Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) motion for relief from judgment in an action under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). In Phelps v. Alameida, 569 F.3d 1120, 1135–40 (9th Cir. 2009), the panel set out the analysis that courts should employ to guide their discretion when evaluating the merits of a Rule 60(b)(6) motion that seeks relief from the dismissal of a habeas corpus petition on the ground of an intervening change in the law. In this case, plaintiffs sought relief from judgment based on an intervening change of law in Microsoft Corp. v. Baker, 137 S. Ct. 1702 (2017). The panel held that many of the Phelps factors were relevant to the Rule 60(b)(6) analysis in the present context, and reemphasized that courts must consider all of the relevant circumstances surrounding the specific motion before the court in order to ensure that justice be done in light of all the facts. In this case, the panel held that the district court's denial of plaintiffs' Rule 60(b)(6) motion rested upon an erroneous view of the law as to several significant factors, and thus the panel remanded with directions. View "Henson v. Fidelity National Financial Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of an action alleging that the FAA wrongfully terminated plaintiff. Plaintiff filed her action in the district court within the 30-day statutory limitations period, but she mistakenly named only the FAA and her former supervisor as defendants. Because plaintiff's action alleged claims of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, she should have named the head of the executive agency to which the FAA belonged, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. After the statute of limitations had expired, the FAA moved to dismiss and Secretary Chao then filed her own motion to dismiss. The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff was entitled to relation back under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(2). The panel held that the district court adopted an overly technical interpretation of the term "process" as used in Rule 15(c)(2). Rather, the panel held that the notice-giving function of "process" under Rule 15(c)(2) was accomplished whether or not the summons accompanying the complaint was signed by the clerk of court. Furthermore, the requirements for relation back were met here where both the United States Attorney and the Attorney General were sufficiently notified of the action within Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m)'s 90-day period. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Silbaugh v. Chao" on Justia Law

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The en banc court dismissed an appeal from the district court's grant of summary judgment for plaintiffs in an action challenging Nevada Senate Bill 223. SB 223 amended state vicarious liability and lien collection laws to impose certain administrative requirements on labor union trusts when they pursue debt collection on behalf of union members. While this appeal was pending, the Nevada legislature repealed SB 223 and replaced it with SB 338, with the specific intent to avoid the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) preemption issues of SB 223. The en banc court joined other circuits and held that the repeal, amendment, or expiration of legislation creates a presumption that an action challenging the legislation is moot, unless there is a reasonable expectation that the legislature is likely to enact the same or substantially similar legislation in the future. Applying these principles in this case, the en banc court held that the action was moot where no live controversy remained. Accordingly, the en banc court remanded with instructions to vacate the judgment and dismiss the complaint. View "Board of Trustees of the Glazing Health and Welfare Trust v. Chambers" 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

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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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Petitioner and his attorney filed an ex parte application for discovery pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782, which permits certain domestic discovery for use in foreign proceedings. The district court quashed the subpoenas after concluding that not all the discovery sought was subject to the state secrets privilege. Although the Ninth Circuit agreed with the district court that certain information requested was not privileged because it was not a state secret that would pose an exceptionally grave risk to national security and that the government's assertion of the state secrets privilege was valid over much of the information requested, the panel held that the district court erred in quashing the subpoenas in toto rather than attempting to disentangle nonprivileged from privileged information. In this case, the underlying proceeding was a limited discovery request that could be managed by the district court. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Husayn v. United States" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from the parties' longstanding dispute over the literary works of John Steinbeck. In this case, a federal jury in Los Angeles unanimously awarded plaintiff, as executrix of Elaine's estate (Elaine was the widow of Steinbeck), compensatory damages for slander of title, breach of contract, and tortious interference with economic advantage, and punitive damages against defendants. Determining that it had jurisdiction, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the orders granting summary judgment and striking defendants' defenses to tortious interference on grounds of collateral estoppel. Furthermore, the panel explained that it follows that the district court's decisions to exclude evidence related to defendants' different understanding of the agreement at issue or the validity of the prior court decisions were not abuses of discretion. The panel affirmed the compensatory damages award, holding that the record contained substantial evidence to support the awards on each cause of action independently. Furthermore, the compensatory damages were not speculative. The panel held that there was more than ample evidence of defendants' malice in the record to support the jury's verdict, thus triggering entitlement to punitive damages. However, the panel vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss the punitive damages claims against Gail, Steinbeck's daughter-in-law, based on lack of meaningful evidence of Gail's financial condition and her ability to pay. View "Kaffaga v. The Estate of Thomas Steinbeck" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint alleging that the Department violated her right to due process when it listed her name, without notice, on the State's Child Protective Services Central Registry. In this case, plaintiff's name was listed on the Registry after her husband confessed to killing their newborn baby and the criminal investigation concluded that plaintiff was not a suspect. The panel held that, because plaintiff alleged only individualized claims for deprivation of procedural due process, the normal discovery rule of accrual applies. The panel agreed with the district court that plaintiff had knowledge of the injury giving rise to her claims by May 2013, but failed to file her action within the two year statute of limitations. Furthermore, the complaint would not have been saved by any amendment and thus the district court did not err in denying plaintiff leave to amend. View "Bird v. Hawai'i" on Justia Law

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In order to facilitate the enforcement of federal judgments, 28 U.S.C. 1963 provides that a judgment entered in a federal court may be registered in any other federal district by "filing a certified copy of the judgment" in that district. The Ninth Circuit held, as a matter of first impression, that personal jurisdiction over the judgment debtors in the district of registration is not required for such registration of a judgment, because neither section 1963 nor due process imposes such a personal jurisdiction requirement. The panel also held that once a federal court of competent jurisdiction has determined the parties' substantive rights and entered a judgment following a proceeding that comports with due process, that federal judgment should be enforceable in any other federal district by way of the federal judgment registration statute. In this case, the Washington Judgment was not void for lack of jurisdiction, and the district court erred by vacating the Second Arizona Judgment on that basis. Accordingly, the panel reversed the district court's order and judgment in this case, remanding for further proceedings. View "Fidelity National Financial, Inc. v. Friedman" on Justia Law