Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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Petitioner was convicted of first-degree murder of an Arizona police officer after a jury trial in 1997 and was sentenced to death by the state court. Petitioner moved in the district court under Rule 60(b)(6) for additional discovery to develop (1) a potential claim under Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264 (1959), that the prosecution knowingly elicited false testimony; and (2) a potential claim of actual innocence after a witness’s apparent recantation of key guilt-phase testimony. Petitioner relied on Mitchell v. United States, 958 F.3d 775 (9th Cir. 2020), for two propositions.   The Ninth Circuit denied Petitioner’s request for a certificate of appealability (COA) that would allow Petitioner to challenge the district court’s denial of his Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6) motion for relief from final judgment. The court agreed with Petitioner that, under Mitchell, the district court had jurisdiction to consider his Rule 60(b)(6) motion for discovery to develop potential claims, and correctly declined to dismiss the motion as a disguised second or successive petition.   Applying the factors set forth in Phelps v. Alameida, 569 F.3d 1120 (9th Cir. 2009), the court found that the holding in Mitchell, which did not disturb the underlying rules governing the discovery that Petitioner sought, did not constitute an extraordinary circumstance justifying relief from final judgment under Rule 60(b)(6). Because no reasonable jurist would disagree with the district court’s decision to deny the Rule 60(b)(6) motion, the court declined to grant Petitioner’s requested COA. View "ERNESTO MARTINEZ V. DAVID SHINN" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought a shareholder derivative action alleging that The Gap, Inc. and its directors (collectively, Gap) failed to create meaningful diversity within company leadership roles, and that Gap made false statements to shareholders in its proxy statements about the level of diversity it had achieved. Gap’s bylaws contain a forum-selection clause that requires “any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of the Corporation” to be adjudicated in the Delaware Court of Chancery.Notwithstanding the forum-selection clause, Plaintiff brought her derivative lawsuit in a federal district court in California, alleging a violation of Section 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. Section 78n(a), along with various state law claims. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint based on its application of the doctrine of forum non conveniens, holding that she was bound by the forum selection clause.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal and held that Plaintiff did not meet her burden to show that enforcing Gap’s forum-selection clause contravenes federal public policy, rejecting as unavailing the evidence Plaintiff identified as supporting her position: the Securities Exchange Act’s anti-waiver provision and exclusive federal jurisdiction provision, Delaware state case law, and a federal court’s obligation to hear cases within its jurisdiction. The court, therefore, concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the complaint. View "NOELLE LEE V. ROBERT FISHER" on Justia Law

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The Center for Investigative Reporting (“CIR”) brought a FOIA action against the Department of Labor (“DOL”), claiming that the DOL was improperly withholding workforce demographic data that Synopsys and other companies had submitted pursuant to federal-contractor reporting regulations. The district court granted CIR summary judgment. Seven weeks after that judgment was entered, and eleven days before the deadline to file a notice of appeal, Synopsys moved to intervene as a defendant. About five months after the deadline for filing a notice of appeal of the judgment, the district court denied Synopsys’ motion to intervene but granted their limited intervention for the sole purpose of appealing the judgment. Synopsys then filed a notice of appeal from the judgment.   The Ninth Circuit dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction prospective intervenor Synopsys’ untimely appeal of the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of CIR and dismissed as moot CIR’s and DOL’s cross-appeals. The court reasoned that although generally, only parties may appeal an adverse judgment, it does not follow that the deadline to file a notice of appeal for prospective intervenors is different from the deadline for parties. Further, Synopsys’s motion to intervene could not be construed as a notice of appeal because that motion did not satisfy the requirements of Fed. R. App. P. 3. The court also held that because Synopsys did not file a timely notice of appeal of the judgment in favor of CIR, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the merits of that appeal. View "SYNOPSYS, INC. V. USDOL" on Justia Law

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Petitioner pled guilty one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury and one count of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. He moved for postconviction relief under Section 2255, arguing that his Section 924(c)(1)(A) conviction and sentence were invalid in light of United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319 (2019). The district court denied the petition and Petitioner sought leave to file a second or successive motion for postconviction relief under Section 2255. He, again, claimed that his Section 924(c)(1)(A) conviction and sentence are unlawful under Davis, and he added a claim that under Borden v. United States, 141 S. Ct. 1817 (2021), his Section 113(a)(6) conviction cannot serve as a predicate crime of violence for his Section 924(c)(1)(A) conviction.   The Ninth Circuit denied Petitioner’s application for leave to file a second or successive Section 2255 motion. The court held Petitioner did not make the necessary prima facie showing under Section 2255(h)(2) with respect to his Davis claim because that claim is not “previously unavailable,” where Petitioner presented that claim to the district court in his first Section 2255 motion, and the district court erroneously held on the merits that Petitioner was not entitled to relief, and he did not appeal that decision. Additionally, Borden does not provide a basis under Section 2255(h)(2) for granting Petitioner’s application for leave to file a second or successive Section 2255 motion because Borden did not announce a new rule of constitutional law. View "WILLIE JONES, SR. V. USA" on Justia Law

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After nine years of litigation and in their third set of appeals, the parties asked the Ninth Circuit to decide whether California’s sales ban is preempted by the Poultry Products Inspection Act (“PPIA”) or violates the dormant Commerce Clause. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ preemption and Dormant Commerce Clause claims and its summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs on a declaratory judgment claim in an action brought by various foie gras sellers challenging California’s ban on the in-state sale of products that are “the result of force-feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size.” Cal. Health & Safety Code Sec. 25982.   The court held that the sales ban was neither preempted nor unconstitutional and that certain out-of-state sales were permitted by California law. that the sales ban was neither preempted nor unconstitutional and that certain out-of-state sales were permitted by California law and the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Plaintiffs leave to amend to add a new express ingredient preemption claim alleging that the sales ban operates as an “ingredient requirement” by prohibiting foie gras as an ingredient in other poultry products.  Further, rejecting Plaintiffs’ Dormant Commerce Clause claim, the court held that California’s sales ban prohibits only instate sales of foie gras, so it was not impermissibly extraterritorial. View "ASSOCIATION DES ELEVEURS V. ROB BONTA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought his civil rights suit against the County of Ravalli and others. The County filed a motion for summary judgment on all claims. While its motion was still pending, the County made Plaintiff a Rule 68 offer of judgment for $50,000 plus costs and attorney’s fees. Before Rule 68’s fourteen-day window had closed, the district court granted the summary judgment motion. But the court did not enter final judgment. Rather, it said that judgment would be entered “in due course” after it issued a reasoned opinion. Within an hour of the entry of this order, Plaintiff accepted the County’s offer of judgment. The district court held that, under Rule 68, it was bound by the offer of judgment and entered judgment for Plaintiff in the amount of $50,000 plus costs and fees.The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Plaintiff, entered in accordance with Defendants’ Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 offer of judgment. The court held that under the plain text of Rule 68, the district court properly entered judgment according to the County’s offer of judgment. The court’s review of the rule showed that it was designed to function in a mechanical manner. The court reasoned that Rule 68 offer, once made, is non-negotiable; it is either accepted, in which case it is automatically entered by the clerk of court or rejected, in which case it stands as the marker by which the Plaintiff’s results are ultimately measured. View "ROBERT KUBIAK V. COUNTY OF RAVALLI" on Justia Law

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In July 2019, the Appeals Council denied Claimant’s appeal without elaboration. Claimant challenged, among other rulings, the ALJ’s analysis of her testimony. Claimant did not assert any constitutional challenges to the district court. The district court entered a judgment reversing the ALJ’s denial of benefits and remanded the matter to the agency for further proceedings. The Commissioner filed a motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) to amend or alter the judgment, arguing that the court had clearly erred by overlooking the ALJ’s explanation for rejecting Claimant’s testimony. The district court agreed with the Commissioner and entered an order granting the Rule 59(e) motion   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the amended judgment in favor of the Commissioner.  The court upheld the Commissioner’s decision denying her application for benefits because claimant did not show that the removal provision caused her any actual harm. Further, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) allows a district court to alter or amend a judgment if the court determines that its original judgment was clearly erroneous. Because the district court properly concluded that it had clearly erred in its original ruling in favor of Claimant, the court’s granting of the Commissioner’s Rule 59(e) motion fell within the court’s considerable discretion View "JODY KAUFMANN V. KILOLO KIJAKAZI" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs alleged that the energy companies’ extraction of fossil fuels and other activities were a substantial factor in causing global warming and a rise in the sea level, bringing causes of action for public and private nuisance, strict liability, strict liability, negligence, negligent failure to warn, and trespass.The court held that the district court lacked federal question jurisdiction under Sec. 1331 because, at the time of removal, the complaints asserted only state-law tort claims against the energy companies. The court held that Plaintiffs’ global-warming claims did not fall within the Grable exception to the well-pleaded complaint rule. In addition, Plaintiffs’ state law claims did not fall under the “artful-pleading” doctrine, another exception to the well-pleaded complaint rule, because they were not completely preempted by the Clean Air Act.Further, the court found Plaintiffs’ claims were not removable under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. The court also held that the district court did not have subject matter jurisdiction under the federal-officer removal statute, Sec. 1442(a)(1), because the energy companies were not “acting under” a federal officer’s directions. The court then rejected the energy companies’ argument that the district court had removal jurisdiction over the complaints under Sec. 1452(a) because they were related to bankruptcy cases involving Peabody Energy Corp., Arch Coal, and Texaco, Inc. Finally, the court held that the district court did not have admiralty jurisdiction because maritime claims brought in state court are not removable to federal court absent an independent jurisdictional basis. View "COUNTY OF SAN MATEO V. CHEVRON CORP." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff bought garments from Eddie Bauer Outlet Stores advertising sales of 40–70% off. The price tags of the garments included two numbers: a higher price, which the parties call a “reference” or “list price,” and a lower “sale” price. Plaintiff paid the “sale” price for the clothes. She alleges that she relied on the representation that she was getting the clothes on sale, but later discovered that the “list prices” were misleading because Eddie Bauer never sold the garments for the “list price” and that the Eddie Bauer Outlet Stores have perpetual sales of 40–70% off.The court concluded that the disposition of this appeal turns on a question of Oregon law: whether a consumer suffers an “ascertainable loss” under Or. Rev. Stat. Sec. 646.638(1) when the consumer purchased a product that the consumer would not have purchased at the price that the consumer paid but for a violation of Or. Rev. Stat. Secs. 646.608(1)(e), (i), (j), (ee), or (u), if the violation arises from a representation regarding the product’s price, comparative price, or price history, but not about the character or quality of the product itself. View "SUSAN CLARK V. EDDIE BAUER LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a lawsuit in state court, alleging state law claims arising from SelectHealth’s administration of her deceased husband’s Medicare Advantage ("MA") plan and his death. SelectHealth removed the action to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.The court first considered whether Plaintiff’s claims must be exhausted through the Medicare Act’s administrative review scheme. The court concluded that Plaintiff’s claims were not subject to the SSA’s exhaustion requirement because the dispute was not whether Plaintiff’s husband received a favorable outcome from the internal benefits determination process but rather whether he should have received the services earlier.Next, the court held that Plaintiff’s claim that SelectHealth breached a duty to process her husband’s October 7, 2016 appeal was expressly preempted. The court reasoned that the Medicare Act preempted those claims, regardless of whether they would be inconsistent with federal regulations. The court also held that the Medicare Act also preempted Plaintiff’s claims based on SelectHealth’s alleged breach of duty to investigate properly her husband’s August 23, 2016 preauthorization request for consultation and testing at the Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona.The court concluded that a state law claim based on a duty to process claims for benefit in a timely manner is preempted by the Part C regulations that set forth the timeframes for initial determinations and reconsideration decisions. The court affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of SelectHealth because the Medicare Act’s express preemption provision barred her claims. View "NAOMI AYLWARD V. SELECTHEALTH, INC." on Justia Law