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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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The Ninth Circuit certified a question to the California Supreme Court in a separate published order. In this opinion, the panel reestablished the remaining holdings from the now-withdrawn opinion Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Int’l, Inc., 2019 WL 3271969 (9th Cir. Jul. 22, 2019). The panel held that the doctrines of res judicata and law of the case did not bar plaintiffs from contending that they are employees under the ABC test in Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court, 416 P.3d 1 (Cal. 2018). The panel rejected plaintiffs' contention that a retroactive application of Dynamex would violate their federal due process rights. View "Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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Cerner filed suit against defendant and iCapital in state court, seeking to enforce an arbitration award against property in Oregon owned by defendants. After removal, the district court dismissed the action. While this appeal was pending, the Court of Appeal of Paris, a court with jurisdiction over defendant, confirmed the arbitration panel's conclusion that defendant was subject to the panel's jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit held that the French court's decision was entitled to recognition under the principles of international comity and thus the elements of quasi in rem jurisdiction were present. The panel held that Cerner possessed a valid judgment against defendant, who owns property in Oregon, and thus the panel reversed the district court's dismissal of the action for lack of personal jurisdiction. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Cerner Middle East Limited v. iCapital, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting motions to remand to state court. AHI contended that it properly removed this case to federal court under 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1). Plaintiffs had filed suit in state court against the helicopter owners, the Hecker Defendants, and the manufacturer, AHI, after John Udall died in a helicopter crash while touring the Grand Canyon. The panel held that the district court committed no error in finding that AHI was not "acting under" a federal officer by virtue of becoming an FAA-certified Designation holder with authority to issue Supplemental Certificates. In this case, AHI inspected and certified its aircraft pursuant to FAA regulations and federal law and could not make any structural or design changes without the consent of the FAA. The panel joined the Seventh Circuit in concluding that an aircraft manufacturer does not act under a federal officer when it exercises designated authority to certify compliance with governing federal regulations. View "Riggs v. Airbus Helicopters, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioner and his attorney filed an ex parte application for discovery pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782, which permits certain domestic discovery for use in foreign proceedings. The district court quashed the subpoenas after concluding that not all the discovery sought was subject to the state secrets privilege. Although the Ninth Circuit agreed with the district court that certain information requested was not privileged because it was not a state secret that would pose an exceptionally grave risk to national security and that the government's assertion of the state secrets privilege was valid over much of the information requested, the panel held that the district court erred in quashing the subpoenas in toto rather than attempting to disentangle nonprivileged from privileged information. In this case, the underlying proceeding was a limited discovery request that could be managed by the district court. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Husayn v. United States" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from the parties' longstanding dispute over the literary works of John Steinbeck. In this case, a federal jury in Los Angeles unanimously awarded plaintiff, as executrix of Elaine's estate (Elaine was the widow of Steinbeck), compensatory damages for slander of title, breach of contract, and tortious interference with economic advantage, and punitive damages against defendants. Determining that it had jurisdiction, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the orders granting summary judgment and striking defendants' defenses to tortious interference on grounds of collateral estoppel. Furthermore, the panel explained that it follows that the district court's decisions to exclude evidence related to defendants' different understanding of the agreement at issue or the validity of the prior court decisions were not abuses of discretion. The panel affirmed the compensatory damages award, holding that the record contained substantial evidence to support the awards on each cause of action independently. Furthermore, the compensatory damages were not speculative. The panel held that there was more than ample evidence of defendants' malice in the record to support the jury's verdict, thus triggering entitlement to punitive damages. However, the panel vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss the punitive damages claims against Gail, Steinbeck's daughter-in-law, based on lack of meaningful evidence of Gail's financial condition and her ability to pay. View "Kaffaga v. The Estate of Thomas Steinbeck" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint alleging that the Department violated her right to due process when it listed her name, without notice, on the State's Child Protective Services Central Registry. In this case, plaintiff's name was listed on the Registry after her husband confessed to killing their newborn baby and the criminal investigation concluded that plaintiff was not a suspect. The panel held that, because plaintiff alleged only individualized claims for deprivation of procedural due process, the normal discovery rule of accrual applies. The panel agreed with the district court that plaintiff had knowledge of the injury giving rise to her claims by May 2013, but failed to file her action within the two year statute of limitations. Furthermore, the complaint would not have been saved by any amendment and thus the district court did not err in denying plaintiff leave to amend. View "Bird v. Hawai'i" on Justia Law

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In order to facilitate the enforcement of federal judgments, 28 U.S.C. 1963 provides that a judgment entered in a federal court may be registered in any other federal district by "filing a certified copy of the judgment" in that district. The Ninth Circuit held, as a matter of first impression, that personal jurisdiction over the judgment debtors in the district of registration is not required for such registration of a judgment, because neither section 1963 nor due process imposes such a personal jurisdiction requirement. The panel also held that once a federal court of competent jurisdiction has determined the parties' substantive rights and entered a judgment following a proceeding that comports with due process, that federal judgment should be enforceable in any other federal district by way of the federal judgment registration statute. In this case, the Washington Judgment was not void for lack of jurisdiction, and the district court erred by vacating the Second Arizona Judgment on that basis. Accordingly, the panel reversed the district court's order and judgment in this case, remanding for further proceedings. View "Fidelity National Financial, Inc. v. Friedman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of an action brought by the Tribe, seeking to enforce a tribal court judgment against nonmembers. At issue was whether the grant of federal question jurisdiction in 28 U.S.C. 1331 encompasses an action to recognize and enforce a tribal court's award against nonmembers of the tribe. The panel held that inherent in the recognition of a tribal court's judgment against a nonmember is a question regarding the extent of the powers reserved to the tribe under federal law. The panel held that actions seeking to enforce a tribal judgment against nonmembers raised a substantial question of federal law, and thus the district court had federal question jurisdiction under section 1331 in this case. View "Coeur D'Alene Tribe v. Hawks" on Justia Law

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In this court order, the Ninth Circuit held that an appeal from a third-party proceeding ancillary to a criminal forfeiture action should be treated as a civil appeal for purposes of applying Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 40(a). Therefore, the panel granted Lost Creek Trust's motion to reconsider and withdrew the mandate. Lost Creek Trust's petitions for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc are ordered filed and the clerk shall circulate the petition for rehearing en banc to the whole court. View "United States v. Lost Creek Trust" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action brought by a coalition of tribal, regional, and national conservation organizations who sued the government and others, challenging agency actions that reauthorized coal mining activities on land reserved to the Navajo Nation. The panel held that NTEC was a legally protected interest in the subject matter of this litigation, and that proceeding with the suit in NTEC's absence impaired that interest. Because no other party to the litigation could adequately represent NTEC's interests, the panel held that the district court did not err by determining that NTEC was a party that must be joined if feasible under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a). Furthermore, the district court properly concluded that NTEC was an "arm" of the Navajo Nation that enjoyed the Nation's immunity from suit and could not be joined to this action. The panel applied the Rule 19(b) factors and held that the district court did not err in concluding that the litigation could not, in good conscience, continue in NTEC's absence. Finally, the panel rejected the request to apply the public rights exception. View "Dine Citizens Against Ruining our Environment v. Bureau of Indian Affairs" on Justia Law