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

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The Government challenges the district court's preliminary injunction entered in response to plaintiffs' claims that conditions at the Adelanto Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center, where they were detained, placed them at unconstitutional risk of contracting COVID-19. After oral argument, 38 detainees had tested positive for COVID-19, over 300 were awaiting test results, and 9 had been hospitalized.The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part the preliminary injunction order, holding that the district court was permitted to order the reduction of Adelanto's population, which may have required the release of some detainees, if such a remedy was necessary to cure the alleged constitutional violations. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by issuing some form of preliminary injunctive relief in response to plaintiffs' due process claims. The panel explained that, in light of the district court's factual findings which the Government has not shown to be clearly erroneous, the conditions at Adelanto in April 2020 violated detainees' due process right to reasonable safety where Adelanto was so crowded that social distancing to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus was impossible, detainees had inadequate access to masks, guards were not required to wear masks, there was not enough soap or hand sanitizer to go around, detainees were responsible for cleaning the facility with only dirty towels and dirty water, detainees were compelled to sleep with less than six feet of distance between them, and not all new arrivals were being properly quarantined or tested. The panel stated that the Government was aware of the risks and its inadequate response reflected a reckless disregard for detainee safety. Therefore, the district court rightly concluded that plaintiffs were likely to prevail on the merits. Furthermore, the district court correctly concluded that plaintiffs were likely to suffer irreparable harm absent relief given COVID-19's high mortality rate, and the equities and public interest tipped in plaintiffs' favor. The panel further held that the district court did not err by provisionally certifying a class of all Adelanto detainees. In light of the changed circumstances at Adelanto since the preliminary injunction was entered, the panel vacated in part and remanded in part for the district court to address the current circumstances. View "Hernandez Roman v. Wolf" on Justia Law

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The emergency military construction authority provided by 10 U.S.C. 2808 does not authorize eleven border wall construction projects on the southern border of the United States.The Organizational Plaintiffs and the State Plaintiffs filed separate actions challenging the Federal Defendants' anticipated diversion of federal funds to fund border wall construction pursuant to various statutory authorities, including Section 2808. The Federal Defendants timely appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment and declaratory relief to Sierra Club and the States and the grant of a permanent injunction to Sierra Club. The States timely cross-appealed the denial of their request for a permanent injunction.The Ninth Circuit held that the States and Sierra Club both have Article III standing and a cause of action to challenge the Federal Defendants' border wall construction projects; Section 2808 did not authorize the challenged construction where the projects are neither necessary to support the use of the armed forces nor are they military construction projects; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in either granting a permanent injunction to Sierra Club or in denying a separate permanent injunction to the States. Although the panel recognized that in times of national emergency the panel generally owes great deference to the decisions of the Executive, the particular circumstances of this case require it to take seriously the limitations of the text of Section 2808 and to hold the Executive to them. The panel stated that where, as here, Congress has clung to this power with both hands—by withholding funding for border wall construction at great effort and cost and by attempting to terminate the existence of a national emergency on the southern border on two separate occasions, with a majority vote by both houses—the panel can neither pry it from Congress's grasp. View "Sierra Club v. Trump" on Justia Law

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This case arose after the death of George Floyd and the resulting nationwide protests in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The events at issue here stem from the BLM protests in Portland, Oregon where the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Marshals Service deployed federal law enforcement agents to the city.Plaintiffs' second amended complaint alleged that the Federal Defendants "intentionally targeted and used physical force and other forms of intimidation against journalists and authorized legal observers for the purpose of preventing or deterring them from observing and reporting on unreasonably aggressive treatment of lawful protestors." The district court entered a TRO against the Federal Defendants on July 23, 2020. On August 10, plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the Federal Defendants, and the district court entered a preliminary injunction with terms largely identical to the terms of the July 23 TRO. On August 25, the district court denied the Federal Defendants' motion for a stay of the preliminary injunction pending appeal. On appeal, a divided three-judge motions panel issued an order on August 27 granting the Federal Defendants' motion for an administrative stay of the injunction pending resolution of their emergency motion for a stay pending appeal.The Ninth Circuit denied the Federal Defendants' emergency motion for stay pending appeal and lifted the administrative stay entered August 27, 2020. The panel held that the Federal Defendants have not made a strong showing that their standing argument is likely to succeed. The panel also held that the Federal Defendants have not made a strong showing required by Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 433-434 (2009), that they are likely to succeed on the merits of plaintiffs' First Amendment retaliation claim and First Amendment right-of-access claim. The panel further held that the Federal Defendants have not shown that they are likely to suffer irreparable injury as a result of the district court's preliminary injunction. Finally, the panel held that a stay of the district court's injunction would substantially injure both the City and the plaintiffs. View "Index Newspapers LLC v. United States Marshals Service" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of a putative class action against CVS based on Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) preemption of California state law claims. Plaintiff alleged that the supplement he purchased, and five additional CVS glucosamine-based supplements, did not provide the advertised benefits. The FDCA distinguishes between "disease claims" and "structure/function claims" that manufacturers make about their products, applying different regulatory standards to each.The panel held that the district court erred in concluding that the FDCA preempts plaintiff's state law causes of action simply because CVS's glucosamine-based supplements present only structure/function claims. The panel explained that Dachauer v. NBTY, Inc., 913 F.3d 844 (9th Cir. 2019), was distinguishable from this case and the district court erred by applying it. Furthermore, the district court erred by greatly expanding the present state of federal preemption jurisprudence under the FDCA, contrary to public policy. The panel also held that the district court erred in dismissing the complaint without granting plaintiff leave to amend to add allegations regarding an implied disease claim. In this case, plaintiff may have been able to "bolster" his complaint with allegations of extra-label evidence showing that CVS's glucosamine-based supplements present implied disease claims. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Kroessler v. CVS Health Corp." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment dismissing a securities fraud class action, holding that the shareholders have adequately pleaded a viable claim under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 for the two categories of misstatements the district court found actionable, with the whistleblower lawsuit serving as a potential corrective disclosure.The panel held that one way to prove loss causation is to show that the defendant's fraud was revealed to the market through one or more "corrective disclosures" and that the company's stock price declined as a result. In this case, plaintiff alleged loss causation by relying on two corrective disclosures: a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former company insider and a series of blog posts offering negative reports about the company's operations. The panel agreed with the district court that the Seeking Alpha blog posts could not qualify as corrective disclosures and, even if the posts disclosed information that the market was not previously aware of, it is not plausible that the market reasonably perceived these posts as revealing the falsity of BofI's prior misstatements, thereby causing the drops in BofI's stock price on the days the posts appeared. However, the panel held that the whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former company insider was a potential corrective disclosure. The panel joined the Sixth Circuit in rejecting any categorical rule that allegations in a lawsuit, standing alone, can never qualify as a corrective disclosure. Finally, the panel rejected the shareholders' allegations regarding a new category of misstatements concerning government and regulatory investigations. View "Houston Municipal Employees Pension System v. BofI Holding, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law
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After the Census Bureau instituted a revised schedule on April 13 (COVID-19 Plan) for the 2020 decennial census due to the global pandemic, the Secretary of Commerce announced a new schedule (the Replan) where the Bureau greatly compressed, as compared both to the original schedule and to the COVID-19 Plan, the time allocated to various stages for completing the census. The district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the Bureau from implementing its proposed Replan schedule for conducting the census.Addressing the government's emergency motion for a stay of the preliminary injunction pending appeal, the Ninth Circuit concluded that the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of the appeal as to plaintiffs' Administrative Procedure Act claims. To the extent that the district court enjoined the Replan and the September 30, 2020, deadline for data collection, the panel concluded that the government has not met its burden in showing irreparable harm, and the irreparable harm to plaintiffs and the resulting balance of equities justify the denial of a stay. To the extent that the district court enjoined the government from attempting to meet the December 31, 2020, statutory deadline for completing tabulations by state, the panel concluded that the government has, at this juncture, met its burden in seeking a stay pending appeal. Accordingly, the court denied in part and granted in part the motion for a stay. View "National Urban League v. Ross" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for sexually abusing minors at a facility that housed unaccompanied noncitizen children. The panel held that, under 18 U.S.C. 2246(5)(A), the phrase "pending . . . deportation" does not require a finding of actual or inevitable removal from the United States. Instead, it is sufficient that, as here, the government had initiated removal proceedings against the minors, even though those proceedings were unresolved and the minors therefore did not face a certainty of deportation. Because the government presented testimony establishing that the minors in this case had been served with Notices to Appear in Immigration Court and were placed into removal proceedings that created the possibility of deportation, the panel concluded that the statute's jurisdictional element was met. View "United States v. Pacheco" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Ninth Circuit granted emergency motions for a stay pending appeal of the district court's injunction enjoining Ariz. Rev. Stat. 16-548(A), which requires early voters to have signed their ballots by 7:00 PM on Election Day in order to have their votes counted. On September 10, 2020, less than two months before the upcoming presidential election, the district court enjoined the law and ordered Arizona to create and to institute a new procedure that would grant voters who failed to sign their ballots up to five days after voting has ended to correct the error.The panel held that the Nken factors weigh in favor of a stay. In this case, the State has shown that it is likely to succeed on the merits where Arizona's Election Day signature deadline imposes, at most, a "minimal" burden on those who seek to exercise their right to vote. Under the Anderson-Burdick framework for evaluating ballot-access laws, the panel concluded that the State has made a strong showing that its ballot-signature deadline reasonably advances important regulatory interests. Even though plaintiffs contend that the changes to Arizona's law will likely affect only a small number of voters and create a relatively low administrative burden on the State, the panel explained that the State's probability of success on the merits is high. Furthermore, the public interest is well served by preserving Arizona's existing election laws and plaintiffs stand to face only a minimal burden. View "Arizona Democratic Party v. Hobbs" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Sterling under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to recover response costs incurred at a Superfund Site. Sterling filed a counterclaim, arguing that the United States was itself liable for response costs under CERCLA as a prior "operator" of the Lava Cap Mine during World War II.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment finding Sterling liable for response costs and that plaintiffs could recover all response costs. The court held that Sterling is subject to CERCLA liability as a prior operator of the Mine and that the United States is not subject to CERCLA liability as a prior operator. The court also held that the interim remedy selected by the EPA to supply non-contaminated drinking water at the Site was not arbitrary and capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law. Furthermore, Sterling failed to overcome the presumption of consistency with the National Contingency Plan. View "United States v. Sterling Centrecorp Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the County's motion to dismiss a claim brought by plaintiff under Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 690 (1978). Plaintiff alleges that the County's failure to hire, train, and supervise its Sheriff's deputies resulted in two deputies severely beating plaintiff during his arrest. Plaintiff contends that the County tolerated and ignored the proliferation of racially motivated "cliques" or "gangs" within the Sherriff's Department which led to the excessive force used.The panel held that California Government Code 945.3 tolled plaintiff's claim while his criminal charges were pending even if he filed his complaint outside the two year statute of limitations. Section 945.3 provides that a person charged with a criminal offense may not bring a civil action against a peace officer or the public entity employing a peace officer "based upon" conduct of the peace officer relating to the offense for which the accused is charged while the charges against the accused are pending before a superior court. The panel explained that, because there can be no Monell claim based on excessive force without an underlying constitutional violation by the officers, the peace officer's conduct in violation of the Constitution here becomes the "necessary logical condition" to formulate a Monell claim. Therefore, section 945.3's "based upon" language applies to plaintiff's Monell claim, and his claim was properly tolled until the dismissal of his criminal charges. View "Lockett v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law