Summary Judgment for Defendants in CERCLA Action Affirmed - U.S. Ninth Circuit
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Summary Judgment for Defendants in CERCLA Action Affirmed

Plus Civil Rights, Criminal, Environmental and Government Benefits Matter

Cheney v. Washington, No. 08-35204, involved a habeas petition regarding petitioner's conviction for sexual abuse of a minor, claiming that petitioner was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel because his defense counsel failed to object properly at two points during his trial.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of the petition on the grounds that: 1) defense counsel could have decided not to object to a detective's testimony because it led the detective to admit not only that abuse allegations are sometimes baseless, but that his personal views were sometimes a determinative factor in the decision whether to prosecute; and 2) the state court could reasonably conclude that there was no reasonable probability of a different outcome had defense counsel made an immediate objection to the prosecutor's imprudent remarks.

Krainski v. Nevada, No. 08-17523, involved an action alleging constitutional and state law violations by a college student arising from an altercation with plaintiff's former roommate that led to plaintiff's arrest and subjection to university discipline.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the action on the grounds that 1) the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's claims against defendants in their official capacities based on sovereign immunity; 2) the record did not contain any information that would create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether officers had facts sufficiently detailed to cause a reasonable person to believe a crime had been committed and that plaintiff was the perpetrator; and 3) plaintiff did not allege that defendants suspended or expelled her for her conduct, or that she was otherwise deprived of an entitlement to education conferred by the state or secured by some other independent source or understanding. 

City of Colton v. Am. Promotional Events, No. 06-56718, concerned an action by the City of Colton, California, under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for response costs allegedly incurred as a result of perchlorate contamination in its water supply.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendants on the grounds that 1) plaintiff conceded that it failed to comply with the national contingency plan (NCP) in its past response action; and 2) CERCLA's purposes would be better served by encouraging a plaintiff to come to court only after demonstrating its commitment to comply with the NCP and undertake a CERCLA-quality cleanup.

Pit River Tribe v. US Forest Serv., No. 09-15385, involved an action by an Indian tribe against various agencies alleging that they violated various federal environmental laws during the leasing and development process regarding the development of a geothermal power plant.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendants in part on the ground that the district court did not abuse its equitable powers in ordering that the original 1988 leases be treated as capable of extension.  However, the district court reversed in part with instructions to correct an inconsistency in the district court's order.

Turner v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 09-35080, involved a challenge to the denial of social security benefits by the Commissioner of Social Security.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant on the grounds that 1) there was no evidence in the record from an appropriate medical source during the relevant time period that refuted the administrative law judge's (ALJ) determination that plaintiff, even with post-traumatic stress disorder, was capable of performing simple, repetitive tasks in an environment where he could work alone and without public contact; and 2) the ALJ did not err in determining Turner's residual functional capacity.

In US v. Monday, No. 08-50206, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's conviction for violating 18 U.S.C. section 1709, which provided for felony penalties for a U.S. Postal Service employee entrusted with mail who "steals, abstracts, or removes from any such letter, package, bag, or mail, any article or thing contained therein . . . .", holding that the statute, in prohibiting Postal Employees from removing contents from mailed items, contained no specific intent requirement.

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