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

by
The Ninth Circuit filed an order granting the government's motion to amend, and an amended opinion granting a petition for review of the BIA's decision and remanding. The panel wrote that the withdrawal sanction in 8 U.S.C. 1003.4 is triggered by an alien's "departure," from this country and that the regulation does not distinguish between volitional and non-volitional departures. The panel noted that the BIA has recognized that an unlawful removal does not a constitute a section 1003.4 departure, but has not addressed whether a lawful removal would withdraw an appeal. In the amended opinion, the panel held that an alien does not withdraw his appeal of a final removal order, including the appeal of the denial of a motion to reopen or reconsider, simply because he was involuntarily removed before the appeal was decided. Rather, the panel held that section 1003.4 provides for withdrawal only when the petitioner engaged in conduct that establishes a waiver of the right to appeal. In this case, petitioner did not withdraw his appeal of the denial of his motions to reopen and reconsider when he was involuntarily removed from the United States. View "Lopez-Angel v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action alleging copyright infringement by the Disney movie Inside Out of plaintiffs' characters called The Moodsters. After plaintiff developed The Moodsters, anthropomorphized characters representing human emotions, she pitched to entertainment and toy companies around the country, including The Walt Disney Company. The panel held that, under DC Comics v. Towle, 802 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. 2015), lightly sketched characters such as The Moodsters, which lack consistent, identifiable character traits and attributes, do not enjoy copyright protection. Furthermore, under Warner Bros. Pictures v. Columbia Broad. Sys., 216 F.2d 945, 950 (9th Cir. 1954), The Moodsters are chessman in the game of telling the story. In this case, the panel applied the alternative "story being told" test and held that The Moodsters as an ensemble are no more copyrightable than the individual characters. Finally, the panel held that the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's claim for an implied-in-fact contract where plaintiff was required under California law to do more than plead a boiler-plate allegation, devoid of any relevant details. View "Daniels v. The Walt Disney Co." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against Numi, and its partner CNB, alleging that they violated the Electronic Fund Transfers Act (EFTA), violated the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause, and were liable for conversion and unjust enrichment under Oregon state law. Numi is a for-profit, private company that returns released inmates' money via a prepaid debit card loaded with the balance of their funds. Numi earns revenue by charging fees to the cardholders, rather than the government. The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff plausibly alleged a claim under section 1693l-1 of the EFTA and the district court erred in dismissing the case for failure to state a claim. The court explained that, because defendants marketed their cards to the general public, section 1693l-1 was applicable. In this case, defendants marketed the card program to municipalities and correctional facilities, and Multnomah County does not give released inmates a choice of whether to accept the cards. Therefore, when defendants marketed the cards to Multnomah County, they indirectly marketed them to these released inmates, and then the inmates reenter the general public. The panel also held that the district court abused its discretion when it denied plaintiff leave to file a third amended complaint; summary judgment was not proper on plaintiff's takings claim; and summary judgment was not proper on plaintiff's state law claims. View "Brown v. Stored Value Cards, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a habeas corpus petition in which petitioner alleged that the trial judge dismissed the juror for race-related reasons and so ran afoul of the prohibition on racial discrimination in jury selection. As a preliminary matter, the panel held that Haney v. Adams, 641 F.3d 1168 (9th Cir. 2011), did not bar consideration of the merits of petitioner's equal protection claim where he challenged a judge's jury strike for cause, rather than an attorney's peremptory challenge. On the merits, the panel held that the state courts correctly determined that the judge's concerns reflected the juror's own statements of race-related bias, not discriminatory reliance by the judge on the juror's race. Likewise, petitioner's due process and Sixth Amendment claims also failed. View "Rodriguez Infante v. Martel" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against police officers and the City and County of Honolulu, alleging that defendants violated plaintiff's substantive due process right to bodily integrity under the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiff suffered serious, life-threatening injuries after an intoxicated off-duty officer (Officer Kimura) accidentally discharged his gun at the bar plaintiff was working at and shot her. The panel held that Officers Naki and Omoso, the two officers that were with Kimura, did not act or purport to act in the performance of their official duties, and thus they were not acting under color of state law. Therefore, the district court properly dismissed plaintiff's claim against Naki and Omoso. The panel agreed with the district court that plaintiff's Monell claim must be dismissed because she has not plausibly alleged that the County's inaction reflected deliberate indifference to her Fourteenth Amendment right to bodily integrity. In this case, plaintiff has not plausibly alleged that the Chief of Police was aware of prior, similar incidents in which off-duty officers mishandled their firearms while drinking. View "Hyun Ju Park v. City and County of Honolulu" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against 3D Systems for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, among other claims. Plaintiff's claims arose out of a purchase and sale agreement (PSA) documenting 3D Systems' acquisition of 3D printing websites from plaintiff. 3D Systems counterclaimed that plaintiff breached a covenant not to compete (CNTC) contained in the PSA. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's evidentiary rulings regarding the exclusion of a prior arbitration award. The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding evidence of whether 3D Systems promised to invest substantial resources in the Domains. The panel also held that the district court exercised equitable jurisdiction to award 3D Systems restitution in the form of monetary relief. However, the district court erred in concluding that 3D Systems had a right to an equitable accounting and by relying solely on the text of the parties' contract to grant equitable relief. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and vacated in part. View "Barranco v. 3D Systems Corp." on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order compelling arbitration, holding that the Washington anti-arbitration statute was preempted by the federal Liability Risk Retention Act of 1986 (LRRA) as it applied to risk retention groups chartered in another state. The panel held that the McCarran-Ferguson Act does not reverse-preempt the LRRA. The panel also held that the LRRA preempts Washington's anti-arbitration statute because it offends the LRRA's broad preemption language and fails to fall into one of its exceptions. View "Allied Professionals Insurance Co. v. Anglesey" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging an as-applied Second Amendment challenge to 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4). Section 922(g)(4) prohibits plaintiff from possessing firearms due to his involuntary commitment in 1999 to a mental institution for more than nine months after a Washington state court found plaintiff to be both mentally ill and dangerous. Plaintiff argued that the statute's continued application to him despite his alleged return to mental health and peaceableness violates the Second Amendment. The panel held that, assuming without deciding, section 922(g)(4)'s prohibition burdens Second Amendment rights, intermediate scrutiny applies. The panel also held that the prohibition on the possession of firearms by persons, like plaintiff, whom a state court has found to be both mentally ill and dangerous is a reasonable fit with the government's indisputably important interest in preventing gun violence. The panel explained that scientific evidence supports the congressional judgment that those who have been committed involuntarily to a mental institution still pose an increased risk of violence even years after their release from commitment. Therefore, in this case, the panel held that the statute's continued application to plaintiff did not violate the Second Amendment. View "Duy Mai v. United States" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, holding that a business that buys and profits from consumer debts, but outsources direct collection activities, qualifies as a "debt collector" subject to the requirements of the Act. The panel joined the Third Circuit in concluding that an entity that otherwise meets the "principal purpose" definition of debt collector cannot avoid liability under the FDCPA merely by hiring a third party to perform its debt collection activities. In this case, the panel held that the complaint sufficiently alleged that DNF was a debt collector under the FDCPA, regardless of whether DNF outsourced debt collection activities to a third party. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "McAdory v. M.N.S. & Associates, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law
by
The estate of guitarist Randy Wolfe filed suit claiming that Led Zeppelin copied portions of Taurus, a song written by Wolfe and performed by his band Spirit, in Led Zeppelin's opening notes of Stairway to Heaven. The en banc court affirmed the district court's judgment after a jury trial in favor of Led Zeppelin, holding that the 1909 Copyright Act, which does not protect sound recordings, controlled its analysis. In this case, Taurus was an unpublished work registered in 1967. Because the deposit copy defines the four corners of the Taurus copyright, the en banc court held that it was not error for the district court to decline plaintiff's request to play the sound recordings of the Taurus performance that contain further embellishments or to admit the recordings on the issue of substantial similarity. The en banc court also held that plaintiff's complaint on access was moot. The en banc court affirmed the district court's challenged jury instructions; rejected the inverse ratio rule, overruling circuit precedent to the contrary; and held that the district court did not err in its formulation of the originality instructions, or in excluding a selection and arrangement instruction. Finally, the en banc court affirmed the district court with respect to the remaining trial issues and its denial of attorneys' fees and costs to Warner/Chappell. View "Skidmore v. Zeppelin" on Justia Law