Articles Posted in U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1962. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants conspired to pay inflated rent payments so that the properties sold to plaintiffs would appear far more valuable to third parties. The court held that the complaint did not meet the pleading standards by Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, and In re Century Aluminum Co. Securities Litigation. The court concluded that the complaint's factual allegations did not support a plausible inference that defendants had the required specific intent to defraud, nor do they tend to exclude the alternative explanation that the transactions at issue were merely a group of business deals gone bad during a deep recession. The court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' RICO allegations and the dismissal of plaintiffs' allegations of RICO conspiracy. View "Eclectic Props. East v. The Marcus & Millichap Co." on Justia Law

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Using a methodology known as "stable isotope analysis," an expert hired by the city determined that the most likely dominant source of the perchlorate found in the city's groundwater was sodium nitrate that had been used as fertilizer. The city sued SQM, the company that imported sodium nitrate into the United States. Before trial, the district court held an evidentiary hearing under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and excluded the city's expert. The court reversed the district court's exclusion of the expert's testimony. The district court should not have made credibility determinations that were reserved for the jury; the Federal Rules of Evidence did not require an endorsement from the EPA approving the expert's results and the district court's conclusion to the contrary was an abuse of discretion; the district court erroneously ruled that the expert's methodologies have not been and cannot be tested; and the district court's resolution of the reference database was an abuse of discretion and sufficient grounds for reversal where the matter was for the jury to decide. The court affirmed the district court's denial of SQM's motion for summary judgment where SQM failed to show that there was no genuine factual dispute as to whether the city's claims were barred by the economic loss rule or by the applicable statute of limitations. View "City of Pomona v. SQM" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, machinists at Pearl Harbor, filed suit against defendants under state tort law on the theory that defendants failed to warn them of the hazards posed by asbestos used in and around equipment defendants sold to the Navy. Defendant Crane removed the actions to federal court under the federal removal statute, 28 U.S.C. 1442. The district court denied plaintiffs' motions to remand to state court and certified their orders for interlocutory appeal. The federal officer removal statute authorizes removal of a civil action brought against any person "acting under" an officer of the United States "for or relating to any act under color of such office." In this instance, Crane established that it is a "person" within the meaning of the statute, a causal nexus exists between plaintiffs' claims and the actions Crane took under the federal officer's direction, and it has a "colorable" federal defense to plaintiffs' claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's orders. View "Leite v. Crane Co." on Justia Law

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The Secretary filed suit against DSHS, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., overtime and record-keeping provisions. The Secretary provided proof of the alleged violations by 400 employees' signatures - 350 of which he obtained after he had filed suit. The district court held that these 350 employees were not informants whose identities were protected from discovery by the government's informants privilege and ordered the Secretary to answer three interrogatories that would disclose their identities. The Secretary petitioned for a writ of mandamus. The court concluded that the district court erroneously limited the scope of the informants privilege by focusing on the timing of the informants' statements, and DSHS did not have a compelling need for the identities or identifying information of the 250 employees who would not be witnesses at trial. Therefore, the court granted the petition and vacated the district court's order to compel the Secretary's responses to the interrogatories. View "In re: Perez" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants in the Superior Court of Guam, asserting claims arising from alleged breach of fiduciary duty in the course of the parties' several business ventures. Defendants removed to the District Court of Guam based on diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff is an alien admitted to the United States for permanent residence, living in Guam. Defendant Lai, a British Overseas Citizen, and Defendant Sekiguchi, a Japanese citizen, both live in Japan. The district court granted summary judgment on the merits in favor of defendants and plaintiff appealed, contesting subject matter jurisdiction for the first time. Whether or not Congress intended to confer jurisdiction in cases like this one by supplying constitutionally required minimal diversity through deemed citizenship, the deeming clause purported to do so. The court concluded, however, that the Organic Act of Guam, 48 U.S.C. 1421-1421k-1, precluded it from deciding the merits of the dispute between aliens because it conferred diversity jurisdiction upon the District Court of Guam reaching only as far as the diversity jurisdiction afforded to Article III courts. Because the Constitution does not supply diversity jurisdiction to Article III courts in suits between aliens, the jurisdiction afforded the federal court in Guam must also be so limited. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded, concluding that both the court and the District Court of Guam lacked jurisdiction to decide this dispute exclusively between aliens. View "Yokeno v. Sekiguchi" on Justia Law

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Eldee-K filed suit against DIRECTV, alleging that DIRECTV has a policy of installing satellite reception equipment in common areas of apartment buildings and other dwelling units without the landlord's consent. Eldee-K sought to certify a class of all landlords who own and lease residential multiple dwelling units in the United States on which DIRECTV installed equipment based on Part 2 of its installation form. The district court dismissed Eldee-K's claims with prejudice, holding that the local action doctrine deprived it of jurisdiction to adjudicate the claim where the key harm in the complaint related to trespass on real property situated in Connecticut. The court concluded that the local action doctrine was jurisdictional; the court was bound by California law as to when an action constituted a local action for purposes of considering the court's jurisdiction; Eldee-K's allegations and the relief sought in its complaint indicated that the essence of Eldee-K's Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 17200-10, claim was a trespass, which was a local action under California law; and because the real property at issue is in Connecticut, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate Eldee-K's action. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Eldee-K Rental Properties v. DIRECTV" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Wells Fargo, raising multiple causes of action under state and federal law pertaining to plaintiffs' home loan and deed of trust. At issue was whether, under 28 U.S.C. 1348, a national bank is a citizen of both the state in which its principal place of business is located as designated in the banks' articles of association. The court concluded that, under section 1348, a national bank is a citizen only of the state in which its main office is located. Therefore, the district court had diversity jurisdiction because there was complete diversity between plaintiffs, citizens of California, and Wells Fargo, a citizen of South Dakota. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment to the contrary and remanded for further proceedings. View "Rouse, et al. v. Wachovia Mortgage" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, an American citizen born in Iran, petitioned for review of a determination letter issued by DHS, seeking disclosure of his watchlist status, a meaningful opportunity to contest inclusion on any watchlist, and removal from all government watchlists. The watchlist at issue is the Consolidated Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). In Latif v. Holder, the court held that 49 U.S.C. 46110 did not grant circuit courts jurisdiction over broad constitutional claims - such as petitioner's - that seek removal from the TSDB. The court reaffirmed its holding in Latif and clarified that it is applicable even where a traveler's claims are brought as a challenge to a DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) determination letter. Accordingly, the court transferred to the district court where the jurisdictional defects that prevented the court from hearing petitioner's claims would not exist. View "Arjmand v. DHS" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an English auctioneer of thoroughbred horses, filed suit against defendant after defendant took possession of a horse but did not pay for it. The district court granted title and right of possession of the horse to plaintiff but did not award damages for the reduction in the horse's value while she was held by defendant. The district court instructed plaintiff to move to amend the judgment under Rule 59(e) when it knew the amount of the damages, but the district court overlooked the 28-day deadline for motions under Rule 59(e). Relying on Garamendi v. Henin, the court held that the district court's use of Rule 60(a) in correcting the judgment to award damages was proper where the district court's overlooking of the 28-day time limit for Rule 59(e) relief was the kind of clerical error, oversight or omission that was amendable to correction under Rule 60(a). In this instance, it was obvious that the district court did not change its mind and it intended that plaintiff should receive depreciation damages for the horse. It was also obvious that the district court did not intend that plaintiff would be unable to amend the judgment after the 28-day time limit under Rule 59(e) had elapsed. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Tattersalls v. DeHaven" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and others protested weekly outside the locked fence that surrounds the LA Campus of the VAGLA to draw public attention to the VA's failure to use the lawn for veterans. Plaintiff filed suit challenging the inconsistent enforcement of 38 C.F.R. 1.218, which prohibited the posting of materials on VA property except under certain circumstances. The district court granted summary judgment to plaintiff with regard to declaratory relief, but denied any injunctive relief based on mootness. Plaintiff appealed. The district court concluded that a June 2010 e-mail instructing the VAGLA police to enforce section 1.218(a)(9) precisely and consistently mooted plaintiff's request for a permanent injunction by closing the LA Campus fence as a forum for all speech. The court agreed with the district court that the Government's voluntary cessation of its inconsistent enforcement of section 1.218(a)(9) mooted the request for injunctive relief. The court held that the VA satisfied its heavy burden of demonstrating mootness. The court presumed that the Government acted in good faith, and that presumption was especially strong here, where the Government was merely recommitting to consistent enforcement of one of its own longstanding regulations. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Rosebrock v. Mathis, et al." on Justia Law