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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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After the Census Bureau instituted a revised schedule on April 13 (COVID-19 Plan) for the 2020 decennial census due to the global pandemic, the Secretary of Commerce announced a new schedule (the Replan) where the Bureau greatly compressed, as compared both to the original schedule and to the COVID-19 Plan, the time allocated to various stages for completing the census. The district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the Bureau from implementing its proposed Replan schedule for conducting the census.Addressing the government's emergency motion for a stay of the preliminary injunction pending appeal, the Ninth Circuit concluded that the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of the appeal as to plaintiffs' Administrative Procedure Act claims. To the extent that the district court enjoined the Replan and the September 30, 2020, deadline for data collection, the panel concluded that the government has not met its burden in showing irreparable harm, and the irreparable harm to plaintiffs and the resulting balance of equities justify the denial of a stay. To the extent that the district court enjoined the government from attempting to meet the December 31, 2020, statutory deadline for completing tabulations by state, the panel concluded that the government has, at this juncture, met its burden in seeking a stay pending appeal. Accordingly, the court denied in part and granted in part the motion for a stay. View "National Urban League v. Ross" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of claimants' motions to enforce a settlement agreement that the district court approved between Volkswagen and owners and lessees of diesel cars that had defeat devices, which altered emissions profiles of the cars.The panel held that the district court had the authority to review claimants' motions to enforce the settlement agreement. Furthermore, the district court did not err in reaching the merits of claimants' motions without resolving their status as third-party beneficiaries. The panel also held that the district court had the authority to, and did, approve the amendment to the settlement agreement. The panel stated that the Framework is now an enforceable part of the settlement agreement. Given the settlement agreement's express modification procedures, the district court did not abuse its discretion by construing the Framework as such a modification and approving it in response to claimants' motions. View "In re Volkswagen "Clean Diesel" Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal for failure to join a required party in an action challenging the Jamul Indian Village's efforts to build a casino. The panel held that the distinction JAC urges between historic tribes and other tribal entities organized under the Indian Reorganization Act is without basis in federal law. The panel held that Jamul Indian Village is a federally recognized Indian tribe with the same privileges and immunities, including tribal sovereign immunity, that other federally recognized Indian tribes possess. Therefore, the Village's tribal sovereign immunity extends to its officers in this case. Because the Village is protected by tribal sovereign immunity, the panel agreed with the district court that the Village cannot be joined in this action and that the action cannot proceed in equity and good conscience without it. View "Jamul Action Committee v. Simermeyer" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action against Quality, alleging that Quality failed to provide truck drivers with meal breaks, rest periods, overtime wages, minimum wages, and reimbursement for necessary expenditures as required by California law. After Quality removed to federal court, the district court granted plaintiff's motion to remand to state court.The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's remand order and held that plaintiff challenged the form, not the substance, of Quality's showing, and the form of that showing was sufficient under the panel's case law. In this case, because the amount in controversy was not clear from plaintiff's complaint, Quality submitted a declaration to show that more than $5 million was in controversy. The panel explained that Quality only needed to include a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold. Therefore, the district court erred in treating plaintiff's attack on Quality's presentation as a factual, rather than facial, challenge. View "Salter v. Quality Carriers, Inc." on Justia Law

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Global filed suit against Bachosa in district court after Bachosa fell behind on its payments on two contracts. The district court dismissed Global's claims for lack of personal jurisdiction and denied as moot Bachosa's motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens.The Ninth Circuit held that the district court had personal jurisdiction over both the corporate and individual defendants and that litigation in the Eastern District of California would not result in disproportionate inconvenience. In this case, Bachosa maintained numerous contacts with California during the course of its years-long business relationship with Global. Furthermore, those contacts gave rise to this dispute, and it was reasonable for Bachosa to expect that it would be haled into court in California to fulfill its obligations and to account for harm it foreseeably caused there. In regard to the individual defendants, the district court had specific personal jurisdiction over them based on Global's claims in its initial complaint. Finally, the panel exercised its discretion to reach the issue of dismissal based on forum non conveniens, and held that the balance of private and public interest factors did not favor dismissal. Moreover, California law will likely govern key issues and any burdens on the foreign defendant are insufficient to overcome the presumption in favor of Global's choice of its home forum. Therefore, the panel reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded with instructions to deny the forum non conveniens motion on the merits. View "Global Commodities Trading Group, Inc. v. Beneficio De Arroz Choloma, S.A." on Justia Law

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Nutrition Distribution filed suit against IronMags, alleging that the company violated the Lanham Act by falsely advertising IronMag's nutritional supplements. After the district court entered judgment, Nutrition Distribution did not file a notice of appeal but, instead, filed a post-judgment motion for attorneys' fees under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) and then filed a notice of appeal 30 days after the district court denied that fees motion.The Ninth Circuit held that, because Nutrition Distribution did not file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the district court's judgment or obtain a Rule 58(e) order extending the time to appeal, the notice of appeal was untimely as to the district court's underlying judgment. The notice of appeal was timely as to the district court's later order denying attorneys' fees.The panel explained that the Federal Rules are clear that ordinarily, the entry of judgment may not be delayed, nor the time for appeal extended, in order to tax costs or award fees. Furthermore, a motion for attorneys' fees does not extend the time to appeal the underlying judgment unless the district court so orders under Rule 58(e). In this case, Nutrition Distribution did not seek such an order, nor did the district court enter one. The panel also held that Nutrition Distribution's attempt to now save its untimely appeal of the underlying judgment by recasting its fees motion as a Rule 59 motion to alter or amend the judgment likewise fails. The panel stated that the 1993 amendments to the Federal Rules and the Supreme Court precedent that gave rise to them make clear that attorneys' fees motions cannot be recharacterized as Rule 59 motions to extend the time to appeal an underlying judgment. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the denial of fees, and otherwise dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "Nutrition Distribution LLC v. IronMag Labs, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying claimant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and for lack of proper venue a civil forfeiture case. This case arose from claimant's shares of stock in Palantir Technologies, a corporation with its principal place of business in California. Petitioner is a citizen of Saudi Arabia who wired $2 million from his account in Switzerland to a bank in California to purchase 2,500,000 shares of Series D preferred stock in Palantir. In this case, the government filed an in rem civil forfeiture action against claimant's Palantir shares, alleging that the shares were forfeitable because they were derived from proceeds traceable to a wire fraud and money laundering scheme.The panel held that the Supreme Court's decision in Tennessee Student Assistance Corp. v. Hood, 541 U.S. 440 (2004), supports the panel's conclusion that the district court did not err when it determined that the constitutional due process requirements set forth in International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945), were inapplicable to this in rem action. The Supreme Court's decision in Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186 (1977), addressed quasi-in-rem actions rather than in rem actions directed solely toward a res instead of property seized as a substitute for the defendant. The panel explained that in an in rem action, the focus for the jurisdictional inquiry is the res, in this case claimant's Palantir shares, rather than claimant's personal contacts with the forum. The panel also held that venue was proper because sufficient acts giving rise to the civil forfeiture occurred in the Central District. View "United States v. Obaid" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit issued (a) an order amending its opinion filed on June 17, 2020, denying the petition for rehearing, and denying on behalf of the court the petition for rehearing en banc; and (b) an amended opinion affirming on different grounds the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims for restitution.In this case, plaintiff voluntarily dismissed her sole state law damages claim and chose to proceed with only state law equitable claims for restitution and injunctive relief. Plaintiff did so in an attempt to try the class action as a bench trial rather than to a jury.Pursuant to Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938), and Guaranty Trust Co. of New York v. York, 326 U.S. 99 (1945), the panel held that federal courts must apply equitable principles derived from federal common law to claims for equitable restitution under California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA). The panel explained that state law cannot circumscribe a federal court's equitable powers even when state law affords the rule of decision. The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff leave to amend her complaint for a third time to reallege the CLRA damages claim. In this case, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that she lacked an adequate legal remedy. View "Sonner v. Premier Nutrition Corp." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction of an action alleging copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and unfair competition. Plaintiff AMA is a Nevada limited liability company that produces and distributes "adult entertainment over the Internet." Defendant is a citizen and resident of Poland, who operated ePorner, an adult video website, through MW Media, a Polish civil law partnership.The panel agreed with the district court that AMA has not met its burden of showing that defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction in the United States under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(2) (the long-arm statute). In this case, defendant lacks the requisite minimum contacts with the United States where the United States was not the focal point of the website and of the harm suffered. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying AMA certain jurisdictional discovery and declined to consider arguments about changes in European law for the first time on appeal that bear on AMA's entitlement to additional jurisdictional discovery. View "AMA Multimedia, LLC v. Wanat" 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