First Amendment Challenge to Solicitation Ordinance, Plus Bankruptcy, Civil Rights and Copyright Issues - U.S. Ninth Circuit
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First Amendment Challenge to Solicitation Ordinance, Plus Bankruptcy, Civil Rights and Copyright Issues

Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach, No. 06-55750, concerned a First Amendment challenge to Redondo Beach Municipal Code section 3-7.1601, which prohibits the act of standing on a street or highway and soliciting employment, business, or contributions from the occupants of an automobile.  The court of appeals reversed the district court's preliminary injunction in favor of plaintiffs, holding that the ordinance was a valid time, place, or manner restriction.

Benay v. Warner Bros. Entm't, Inc., No. 08-55719, involved an action alleging copyright infringement under federal law and breach of contract under California law based on defendants' alleged misappropriation of plaintiffs' screenplay.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendants in part, holding that, even if defendants had access to the screenplay, plaintiffs did not show sufficient similarity between the screenplay and the film (The Last Samurai) to maintain an infringement claim under federal copyright law.  However, the court reversed in part, on the ground that novelty was not required for an implied-in-fact contract claim arising out of unauthorized use.

In re: Southern Cal. Sunbelt Developers, No. 08-56570, concerned actions seeking punitive damages and attorney's fees arising out of the filing of allegedly meritless involuntary bankruptcy petitions against two alleged debtors.  The court of appeals affirmed judgment against appellants in part, holding that 1) the bankruptcy court properly concluded that 11 U.S.C. section 303(i) permitted an award of attorney's fees for a section 303 action as a whole, including fees incurred to litigate claims for fees and damages under section 303(i)(1) and (2); 2) section 303(i) permitted an award of punitive damages under section 303(i)(2)(B) in the absence of an award of actual damages under section 303(i)(2)(A); and 3) the bankruptcy court properly held two individual appellants jointly and severally liable for the costs and attorney's fees the debtors incurred in obtaining dismissal of the involuntary petitions.  However, the court reversed in part, on the ground that the bankruptcy court erred by holding the individual appellants liable for the debtors' costs and fees incurred on the section 303(i) motions themselves.

Prison Legal News v. Schwarzenegger, No. 09-15006, involved an action claiming that the California Department of Corrections violated a prison newspaper's First Amendment rights.  The court of appeals affirmed the district court's award of attorney's fees, on the grounds that 1) plaintiffs could recover attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. section 1988 for monitoring the state officials' compliance with the parties' settlement agreement; and 2) the district court's determination of the fee amount was not an abuse of discretion, because it was reasonable for the district court to conclude that the 31.5 hours spent corresponding with inmates was part of plaintiff's efforts to monitor state officials' compliance with the agreement.

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