Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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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

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The Ninth Circuit held that it had subject matter jurisdiction in this case because 28 U.S.C. 1332's amount-in-controversy requirement was met when the case was removed. The panel clarified that the amount in controversy is not limited to damages incurred prior to removal—for example, it is not limited to wages a plaintiff-employee would have earned before removal (as opposed to after removal). Rather, the panel explained that the amount in controversy is determined by the complaint operative at the time of removal and encompasses all relief a court may grant on that complaint if the plaintiff is victorious. In this case, the amount-in-controversy requirement was easily satisfied and the panel had subject matter jurisdiction over the action. View "Chavez v. JPMorgan Chase & Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Former Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio was referred for criminal contempt in August 2016. The government obtained a conviction on July 31, 2017. On August 25, 2017, the President pardoned Arpaio, noting that Arpaio’s sentencing was “set for October 5, 2017.” On August 28, 2017, Arpaio moved “to dismiss this matter with prejudice” and asked the district court “to vacate the verdict and all other orders” plus the sentencing. On October 4, the district court dismissed with prejudice the action for criminal contempt. No timely notice of appeal order was filed. The Ninth Circuit denied a late-filed request for the appointment of counsel to “cross-appeal” the dismissal. The district court denied Arpaio’s second request and refused to grant “relief beyond dismissal with prejudice.” Arpaio filed a timely notice of appeal. In response to a request for the appointment of counsel to defend the order denying Arpaio’s request for vacatur, the government stated that it “does not intend to defend the district court’s order” and intends to argue, as it did in the district court, that the motion to vacate should have been granted. The Ninth Circuit appointed a special prosecutor to file briefs and present oral argument on the merits. View "United States v. Arpaio" on Justia Law

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Appellant sought review of the district court’s post-judgment orders denying his various post-judgment motions, including motions for disqualification of the district judge, to void judgment, and for declaratory relief. The appeal of the district court’s orders was wholly without merit, and sought review of multiple district court orders over which the Ninth Circuit lacked jurisdiction. Moreover, the Ninth Circuit noted the underlying district court action and burdensome post-judgment motions were part of appellant’s ongoing efforts to alter or amend a bankruptcy court order entered on October 2, 1984, dismissing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding. The motions panel filed a per curiam opinion granting in part and denying in part appellees’ motion for an award of sanctions against appellant following the panel’s partial dismissal of the appeal for lack of jurisdiction and partial summary affirmance of the district court’s post-judgment orders in a bankruptcy case. The motions panel held that the motion for sanctions pursuant to Fed. R. App. P. 38 was timely because it was filed within the time limits for filing a request for attorneys’ fees under 9th Cir. R. 39-1.6(a). Granting the sanctions motion in part, the panel awarded appellees attorney’s fees under Rule 38 for defending the appeal, which it concluded was frivolous. The motions panel denied in part the sanctions motion with respect to appellees’ request for sanctions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1927. The Ninth Circuit found appellees filed the motion for sanctions on October 26, 2017, within the time prescribed by Ninth Circuit Rule 39-1.6. See 9th Cir. R. 39-1.6(a). The Court exercised its discretion and granted in part appellees' sanctions motion under Rule 38 for defending this appeal; the motion remained denied pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1927 (sanctions for filings which unreasonably and vexatiously multiply the proceedings). View "Westwood Plaza North v. Bodnar" on Justia Law

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Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 37's general discovery enforcement provisions, a court can order a party to produce its nonparty expert witness at a deposition, and if the party makes no effort to ensure that its witness attends the deposition, sanction the party's counsel when the witness fails to appear unless the failure to produce the expert "was substantially justified or other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust." The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's contempt judgment stemming from the failure of plaintiffs' counsel to pay sanctions when they did not produce their expert at a deposition as ordered. In this case, the panel held that Rule 37 sanctions were reasonable where there was no justification for plaintiffs' failure to attempt to comply with a court order. The court held that the award of defendants' deposition-related costs was not unjust, but was rather the mildest of the possible Rule 37 sanctions. View "Sali v. Corona Regional Medical Center" on Justia Law

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Heryford, Trinity County, California's District Attorney, sued American Bankers and others, on behalf of the people under California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL), alleging they had “engaged in deceptive marketing and sales practices.” Private parties may seek injunctive relief and restitution under the UCL; only a public prosecutor may pursue civil penalties. The complaint listed private law firms as “Special Assistant District Attorneys.” An agreement required the Firms to “provide all legal services that are reasonably necessary,” and to “conduct negotiations and provide representations at all hearings, depositions, trials, appeals, and other appearances” with authority to control the performance of their work “under the direction of the District Attorney,” stating that Heryford’s office did “not relinquish its constitutional or statutory authority or responsibility” and retained “sole and final authority to initiate and settle.” Heryford retained the Firms on a contingency-fee basis. American Bankers challenged the contingency-fee agreement as a violation of its federal due process rights that gave the Firms “a direct and substantial financial stake in the imposition of civil penalties and restitution,” which “compromise[d] the integrity and fairness of the prosecutorial motive and the public’s faith in the judicial process.” The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. Heryford’s retention of private counsel to pursue civil penalties cannot be meaningfully distinguished from a private relator’s pursuit of civil penalties under the qui tam provisions of the False Claim Act, an arrangement that does not violate due process. View "American Bankers Management Co. v. Heryford" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims based on lack of Article III standing. Plaintiffs filed suit against online retailer Zappos.com, alleging that they were harmed by hacking of their accounts. The panel held that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged standing based on the risk of identity theft under Krottner v. Starbucks Corp., 628 F.3d 1139 (9th Cir. 2010). Plaintiffs also alleged an injury in fact under Krottner, based on a substantial risk that the Zappos hackers will commit identity fraud or identity theft. The panel explained that it assessed standing at the time the complaints were filed, not as of the present. Finally, the panel held that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged that the risk of future harm was fairly traceable to the conduct being challenged and that their identity theft injury was redressable. The panel addressed an issue raised by sealed briefing in a concurrently filed memorandum disposition. View "Stevens v. Zappos.com, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims based on lack of Article III standing. Plaintiffs filed suit against online retailer Zappos.com, alleging that they were harmed by hacking of their accounts. The panel held that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged standing based on the risk of identity theft under Krottner v. Starbucks Corp., 628 F.3d 1139 (9th Cir. 2010). Plaintiffs also alleged an injury in fact under Krottner, based on a substantial risk that the Zappos hackers will commit identity fraud or identity theft. The panel explained that it assessed standing at the time the complaints were filed, not as of the present. Finally, the panel held that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged that the risk of future harm was fairly traceable to the conduct being challenged and that their identity theft injury was redressable. The panel addressed an issue raised by sealed briefing in a concurrently filed memorandum disposition. View "Stevens v. Zappos.com, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied without prejudice a petition for a writ of mandamus where federal defendants sought an order directing the district court to dismiss a case seeking various environmental remedies. Plaintiffs, twenty-one young individuals, filed suit alleging defendants have contributed to climate change in violation of plaintiffs' constitutional rights. Defendants argued that allowing the case to proceed would result in burdensome discovery obligations on the federal government that would threaten the separation of powers. The panel held that defendants did not not satisfy the Bauman factors at this stage of the litigation, and the issues that defendants raised on mandamus were better addressed through the ordinary course of litigation. In this case, the district court had not issued a single discovery order, plaintiffs have not filed a single motion seeking to compel discovery, any merits errors were correctable through the ordinary course of litigation, and there was no controlling Ninth Circuit authority on any of the theories asserted by plaintiff. Therefore, the panel declined to exercise its discretion in granting mandamus relief. View "United States v. USDC-ORE" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied without prejudice a petition for a writ of mandamus where federal defendants sought an order directing the district court to dismiss a case seeking various environmental remedies. Plaintiffs, twenty-one young individuals, filed suit alleging defendants have contributed to climate change in violation of plaintiffs' constitutional rights. Defendants argued that allowing the case to proceed would result in burdensome discovery obligations on the federal government that would threaten the separation of powers. The panel held that defendants did not not satisfy the Bauman factors at this stage of the litigation, and the issues that defendants raised on mandamus were better addressed through the ordinary course of litigation. In this case, the district court had not issued a single discovery order, plaintiffs have not filed a single motion seeking to compel discovery, any merits errors were correctable through the ordinary course of litigation, and there was no controlling Ninth Circuit authority on any of the theories asserted by plaintiff. Therefore, the panel declined to exercise its discretion in granting mandamus relief. View "United States v. USDC-ORE" on Justia Law