Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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Matthew Meinecke, a devout Christian, was arrested twice by Seattle police for refusing to move from public locations where he was reading Bible passages. The first incident occurred at an abortion rally and the second at an LGBTQ pride event. In both instances, Meinecke was asked to move after attendees began to physically assault him. Instead of dealing with the perpetrators, the police arrested Meinecke for obstruction. Meinecke sued the City of Seattle and certain Seattle police officers, seeking to prevent them from enforcing "time, place, and manner" restrictions and applying the City’s obstruction ordinance to eliminate protected speech in traditional public fora whenever they believe individuals opposing the speech will act hostile toward it.The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington denied Meinecke's motion for preliminary injunctive relief, reasoning that the officers' actions were content neutral and did not aim to silence Meinecke. The court also expressed concern about the vague request for injunctive relief.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's decision. The appellate court held that Meinecke has standing to pursue prospective injunctive relief, given that the City has twice enforced its obstruction ordinance against him, he has stated that he will continue his evangelizing efforts at future public events, and the City has communicated that it may file charges against him for doing so. The court found that Meinecke established a likelihood of success on the merits of his First Amendment claim. The restrictions on his speech were content-based heckler’s vetoes, where officers curbed his speech once the audience’s hostile reaction manifested. Applying strict scrutiny, the court held that there were several less speech-restrictive alternatives to achieve public safety, such as requiring protesters to take a step back, calling for more officers, or arresting the individuals who ultimately assaulted Meinecke. The court also held that Meineke established irreparable harm because a loss of First Amendment freedoms constitutes an irreparable injury, and the balance of equities and public interest favors Meinecke. The case was remanded with instructions to enter a preliminary injunction consistent with this opinion in favor of Meinecke. View "Meinecke v. City of Seattle" on Justia Law

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The case involves the United States government's action to reduce federal tax liens to judgment and foreclose on real property. The government sought to foreclose on tax liens against a property owned by Komron Allahyari. Shaun Allahyari, Komron's father, was named as an additional defendant due to his interest in the property through two deeds of trust. The district court found that the government was entitled to foreclose on the tax liens and sell the property. However, the court did not have sufficient information to enter an order for judicial sale and ordered the parties to submit a Joint Status Report. Shaun Allahyari filed an appeal before the parties submitted the Joint Status Report and stipulated to the value of the property to be sold.The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The court explained that the district court's order was not final because it did not have sufficient information to enter an order for judicial sale. The court also clarified that for a decree of sale in a foreclosure suit to be considered a final decree for purposes of an appeal, it must settle all of the rights of the parties and leave nothing to be done but to make the sale and pay out the proceeds. Because that standard was not met in this case, there still was no final judgment. The court therefore dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "USA V. ALLAHYARI" on Justia Law

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The case involves three consolidated appeals by Dexcom, Inc., a California-based company, against the decision of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California to remand three product liability actions back to California state court. The remand was based on the forum defendant rule, which prohibits removal based on diversity jurisdiction if any of the defendants is a citizen of the state where the action is brought.Dexcom had removed the cases to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction after the complaints were submitted electronically but before they were officially filed by the clerk of court. Dexcom argued that the forum defendant rule did not bar removal because it had not yet been “joined and served” as a defendant.The district court held that an electronically submitted complaint is not “filed” in California state court until it is processed and endorsed or otherwise acknowledged as officially filed by the clerk of the court. Therefore, Dexcom’s removals were ineffectual attempts to remove cases that did not yet exist as civil actions pending in state court. As a result, the district court had the power to grant the plaintiffs’ eventual motions to remand based on a perceived violation of the forum defendant rule, even though the motions were brought 31 days after Dexcom’s initial (ineffectual) notices of removal.The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeals for lack of jurisdiction, as the district court had the power under § 1447(c) to order remand based on the forum defendant rule. View "Casola v. Dexcom, Inc." on Justia Law

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The case involves Adree Edmo, a transgender woman incarcerated in Idaho, who sued the State of Idaho, private prison company Corizon, and individual prison officials for failing to provide her with adequate medical care, including gender-confirmation surgery. Edmo alleged violations of the Eighth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, the Affordable Care Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and negligence under Idaho law. The district court granted an injunction on Edmo’s Eighth Amendment claim and ordered the defendants to provide her with adequate medical care, including gender-confirmation surgery. The court denied preliminary injunctive relief on Edmo’s Fourteenth Amendment and ACA claims because the record had not been sufficiently developed.The district court's decision was appealed, and the injunction was stayed. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision except as it applied to five defendants in their individual capacities. After the Supreme Court denied a writ of certiorari, the parties engaged in settlement negotiations that led to Edmo voluntarily dismissing the remainder of her claims. The district court awarded Edmo $2,586,048.80 for attorneys’ fees incurred up until the injunction became permanent and all appeals were resolved.The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed in part, affirmed in part, and vacated in part the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees to Edmo. The court held that Edmo was entitled to fees incurred litigating her successful Eighth Amendment claim. However, the court found that the district court erred in calculating the lodestar amount to include fees incurred litigating unsuccessful claims advanced in the complaint, even if those claims were premised on the same facts that supported Edmo’s Eighth Amendment claim. The court also held that the district court did not err by applying an enhancement to the lodestar amount given that Edmo’s counsel operated under extraordinary time pressure and that the customary fee for counsel’s services is well above the PLRA cap. The case was remanded for recalculation of the lodestar amount to include only fees incurred litigating Edmo’s successful claim against the defendants who remained in the case. View "Edmo v. Corizon, Inc." on Justia Law

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The case involves Larry Grant and his daughter P.C. who filed an appeal against the City of Long Beach and Gabriela Rodriguez, alleging that their constitutional rights to association and due process were violated. They also raised several state-law claims. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the appellants’ opening brief was riddled with misrepresentations and fabricated case law. The brief did not comply with the Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 28(a)(8)(A) as it did not contain the appellants’ contentions and the reasons for them, with citations to the authorities and parts of the record on which the appellant relies.The court noted that the brief cited cases that were misrepresented or did not exist, and did not provide coherent explanations of how the accurately cited cases supported the appellants’ claims. The appellants also failed to file a reply brief. The court observed that the magnitude of the appellants’ citations to apparently fabricated cases necessitated a questioning of their counsel about these cases, but the counsel did not acknowledge the fabrications.Given the extent of non-compliance with the Court rules, the Ninth Circuit court decided to strike the appellants’ brief and dismiss the appeal. The court holds that it is crucial for parties to present reliable and understandable support for their claims to ensure fair consideration of cases on appeal. View "Grant v. City of Long Beach" on Justia Law

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The case involved a lawsuit against Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly known as Facebook) by a class of advertisers who claimed that Meta misrepresented the "Potential Reach" of advertisements on its platforms. The plaintiffs alleged that Meta falsely claimed that Potential Reach was an estimate of people, when in fact, it was an estimate of accounts.The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order certifying one class of advertisers (the damages class) who sought compensation for fraudulent misrepresentation and concealment. The court stated that the misrepresentation was a common issue for the class and that the district court properly determined that the element of justifiable reliance was capable of classwide resolution.However, the court vacated the district court's order certifying another class of advertisers (the injunction class) who sought injunctive relief. The court asked the lower court to reconsider whether the named plaintiff, Cain Maxwell, had Article III standing to seek an injunction. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "DZ Reserve v. Meta Platforms, Inc." on Justia Law

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The case under review centers around certain Chapter 7 debtors and their creditor. The debtors filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief, but provided an incorrect mailing address for their creditor's attorney in their schedule of creditors. As a result, the creditor didn't file a claim in the bankruptcy case. The creditor later sought a determination that its default judgment in an unlawful detainer case wasn't discharged due to lack of notice of the bankruptcy.The bankruptcy court ruled in favor of the creditor, stating that no portion of the unlawful detainer judgment was dischargeable. This decision was affirmed by the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel. The debtors argued that all but a certain amount of the judgment, which they calculated to be what the creditor would have received had it filed a timely claim, was discharged. They also contended that the creditor seeking to recover the full amount would constitute a windfall.However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the lower courts' decisions. It concluded that a debtor’s failure to properly schedule a debt renders that debt nondischargeable in its entirety, rejecting the debtors' arguments. The court clarified that the issue of whether the debt could be enforced against the debtors is a matter of state law and interpretation of the prior state court judgment, and should be resolved by the state court. View "In re Licup v. Jefferson Avenue Temecula LLC" on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in a case involving a claimant who was denied Social Security benefits. The claimant, who had undergone surgery to treat a brain condition known as Arnold-Chiari malformation, testified to experiencing severe and frequent headaches. However, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) rejected his testimony regarding the severity of his headaches, asserting that his headache symptoms were inconsistent with the medical evidence and his daily activities.The court of appeals found that the ALJ failed to provide clear and convincing reasons for rejecting the claimant's symptom testimony regarding his headaches. It noted that the ALJ did not specify which of the claimant's symptoms were inconsistent with the record evidence. The court also rejected the argument that a claimant must provide independent medical evidence to establish the severity of headaches.Furthermore, the court found that the claimant's daily activities were not inconsistent with his testimony about the severity and frequency of his headaches. The district court's affirmation of the ALJ's decision based on the claimant's conservative treatment was also found erroneous since the ALJ did not consider this factor. Consequently, the court reversed the judgment of the district court, remanding it back to the ALJ to reconsider the credibility of the claimant's headache symptom testimony. View "Ferguson v. O'Malley" on Justia Law

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This case concerns an employment discrimination action filed by Alyssa Jones against her former employer, Riot Hospitality Group and its owner-operator Ryan Hibbert. During discovery, Riot Hospitality Group discovered that Jones had deleted text messages exchanged with her coworkers and had also coordinated with witnesses to delete messages. In response, the District Court for the District of Arizona ordered Jones and other parties to hand over their phones for forensic analysis.However, Jones and her attorney failed to comply with multiple court orders to produce the relevant messages. Subsequently, Riot Hospitality Group filed a motion for terminating sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(e)(2), citing intentional spoliation of electronically stored information (ESI) by Jones.The court found ample evidence that Jones intentionally deleted relevant text messages and collaborated with witnesses to do the same. It concluded that Jones' actions impaired Riot Hospitality Group's ability to proceed with the trial and interfered with the rightful decision of the case. The court therefore dismissed the case with prejudice under Rule 37(e)(2) due to intentional spoliation of ESI by the plaintiff.The court's decision was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which found no abuse of discretion in the dismissal of the case or the district court's consideration of an expert report on the deletion of ESI.The appellate court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering Jones and others to hand over their phones for forensic search, and in awarding attorneys’ fees and costs to Riot Hospitality Group. View "JONES V. RIOT HOSPITALITY GROUP LLC, ET AL" on Justia Law

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The case involves Peridot Tree, Inc. and Kenneth Gay, who filed suit against the City of Sacramento and Davina Smith, alleging that the city's requirement for individuals applying for permits to operate storefront marijuana dispensaries to be Sacramento residents violated the dormant Commerce Clause of the federal Constitution. The clause prevents states from discriminating against interstate commerce.The District Court abstained from exercising jurisdiction over the claim due to the conflict between state and federal law regulating marijuana use and distribution, and directed the plaintiffs to seek relief in California state court. The plaintiffs appealed this decision.The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's decision to abstain from exercising jurisdiction. The court found that abstention was not warranted under any of the established abstention doctrines, including the Pullman, Burford, Thibodaux, and Colorado River doctrines. The court reasoned that the case did not present "exceptional circumstances" warranting abstention, and that the district court effectively imposed an exhaustion requirement on the plaintiffs by requiring them to first identify and litigate potential state-law claims before raising their federal constitutional concerns.The case was remanded back to the lower court for further proceedings on the dormant Commerce Clause claim. View "PERIDOT TREE, INC. V. CITY OF SACRAMENTO" on Justia Law