Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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Under Federal Rule of Evidence 201, a court may take judicial notice of matters of public record without converting a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment, but a court cannot take judicial notice of disputed facts contained in such public records. The incorporation-by-reference doctrine prevents plaintiffs from selecting only portions of documents that support their claims, while omitting portions of those very documents that weaken or doom their claims. The Ninth Circuit addressed and clarified when and how the district court should consider materials extraneous to the pleadings at the motion to dismiss stage via judicial notice and the incorporation-by-reference doctrine. In this case, plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of an action under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The panel held that the district court erred in part by judicially noticing some facts, but properly took notice of the date of Orexigen's international patent application for Contrave. Therefore, the panel reversed and remanded for clarification on Exhibit D, reversed the district court's judicial notice of Exhibit E, and affirmed the judicial notice of Exhibit V. The panel also that the district court abused its discretion by incorporating certain documents into the complaint and properly incorporated others. The panel reversed the district court's incorporation-by-reference of Exhibits B, C, F, H, R, S, and U, and affirmed the incorporation of Exhibits A, I K, L, N, O, P, and T. The panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded as to the remaining claims. View "Khoja v. Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action brought by for-hire drivers challenging a Seattle ordinance that establishes a multistep collective bargaining process between "driver-coordinators," such as Uber and Lyft, and for-hire drivers who contract with those companies. The panel held that the drivers' claims under the National Labor Relations Act were unripe because they failed to allege an injury in fact that was concrete and particularized. In this case, even assuming arguendo that the disclosure of drivers' personal information to the union under the ordinance was imminent, the disclosure was neither a concrete nor a particularized injury. Furthermore, no contract or agreement was imminent. The court also held that the drivers' First Amendment claims were unripe for the same reasons. View "Clark v. City of Seattle" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order directing plaintiff to sign a settlement agreement in an employment discrimination suit. The panel held that a provision of the settlement agreement between plaintiff and his former employer placed a restraint of a substantial character on plaintiff's medical practice and thus violated California Business and Professional Code 16600. Therefore, the entire settlement agreement was void and the district court abused its discretion in ordering plaintiff to sign it. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Golden v. California Emergency Physicians Medical Group" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Ninth Circuit denied the government's petition for a writ of mandamus, asking the court to direct the district court to dismiss a case seeking various environmental remedies, or to stay all discovery and trial. The court denied the government's first mandamus petition, concluding that it had not met the high bar for relief at that stage of the litigation. The court held that no new circumstances justified the second petition where the government failed to satisfy the Bauman factors at this stage of the litigation, because the government's fear of burdensome or improper discovery did not warrant mandamus relief in the absence of a single specific discovery order; the government's arguments as to the violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and the separation of powers failed to establish that they would suffer prejudice not correctable in a future appeal; and the merits of the case could be resolved by the district court or in a future appeal. View "United States v. United States District Court for the District of Oregon" on Justia Law

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The Clean Air Act did not grant movant an "unconditional right" to intervene in the government's suit. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a motion to intervene in the government's Clean Air Act enforcement action against Volkswagen. The panel held that the Act's citizen suit provision did not grant movant an unconditional right to intervene under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(1) where 42 U.S.C. 7604(b)(1)(B)'s diligent prosecution bar circumscribed a citizen's right to intervene in an enforcement action under that same provision; a citizen who retained the right to file suit on his own, despite a government enforcement action, had no statutory right to intervene in that action; and the government was not suing to enforce a "standard, limitation, or order" within the meaning of the Act, and thus the diligent prosecution bar did not preclude movant's claims and he was free to bring his own citizen suit. In the alternative, movant's proposed complaints-in-intervention demonstrated that he was not seeking to enforce the provisions invoked by the government, and thus he could have filed his own suit and was not entitled to intervene in the government's action. View "Hill v. Volkswagen, AG" on Justia Law

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Vogel, a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair, visited Harbor Plaza Shopping Center and, in the parking lot, encountered barriers that prevented him from fully enjoying the shopping center. Vogel sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, statutory damages, and attorney’s fees. Defendant filed an answer. The court scheduled trial for October 2015. In September 2014, the court approved Defendant’s request to substitute counsel, The request was signed by Defendant’s new lawyer and Defendant’s vice-president. Defendant and Defendant’s lawyer thereafter stopped appearing. Plaintiff prepared for trial. At the scheduled pretrial conference, Defendant and its lawyer failed to appear. The court noted that, in 2005, Defendant’s lawyer had been convicted of a federal corruption charge, continued the pretrial conference and ordered Plaintiff to provide notice. Plaintiff provided notice but they failed to appear at the continued conference. The court struck Defendant’s answer. Plaintiff filed an ex parte application for default, which the court entered. Plaintiff eventually moved for default judgment, seeking $36,671.25 in attorney’s fees and submitting a seven-page itemized list of his firm's work. The court granted Plaintiff default judgment; entered an injunction ordering Defendant to make specific structural changes; awarded Plaintiff statutory damages of $4,000 and costs, $3,590.83.1; and applying the local court rule’s formula, calculated fees of $600. The Ninth Circuit vacated the award. By eschewing the ordinary considerations that apply when calculating fees in ADA cases, the district court abused its discretion. View "Vogel v. Harbor Plaza Center, LLC" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from an action alleging wrongful conduct by Nike against Havensight (the tortious interference action). The tortious interference action was filed after Havensight's prior action against Nike, alleging infringement upon a soccer brand owned by Havensight (the infringement action), was dismissed with prejudice. The Ninth Circuit dismissed Havensight's appeal as to the sanctions imposed under 28 U.S.C. 1927, the vexatious litigant order, the denial of plaintiff's motion to strike, and the denial of plaintiff's application for default because those matters were not included in the notice of appeal. The panel dismissed the amended complaint because the notice of appeal was untimely where plaintiff's premature filing of a post-judgment motion did not extend the otherwise applicable appeal period. Finally, the panel deferred to the district court's factual findings as to whether plaintiff's filings were sufficiently frivolous or abusive such that Rule 11 sanctions were appropriate, and affirmed the sanctions order because the findings were amply supported by the record. View "Havensight Capital LLC v. Nike, Inc." on Justia Law

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On appeal, GranCare argued that the district court applied an improper standard for fraudulent joinder and that removal was objectively reasonable. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order, holding that the fraudulent joinder standard shared some similarities with the analysis under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), but the tests for fraudulent joinder and failure to state a claim were not equivalent; if a plaintiff's complaint could withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion with respect to a particular defendant, that defendant had not been fraudulently joined; but the reverse was not true, and if a defendant could not withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the fraudulent joinder inquiry did not end there. In this case, Thrower's heirs had shown a colorable claim against state and common law. The panel also held that GranCare's reliance on a district court's order in Johnson v. GranCare LLC, No. 15-CV-03585-RS, 2015 WL 6865876 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 9, 2015), was unreasonable due to clear factual distinctions between the cases. Finally, the award of costs and attorneys' fees was not premised on an erroneous view of the law or a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence. View "GranCare v. Thrower" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Bozic purchased the weight-loss supplement Lipozene in her home state of Pennsylvania. Disappointed by the product, Bozic filed a putative class action in the Southern District of California, asserting state law claims and seeking a declaratory judgment defining Lipozene purchasers’ rights under a 2005 FTC consent decree that restricts Defendants’ ability to sell weight-loss products. The Southern District, where the decree was entered and where Defendants reside, retains jurisdiction over “construction, modification, and enforcement” of that decree. Two related putative class actions were already pending in California. Defendants moved to transfer the case to the Eastern District for consolidation with one of those cases or, in the alternative, to stay the proceedings. The court held that Bozic’s action was governed by the first-to-file rule and transferred the case. The Ninth Circuit denied Bozic’s request to reverse the transfer. While the Eastern District was not a proper venue under 28 U.S.C. 1391 and 28 U.S.C 1404(a) requires that an action can be transferred only to a district where it “might have been brought,” Bozic was not entitled to mandamus relief because issuance of a writ would have no practical impact on this case in its current procedural posture, and any injury Bozic might face was purely speculative. View "Bozic v. United States District Court, Southern District of California" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of copyright infringement claims brought by a monkey over selfies he took on a wildlife photographer's unattended camera. Naruto, a crested macaque, took several photos of himself on the camera, and the photographer and Wildlife Personalities subsequently published the Monkey Selfies in a book. PETA filed suit as next friend to Naruto, alleging copyright infringement. The panel held that the complaint included facts sufficient to establish Article III standing because it alleged that Naruto was the author and owner of the photographs and had suffered concrete and particularized economic harms; the monkey's Article III standing was not dependent on the sufficiency of PETA; but Naruto lacked statutory standing because the Copyright Act did not expressly authorize animals to file copyright infringement suits. Finally, the panel granted defendants' request for attorneys' fees on appeal. View "Naruto v. Slater" on Justia Law