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

9th Circuit August 2017 News

Unfortunately for Jay Russell Shafer, a recent Ninth Circuit decision has turned his jury verdict awarding him six figures for enduring a constitutional violation into a loss. Shafer convinced a jury that when two city police officers knocked him to the ground, face first, for refusing to drop a water balloon, one of those officers violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure.

While the appellate court found that his constitutional rights were violated due to the amount of force that was used, it also found that the officer whom the jury found liable was actually immune from liability.

Studios Win Against Streaming Movie Filters

You gotta respect video-streaming companies that clean up movies for family-friendly viewing.

After all, they are trying to to protect kids from profanity, sex, nudity, violence, and substance abuse depicted in original movies. Parents will pay to block those cringey moments when the family sits down for viewing.

But that's not a good reason to violate copyright laws, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said in Disney Enterprises, Inc. v. VidAngel, Inc. It was a victory for Hollywood studios and a benchmark in their battle against copyright piracy.

High School Football Coach Loses Prayer Case

How about a Hail Mary?

It's a traditional football pass, but a prayer on the field is going too far. At least, that's what the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District.

"Striking an appropriate balance between ensuring the right to free speech and avoiding the endorsement of a state religion has never been easy," wrote Judge Milan Smith, Jr.

It was difficult decision because the court had to consider the right of a popular football coach to kneel at the 50-yard line and pray for his players after high school football games.

In 2015, Google settled a class action privacy case against them for a meager $8.5 million. The case stemmed from the alleged sale of Google users' internet search terms to third parties without consent of the users. That settlement is just now being approved, again. This time by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The money has been tied up in appeals as none of the actual class members were ever going to see a dime. Instead, the court approved a cy pres settlement, wherein the bulk of the award would go to nonprofit organizations working to ensure online privacy for the public.

Thomas Robbins filed a class action lawsuit against Spokeo back in 2011, but his case has not made it very far due to being held up on appeals. Robbins v. Spokeo even made it all the way up to the Supreme Court last year, before being sent back to the Ninth Circuit again for further analysis.

Now, the Ninth Circuit has finished that further analysis and issued their opinion, sending the case back to the lower district court to proceed on the merits. Despite being over half a decade old at this point, the class action component of the case has not even begun.

Will Anti-Abortion Activist Out People in Fetal Tissue Research?

An anti-abortion activist may have short-lived success against the University of Washington's Birth Defects Research Laboratory following an appeals court decision.

David Daleiden, notoriously famous for releasing undercover videos of Planned Parenthood facilities, demanded the university produce documents about the purchase of fetal tissue, organs, and cells. A trial judge blocked his request after anonymous plaintiffs sued to protect their identifying information.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that order in Doe v. University of Washington, but remanded the case for the trial judge to make more specific findings about how releasing the information could harm the plaintiffs. It may not take much.

Court Revives Tainted-Groundwater Case

Where was Erin Brockovich when this happened?

A Chilean chemical company was contaminating the water in Southern California for years, according to a lawsuit filed in City of Pomona v. SQM North America Corporation. The city said the company was responsible for harmful fertilizer chemicals in its water system.

A jury didn't think so, but the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated their judgment. It's not a Brockovich movie, but it has an interesting plot twist and the story is not over.

Litigators in the Ninth Circuit's district courts work on some of the most innovative and forward-thinking cases filed in the country. For years now, federal litigators in California have trusted The Rutter Group's Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial, California and Ninth Circuit Edition. (Disclosure: The Rutter Group is part of Thomson Reuters, FindLaw's parent company.)

The bestselling guide has been updated for 2017 with new cases, statutes, and the information you need to help you litigate in California's federal courts. The guide organizes the leading precedents and applicable statutes by issue and exhaustively indexes each topic, so that no matter which road you take, you'll always get where you need to go.

A lawsuit filed by a group of 21 young people against the federal government due to climate change is less crazy than it actually sounds. A federal district court judge in Oregon ruled the case could proceed to trial, despite the government's objections. However, due to a request for review filed by the White House, the Ninth Circuit has stayed the litigation in the district court pending its review.

While there has not been any indication of whether the Ninth Circuit will actually disturb the lower court's ruling, what is clear is that the appellate court is going to review the matter. Proponents of the case are hopeful that after review, nothing changes. Whether a briefing schedule, or call for briefs at all has been issued is not currently known. What is known is that the case is still set for trial in early 2018.