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

Articles Posted in Business Law
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A challenge to the timeliness of a partnership proceeding must be raised in the partnership proceeding itself and that failure to do so results in a forfeiture of the argument. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the tax court's dismissal of taxpayers' petition challenging adjustments to a Final Partnership Administrative Adjustment (FPAA) involving taxpayers' partnership. In an earlier appeal, the panel upheld the validity of the partnership proceeding and the adjustments made therein. The panel held that taxpayer's challenges in this case essentially amounted to a collateral attack on the partnership proceeding. In this case, the taxpayers had an opportunity to challenge the FPAA during the partnership proceeding, but elected not to do so. View "Bedrosian v. Commissioner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Tax Law
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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question of state law to the Supreme Court of the State of Delaware: In a Delaware limited partnership, does a general partner's request to a limited partner for a one-time capital contribution constitute a request for "limited-partner action" such that the general partner has a duty of disclosure, and, if the general partner fails to disclose material information in connection with the request, may the limited partner prevail on a breach-of-fiduciary-duty claim without proving reliance and causation? View "Goodman v. Dohmen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law
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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction in favor of hiQ, a data analytics company, prohibiting LinkedIn, a professional networking website, from denying hiQ access to publicly available LinkedIn member profiles. The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that hiQ currently has no viable way to remain in business other than using LinkedIn public profile data for its Keeper and Skill Mapper services, and that HiQ therefore has demonstrated a likelihood of irreparable harm absent a preliminary injunction. The panel also held that the district court's determination that the balance of hardships tips sharply in hiQ's favor was not illogical, implausible, or without support in the record; hiQ raised serious questions regarding the merits of its tortious interference with contract claim and LinkedIn's legitimate business purpose defense; hiQ also raised a serious question regarding whether state law causes of action were preempted by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act; and the district court's conclusion that the public interest favors granting the preliminary injunction was appropriate. View "hiQ Labs, Inc. v. LinkedIn Corp." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following questions to the California Supreme Court: Does section 16600 of the California Business and Professions Code void a contract by which a business is restrained from engaging in a lawful trade or business with another business? Is a plaintiff required to plead an independently wrongful act in order to state a claim for intentional interference with a contract that can be terminated by a party at any time, or does that requirement apply only to at-will employment contracts? View "Ixchel Pharma, LLC v. Biogen, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts
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Defendant appealed a jury verdict finding that he vicariously and contributorily infringed Erickson's copyrighted images by displaying them on his website and did so willfully. This case arose when defendant hired a website developer, Only Websites, to redevelop defendant's company website and three photos taken by Erickson were incorporated on the company site. The panel vacated the jury's vicarious liability verdict because Erickson presented no evidence that could constitute a direct financial benefit as a matter of law. However, the panel affirmed the jury's contributory liability verdict and upheld the judgment against defendant, because the district court did not plainly err in instructing the jury that "knowledge" for contributory infringement purposes includes having a "reason to know" of the infringement. Finally, the panel vacated the jury's willfulness finding and remanded for a determination of whether defendant's infringement was willful on the existing record. View "Erickson Productions, Inc. v. Kast" on Justia Law

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Harmoni, the only zero-duty rate importer of Chinese garlic, filed suit alleging that other importers, jealous of Harmoni's competitive edge, conspired to eliminate or reduce that advantage through two separate unlawful schemes in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The first scheme alleged that Chinese competitors submitted fraudulent documents to U.S. customs officials in order to evade applicable anti-dumping duties and then sold garlic in the United States at less than fair value. The second scheme alleged that Chinese competitors recruited domestic garlic growers to file sham administrative review requests with the U.S. Department of Commerce to determine whether plaintiffs were being subjected to appropriate antidumping duties. The Ninth Circuit held that Harmoni has not adequately alleged proximate cause with respect to the first scheme because the relationship between the importers' conduct and Harmoni's injury were too attenuated. However, Harmoni has adequately alleged proximate cause in the second scheme in regard to damages for expenses incurred in responding to the Department of Commerce's administrative review. The panel held that the district court should have granted leave to amend for the loss sales and harm to business reputation claims, as well as the claims against Huamei Consulting. View "Harmoni International Spice, Inc. v. Hume" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for sellers of two Ginkgold nutritional supplements in a consumer class action that alleged false advertising claims under California law. The panel clarified that claims under California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) are to be analyzed in the same manner as any other claim, and the usual summary judgment rules apply. The panel held that plaintiff had the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that a challenged advertisement is false or misleading under the UCL and CLRA. Furthermore, plaintiff need only produce evidence of a genuine dispute of material fact that could satisfy the preponderance of the evidence burden at trial. In this case, plaintiff met her burden by producing expert testimony and other scientific data that the nutritional supplement had no more of an effect on mental sharpness, memory, or concentration than a placebo. The panel held that the district court erred by requiring plaintiff to do more and by elevating the burden of proof well beyond what is usually required to defeat summary judgment. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Sonner v. Schwabe North America" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law
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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a shareholder derivative suit on behalf of the Walt Disney Company, holding that plaintiff failed to satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.1's demand futility requirement. In this case, plaintiff alleged that Disney and its board of directors and several corporate officers participated in a conspiracy to enact illegal anticompetitive agreements between Disney and other animation studios. The panel held that the allegations in plaintiff's amended complaint did not constitute particularized facts demonstrating demand futility. The panel explained that, whether the board's misconduct is characterized as conscious inaction or active connivance, plaintiff needed to demonstrate that a majority of the director defendants knew of the conspiracy, and he failed to do so. View "Towers v. Iger" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision affirming the bankruptcy court's dismissal of a Chapter 11 petition filed by the former board members of Sino. The panel held that the bankruptcy court properly dismissed the action because plaintiffs lacked corporate authority under Nevada law when they filed the petition where a receiver appointed by the Nevada state court already had removed them from the corporation's board of directors. Therefore, plaintiffs were not authorized to file the petition on behalf of the corporation. View "Sino Clean Energy, Inc. v. Seiden" on Justia Law

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Where such delivery of summonses to attorneys of companies provides actual notice to a foreign organization, it satisfies Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 4(c)(3)(D). The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for a writ of mandamus brought by companies owned and controlled by the Chinese government, seeking to vacate the denial of their motion to quash service of criminal summonses the government had delivered to attorneys for the companies. The panel held that the evidence established that the companies had actual notice of the summonses and thus the district court did not err, let alone clearly err, in denying their motion to quash service. View "In re Pangang Group Co." on Justia Law