Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) is a California non-profit mutual benefit corporation whose members are involved in reporting for media outlets outside of the United States. The members are offered advantages such as access to Hollywood talent granted by movie studios. The HFPA strictly limits the admission of new members   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of an antitrust action brought by two entertainment journalists who challenged the membership policies of HFPA. The panel affirmed the dismissal of the journalists’ antitrust claims. The journalists alleged that the HFPA’s exclusionary membership practices violated section 1 (restraint of trade) and section 2 (monopolization) of the Sherman Act, as well as California’s Cartwright Act. The panel held that the journalists also failed to state a claim that the HFPA’s practices were unlawful under a rule of reason analysis.   The panel held that the journalists did not state a claim of per se liability based on a horizontal market division agreement because this theory was inconsistent with statements in the complaint that the HFPA’s members do not participate in the same product market. The panel held that, under a rule of reason analysis, the journalists failed to allege that the HFPA had market power in any reasonably defined market. The panel also affirmed the dismissal of the journalists’ claim based on California’s right of fair procedure, which protects, in certain situations, against arbitrary decisions by private organizations. View "KJERSTI FLAA, ET AL V. HOLLYWOOD FOREIGN PRESS ASSOC., ET AL" on Justia Law

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Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. owns and operates numerous local television stations. Nexstar acquired KOIN-TV, a local television station in Portland, Oregon, from LIN Television Corporation (LIN). When it acquired KOIN-TV, Nexstar adopted the CBA between Local 51 and LIN. A union representative, began asking employees to sign a petition in support of the union, but a Nexstar manager allegedly interfered with her activities by interrupting her and telling her not to talk about the union or to hand out union bulletins.   Based on a finding that the Regional Director was likely to succeed on the merits of the complaint and applying an inference of likely irreparable harm, the district court granted a preliminary injunction. An administrative law judge ruled in favor of the Regional Director, finding that Nexstar had violated Section 8(a)(1) and (5) of the NLRA. The Board affirmed the ALJ decision and ordered relief for the union. The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court’s order granting a petition of the Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) for preliminary injunctive relief.   The panel held that a Section 10(j) injunction proceeding is the type of case that is inherently limited in duration because the controversy over the injunction exists only until the Board issues its final merits decision. The panel concluded that the Section 10(j) injunction met the first prong. The panel held that the Section 10(j) injunction also met the exception’s second prong, because there was a reasonable expectation that the complaining party, Nexstar, will be subject to a petition for a Section 10(j) injunction in the future. View "RONALD HOOKS V. NEXSTAR BROADCASTING, INC." on Justia Law

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the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Toxic Substances Control Account (“DTSC”) brought suit under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and state law relating to the remediation of hazardous materials alleged to be present at a site in Elmira, California. In 2013, a certificate of cancellation had been filed with the Delaware Secretary of State, cancelling the legal existence of defendant Collins & Aikman Products. The Delaware Court of Chancery granted DTSC’s petition to appoint a receiver empowered to defend claims made against Collins & Aikman. The receiver declined to file an answer to DTSC’s complaint, and the district court clerk entered default under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(a). DTSC later moved for a default judgment.   The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s order denying insurers’ motions to intervene to defend their defunct insured in an environmental tort action, dismissed the insurers' appeal of the denial of their motions to set aside default, and remanded. Here, there was no dispute that the insurers timely sought to intervene in. Thus, whether the insureds could intervene as of right turned on whether they had an “interest” under Rule 24(a)(2). The panel held that, under Donaldson v. United States and Wilderness Soc’y v. U.S. Forest Serv,  the word “interest” must be read in a specifically legal sense, to mean a right or other advantage that the law gives one person as against another person, rather than read more broadly to refer to anything that a person wants, whether or not the law protects that desire. View "CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF TOXIC, ET AL V. CENTURY INDEMNITY COMPANY, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff challenged Lincoln’s denial of her claim for long-term disability benefits. On de novo review, the district court affirmed Lincoln’s denial of Plaintiff's claim, but it adopted new rationales that the ERISA plan administrator did not rely on during the administrative process. Specifically, the district court found for the first time that Plaintiff was not credible and that she had failed to supply objective evidence to support her claim.The Ninth Circuit held that when a district court reviews de novo a plan administrator’s denial of benefits, it examines the administrative record without deference to the administrator’s conclusions to determine whether the administrator erred in denying benefits. The district court’s task is to determine whether the plan administrator’s decision is supported by the record, not to engage in a new determination of whether the claimant is disabled. Accordingly, the district court must examine only the rationales the plan administrator relied on in denying benefits and cannot adopt new rationales that the claimant had no opportunity to respond to during the administrative process.Here, the district court erred because it relied on new rationales to affirm the denial of benefits. View "VICKI COLLIER V. LINCOLN LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a citizen of El Salvador, was detained pursuant to 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1226(a), which authorizes the federal government to detain aliens pending the completion of their removal proceedings. Petitioner requested and received a bond hearing before an Immigration Judge to determine if his detention was justified. The Immigration Judge concluded that Petitioner, who had an extensive criminal history, presented a danger to the community due to his gang affiliation. Based on this, the Immigration Judge denied release on bond. Petitioner claims that his continued detention was unconstitutional because under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, he is entitled to a second bond hearing at which the government bears the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence.The district court ruled that Petitioner was constitutionally entitled to another bond hearing before the Immigration Judge.The Ninth Circuit held that the Due Process Clause does not require more than Sec. 1226(a) provides. View "AROLDO RODRIGUEZ DIAZ V. MERRICK GARLAND, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Punchbowl is an online party and event planning service. AJ Press owns and operates Punchbowl News, a subscription-based online news publication that provides articles, podcasts, and videos about American politics, from a Washington, D.C. insider’s perspective. Punchbowl claimed that Punchbowl News is misusing its “Punchbowl” trademark (the Mark).   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of AJ Press, LLC, in an action brought by Punchbowl, Inc. (Punchbowl), alleging violations of the Lanham Act for trademark infringement and unfair competition and related state law claims. The panel wrote that no reasonable buyer would believe that a company that operates a D.C. insider news publication is related to a “technology company” with a “focus on celebrations, holidays, events, and memory-making.” The panel wrote that this resolves not only the Lanham Act claims, but the state law claims as well. The panel explained that survey evidence of consumer confusion is not relevant to the question of whether AJ Press’s use of the Mark is explicitly misleading, which is a legal test for assessing whether the Lanham Act applies. The panel held that the district court’s denial of Punchbowl’s request for a continuance under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d) to permit further discovery was not an abuse of discretion. View "PUNCHBOWL, INC. V. AJ PRESS, LLC" on Justia Law

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San Antonio Winery, Inc.’s filed a proof of service in which it stated that it had served Jiaxing Jiaxing Micarose Trade Co., Ltd., through the Director of the PTO. When Jiaxing did not appear to defend itself in the action, the district court clerk granted San Antonio’s request for entry of default, after which San Antonio filed the motion for default judgment in which it asked the district court to issue a permanent injunction. Noting the lack of circuit-level precedent on whether the procedures of Section 1051(e) provide a means of serving defendants in court proceedings, the district court denied the motion on the ground that Jiaxing had not been properly served.   The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court’s order denying San Antonio’s motion for a default judgment against in an action in which San Antonio asserts claims under the Lanham Act and related state-law claims. The panel held that the service procedures of Section 1051(e) apply not only in administrative proceedings before the PTO but also in court proceedings. Because the district court erred in concluding otherwise, the panel vacated the district court’s order and remanded for further proceedings. View "SAN ANTONIO WINERY, INC. V. JIAXING MICAROSE TRADE CO." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former cargo customer service agent for Delta Airlines, claimed that the Transportation Security Agency (“TSA”) revoked his security badge without explanation and sued for violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1981, and due process.The Ninth Circuit held that Sec. 1981 prohibited discrimination by state officials but not federal or nongovernmental actors. The court also held that the district court did not have jurisdiction to consider Plaintiff's challenge to the TSA’s Redress Process because it fell within this court’s exclusive jurisdiction under 49 U.S.C. Sec. 46110, and that Plaintiff failed to establish a liberty interest to support his due process claims. View "LASSANA MAGASSA V. ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, ET AL" on Justia Law

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After the Oregon district court dismissed their initial complaint alleging claims concerning the Plan, two of the three plaintiffs in this action (Friends of the Wild Swan and Alliance for the Wild Rockies) elected not to amend to fix the deficiencies identified in the court’s order. Instead, Plaintiffs appealed, and after losing on appeal, they sought to amend their complaint. The district court denied their motion to amend and found no grounds to reopen the judgment. Rather than appealing that determination, Plaintiffs initiated a new action in the District of Montana raising a challenge to the legality of the Plan. The Montana district court declined to dismiss on the basis of claim preclusion, but granted summary judgment in favor of the Service on the merits of Plaintiffs’ challenges.   The Ninth Circuit filed (1) an order amending the opinion filed on September 28, 2022; and (2) an amended opinion affirming the district court’s judgment in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based on claim preclusion in an action brought by plaintiff environmental groups, challenging the Service’s 2015 Bull Trout Recovery Plan (the “Plan”) under the citizen-suit provision of the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). The court explained that here, the Service offered claim preclusion as an alternate basis for affirming the district court’s judgment. The panel held that because the Service raised claim preclusion before the district court and in its briefing on appeal, the issue was properly before the court. The panel held that Plaintiffs’ challenge to the Plan was precluded because the Oregon litigation was a final judgment on the merits of their claims. View "SAVE THE BULL TROUT, ET AL V. MARTHA WILLIAMS, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff alleges that Schwab Charitable, its board of directors, and its Investment Oversight Committee breached their fiduciary duties under California law by partnering with Schwab & Co.—a legally separate but closely related company—for brokerage, custodial, and administrative services. Plaintiff filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. After Defendants moved to dismiss, the district court held that Plaintiff lacked standing under Article III and statutory standing under California law. The district court allowed Plaintiff to amend his complaint, but he notified the district court that he did not intend to do so, and instead wished to appeal. The district court then entered judgment for the defendants. Plaintiff timely appealed.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment, holding that Plaintiff did not have Article III standing to sue Schwab Charitable Fund for allegedly breaching its fiduciary duties by, among other things, deducting excessive fees from Plaintiff’s donor-advised fund. The panel held that it need not decide whether Plaintiff’s arguments, regarding his purported need to contribute more to the DAF and related impact on his reputation and expressive rights, were cognizable in general because Plaintiff did not allege that he had experienced or will experience any of these purported injuries. The panel concluded that Plaintiff had not adequately alleged standing based on these theories of injury. View "PHILIP PINKERT V. SCHWAB CHARITABLE FUND, ET AL" on Justia Law