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

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The Ninth Circuit withdrew its previous opinion and filed this superseding opinion affirming in part and reversing in part the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims as insufficiently pled. Plaintiff and his two minor children filed suit alleging that a child welfare investigation brought by county social workers violated their First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. In this case, plaintiff alleged that social workers retaliated against him in violation of the First Amendment after he questioned abuse allegations against him and criticized the county. Plaintiff was placed on the Child Abuse Central Index and a social worker coerced his ex-wife to file an ex parte custody application. The panel held that plaintiff's first amended complaint (FAC) failed to plausibly allege Fourth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and Monell claims. However, the court held that plaintiff pleaded a viable First Amendment retaliation claim, and that the social worker was not entitled to qualified immunity on this claim. The court held that a reasonable official would have known that taking the serious step of threatening to terminate a parent's custody of his children, when the official would not have taken this step absent her retaliatory intent, violated the First Amendment. View "Capp v. County of San Diego" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a putative class action against the city and city council, alleging that the city's short-term vacation rental ordinance violates the dormant Commerce Clause. The ordinance prohibits property rentals of 30 days or less with an exception for rentals where a primary resident remains in the dwelling. The panel held that the complaint failed to allege a per se violation of the dormant Commerce Clause, because the ordinance did not directly regulate interstate commerce; the ordinance did not discriminate against interstate commerce; and the complaint did not plausibly allege that the ordinance unduly burdens interstate commerce through its incidental effects. Therefore, plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that the ordinance directly or indirectly discriminated against or burdened interstate commerce. View "Rosenblatt v. City of Santa Monica" on Justia Law

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McDonald's employees filed a class action alleging that they were denied overtime premiums, meal and rest breaks, and other benefits in violation of the California Labor Code. Plaintiff class members worked at franchises in the Bay Area operated by the Haynes Family Limited Partnership. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to McDonald's, holding that there was no evidence that McDonald's, as the franchisor, was a joint employer. The panel held that the district court properly determined that McDonald's was not an employer under the "control" definition, which requires control over the wages, hours, or working conditions. The panel also held that the district court correctly concluded that McDonald's did not meet the "suffer or permit" definition of employer. Finally, the panel held that the district court correctly concluded that McDonald's was not an employer under the common law definition of "employer." Furthermore, the panel held that McDonald's could not be held liable under an ostensible-agency theory; plaintiffs met neither the damages nor the duty elements to prove negligence; and the panel declined to address the merits of the remaining claims. View "Salazar v. McDonald's Corp." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified a question to the California Supreme Court in a separate published order. In this opinion, the panel reestablished the remaining holdings from the now-withdrawn opinion Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Int’l, Inc., 2019 WL 3271969 (9th Cir. Jul. 22, 2019). The panel held that the doctrines of res judicata and law of the case did not bar plaintiffs from contending that they are employees under the ABC test in Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court, 416 P.3d 1 (Cal. 2018). The panel rejected plaintiffs' contention that a retroactive application of Dynamex would violate their federal due process rights. View "Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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Under Guam v. Marquez, 963 F.2d 1311 (9th Cir. 1992), it is structural error not to instruct the jury orally as to the entire substantive law the jury must apply. The Ninth Circuit reversed defendant's drug-related conviction and remanded for a new trial, holding that the trial judge plainly erred by failing to deliver an oral charge to the jury in this case. The panel explained that a trial court does not satisfy its duty to instruct jurors in a criminal case just by providing those jurors with a set of written instructions to use during deliberations. Therefore, the panel remanded for a new trial. View "United States v. Becerra" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in an action challenging the BIA's decision to approve an industrial-scale wind facility in Southern California. The panel held that the BIA was not required to explain why it did not adopt a mitigation measure that it did in fact follow. Similarly, the panel rejected plaintiffs' related argument that the BIA should have explained why its record of decision (ROD) found no significant impact to eagles where the environmental impact statement (EIS) considered the entire project and its impact on eagles. The panel also held that the BIA's consideration of five action alternatives was sufficient. The panel was not persuaded that additional environmental review was required and rejected plaintiffs' five grounds in support of their contention that the BIA should have prepared a supplemental EIS. The panel rejected plaintiffs' final two challenges to the BIA's decision concerning the agency's decision not to require Tule to obtain a Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act permit from FWS. Therefore, the panel held that, under the total circumstances of this case, the EIS analysis was sufficient to satisfy the National Environmental Policy Act. View "Protect Our Communities Foundation v. LaCounte" on Justia Law

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After Cerner filed an action in state court against defendants, defendants removed the action to federal district court. Cerner moved to remand to state court, arguing that the removal was improper and that the federal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the action. The district court denied the motion to remand and held that it could exercise jurisdiction under 9 U.S.C. 205, which authorizes a defendant to remove to federal court an action previously filed in state court that relates to an arbitration agreement or award falling under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of June 10, 1958. The Ninth Circuit reversed and held that this case was not related to an international arbitration agreement or award, as that term is used in section 205. Therefore, section 205 did not provide a proper basis for removal or for federal subject matter jurisdiction over this action. The panel held that the outcome of this case could not conceivably be affected by the arbitration awarded. Accordingly, the panel remanded with instructions to remand to state court. View "Cerner Middle East Limited v. Belbadi Enterprises" on Justia Law

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Cerner filed suit against defendant and iCapital in state court, seeking to enforce an arbitration award against property in Oregon owned by defendants. After removal, the district court dismissed the action. While this appeal was pending, the Court of Appeal of Paris, a court with jurisdiction over defendant, confirmed the arbitration panel's conclusion that defendant was subject to the panel's jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit held that the French court's decision was entitled to recognition under the principles of international comity and thus the elements of quasi in rem jurisdiction were present. The panel held that Cerner possessed a valid judgment against defendant, who owns property in Oregon, and thus the panel reversed the district court's dismissal of the action for lack of personal jurisdiction. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Cerner Middle East Limited v. iCapital, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting motions to remand to state court. AHI contended that it properly removed this case to federal court under 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1). Plaintiffs had filed suit in state court against the helicopter owners, the Hecker Defendants, and the manufacturer, AHI, after John Udall died in a helicopter crash while touring the Grand Canyon. The panel held that the district court committed no error in finding that AHI was not "acting under" a federal officer by virtue of becoming an FAA-certified Designation holder with authority to issue Supplemental Certificates. In this case, AHI inspected and certified its aircraft pursuant to FAA regulations and federal law and could not make any structural or design changes without the consent of the FAA. The panel joined the Seventh Circuit in concluding that an aircraft manufacturer does not act under a federal officer when it exercises designated authority to certify compliance with governing federal regulations. View "Riggs v. Airbus Helicopters, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question of state law to the Supreme Court of the State of Delaware: In a Delaware limited partnership, does a general partner's request to a limited partner for a one-time capital contribution constitute a request for "limited-partner action" such that the general partner has a duty of disclosure, and, if the general partner fails to disclose material information in connection with the request, may the limited partner prevail on a breach-of-fiduciary-duty claim without proving reliance and causation? View "Goodman v. Dohmen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law