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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Plaintiff, a Russian citizen who resides in Russia, filed a civil RICO suit against Defendant Russian citizen who resides in California, and eleven other defendants. After securing a foreign arbitration award against Defendant. Plaintiff obtained a judgment from a United States district court confirming the award and giving Plaintiff the rights to execute that judgment in California and to pursue discovery. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants engaged in illegal activity, in violation of RICO, to thwart the execution of that California judgment.   Consistent with the Second and Third Circuits, but disagreeing with the Seventh Circuit’s residency-based test for domestic injuries involving intangible property, the court held that the alleged injuries to a judgment obtained by Plaintiff from a United States district court in California were domestic injuries to property such that Plaintiff had statutory standing under RICO. The court concluded that, for purposes of standing under RICO, the California judgment existed as property in California because the rights that it provided to Plaintiff existed only in California. In addition, much of the conduct underlying the alleged injury occurred in or was targeted at California. View "VITALY SMAGIN V. COMPAGNIE MONEGASQUE DE BANQUE" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff American Savings Bank, F.S.B (“ASB”) sent text messages to his mobile phone without the consent required by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). Affirming the district court’s summary judgment, the Ninth Circuit held that under Van Patten v. Vertical Fitness Grp., LLC, 847 F.3d 1037 (9th Cir. 2017), messages sent by Plaintiff’s phone to ASB’s “short code” number provided the required prior express consent for ASB’s responsive messages.   The district court granted ASB’s motion for an award of costs under Rule 41(d) for costs, including attorney’s fees, that ASB incurred in defending identical litigation commenced and later voluntarily dismissed by Plaintiff in the District of Connecticut. Joining other circuits, and reversing in part, the court held that Rule 41(d) “costs” do not include attorney’s fees as a matter of right. Accordingly, the district court abused its discretion in including attorney’s fees in its award of costs under Rule 41(d).   The court explained that it did not decide if bad faith is sufficient to allow a party to recover attorney’s fees as “costs” under Rule 41(b), as bad faith was not alleged, much less proven, by ASB in the district court. The court did not address whether attorney’s fees are available under Rule 41(b) if the underlying statute so provides because, here, it was undisputed that the TCPA does not provide for the award of attorney’s fees to the prevailing party. View "CRAIG MOSKOWITZ V. AMERICAN SAVINGS BANK" on Justia Law

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Denying Petitioner’s motion to recall a mandate, the Ninth Circuit wrote (1) motions that assert a judgment is void because of a jurisdictional defect generally must show that the court lacked even an arguable basis for jurisdiction, (2) Petitioner has not met that standard in arguing that the statutory “in-custody” requirement was satisfied, and (3) the additional details provided in the motion and accompanying exhibits do not demonstrate the Ninth Circuit’s holding on mootness lacked an arguable basis. View "STEPHEN MAY V. DAVID SHINN" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff alleged that Defendants directed defamatory statements about him toward individuals and entities in Arizona and tortiously interfered with his contractual relationship with the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix. The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court’s dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction of Plaintiff’s action against three bishops of the Byzantine Catholic Church and their respective dioceses.   The court held that the district court erred in dismissing for lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendants. Where a defendant directs communications that are defamatory toward a forum state and seeks to interfere with a forum state contract, the defendant has purposefully directed conduct at the forum state, and the defendant knows or should know that such conduct is likely to cause harm in the forum state.   The court rejected Defendants’ contention that the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine deprived the court of subject matter jurisdiction over the appeal. The court held that the doctrine was not relevant here where Plaintiff was not asking the court to adjudicate the sort of issues covered by the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine.   The court applied the Calder effects test to determine whether a defendant purposefully directed activities toward a forum state Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984). The court held that Plaintiff’s claims against the Archbishop of Pittsburgh were on all fours with Calder. The court held that the district court erred in holding that the Archbishop did not purposefully direct conduct at Arizona. The court held that the Archbishop’s directed communications acts targeted the forum state itself and such acts were likely to cause harm in Arizona. View "BURRI LAW PA V. WILLIAM SKURLA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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Plaintiff appealed the district court’s dismissal of his state medical malpractice claim for failing to file a declaration declining to submit the case to arbitration pursuant to RCW 7.70A.020. At issue is: does a Washington state law requiring a claimant to file a declaration declining to submit the case to arbitration when filing a medical malpractice suit apply in federal court?   The Ninth Circuit held that Washington’s declaration requirement conflicts with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Accordingly, the court held that under Hanna v. Plumer, 380 U.S. 460 (1965), the state rule did not apply in federal court and the district court erred in dismissing Plaintiff’s malpractice claim because RCW 7.70A.020 does not apply in federal court.   The court reasoned that Washington state law requires a plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit to elect or decline to submit a claim to arbitration at the time suit is commenced. RCW 7.70A.020. If the plaintiff elects not to submit the dispute to arbitration, the plaintiff must meet certain requirements, including filing a declaration at the time of commencing the action that the claimant elected not to submit the dispute to arbitration. The court held that Washington’s state law declaration requirement conflicts Rule 8’s requirements of a short and plain statement of plaintiff’s claim, jurisdictional statement and explanation of the relief sought, and Rule 3, which requires only the filing of a complaint to commence an action—and nothing more. View "JEFFERY MARTIN V. PIERCE COUNTY" on Justia Law

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Appellant CPC Patent Technologies PTY Ltd. (“CPC”) sought documents to use in a potential lawsuit in Germany against an affiliate of appellee Apple, Inc. CPC filed an application in federal court seeking to compel Apple to turn over these documents pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1782, which allows district courts to provide discovery assistance to foreign or international tribunals. After a magistrate judge denied the petition, a district judge reviewed the magistrate judge’s decision for clear error and declined to overturn it.The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court’s order and remanded for further proceedings because the district judge should have reviewed the magistrate judge’s decision de novo.Applying 28 U.S.C. Section 636(b) and its procedural counterpart, Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 72, the court held that CPC’s Section 1782 application was a dispositive matter because the magistrate judge’s order denied the only relief sought by CPC in this federal case: court-ordered discovery. Because both parties did not consent to the magistrate judge's jurisdiction, the magistrate judge lacked jurisdiction to enter an order denying the application, and the district court should have treated the magistrate judge’s ruling at most as a non-binding recommendation subject to de novo review. The court, therefore, remanded for the district court to apply the correct standard of review and left it to the district court to determine whether the case would benefit from further analysis and review by the magistrate judge. View "CPC PATENT TECHS. PTY LTD. V. APPLE, INC." on Justia Law

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Petitioner was convicted of first-degree murder of an Arizona police officer after a jury trial in 1997 and was sentenced to death by the state court. Petitioner moved in the district court under Rule 60(b)(6) for additional discovery to develop (1) a potential claim under Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264 (1959), that the prosecution knowingly elicited false testimony; and (2) a potential claim of actual innocence after a witness’s apparent recantation of key guilt-phase testimony. Petitioner relied on Mitchell v. United States, 958 F.3d 775 (9th Cir. 2020), for two propositions.   The Ninth Circuit denied Petitioner’s request for a certificate of appealability (COA) that would allow Petitioner to challenge the district court’s denial of his Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6) motion for relief from final judgment. The court agreed with Petitioner that, under Mitchell, the district court had jurisdiction to consider his Rule 60(b)(6) motion for discovery to develop potential claims, and correctly declined to dismiss the motion as a disguised second or successive petition.   Applying the factors set forth in Phelps v. Alameida, 569 F.3d 1120 (9th Cir. 2009), the court found that the holding in Mitchell, which did not disturb the underlying rules governing the discovery that Petitioner sought, did not constitute an extraordinary circumstance justifying relief from final judgment under Rule 60(b)(6). Because no reasonable jurist would disagree with the district court’s decision to deny the Rule 60(b)(6) motion, the court declined to grant Petitioner’s requested COA. View "ERNESTO MARTINEZ V. DAVID SHINN" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought a shareholder derivative action alleging that The Gap, Inc. and its directors (collectively, Gap) failed to create meaningful diversity within company leadership roles, and that Gap made false statements to shareholders in its proxy statements about the level of diversity it had achieved. Gap’s bylaws contain a forum-selection clause that requires “any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of the Corporation” to be adjudicated in the Delaware Court of Chancery.Notwithstanding the forum-selection clause, Plaintiff brought her derivative lawsuit in a federal district court in California, alleging a violation of Section 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. Section 78n(a), along with various state law claims. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint based on its application of the doctrine of forum non conveniens, holding that she was bound by the forum selection clause.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal and held that Plaintiff did not meet her burden to show that enforcing Gap’s forum-selection clause contravenes federal public policy, rejecting as unavailing the evidence Plaintiff identified as supporting her position: the Securities Exchange Act’s anti-waiver provision and exclusive federal jurisdiction provision, Delaware state case law, and a federal court’s obligation to hear cases within its jurisdiction. The court, therefore, concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the complaint. View "NOELLE LEE V. ROBERT FISHER" on Justia Law

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The Center for Investigative Reporting (“CIR”) brought a FOIA action against the Department of Labor (“DOL”), claiming that the DOL was improperly withholding workforce demographic data that Synopsys and other companies had submitted pursuant to federal-contractor reporting regulations. The district court granted CIR summary judgment. Seven weeks after that judgment was entered, and eleven days before the deadline to file a notice of appeal, Synopsys moved to intervene as a defendant. About five months after the deadline for filing a notice of appeal of the judgment, the district court denied Synopsys’ motion to intervene but granted their limited intervention for the sole purpose of appealing the judgment. Synopsys then filed a notice of appeal from the judgment.   The Ninth Circuit dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction prospective intervenor Synopsys’ untimely appeal of the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of CIR and dismissed as moot CIR’s and DOL’s cross-appeals. The court reasoned that although generally, only parties may appeal an adverse judgment, it does not follow that the deadline to file a notice of appeal for prospective intervenors is different from the deadline for parties. Further, Synopsys’s motion to intervene could not be construed as a notice of appeal because that motion did not satisfy the requirements of Fed. R. App. P. 3. The court also held that because Synopsys did not file a timely notice of appeal of the judgment in favor of CIR, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the merits of that appeal. View "SYNOPSYS, INC. V. USDOL" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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Petitioner pled guilty one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury and one count of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. He moved for postconviction relief under Section 2255, arguing that his Section 924(c)(1)(A) conviction and sentence were invalid in light of United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319 (2019). The district court denied the petition and Petitioner sought leave to file a second or successive motion for postconviction relief under Section 2255. He, again, claimed that his Section 924(c)(1)(A) conviction and sentence are unlawful under Davis, and he added a claim that under Borden v. United States, 141 S. Ct. 1817 (2021), his Section 113(a)(6) conviction cannot serve as a predicate crime of violence for his Section 924(c)(1)(A) conviction.   The Ninth Circuit denied Petitioner’s application for leave to file a second or successive Section 2255 motion. The court held Petitioner did not make the necessary prima facie showing under Section 2255(h)(2) with respect to his Davis claim because that claim is not “previously unavailable,” where Petitioner presented that claim to the district court in his first Section 2255 motion, and the district court erroneously held on the merits that Petitioner was not entitled to relief, and he did not appeal that decision. Additionally, Borden does not provide a basis under Section 2255(h)(2) for granting Petitioner’s application for leave to file a second or successive Section 2255 motion because Borden did not announce a new rule of constitutional law. View "WILLIE JONES, SR. V. USA" on Justia Law