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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction of an action alleging claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The panel held that the USGS's decision not to mark a cable, which allegedly resulted in the crash of a helicopter, was driven by policy considerations and fell within the discretionary function exception to the FTCA. Applying Berkowitz v. United States, 486 U.S. 531 (1988), the panel held that nothing in the USGS's policy created a mandatory and specific directive to mark the Verde River cableway, and the policy left employees with a discretionary choice about which cableways were hazardous and which should be marked. Furthermore, the USGS's decision was susceptible to policy analysis grounded in social, economic and political concerns. View "Morales v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the denial of disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income to plaintiff. The panel held that SR 82-41 obligates the ALJ to make transferability of skills findings where, unlike Bray v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration, 554 F.3d 1219, 1223–26 (9th Cir. 2009), no Grid rule states that a person with the claimant's age, education, and work experience is disabled absent transferable skills. Therefore, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Barnes v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Public Benefits

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c) and motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. Defendant filed his motions after President Obama's commutation of his sentence from life in prison without release to 360 months in prison. The panel held that defendant was ineligible for a sentence modification where he was originally sentenced based on a statutory mandatory minimum, not based on a sentencing range; a presidential commutation did not overturn the sentence imposed by the sentencing court; President Obama's commutation was not based on a recalculation of a sentencing range and it did not create a new judgment; and thus the sentence remained subject to the restrictions on second-or-successive motions under section 2255. View "United States v. Buenrostro" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of State Farm in an action alleging violations of procedural requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Specifically, plaintiff alleged that State Farm was required to provide a job applicant with a copy of his consumer credit report, notice of his FCRA rights, and an opportunity to challenge inaccuracies in the report. The panel held that plaintiff waived any challenge to the admissibility of a declaration, which was the only source of admissible proof as to why plaintiff's credit report would have disqualified him from acceptance in the Agency Career Track program. The panel also held that plaintiff lacked Article III standing because he failed to show how the specific violation of 15 U.S.C. 1681b(b)(3)(A) alleged in the complaint actually harmed or presented a material risk of harm to him. View "Dutta v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an action alleging that when Yahoo! invested in Alibaba.com, a Chinese retail website, Yahoo! violated the conditions of its exemption, granted by the SEC, from the registration requirements of the Investment Company Act (ICA). Plaintiff brought derivative claims against Yahoo!'s board of directors and certain corporate officers, as well as one direct claim against Yahoo!, under the ICA. The panel held that plaintiff failed to state a claim because the ICA does not establish a private right of action for challenging the continued validity of an ICA exemption. View "UFCW Local 1500 Pension Fund v. Mayer" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for conspiring to suppress and restrain competition by rigging bids, in violation of 15 U.S.C. 1. The panel held that bid rigging is per se illegal under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, and thus the district court did not err by refusing to permit defendant to introduce evidence of the alleged ameliorative effects of his conduct. View "United States v. Joyce" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated defendant's conviction and sentence under the 2005 version of 18 U.S.C. 2423(c), which applies to a U.S. citizen who travels in foreign commerce, and engages in any illicit sexual conduct with another person. In this case, defendant, a U.S. citizen, drugged and raped several children in Cambodia, where he claims to have resided for several years. The panel held that Congress subsequently amended the statute to add a new basis for criminal liability. The panel held that, from the statutory amendment, as well as the accompanying legislative history, it was evident that section 2423(c) was previously inapplicable to U.S. citizens living abroad unless they were traveling—meaning something more than being in transit—when they had illicit sex. Because the jury was not properly instructed on the travel element in this case, the panel vacated and remanded should the government elect to retry him. View "United States v. Pepe" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas relief based on the ineffective assistance of counsel at resentencing. The panel held that counsel performed deficiently by failing to challenge evidence that petitioner committed murder for pecuniary gain, and by failing to conduct an adequate investigation of mitigating factors; the state post-conviction court's contrary conclusion was an unreasonable application of Strickland v. Washington and Wiggins v. United States; and there was a reasonable likelihood that petitioner would have received a different sentence if counsel's performance were not deficient. Accordingly, the panel remanded with instructions to grant a conditional writ. View "White v. Ryan" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's decision affirming the bankruptcy court's summary judgment in favor of a condominium association. The panel held that condominium association assessments that become due after a debtor has filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 were dischargeable under 11 U.S.C. 1328(a). In this case, debtor's personal obligation to pay the assessments was not the result of a separate, post-petition transaction but was created when she took title to the condominium unit. Therefore, the debt for the assessments arose pre-petition and was dischargeable under section 1328(a), unless the Bankruptcy Code provided an exception to discharge. The panel held that the personal debt arising from the assessments was not excepted from discharge under section 1328(a). Finally, the Takings Clause was not implicated and equitable arguments did not override the express provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. View "Goudelock v. Sixty-01 Association of Apartment Owners" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's determination that the distribution-of-pornography enhancement in USSG 2G2.1(b)(3) applies when the perpetrator creates an illicit image of a minor victim and shares it only with the victim. The panel issued a limited remand for resentencing because the record suggesteds that the district court penalized defendant by increasing his sentence based on his decision to exercise his Sixth Amendment right to go to trial. View "United States v. Silva Hernandez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law