Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Contracts
EPIC GAMES, INC. V. APPLE, INC.
Epic Games, Inc. sued Apple, Inc. pursuant to the Sherman Act and California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL). Epic contends that Apple acted unlawfully by restricting app distribution on iOS devices to Apple’s App Store, requiring in-app purchases on iOS devices to use Apple’s in-app payment processor, and limiting the ability of app developers to communicate the availability of alternative payment options to iOS device users. Apple counter-sued for breach of contract and indemnification for its attorney fees arising from this litigation. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s judgment, after a bench trial, against Epic Games on its Sherman Act claims for restraint of trade, tying, and monopoly maintenance against Apple, Inc.; in favor of Epic on its UCL claim; against Epic on Apple’s claim for breach of contract; and against Apple on its claim for attorney fees. The panel affirmed except for the district court’s ruling respecting attorney fees, where it reversed and remanded for further proceedings. The panel affirmed the district court’s denial of antitrust liability and its corresponding rejection of Epic’s illegality defense to Apple’s breach of contract counter-claim. The panel held that the district court erred as a matter of law in defining the relevant antitrust market, but those errors were harmless. The panel held that independent of the district court’s errors, Epic failed to establish, as a factual matter, its proposed market definition and the existence of any substantially less restrictive alternative means for Apple to accomplish the procompetitive justifications supporting iOS’s walled garden ecosystem. View "EPIC GAMES, INC. V. APPLE, INC." on Justia Law
Posted in: Antitrust & Trade Regulation, Contracts
ROGER SILK V. BARON BOND, ET AL
Plaintiff provided tax- and estate-planning services. Plaintiff filed a claim in Baltimore County Orphans’ Court against Defendant’s Estate for fees allegedly due under contracts. After the Estate disallowed the claim, Plaintiff sued in federal court. After the Estate disallowed the claim, Plaintiff sued in federal court. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, finding that the suit was barred by the “probate exception” to federal court jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment dismissing for lack of personal jurisdiction Plaintiff’s suit alleging breach of contract. The panel held that none of the Goncalves categories applied to Plaintiff’s suit against the Estate. First, neither party contends that Plaintiff was seeking to annul or probate Bond’s will. Second, this suit does not require the federal courts to administer Defendant’s Estate. Valuing an estate to calculate contract damages is not administering an estate. Third, this suit does not require the federal courts to assume in rem jurisdiction over property in the custody of the probate court. If Plaintiff were to prevail at trial, he would be awarded an in personam judgment for money damages. The panel held that Plaintiff made out a prima facie case of personal jurisdiction. The panel held that the district court erred in holding that Plaintiff’s suit was barred by the probate exception to federal jurisdiction. View "ROGER SILK V. BARON BOND, ET AL" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Contracts, Trusts & Estates
THE OREGON CLINIC, PC V. FIREMAN’S FUND INS. CO.
This case involves an insured who sued for breach of contract and for breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing when its insurer denied coverage for business income losses that the insured incurred during the COVID19 pandemic. The insured alleged that the COVID-19 virus was present on its premises and that state government closure orders prevented it from fully making use of its insured property due to infections and prohibitions on elective medical procedures. The district court dismissed the insured’s suit for failure to state a claim. The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the Oregon Supreme Court: Can the actual or potential presence of the COVID-19 virus on an insured’s premises constitute “direct physical loss or damage to property” for purposes of coverage under a commercial property insurance policy? View "THE OREGON CLINIC, PC V. FIREMAN'S FUND INS. CO." on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts, Insurance Law
HONEY BUM, LLC V. FASHION NOVA, INC., ET AL
Honey Bum, a rival fast-fashion retailer, alleged that Fashion Nova organized a per se unlawful group boycott by threatening to stop purchasing from certain clothing vendors unless they, in turn, stopped selling to Honey Bum. The district court granted summary judgment on Honey Bum’s Sherman Act § 1 group boycott claim, concluding that Honey Bum failed to create a material dispute as to the existence of a horizontal agreement between the vendors themselves, to boycott Honey Bum. The district court also granted summary judgment on Honey Bum’s California business tort claims. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of Fashion Nova, Inc., et al. in an antitrust action brought by Honey Bum, LLC. The panel held that Sherman Act Section 1 prohibits contracts, combinations, and conspiracies that unreasonably restrain trade. In determining the reasonableness of a restraint, two different kinds of liability standards are considered. Some restraints are unreasonable per se because they always or almost always tend to restrict competition and decrease output. Most restraints, however, are subject to the so-called Rule of Reason, a multi-step, burden-shifting framework. The panel held that a group boycott is an agreement among multiple firms not to deal with another firm (the target). Some group boycotts are per se unlawful, while others are not. The panel affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment on Honey Bum’s claim for tortious interference with prospective economic relations because that claim required a showing of independent unlawfulness. View "HONEY BUM, LLC V. FASHION NOVA, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law
Posted in: Antitrust & Trade Regulation, Contracts, Personal Injury
MATT YAMASHITA V. LG CHEM, LTD., ET AL
Plaintiff brought this products-liability suit against LG Chem, Ltd. (“LGC”) and LG Chem America, Inc. (“LGCA”), claiming that they negligently manufactured and distributed a battery that he used to power an electronic cigarette until the battery, and electronic cigarette both exploded in his mouth. Plaintiff sued LGC and LGCA in Hawaii state court, bringing various state-law claims related to the design, manufacture, labeling, advertising, and distribution of the subject battery. LGC and LGCA were timely removed from Hawaii state court to the District Court for the District of Hawaii and then moved to dismiss Yamashita’s complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Yamashita opposed the motions and moved for jurisdictional discovery. The district court denied Yamashita’s motion for jurisdictional discovery. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction. The court held that Ford modified, but did not abolish, the requirement that a claim must arise out of or relate to a forum contact in order for a court to exercise specific personal jurisdiction. The panel explained that while LGC and LGCA’s Hawaii contacts clearly showed that they purposefully availed themselves of Hawaii law, they can only be subject to specific personal jurisdiction if Plaintiff’s injuries arose out of or related to those contacts. The panel held that Plaintiff had not shown that his injuries arose out of any contacts because he had not shown but-for causation. The panel concluded that the district court’s denial of jurisdictional discovery was not an abuse of discretion. View "MATT YAMASHITA V. LG CHEM, LTD., ET AL" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Contracts, Personal Injury, Products Liability
FRENCH LAUNDRY PARTNERS, LP, ET AL V. HARTFORD FIRE INSURANCE CO., ET AL
The certified a question to the Supreme Court of California in a case where an insured who sued for declaratory judgment that its insurance policy provides coverage for its losses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. At issue here is whether the policy’s virus exclusion is enforceable and precludes coverage. The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the Supreme Court of California: Is the virus exclusion in French Laundry’s insurance policy unenforceable because enforcing it would render illusory a limited virus coverage provision allowing for the possibility of coverage for business losses and extra expenses allegedly caused by the presence and impacts of COVID-19 at an insured’s properties, including the loss of business due to a civil authority closure order? View "FRENCH LAUNDRY PARTNERS, LP, ET AL V. HARTFORD FIRE INSURANCE CO., ET AL" on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts, Insurance Law
TIFFANY HILL V. XEROX BUSINESS SERVICES, LLC, ET AL
Appellee worked at a Xerox Business Services, LLC (“XBS”) call center and was compensated according to a proprietary system of differential pay rates known as Achievement Based Compensation (“ABC”). Section 4 of the 2002 Dispute Resolution Plan ("DRP") required XBS and its agents to submit “all disputes” to binding arbitration for final and exclusive resolution. Appellee never signed the 2002 DRP. XBS issued an updated DRP (“2012 DRP”). XBS filed a motion to compel individual arbitration by 2,927 class members who had signed the 2002 DRP. The district court found that XBS had waived its right to compel arbitration. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying XBS's motion to compel. The panel noted that following Morgan v. Sundance, 142 S. Ct. 1708 (2022), the Ninth Circuit’s test for waiver of the right to compel arbitration consists of two elements: (1) knowledge of an existing right to compel arbitration; and (2) intentional acts inconsistent with that existing right. XBS challenged both prongs of the test. The panel held that XBS was correct that the district court could not compel nonparties to the case to arbitrate until after a class had been certified and the notice and opt-out period were complete. However, XBS failed to appreciate that waiver was a unilateral concept. The panel held that further undercutting XBS’s position was its own actions throughout the course of the litigation, in which XBS raised the 2012 DRP as to putative class members before the class had been certified and before it had the ability to move to enforce that agreement against them. View "TIFFANY HILL V. XEROX BUSINESS SERVICES, LLC, ET AL" on Justia Law
Posted in: Class Action, Contracts, Labor & Employment Law
KEVIN JOHNSON V. WALMART INC.
Posted in: Arbitration & Mediation, Class Action, Contracts
HAYDAY FARMS, INC., ET AL V. FEEDX HOLDINGS, INC.
FeeDx and HayDay Farms, Inc. entered into an Exclusive Distribution and Processing Agreement (EDPA). HayDay’s President also entered into a Consulting Agreement with FeeDx through Nippon Agricultural Holgins, Inc. The agreements provided for arbitration. The EDPA also made HayDay and Nippon jointly and severally liable. Neither HayDay nor FeeDx performed its side of the agreement. The parties entered a Settlement Agreement, which modified, but did not replace, the EDPA. After the Settlement Agreement did not see fruition, the parties went to arbitration. An arbitration tribunal made awards against FeeDx, and HayDay and Nippon petitioned to confirm the award. FeeDx sought to vacate the award, arguing that it exceeded the tribunal’s powers under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). The district court vacated $7 million from the award that reflected HayDay’s unpaid installments under the Settlement Agreement, but confirmed the rest of the award. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part, and reversed in part, the district court’s order confirming in part an arbitration award of more than $21 million entered against FeeDx. The panel held that arbitration awards that, as here, involve at least one foreign party are governed by the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (“Convention”), which Congress incorporated into federal law under the FAA. 9 U.S.C. Section 203 provides federal district courts subject matter jurisdiction over actions or proceedings falling under the Convention. The panel held that the parties’ failure to assert federal question jurisdiction did not deprive the district court of subject matter jurisdiction where HayDay and Nippon’s state court petition established Section 203 jurisdiction. View "HAYDAY FARMS, INC., ET AL V. FEEDX HOLDINGS, INC." on Justia Law
Posted in: Arbitration & Mediation, Contracts
PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION, ET AL V. CENTER FOR MEDICAL PROGRESS, ET AL
Defendants used fake driver’s licenses and a false tissue procurement company as cover to infiltrate conferences that Planned Parenthood hosted or attended. Using the same strategy, defendants also arranged and attended lunch meetings with Planned Parenthood and visited Planned Parenthood health clinics. During these conferences, meetings, and visits, defendants secretly recorded Planned Parenthood staff without their consent. After secretly recording for roughly a year-and-a-half, Defendants released on the internet edited videos of the secretly recorded conversations. After a jury trial, the district court entered judgment in favor of Planned Parenthood and awarded it statutory, compensatory, and punitive damages as well as limited injunctive relief. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s judgment, after a jury trial, in favor of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., and other plaintiffs on claims of trespass, fraud, conspiracy, breach of contracts, unlawful and fraudulent business practices, violating civil RICO, and violating various federal and state wiretapping laws. Affirming in part, the panel held that the compensatory damages were not precluded by the First Amendment. The panel held that under Cohen v. Cowles Media Co., 501 U.S. 663 (1991), and Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Wasden, 878 F.3d 1184 (9th Cir. 2018), facially constitutional statutes apply to everyone, including journalists. The panel reversed the jury’s verdict on the claim under the Federal Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. Section 2511(2)(d), and vacated the related statutory damages for violating this statute. View "PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION, ET AL V. CENTER FOR MEDICAL PROGRESS, ET AL" on Justia Law
Posted in: Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law