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

9th Circuit September 2017 News

After a four-month wait, the Central District Court of California has finally issued its ruling on the motion to dismiss in the Spinal Tap v. Vivendi lawsuit. While the band's fraud claim has been dismissed, along with three of the four band members, the breach of contract claims and plaintiff Christopher Guest (a.k.a. Nigel Tufnel) still remain.

Fortunately for the band, the dismissal of both members and the fraud claim were without prejudice. Additionally, the members appear to have been dismissed on a technicality as their "loan-out" companies were not parties to the original contract, and therefore do not have standing as third party beneficiaries. Even though the case was dismissed, District Court Judge Dolly Gee left the door wide open for the members and the fraud claim to be amended back in properly.

Officer to Stand Trial for Shooting Teen

Thirteen-year-old Andy Lopez died with a plastic gun in his hand.

Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Erik Gelhaus said he thought it was an assault rifle. It was a pellet gun.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the officer should face trial for shooting the boy in Estate of Andy Lopez v. Gelhaus.

Court Jolts Sugary Drink Warning Law in San Francisco

'Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May Complicate Pregnancy' -- Check.

"This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm" -- Check.

"Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay" -- Wait, what?

That's what a federal appeals court said, too. Turning back a San Francisco ordinance that would require warning labels on soda advertisements, the appeals court said -- uh no.

9th Cir. Decides Mistaken Identity Case: Cops Arrest Dad on Warrant for Son

There is a lesson in this police brutality case, and it's not about the Constitution. It's about having the same constitution as a suspect in a criminal case.

Merritt L. Sharp, III, shared the same name with his son, Merritt L. Sharp, IV, as well as some naturally recurring physical traits. The big differences were their age and a record; Sharp IV was a felon.

Those obvious differences escaped police officers, who arrested the dad, handcuffed him, twisted his arm and tore his rotator cuff, threw him in the back of a police car, searched him and his house -- all on a warrant for his son. You'd of thought the police would've realized their mistake a little sooner.

A civil rights class action claim filed by over 100 Seattle police officers was dismissed by a lower federal district court in 2014, and has now, finally, had that dismissal affirmed by the Ninth Circuit. The officers were challenging whether new policies regarding the use of force were constitutional under the Second Amendment. Though arguments were held in May, the decision has just issued.

The new use of force policy was the result of a 2012 federal consent decree requiring a special master be appointed to independently assess, create, and implement a use of force policy. In doing so, a policy was created that stresses de-escalation over force. After the policy was approved and implemented in 2014, this challenge followed.

Some judges were just born to write. Take Judge M. Margaret McKeown's recent opinion in the USA v. Max Spatig case. The opinion opens with this humdinger of a zinger:

As the saying goes, fences make good neighbors. But when the neighbor collects thousands of containers of hazardous and combustible chemicals in his yard that could explode at any moment, a fence may not be enough to save the neighborly relationship. Instead, the authorities need to get involved.

'Selfie Monkey' Settles Copyright Case

There's a problem with the settlement in the selfie-monkey case: the monkey did not consent to it.

If the monkey took a full-on, toothy selfie, he ought to be able to put a signature on a simple agreement. Don't laugh. Elephants can do it.

Even a sloppy, banana smudge would do. Come on, is there no justice in the urban jungle?

Epic Snow Fight: Skiers v. Snowmobilers

Many Americans know that Washington's Mt. St. Helens produced the deadliest and most destructive eruption in U.S. history.

But relatively few know that Oregon's Newberry Crater has spewed out 20 times more volcanic material than Mt. St. Helens. That's because it last erupted 1,300 years ago and its activity spanned 600,000 years.

And in the shadow of these volcanic eruptions, another heated exchange has endured for generations: the battle between skiers and snowmobilers for fresh snow.

Judges Push Back Travel Ban Against Family Members, Refugees

That Hawaiian judge stopped President Trump -- again.

Judge Derrick Watson, slighted by Trump's legal general as that "judge sitting on an island in the Pacific," blocked the president's controversial travel ban in March. The Trump administration appealed up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which temporarily allowed a modified ban, but one issue came back to Watson:

What about relatives of U.S. citizens who travel from those Muslim-majority nations? Watson struck the administration's ban on certain relatives, and the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with him -- again.

It's headed for another Supreme Court showdown, but this time the president is on the outside looking in. That's because the Supreme Court crafted the modification that Watson applied to extended family members.

9th Circuit Will Reexamine Whether Employers Can Pay Women Less

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will take a second look at a decision that said employers can pay women less than men for the same job.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court said in April that women can be paid less based on salary histories. An en banc court will revisit that decision, which said pay disparities between men and women are lawful if the difference is not based on gender.

"If prior salary alone is responsible for the disparity, requiring an employer to consider factors in addition to prior salary cannot resolve the problem that the EEOC and the plaintiff have identified," Judge Lynn S. Adelman wrote in Rizo v. Yovino.

Three defendants in cases pending before the federal district court in the state of Arizona won their appeal to the Ninth Circuit over the district court's routine shackling of criminal defendants that appear in the courtroom. The IN RE: Rodrigo ZERMENO-GOMEZ decision, however, is less about shackling and more about judicial procedure.

A published opinion from the Ninth Circuit in May 2017 requires district courts to conduct an individualized analysis to determine whether a criminal defendant needs to be shackled in the courtroom. The three defendants that filed the appeal to the Ninth Circuit did not have that individual analysis conducted, but were forced to appear in shackles.