U.S. Ninth Circuit: January 2013 News
U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

9th Circuit January 2013 News

In 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began a formal investigation into claims that 2010 Toyota Prius vehicles were experiencing momentary loss of braking capability. A few days later, Toyota announced a voluntary recall of the affected Prii and 2010 Lexus HS 250h vehicles to repair a software glitch that was the alleged culprit. According to the Plaintiffs, Toyota knew about the issues as early as June 2009 but did nothing.

The vehicles were purchased pursuant to written agreements with independent dealerships. Each agreement included a broad arbitration clause that allowed either party to choose arbitration, and allowed the arbitrator to decide the scope of the arbitration. The agreements also waived the right to participate in class action litigation.

A dear relative of mine is an esteemed and well-respected professor at a prestigious university that shall remain anonymous. Of course, as nearly every professor and teacher is required to do, she has to grade student papers. One of her favorites was a student who submitted a series of quotes from studies without any original analysis or commentary.

Is this the judicial equivalent?

The Ninth Circuit issued an opinion reviewing the applicability of sovereign immunity in a case alleging negligence on the Securities and Exchange Commission's part in the Madoff debacle. This is a concise version of the concise opinion.

Ninth Circuit Reduces Bratz Award, Tells Toymakers to 'Play Nice'

Bratz and Barbies may be friends in the toy box, but they're bitter enemies in the courtroom.

This week, the Bratz were back in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals again, in an appeal challenging the damages from the retrial of the last round of litigation over the dolls. Got that?

If not, we'll recap the pertinent details.

Not every case can be a habeas corpus petition or a fascinating discussion on the requirements of Iqbal and Twombly. This opinion, unless you are enchanted with obscure environmental laws and administrative procedures, or live in Port MacKenzie, Alaska, is probably not worth reading verbatim. You can thank us later for the highlights.

The Alaska Railroad Corporation (AARC) wanted to construct 35 miles of rail to Port MacKenzie for the purposes of economic development and improving access beyond roads. Of course, with any construction project in the untamed wilderness, there will be casualties. Even with “one hundred mitigation measures … construction of the rail line would increase erosion and sediment transport to water, cause nutrient loading, and likely leak petrochemicals to nearby waters. Construction would also lead to loss of wetland habitat, water degradation, and potentially a change in the hydrology of the wetland system.”

It's a question that has plagued mankind (assuming lawyers are human) for centuries. And by centuries, we mean since the great Civil Procedure shakeup of 2007-2009.

If a complaint is filed in a state court under notice pleading requirements, then removed to federal court on diversity grounds, does it have to comply with Iqbal and Twombly standards?

Pardon us while we desperately call our old Civil Procedure professors. Oh wait, never mind. The Ninth Circuit just answered the question for us.

Matthew Jensen pled guilty to unlawful possession of a mail key in 2009. Though the offense carried a maximum of ten years in prison, he was only sentenced to twelve months imprisonment, followed by thirty-six months of supervised release.

Shockingly enough, he violated supervised release shortly after completing his initial prison bid. The violation carried a maximum sentence of two years because the underlying offense was a class C felony. He was sentenced to fourteen months. He never showed.

In 1980, Gary Hardeman pled guilty to the felony of committing lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under the age of 14. He was required to register as a sex offender until the offense was expunged. Before he was able to expunge the offense however, the law was changed to require ongoing registration.

In 1986, he was convicted of annoying a child, which required registration until expungement. He successfully expunged that offense five years later, though the law was again changed and retroactively required anyone convicted of a sex offense to register continuously regardless of expungement.

Warner Brothers Retains Superman, Wins Anti-SLAPP Appeal

In the relative time frame of appellate litigation, this decision came faster than a speeding bullet.

Two months after hearing oral arguments regarding rights to the Man of Steel, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Warner Brothers and DC Comics.

Foregone Conclusion: Law Firm Must Hand Over Hot Potato Records

The IRS is investigating San Ramon, California, attorney Mary Nolan for tax shenanigans. As part of that investigation, it wants Nolan's tax documents for 2005 to 2008.

In 2010, the IRS executed a search warrant looking for the documents at Nolan's residence, her business, and in her car. The IRS failed to locate the documents, but did find references to Nolan's income tax preparer, accountant Mary Fouts. So the feds went to Fouts, who said she had given the records to Nolan's civil tax attorney, Richard Guadagni. Guadagni had given the documents to Jay Weill, Nolan's counsel for the IRS criminal investigation.

Weill claimed that producing Nolan's tax documents would be testimonial, in violation of Nolan's Fifth Amendment rights. This week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.

Crack is whack. But what was more whack was the discrepancy in sentences between powdered and rock cocaine. After all, shoot it, snort it, or smoke it - it’s all coke.

As most of you are well aware, the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 addressed that minor discrepancy and allowed those sentenced under the previous unfair laws to petition for a revised sentence. Robert Pleasant did just that, and on March 23, 2012, his sentence of 77 months was reduced to 60 months.

And yet, it’s never that simple, is it?