Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The Ninth Circuit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction relators' appeal of the district court's dismissal of their qui tam suit against UOPX. The panel held that the appeal was untimely because relators' post-judgment motion, although styled as a Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) motion, was in substance a motion only to stay the entry of judgment, which did not toll the time to file a notice of appeal. View "United States ex. rel. Hoggett v. University of Phoenix" on Justia Law

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The Tribe filed suit seeking a declaration that it has the right to investigate violations of tribal, state, and federal law, detain, and transport or deliver a non-Indian violator encountered on the reservation to the proper authorities. The Ninth Circuit held that the first amended complaint raised a federal question that provided federal courts with subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1331; the Tribe has presented a prudentially ripe case or controversy and the case is constitutionally ripe as well; and the district court's conclusion that the Tribe's response letter mooted all controversies between the parties was erroneous. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Bishop Paiute Tribe v. Inyo County" on Justia Law

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The United States brought a civil action against private forestry operators and other individuals to recover damages for a forest fire that broke out on private property near the Plumas National Forest in northern California (The Moonlight Fire). The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendants' motion for relief from judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(d)(3). The panel held that the district court properly concluded that Sierra Pacific could not demonstrate fraud on the court regarding any of the alleged fraud it discovered before settlement. Nor do the instances of alleged fraud discovered after settlement constitute actionable fraud on the court warranting Rule 60 relief. Furthermore, there was no appearance of bias created by the instances of alleged conduct in this case -- the judge's action in tweeting the link to an allegedly erroneous news article, so retroactive recusal was not warranted. View "United States v. Sierra Pacific Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Ayco Farm's complaint for breach of an exclusivity agreement under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The panel held that in performing a forum non conveniens analysis, a district court does not abuse its discretion by comparing the proposed foreign forum with the forum that the plaintiff actually chose, rather than with the United States as a whole. In this case, the district court did not err in affording less deference to Ayco Farm's choice to file a lawsuit in California. Furthermore, the district court properly balanced the private and public interest factors and decided that they strongly favor trial in Mexico. View "Ayco Farms, Inc. v. Rodriguez Ochoa" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the California Supreme Court: Under section 98(a) of the California Code of Civil Procedure, must the affiant be physically located and personally available for service of process at the address provided in the declaration that is within 150 miles of the place of trial? View "Meza v. Portfolio Recovery Assocs." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage's (CSC) text, structure, and ratification history dictate that Article XIII’s jurisdiction-stripping provision applies only to claims arising out of nuclear incidents occurring after the CSC’s entry into force. Plaintiffs, members of the United States Navy, filed a putative class action against TEPCO, alleging that they were exposed to radiation when deployed near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP) as part of Operation Tomodachi. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of TEPCO's motion to dismiss and held that the CSC did not strip it of jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claims; the district court did not err by dismissing plaintiffs' claims on comity grounds and did not abuse its discretion in deciding to maintain jurisdiction; the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to dismiss this case on forum non conveniens grounds; the panel was unable to undertake the "discriminating inquiry" necessary to determine if this case presented a political question; and the panel provided no opinion as to whether the firefighter's rule applies to military servicemembers and, if so, whether it barred plaintiffs' claims. View "Cooper v. Tokyo Electric Power Co." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit joined the Fourth and Sixth Circuits in holding that the collateral-order doctrine does not allow an immediate appeal of an order denying a dismissal motion based on state-action immunity. In this case, SolarCity filed a federal antitrust suit against the Power District, alleging that the Power District had attempted to entrench its monopoly by setting prices that disfavored solar power providers. The district court denied Power District's motion to dismiss the complaint based on the state-action immunity doctrine. Accordingly, the panel dismissed the interlocutory appeal based on lack of jurisdiction. View "SolarCity Corp. v. Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District" on Justia Law

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The district court erred in dismissing for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction plaintiff's administratively exhausted Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346, claim following the United States' second removal. In this case, plaintiff filed a medical malpractice suit against his medical providers, alleging that his mother had died of postpartum hemmorhage shortly after giving birth to him. The district court concluded that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's claims arising from Dr. Bencomo's actions, dismissed those claims without prejudice, and once again remanded the state claims against the individual defendants. The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff's initial failure to exhaust his administrative remedies as to Dr. Bencomo whom plaintiff reasonably did not know was covered by the FTCA deprived the federal courts of subject-matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's FTCA claim even after plaintiff dismissed his initial suit against Dr. Bencomo, and then exhausted his administrative remedies before amending his complaint in state court to add Dr. Bencomo again. View "D. L. V. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant in state court alleging breach of contract and legal malpractice. Defendant removed to federal court eleven months later and plaintiff did not object nor did he file a motion to remand. More than three months after removal, the district court sua sponte found the removal to be untimely and remanded the case back to state court. The Ninth Circuit held that it had jurisdiction to hear this appeal because this was one of the rare cases in which the court must decide the merits to decide jurisdiction; the district court exceeded its authority under 28 U.S.C. 1447(c) by remanding sua sponte based on a non-jurisdictional defect; and thus the panel vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Corona-Contreras v. Gruel" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Although 28 U.S.C. 1448 and Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m) give plaintiffs additional time to effect service of process, these rules do not extend or revive a state statute of limitations that expired before removal. If the period of time for bringing an action expired under state law before the action was removed to federal court, a defendant can raise the state statute of limitations as an affirmative defense in federal court. Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging federal civil rights and negligence claims after plaintiff was injured by a flash-bang grenade a deputy threw during the execution of a warrant at plaintiff's house. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's suit based on statute of limitations grounds. In this case, although section 1448 and Rule 4(m) allowed plaintiff to serve process on defendants after removal, these laws did not change the period of time for commencing an action under the state statute of limitations. The panel explained that, because the time for commencing the action expired before the case was removed to federal court, defendants were entitled to raise the state statute of limitations as an affirmative defense. View "Whidbee v. Pierce County" on Justia Law