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

Recently in Property Law Category

San Francisco, known for its steep hills, foggy cold weather, high hippies, and high rent, has successfully defended a challenge to its landlord buyout law. It's no secret: Because of the critical lack of housing in San Francisco, as well as the high demand from high income earners, the rent and housing prices are simply out of control.

Complicating matters for landlords, San Francisco has some of the strongest renters' protections in the country, including such strong eviction restrictions that landlords often will pay tenants to move out rather than go through an eviction. And, as you may have guessed, San Francisco even has protections for renters negotiating a buyout with their landlords.

Court Cuts Back Idaho's 'Ag Gag' Law

Torturing cows was bad enough, but then Idaho tortured the First Amendment.

That's a short reading of Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Wasden. Animal rights activists sued to invalidate a law against surreptitious recording enacted after videos exposed mistreatment of the animals at a dairy farm.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a divided opinion, said the statute was "staggeringly overbroad." But that was nothing compared to the shock from the videos.

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.

Munitions Maker Hooks the Gov't for Cleanup Costs

The cleanup costs a defense contractor sought to collect against the US Government were not precluded because of previous litigation, according to the Ninth Circuit.

The costs under CERCLA were, according to the federal court, separate from the damages that had previously been collected in another suit which was brought by a downstream water agency. As a result, the costs were not subject to preclusion.

Burning Man's La Contessa Is Not Visual Art Under VARA

The legendary La Contessa which once started off life as a school bus but later transformed into a model replica of a 16th century Spanish galleon did not qualify as visual art under the federal Visual Artists Rights Act and other implicated Nevada laws, the Ninth Circuit ruled.

For those who can't remember, La Contessa lasted about four years at the festival until she was banned because her "unsafe driving practices far exceeded community tolerance and out-weighed the visual contribution [she] made." What a bunch of party poopers.

Alaska Polar Bears Win in 9th Circuit Ruling

The Ninth Circuit just overturned a lower district court decision that favored Big Oil, thereby strengthening protections of critical Alaskan polar bear habitat.

The decision restores approximately 187,000 square miles of land-sea to protection under the Endangered Species Act and re-designates the area as "critical habitat" for polar bears.

The Ninth Circuit has declined to reconsider, either in panel or en banc, environmentalists' challenge to Shell's arctic drilling plans. When government regulators approved Shell's spill response plan -- the plan meant to keep a drilling accident from becoming the next Exxon Valdez or Gulf oil spill -- they did so without formal environmental review under the Endangered Species Act or National Environmental Policy Act.

That led environmental groups to sue, a suit they lost in June and which the Ninth has now refused to rehear. That refusal, however, garnered a strong dissent from three circuit judges who argued that the court had undermined the strength of the environmental laws and created an incentive for agencies to abandon their role as overseers.

9th Cir Revives Section 8 Class Action, Calls for New Judge

For all the emotions it evokes -- both pro and con -- Section 8 is sometimes the only avenue by which the impoverished can get affordable housing in a region. For most recipients, any change in a government subsidy is a matter of daily livelihood and may result in homelessness.

A Section 8 subsidy is a property right. As such, the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court decision in favor of defendants who had administered a local voucher program and instead entered judgment for plaintiffs, who argued they weren't given proper notice before their subsidies were reduced.

Well that didn't take long. Just over two weeks after hearing oral arguments over a controversial Reno highway expansion, the Ninth Circuit has refused to halt the project. Community groups had opposed the controversial SouthEast Connector, seeking an emergency injunction to halt the project and arguing that it had been approved without sufficient environmental review.

The Ninth, it seems, didn't even have to think twice about it. The court quickly rejected the group's appeal, in a three paragraph opinion which found no indication that the lower court had abused its discretion when it allowed construction to go forward.

Big Lagoon Rancheria, an Indian tribe near Humboldt County, CA, won a major victory in a recent Ninth Circuit decision. Following the decision, the tribe may finally be able to go forward with its plans to build a new Indian casino and hotel.

The lawsuit involved a few acres of land near Humboldt County. In 1994, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) gave this land in trust to Big Lagoon Rancheria, a small but federally recognized tribe.