This is the weirdest application of the Americans with Disabilities Act I've ever seen. And with the Ninth Circuit's reputation, and the Supreme Court's decision to grant certiorari earlier this week, it may not be long for this world.
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FindLaw's "SCOTUS Week" is coming to a close -- but wait, what's that? Overtime? Extra innings?
Exactly, and you have the Ninth Circuit to thank for the bonus coverage. Why? Because the Ninth Circuit has nine cases on the Supreme Court's docket so far -- one of which, Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, has already been argued and blogged about on our In House blog.
What about the other eight? Here's Part 1 of our Ninth Circuit SCOTUS preview:
From 2006 to 2011, Emerson Callum and Lavont Flanders posed as talent scouts on ModelMayhem.com, a social network for aspiring models. The duo would lure women to Miami under false pretenses, then drug and sexually assault them on tape, marketing the videos as pornography. Both were eventually convicted and received life sentences.
In 2008, Internet Brands purchased ModelMayhem.com from its founders. Two years later, the company sued the founders for failing to disclose the potential for liability for civil suits due to the two rapists' actions. And yet, IB posted no warnings. In 2011, Jane Doe became another one of their victims.
She sued IB under California law, alleging a violation of the state's "duty to warn" (the Tarasoff duty). The district court dismissed the suit, holding that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provided immunity for online service providers over content posted by third parties.
Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit reversed, essentially holding that the CDA had nothing to do with Doe's claims whatsoever.
Where the Eleventh Circuit dismissed a claim under the Alien Tort Claims Act last month, the Ninth Circuit -- under different, but similar, circumstances -- reversed a dismissal. The case before the Ninth Circuit was originally filed by former child slaves forced to harvest cocoa in Ivory Coast. The defendants were Nestle USA, Cargill, and Archer Daniels Midland -- all American food companies that made chocolate products from Ivory Coast cocoa.
Like the victims in the "Chiquita terror" cases, the child slaves from Ivory Coast alleged that the American companies provided assistance to farmers employing slave labor in an attempt to keep costs down.
In 2008, a conflict between a police officer and an autistic 21-year-old man came to a tragic end when the officer shot and killed Mohammad Usman Chaudhry. Officer Joseph Cruz initially claimed self-defense, that Chaudhry had come at him with a knife. But the evidence all pointed to a case of excessive force.
That case, along with many other allegations, led to a $1.7 million verdict against Cruz and the City of Los Angeles, but a federal district judge nixed $1 million in damages for excessive force based on the victim's pain and suffering, as such awards are not allowed under California state law.
The family appealed.
Technology fails. Computers crash, cell phone calls drop, and automated license-plate readers (ALPR) misread plates.
With that truism established, whose fault is it when a police officer (or six) stops a woman at gunpoint, holds her at gunpoint, handcuffed for twenty minutes, then realizes that the computer had a glitch?
The trial court called it a reasonable mistake, held that there was reasonable suspicion for a stop, and held that qualified immunity applied, but the Ninth Circuit reversed yesterday, holding that if all inferences were made in favor of the plaintiff, that there was a triable issue of fact over whether there was reasonable suspicion, whether excessive force was used and whether she was arrested, rather than subject to an investigatory stop.
We can't beat Judge Silverman's summary of the case, so we'll stick with the direct quote:
"Some days we are called upon to consider such profound issues as eleventh-hour death penalty appeals, catastrophic threats to the environment, intense and existential questions of civil and human rights, and the most complicated, controversial problems in civil, criminal and administrative law. Today we consider the coating on sunflower seeds."
Yes, this is a class-action lawsuit over the coating on sunflower seeds, and whether the sodium in the coating must be disclosed on the product's nutrition label.
An unemployed job hunter can proceed with his lawsuit against Spokeo claiming violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Ninth Circuit ruled.
For those of you unfamiliar Spokeo: It's a creepily comprehensive data aggregating website with the slogan, "not your grandmother's phonebook." According to Forbes, it's also notoriously inaccurate. Go ahead, check yourself out -- just don't be surprised if you see yourself listed as the only child of a distant cousin whom you haven't seen in years.
In his suit, Thomas Robins claims the website's inaccurate information about him hurt his job prospects. For the courts, his harm raised classic standing issues.
"As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable."
That's the money quote from Judge Andrew Hurwitz's opinion for the Ninth Circuit panel, which held that bloggers enjoy the same free speech protections as traditional journalists, and under Gertz v. Welch, cannot be liable for defamation absent proof of negligence regarding the truth of the allegedly defamatory material.
That's true even if, as the court explicitly noted, the blogger "apparently has a history of making similar allegations and seeking payoff in exchange for retraction."
Fiending for a live stream of oral arguments in landmark cases? As we reported last week, the Ninth Circuit is going to lead the way in transparency by becoming the first Circuit Court of Appeals to stream its en banc proceedings live, online, at the court's website.
What cases are set for arguments? DNA collection, criminal matters, immigration, and a police shooting are all on the docket.