Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of claims brought by DaVinci, alleging conversion and other common law torts against the United States and several U.S. Air Force employees. In 2014, the Air Force agents seized ten military GPS antennas from DaVinci, allegedly under the guise of the Espionage Act. DaVinci sought damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). DaVinci alleged abuse of process and conversion claims, arguing that the United States conspired to fraudulently and wrongfully coerce DaVinci to surrender the antennas without due process or just compensation. The panel held that the abuse of process claim was barred by section 2680(c) of the FTCA, because the antennas were not seized "solely" for the purpose of forfeiture. Likewise, the conversion claim failed because it was based on the allegedly illegal seizure of goods. The panel held that DaVinci could proceed in the Court of Federal Claims under the Tucker Act through a takings claim under the Fifth Amendment. In regard to DaVinci's claims against individual defendants, the panel held that DaVinci voluntarily dismissed the case against three individuals and never amended the complaint to include any others. Furthermore, DaVinci's claims against the individual defendants were not part of this appeal. Finally, the district court properly dismissed the Bivens claim against the United States, as the only remaining defendant, based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "DaVinci Aircraft, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The en banc court stayed proceedings and certified the following question to the Montana Supreme Court: Whether, under Montana law, dinosaur fossils constitute "minerals" for the purpose of a mineral reservation. View "Murray v. BEJ Minerals, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment after the panel certified two questions to the Washington State Supreme Court. The state court held that a priority use provision, an affirmative obligation to maintain and repair, and the ability to lease the property to others together create sufficient control of the property such that a landowner who leases the property is held liable as a premises owner. View "Adamson v. Port of Bellingham" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the HOA in an action brought by the bank after the HOA conducted a foreclosure on residential property. Under Nevada law, HOAs are granted a lien with superpriority status on property governed by the association and the portion of the lien with superpriority status consists of the last nine months of unpaid HOA dues and any unpaid maintenance and nuisance abatement charges. Under Bank of America, N.A. v. SFR Invs. Pool 1, LLC, the panel held that the bank's tender of nine months of HOA dues ($423) satisfied the superpriority portion of the HOA's lien. The panel also held that the HOA had no good faith basis for believing that the bank's tender was insufficient. The panel held that Bourne Valley Court Trust v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA, was no longer controlling and rejected the bank's argument that the Nevada HOA lien statute violated the Due Process Clause, in light of SFR Invs. Pool 1, LLC v. Bank of N.Y. Mellon. The panel held that Nev. Rev. Stat. 116.3116 et seq. was not facially unconstitutional on the basis of an impermissible opt-in scheme, and the bank received actual notice in this case. Finally, the panel agreed with Nevada precedent that Nev. Rev. Stat. 116.3116 et seq. was not preempted by the federal mortgage insurance program. View "Bank of America v. Arlington West Twilight Homeowners Assoc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a federal civil rights action against defendants, alleging numerous federal constitutional violations and a disparate impact claim under the Fair Housing Act. Almost simultaneously, the city filed a nuisance complaint in state court against plaintiffs and the city filed a motion for abstention, or in the alternative, a motion to dismiss the federal action. The county filed a nearly identical motion the next day. The district court granted both the city and the county's motions, concluding that abstention was appropriate under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971). Determining that it had jurisdiction over the appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court properly abstained under Younger in every aspect, except with respect to the allegedly unreasonable search, which must be severed from the other claims. In this case, Younger abstention was appropriate as to all claims except the unreasonable search claim, because success by plaintiffs on such claims would invalidate the code enforcement proceeding. In regard to the unreasonable search claim, the district court erred in abstaining because the relief sought on alleged Fourth Amendment violations did not meet the Court's requirement that the relief have the practical effect of enjoining the state court proceeding. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Herrera v. City of Palmdale" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of HomeAway.com and Airbnb Inc.'s (the Platforms) lawsuits challenging the City of Santa Monica’s Ordinance 2535, which imposes various obligations on companies that host online platforms for short-term vacation rentals. The panel held that the district court properly dismissed the Platforms' complaints for failure to state a claim and dismissed as moot the appeals from the denial of preliminary injunctive relief. The panel rejected the Platforms' claim that the ordinance was preempted by the Communications Decency Act (CDA) because it required them to monitor and remove third-party content, and held that neither express preemption nor obstacle preemption applied to the ordinance. The panel also rejected the Platforms' contention that the ordinance impermissibly infringed upon their First Amendment rights, and held that the ordinance regulated nonexpressive conduct, specifically booking transactions, not free speech. The panel held that, even assuming the ordinance would lead the Platforms to voluntarily remove some advertisements for lawful rentals, there would not be a severe limitation on the public's access to lawful advertisements, especially considering the existence of alternative channels like Craigslist. The panel reasoned that such an incidental burden was far from a substantial restriction on the freedom of speech. View "HomeAway.com v. City of Santa Monica" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the Hawai'i Supreme Court: What is the applicable statute of limitations for a claim against the State of Hawai'i alleging an unlawful taking of "[p]rivate property . . . for public use without just compensation," Haw. Const. art. I, 20? View "DW Aina Le'A Development, LLC v. Hawai'i Land Use Commission" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's forfeiture order against defendant after she had pleaded guilty to attempted smuggling of ammunition from the United States into Mexico. Although the ammunition was subject to forfeiture, defendant had caused it to be transferred to a third party. The panel held that the district court properly ordered forfeiture of substitute property under 28 U.S.C. 2461(c) and 21 U.S.C. 853(p). In this case, defendant's acts and omissions caused the ammunition to be transferred to a third party and the forfeiture of $1,235 in the form of a money judgment was proper. View "United States v. Valdez" on Justia Law

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If a creditor fails to make required disclosures under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), borrowers are allowed three years from the loan's consummation date to rescind certain loans. However, TILA does not include a statute of limitations outlining when an action to enforce such a rescission must be brought. The Ninth Circuit applied the analogous state law statute of limitations -- Washington's six year contract statute of limitations -- to TILA rescission enforcement claims. The panel held that plaintiff's TILA claim was timely under Washington's statute of limitations. In this case, the cause of action arose in May 2013 when the Bank failed to take any action to wind up the loan within 20 days of receiving plaintiff's notice of rescission. The panel also held that the district court improperly denied plaintiff leave to amend the complaint. View "Hoang v. Bank of America NA" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for plaintiffs, the owners of a Montana ranch, in a dispute over the ownership of dinosaur fossils. Prior to the discovery of the fossils, the previous owners of the ranch sold their surface and one-third of the mineral estate to plaintiffs, expressly reserving the remaining two-thirds of the mineral estate. The panel held that definitions of "mineral" in Montana statutes were contradictory and thus inconclusive. The panel explained that the Montana Supreme Court has generally adopted the test in Heinatz v. Allen, 217 S.W.2d 994 (Tex. 1940), for determining whether a particular substance was a mineral in the context of deeds and agreements regarding mineral rights to land. Applying the Heinatz test, the panel held that the dinosaur fossils were "minerals" under the terms of the deed and belonged to the owners of the mineral estate. In this case, the fossils were rare and exceptional, and have special value. View "Murray v. BEJ Minerals, LLC" on Justia Law