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

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
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In 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) decided to preempt California’s MRB rules with respect to truck drivers subject to federal regulations. Swift Transportation (Plaintiffs) argued that the presumption against retroactive application of laws operates here to allow their lawsuit to proceed despite the FMSCA’s preemption of California’s meal and rest break (MRB) rules.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona, LLC in a class action brought by former hourly truck drivers for (“Plaintiffs”) alleging violations of California’s MRB rules and derivative state-law claims. The panel applied the retroactivity test set forth in Landgraf v. USI FilmProducts, 511 U.S. 244, 263-64, 280 (1994). Under step one of the twostep test, the panel held that because Congress clearly intended for the FMSCA to have the power to halt enforcement of state laws, and because the FMSCA intended for this particular preemption determination to apply to pending lawsuits, the FMSCA’s decision prohibits present enforcement of California’s MRB rules regardless of when the underlying conduct occurred. The panel held that it need not reach the second step of the Landgraf analysis. View "JOHEL VALIENTE, ET AL V. SWIFT TRANSP. CO. OF ARIZ." on Justia Law

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Claimant an Arizona woman in her forties filed an application for Social Security disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. The agency repeatedly denied the claimant’s claims. The district court affirmed the ALJ’s decision, concluding that the ALJ reached a reasonable determination based on substantial evidence in the record. On appeal, the claimant argues that the ALJ erred by insufficiently supporting his analysis, failing to account for the claimant’s symptoms and limitations in the residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment, improperly discounting the opinion of one medical provider while giving undue weight to the opinion of another, and failing to satisfy the “clear and convincing” standard for rejecting subjective symptom testimony.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed. The court held that the ALJ did not err in discounting the opinion of the claimant’s treating physician because the “extreme limitations” described by the physician were incompatible with the rest of the objective medical evidence. Likewise, the ALJ did not err in giving significant weight to the opinion of the consultative examiner because the examiner’s determination that the claimant could perform light-exertion work was consistent with the objective medical evidence. Finally, the ALJ provided “clear and convincing” reasons for discounting Claimant’s subjective pain testimony. The claimant’s self-reported limitations were inconsistent with (1) the objective medical evidence, (2) her self-reported daily activities, and (3) her generally conservative treatment plan. View "MISTY SMARTT V. KILOLO KIJAKAZI" on Justia Law

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Claimant argued that the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) erred by rejecting the uncontested opinion of a non-examining physician, that supported her claim. Under the pre-2017 regulations that apply to the claim, ALJs are required to give greater weight to certain medical opinions. To reject the uncontested opinion of an examining or treating doctor, an ALJ must provide “clear and convincing” reasons supported by substantial evidence.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision affirming the denial of claimant’s application for disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. The panel held that the “clear and convincing” standard did not apply to the physician’s opinion because he never treated or examined claimant. Rather his opinion was based solely on a review of claimant’s medical records. The panel held that nothing in the relevant regulations required an ALJ to defer to an opinion from a non-treating, non-examining medical source. In rejecting the physician’s opinion, the ALJ cited specific contradictive medical evidence in the record. In making these findings, the ALJ cited the record at length. The panel concluded that this satisfied the requirements of Sousa v. Callahan, 143 F.3d 1240, 1244 (9th Cir. 1998), the relevant regulations, and the substantial evidence standard. Further, the panel concluded that the district court properly concluded that the ALJ’s denial of benefits was supported by substantial evidence View "RUTH FARLOW V. KILOLO KIJAKAZI" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff claimed that Defendant used excessive force while attempting an arrest on June 10, 2018, in Berdoo Canyon, which is considered BLM land. Plaintiff and her husband failed to yield to a park ranger, at which point Defendant was called to assist. As Defendant was trying to stop Plaintiff's vehicle, he fired several shots, hitting her in the hand and grazing her head.Plaintiff filed a Sec. 1983 claim against Defendant. The district court denied Defendant's motion for summary judgment related to Plaintiff's excessive force claim and Defendant appealed.On appeal, the Tenth Circuit reversed, declining to extend Bivens. The existence of alternative remedial structures is reason enough to not infer a new Bivens cause of action. Similarly, uncertainty about the potential systemwide consequences of implying a new Bivens cause of action is by itself a special factor that forecloses relief. The panel held that there was no Bivens cause of action for Plaintiff’s claim, which presented a new context. View "DENISE MEJIA V. WESLEY MILLER, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former cargo customer service agent for Delta Airlines, claimed that the Transportation Security Agency (“TSA”) revoked his security badge without explanation and sued for violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1981, and due process.The Ninth Circuit held that Sec. 1981 prohibited discrimination by state officials but not federal or nongovernmental actors. The court also held that the district court did not have jurisdiction to consider Plaintiff's challenge to the TSA’s Redress Process because it fell within this court’s exclusive jurisdiction under 49 U.S.C. Sec. 46110, and that Plaintiff failed to establish a liberty interest to support his due process claims. View "LASSANA MAGASSA V. ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Pursuant to Rule 8.548(b)(2) of the California Rules of Court, the Ninth Circuit requested that the Supreme Court of California decide the certified question presented below: Do non-convicted incarcerated individuals performing services in county jails for a for-profit company to supply meals within the county jails and related custody facilities have a claim for minimum wages and overtime under Section 1194 of the California Labor Code in the absence of any local ordinance prescribing or prohibiting the payment of wages for these individuals? View "ARMIDA RUELAS, ET AL V. COUNTY OF ALAMEDA, ET AL" on Justia Law

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The two procedures at issue are the HARYS FOUR departure procedure at Van Nuys Airport, and the SLAPP TWO departure procedure at Burbank Airport. Petitioner contends that the FAA failed to sufficiently analyze the procedures, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), the Administrative Procedure Act, and section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1996.   The key issue is the timeliness of Petitioner’s challenges. Petitions for review of FAA orders must be filed within 60 days after the order was issued, or where there are “reasonable grounds” to excuse a delay in filing. 49 U.S.C. Section 46110(a). The Ninth Circuit denied in part and dismissed in part the petition for review brought by an association of nearby residents challenging the FAA orders. The panel held that the statutory “reasonable grounds” exception did not apply. A petitioner’s own mistake cannot excuse its delay in filing. The panel further held that the FAA’s alleged violative conduct did not toll the statute of limitations for filing the petition. Petitioner cannot circumvent the strict time limits imposed by section 46110 simply by invoking the Administrative Procedure Act. The panel concluded that the petition of review of HARYS ONE and SLAPP ONE was untimely, and it dismissed the petition for review insofar as it challenged those orders. View "SAVE OUR SKIES LA V. FAA, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appeal the district court’s dismissal of their claims challenging the constitutionality of Oregon’s since repealed system of suspending, without an inquiry into ability to pay, the driver’s licenses of persons who fail to pay the fines imposed on them in connection with traffic violations. The district court dismissed the operative complaint for failure to state a claim.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed. The panel first considered Plaintiffs contention that Defendants’ suspension of her driver’s license based on her failure to pay traffic fines, without first determining that she had the ability to pay and had willfully refused to make a monetary payment, violated the due process and equal protection principles recognized in Bearden v. Georgia, 461 U.S. 660 (1983), and Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12 (1956). The panel concluded that suspension of Plaintiff’s license for failure to pay her traffic fines was rationally related to a legitimate government interest in punishing and deterring traffic violations, even if her failure to pay was a result of indigency. The panel rejected Plaintiff’s contention that the State’s distinction between traffic debt and non-traffic debt violated the equal protection principles set forth in James v. Strange, 407 U.S. 128 (1972). Finally, the panel rejected Plaintiff’s contention that Defendants violated her procedural due process rights by suspending her license without affording either a “presuspension hearing” or a “post-suspension hearing” concerning her ability to pay her traffic debt. View "CINDY MENDOZA, ET AL V. KRIS STRICKLER, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-Appellants Cariene Cadena and similarly situated employees (Appellants) are employed by Customer Connexx LLC (Connexx) to operate a call center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Appellants’ primary responsibilities are to provide customer service and scheduling to customers over a “softphone,” operated only through their employer-provided computers.   The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of Defendant Customer Connexx LLC and remanded for further proceedings in a collective action brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act by call center workers. The panel concluded that the district court correctly identified the workers’ principal duties as answering customer phone calls and scheduling appliance pickups. Agreeing with the Tenth Circuit, the panel held that the workers’ duties could not be performed without turning on and booting up their work computers, and having a functioning computer was necessary before the workers could receive calls and schedule appointments. Accordingly, turning on the computers was integral and indispensable to the workers’ duties and was a principal activity under the FLSA. It, therefore, was compensable.   The panel reversed the district court’s summary judgment on the FLSA claim and remanded to the district court for consideration of whether time spent shutting down computers was compensable, whether the time spent booting up and down the computers was not compensable under the de minimis doctrine, and whether Connexx had no knowledge of the alleged overtime such that it was not in violation of the FLSA’s overtime requirements. View "CARIENE CADENA, ET AL V. CUSTOMER CONNEXX LLC, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought a putative class action under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 alleging that tire chalking violated the Fourth Amendment. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment for Defendants and held that municipalities are not required to obtain warrants before chalking tires as part of enforcing time limits on city parking spots. The panel held that even assuming the temporary dusting of chalk on a tire constitutes a Fourth Amendment “search,” it falls within the administrative search exception to the warrant requirement. Complementing a broader program of traffic control, tire chalking is reasonable in its scope and manner of execution. It is not used for general crime control purposes. And its intrusion on personal liberty is de minimis at most. View "ANDRE VERDUN, ET AL V. CITY OF SAN DIEGO, ET AL" on Justia Law