Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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Plaintiff moved under state law for an order permitting him to conduct DNA testing and fingerprint analysis on evidence found at the crime scene more than forty years ago. The superior court denied relief in an October 21, 2022 order. Plaintiff sought a review of this order via a special action petition in the Arizona Supreme Court. The state supreme court accepted jurisdiction and affirmed the superior court's ruling. Plaintiff then commenced this federal lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. He sought a declaratory judgment that the Arizona statutes providing for forensic testing of DNA and other evidence are unconstitutional as applied to him as well as an injunction ordering defendants to permit him to conduct the forensic testing. He moved for a preliminary injunction prohibiting his execution until he obtains this relief. The district court denied the injunction, and he appealed.   The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court’s order denying the preliminary injunction and remanded with instructions to dismiss. The court concluded that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine because this action amounted to an improper appeal of the state court's judgment. View "MURRAY HOOPER V. MARK BRNOVICH, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff claimed that Defendant used excessive force while attempting an arrest on June 10, 2018, in Berdoo Canyon, which is considered BLM land. Plaintiff and her husband failed to yield to a park ranger, at which point Defendant was called to assist. As Defendant was trying to stop Plaintiff's vehicle, he fired several shots, hitting her in the hand and grazing her head.Plaintiff filed a Sec. 1983 claim against Defendant. The district court denied Defendant's motion for summary judgment related to Plaintiff's excessive force claim and Defendant appealed.On appeal, the Tenth Circuit reversed, declining to extend Bivens. The existence of alternative remedial structures is reason enough to not infer a new Bivens cause of action. Similarly, uncertainty about the potential systemwide consequences of implying a new Bivens cause of action is by itself a special factor that forecloses relief. The panel held that there was no Bivens cause of action for Plaintiff’s claim, which presented a new context. View "DENISE MEJIA V. WESLEY MILLER, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Pursuant to Rule 8.548(b)(2) of the California Rules of Court, the Ninth Circuit requested that the Supreme Court of California decide the certified question presented below: Do non-convicted incarcerated individuals performing services in county jails for a for-profit company to supply meals within the county jails and related custody facilities have a claim for minimum wages and overtime under Section 1194 of the California Labor Code in the absence of any local ordinance prescribing or prohibiting the payment of wages for these individuals? View "ARMIDA RUELAS, ET AL V. COUNTY OF ALAMEDA, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Before her retirement, Plaintiff was employed by the Oregon Health Authority, and SEIU was the exclusive representative for her bargaining unit. Plaintiff never joined SEIU, but the State deducted union dues from her salary and remitted the dues to SEIU. Plaintiff alleged that SEIU forged her signature on a union membership agreement. Plaintiff demanded that the State and SEIU stop the dues deductions and return the withheld payments. After she retired, Plaintiff filed this action against State defendants and SEIU, alleging several constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims for prospective relief against all defendants for lack of jurisdiction and her claims for retrospective relief against Service Employees International Union Local 503 (“SEIU”) for failure to allege state action under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. Because jurisdiction is a threshold issue, the panel first considered whether it could entertain Plaintiff’s claims for prospective declaratory and injunctive relief against all defendants. As to Plaintiff’s claims for prospective relief for violation of her First Amendment rights, the panel concluded that her fear of future harm was based on a series of interferences that were too speculative to establish a “case or controversy” for the prospective relief she sought.   Plaintiff’s theory that potential future unauthorized dues deductions chilled the exercise of her First Amendment rights was also too speculative to establish standing. The panel concluded that she lacked any concrete interest in her future wages or her right to be free from compelled union speech that were threatened by the alleged lack of procedural safeguards. View "JODEE WRIGHT V. SEIU LOCAL 503, ET AL" on Justia Law

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After the district court entered default against Defendant on Plaintiff’s claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Unruh Act, it ordered Vo to show cause why it should not decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the Unruh Act claim. After considering Vo’s response, the district court elected to decline supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. Section 1367(c)(4). The district court determined that there were exceptional circumstances and compelling reasons justifying this exercise of its discretion.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s California Unruh Civil Rights Act claim against Defendant. The panel held that under Arroyo v. Rosas, 19 F.4th 1202 (9th Cir. 2021), in order to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction in a joint ADA and Unruh Act suit, the district court must properly articulate why the circumstances of the case are exceptional.   The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion. First, there were exceptional circumstances regarding comity and fairness in allowing Plaintiff to evade California’s heightened procedural requirements for Unruh Act claims by bringing her claims in federal court. Second, unlike in Arroyo, the district court declined supplemental jurisdiction well before it ruled on the merits of the ADA claim, meaning that the Gibbs values could be effectuated. The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that there were compelling reasons to decline jurisdiction over the Unruh Act claim. The panel rejected Plaintiff’s argument that the district court’s order was not sufficiently case-specific. View "THANH VO V. JOHN CHOI" on Justia Law

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Crime victim Jane Doe filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in this court; she and the defendant in the underlying criminal action also filed a joint stipulation requesting that we “resolve the case on a schedule that parallels a normal appellate process.”   The Ninth Circuit, on a petition for a writ of mandamus in which Jane Doe seeks to vindicate her right under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA) to “full and timely restitution as provided in law,” a motions panel granted a joint motion, filed by Doe and the defendant in the underlying criminal action, stipulating to an extended period for this court to consider Doe’s petition beyond the 72-hour deadline imposed by the CVRA.   Under 18 U.S.C. Section 3771(d)(3), the court of appeals “shall take up and decide a mandamus petition seeking relief under the CVRA within 72 hours after the petition has been filed, unless the litigants, with the approval of the court, have stipulated to a different time period for consideration. . . . In no event shall proceedings be stayed or subject to a continuance of more than five days for purposes of enforcing” rights under the Act. The panel resolved a question of first impression regarding whether the “proceedings” referred to in Section 3771(d)(3) are those of the district court or appellate court. The panel held that the parties can agree to an extension of the 72-hour deadline with the appellate court’s approval, so long as the extension does not involve a stay or continuance of the underlying district court proceedings for more than five days. View "JANE DOE V. USDC-NVL" on Justia Law

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This case involves challenges to five provisions of the Grants Pass Municipal Code (“GPMC”). The provisions can be described as an “anti-sleeping” ordinance, two “anticamping” ordinances, a “park exclusion” ordinance, and a “park exclusion appeals” ordinance.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s summary judgment and its permanent injunction in favor of Plaintiffs; affirmed certification pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(2), of a class of “involuntary homeless” persons; and remanded in an action challenging municipal ordinances which, among other things, preclude homeless persons from using a blanket, a pillow, or cardboard box for protection from the elements while sleeping within the City’s limits.   The panel stated that this court’s decision in Martin v. City of Boise, 902 F.3d 1031 (9th Cir. 2018), which held that “the Eighth Amendment prohibits the imposition of criminal penalties for sitting, sleeping, or lying outside on public property for homeless individuals who cannot obtain shelter” served as the backdrop for this entire litigation. The panel held that there was abundant evidence in the record establishing that homeless persons were injured by the City’s enforcement actions in the past and it was undisputed that enforcements have continued. The panel further held that the relief sought by plaintiffs, enjoining enforcement of a few municipal ordinances aimed at involuntary homeless persons, was redressable within the limits of Article III. The panel held that based on the record in this case, the district court did not err by finding plaintiffs satisfied the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a) such that a class could be certified under Rule 23(b)(2). View "GLORIA JOHNSON, ET AL V. CITY OF GRANTS PASS" on Justia Law

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The Oregon facility where Plaintiff is housed has regulations that include these limitations: inmates are limited to having no more than four grievances pending at the same time, each of which must be limited to a specific event (i.e., repeated events involving the same subject matter must be separately grieved). Due to safety concerns, prison officials also placed a ban on inmate receipt of postage-prepaid mail inserts.   The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court’s order on summary judgment dismissing Plaintiff’s action for failure to exhaust available administrative remedies, as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act. The panel held that Plaintiff had pointed to specific circumstances in the case that made administrative remedies practically unavailable. When the evidence was viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, it was apparent that Plaintiff was left with the choice to pursue his mail-related grievance at the expense of another viable claim or forfeit his mail-related grievance—a conundrum resulting, in part, from Two Rivers Correctional Institution’s failure to process an earlier grievance within the usual timeframe prescribed by regulation. On the current record, Defendants were not entitled to summary judgment and accordingly, the panel vacated and remanded. View "AARON EATON V. T. BLEWETT, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Five deputies responded to a 911 call reporting that P.M. was acting erratically and threatening someone with a firearm. The deputies asserted that P.M. ignored their warnings, picked up a gun, and began raising it toward them. Two of the deputies shot and killed P.M. His wife claimed that eyewitness testimony and ballistics analysis proved that P.M. was not moving toward the gun, never touched the gun, and did not pose an immediate threat to himself or others. Plaintiff brought this action asserting that the deputies violated P.M.’s Fourth Amendment rights and her own Fourteenth Amendment right to a familial relationship.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s denial of Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. On the excessive-force claim, the panel concluded that the deputies who shot P.M. were not entitled to qualified immunity. The panel concluded a jury could conclude that Defendants fired at an unarmed man who, although in the presence of a gun, never picked it up and in fact was moving away from it when he was shot. Officers may not kill suspects simply because they are behaving erratically, nor may they kill suspects who do not pose an immediate threat to their safety or to the safety of others simply because they are armed. Nevertheless, even under this court’s case law relating to familial-association claims asserted by parents and children, Plaintiff’s claim failed because no showing of a purpose to harm had been made or even attempted. View "SUSAN PECK, ET AL V. ANTHONY MONTOYA, ET AL" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a serial ADA litigant, moved for an award of over $34,000 in attorney’s fees and costs under 42 U.S.C. Section 12205. The district court reduced this award significantly, finding that factors such as the routine nature of the work performed by Plaintiff’s attorneys and the lack of meaningful opposition by Defendants warranted the use of a $300/hour “blended billing rate” for all the work performed by counsel, as well as a 65% downward multiplier to the total amount of fees.   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order awarding a reduced amount of attorney’s fees and costs following the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff on a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The panel held that the district court provided an adequate “concise but clear explanation” of the grounds for its decision and did not abuse its broad discretion because, given the repetitive nature of high-frequency ADA litigation, there was nothing irrational about the district court’s conclusions that, in effect, much of the work here could have been performed by junior associates or even paralegals, or that much of the motion practice in the case was superfluous. View "JAMES SHAYLER V. 1310 PCH, LLC" on Justia Law