aetna determined that plaintiff was not disabled and terminated her benefits, she filed suit under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. The district court applied de novo review and held that Aetna improperly denied plaintiff's claim. The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment, holding that the district court should have reviewed the denial only for abuse of discretion. The panel held that the plan contained a discretionary clause and thus called for abuse of discretion review; Aetna provided no sound reason to depart from the text of section 22 of the California Insurance Code, which brought within the scope of Cal. Ins. Code 10110.6 Boeing's self-funded STD plan; ERISA preempted application of section 10110.6 to Boeing's self-funded plan; and remand was necessary to permit the district court to properly apply the abuse of discretion standard. View "Williby v. Aetna Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA

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A bankruptcy estate is entitled to the full amount of spendthrift trust distributions due to be paid as of the petition date. But the estate may not access any portion of that money the beneficiary needs for his support or education, as long as the trust instrument specifies that the funds are for that purpose. The estate may also reach 25 percent of expected future payments from the spendthrift trust, reduced by the amount the beneficiary needs to support himself and his dependents. In this case, the Ninth Circuit reversed the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel's decision after the California Supreme Court's answer to a certified question regarding whether the creditors of the beneficiary of a spendthrift trust may reach the trust distributions. The panel remanded so that the bankruptcy court could apply the teachings of Carmack v. Reynolds, 391 P.3d 625, 628 (Cal. 2017). View "Frealy v. Reynolds" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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To establish a concrete injury for purposes of Article III standing, the plaintiff must allege a statutory violation that caused him to suffer some harm that actually exists in the world. There must be an injury that is "real" and not "abstract" or merely "procedural." On remand from the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of an action alleging willful violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq. In this case, plaintiff alleged that Spokeo failed to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information in his consumer report. The panel was satisfied that plaintiff had alleged injuries that were sufficiently concrete for the purposes of Article III; the alleged injuries were also sufficiently particularized to plaintiff and they were caused by Spokeo's alleged FCRA violations and were redressable in court; and therefore plaintiff had adequately alleged the elements necessary for standing. Accordingly, the court remanded. View "Robins v. Spokeo, Inc." on Justia Law

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A settlement agreement entered into under an authority other than the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) may give rise to a CERCLA contribution action. A "corrective measure" under a different environmental statute, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), qualifies as a "response" action under CERCLA. In this case, the Ninth Circuit held that Asarco did not resolve its liability under the 1998 RCRA Decree. Therefore, Asarco could not have brought its contribution action in 1998, and the statute of limitations did not begin to run with entry of the 1998 RCRA Decree. Accordingly, the district court erred in dismissing Asarco's action on statute of limitations grounds. The panel vacated and remanded for further proceedings to determine whether Asarco was entitled to contribution for the response costs it incurred under the 2009 agreement. View "Asarco LLC V. Atlantic Richfield Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law