Articles Posted in U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiffs filed a class action against Sweetwater, alleging unlawful sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq. Plaintiffs alleged that Sweetwater intentionally discriminated against female student athletes when they failed to provide equal treatment and benefits as compared to male athletes. On appeal, Sweetwater challenged the district court's grant of declaratory and injunctive relief to plaintiffs on their Title IX claims. The court concluded that Sweetwater has not fully and effectively accommodated the interests and abilities of its female athletes; the district court did not err in its award of summary judgment to plaintiffs on their Title IX unequal participation claim; and the court affirmed the grant of injunctive relief to plaintiffs on that issue. The court rejected Sweetwater's claims of evidentiary errors; the district court's ruling that plaintiffs have Article III standing and its decision to deny Sweetwater's motion to strike that claim were not error; plaintiffs stated a prima facie case of Title IX retaliation; the district court correctly could find that a coach was fired in retaliation for plaintiffs' Title IX complaints, not for any of the pretextual, non-retaliatory reasons that Sweetwater has offered; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting permanent injunctive relief to plaintiffs on their claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment and rejected Sweetwater's attempt to relitigate the merits of its case. View "Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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This case arose from California's decision to extend its control to cleanup of radioactive pollutants (Senate Bill 990). Boeing filed suit challenging the validity of SB 990, which controlled cleanup of the Santa Susanna Laboratory grounds. The district court agreed with Boeing that the federal government had preempted the field of regulation of nuclear safety, and alternatively that clean up of radioactive materials at the Santa Susanna site is a federal activity. California appealed. The court concluded that Boeing had standing where it could clearly demonstrate an injury in fact; SB 990 violates intergovernmental immunity and is invalid under the Supremacy Clause because the activities of the federal government are free from regulation by any state and state laws are invalid if they regulate the United States directly or discriminate against the federal government or those with whom it deals; the court agreed with the district court that the terms of SB 990 are unseverable; and the court declined to construe SB 990 as limited to non-radioactive cleanup. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "The Boeing Co. v. Raphael" on Justia Law

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In consolidated appeals, two groups challenged the BPA's decision to forgo refunds after the court invalidated three sets of contractual arrangements in which BPA agreed to subsidize certain longtime industrial customers rather than sell them power directly. The court held that these subsidy arrangements were unreasonable and were contrary to BPA's authority. The court remanded to BPA regarding whether it could or should seek refunds of the improper subsidies. BPA concluded that it was contractually barred from seeking refunds as to some of the invalidated contracts; it had no legal or equitable basis for seeking refunds as to the others; and if it did pursue recovery of the subsidies, it might become mired in counterproductive, protracted litigation. Petitioners' core argument is that their power costs have been impermissibly raised by BPA's decision because, if BPA did seek refunds of the subsidies, it could pass the recovered funds to its customers as lower rates. The court rejected petitioners' contention that BPA has a duty, under either the Constitution's Appropriations Clause or BPA's governing statutes, to seek all refunds to which it may be entitled. The court concluded that BPA's decisions in most respects sufficiently and reasonably balanced its competing obligations to merit the court's deference, except in one respect. The court denied the petition for review with regard to the decision not to seek refunds with respect to the 2007 Block Contracts and the Port Townsend Contract. The court granted the petition and remanded to BPA for further proceedings with regard to recovery of subsidies paid under the Alcoa Amendment. View "ICNU v. BPA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the Commonwealth after she was terminated from her position as Special Assistant to the Governor for Women's Affairs. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Commonwealth on her retaliation, breach of contract, and estoppel claims. The court concluded that the district court properly granted summary judgment on plaintiff's retaliation claim where she failed to raise a triable dispute as to whether she did not hold a policymaking or confidential position; properly granted summary judgment on the breach of contract claim where it was undisputed that plaintiff held her position by virtue of appointment rather than by contract; and properly granted summary judgment on the estoppel claim where she failed to raise a triable dispute as to whether government officials engaged in any affirmative misconduct going beyond mere negligence as required for equitable estoppel, and where she failed to raise a triable dispute as to whether the Commonwealth gained an advantage by asserting one position and then later sought an advantage by taking a clearly inconsistent position as required by judicial estoppel. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. The court denied the Commonwealth's request for sanctions. View "Peter-Palican v. CNMI" on Justia Law

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MEIC filed suit against the Director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, claiming that the Director will violate duties imposed by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), 30 U.S.C. 1201-1328. The district court granted the Director's motion for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) and Intervenors' motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c). MEIC alleged a pattern or practice of the Director granting mining permit applications without doing proper cumulative hydrologic impact assessments (chias). The court concluded that, assuming arguendo, those allegations established that the Director will not do a proper CHIA for the application at issue, MEIC did not establish a substantial risk that the Director will grant the application at all. Even if the court assumed that MEIC could bring suit on behalf of its members, the members do not have standing because they did not suffer an actual or imminent injury in fact. Under a constitutional ripeness standard, MEIC also failed to allege a substantial controversy of sufficient immediacy and reality because MEIC failed to demonstrate a substantial risk that the Director will grant the application. In regards to MEIC's argument under the firm prediction rule, the court concluded that the rule's standards were not met where the court could not make a firm prediction about whether or not the Director will grant the application. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "MEIC v. Stone-Manning" on Justia Law

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In 2007, Appellants, commercial fishers, were stopped by officers from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) while driving on a public highway. The officers pulled Appellants’ vehicle over to check for compliance with fish and game laws. The inspection failed to reveal any fish and game violations. Appellants filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the WDFW officers violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by stopping and searching their automobile and harassing them over the years. The district court dismissed the case, concluding (1) qualified immunity precluded Appellants’ Fourth Amendment search and seizure claim because the law regarding warrantless stops by WDFW officers was not clearly established at the time of the stop; and (2) the relevant statute of limitations barred Appellants’ Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process claim. The Ninth Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the stop violated Appellants’ clearly established Fourth Amendment rights, and therefore, the WDFW officers were not entitled to qualified immunity on Appellants’ Fourth Amendment claim; and (2) the district court correctly dismissed Appellants’ substantive due process claim. Remanded. View "Tarabochia v. Adkins" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a teacher in the United States Forest Service’s Job Corps Program, filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain records pertaining to an investigation into misconduct allegations. The Forest Service located responsive pages but withheld almost half of them under the personal privacy exemption. An administrative appeal resulted in the disclosure of 188 pages of heavily-redacted documents. Plaintiff filed suit, challenging the redactions. The district court ordered the Forest Service to create a Vaughn index describing each document and explaining why each document was exempt from disclosure. The Ninth Circuit reversed in part and remanded with instructions to order the government to produce a more detailed Vaughn index with regard to two categories of documents, and if that was not sufficient, to conduct an in camera review. The Court held that the remaining redactions were proper. View "Kowack v. United States Forest Serv." on Justia Law

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Petitioner was convicted in California state court of murder and related offenses. Petitioner appealed, arguing that the district court erred in denying his Batson motion because the prosecution engaged in purposeful discrimination when it exercised four peremptory strikes against Hispanic venirepersons. The California Court of Appeal affirmed the convictions. Thereafter, Petitioner applied for habeas relief. The district court denied the application, determining that the prosecutor’s use of peremptory challenges did not violate Petitioner’s federal constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to Batson v. Kentucky. The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to grant the application, holding (1) under the totality of the circumstances, the prosecutor’s factually-erroneous reason for striking Venireperson 4968 was pretextual; and (2) the state court’s finding to the contrary amounted to an “unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented.” View "Castellanos v. Small" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair, filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., and the California Disabled Persons Act (CDPA), Cal. Civ. Code 54 et seq., against the City because none of the City's public on-street parking is accessible to people with disabilities. The district court denied the City's motion to dismiss, concluding that the broad language of the ADA requires public entities to ensure that all services, including on-street parking, are reasonably accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. The district court then granted the City's motion to certify the order for interlocutory appeal and the City petitioned for leave to appeal. The text of the ADA, the relevant implementing regulations, and the DOJ's interpretation of its own regulations all lead the court to conclude that public entities must ensure that all normal governmental functions are reasonably accessible to disabled persons, irrespective of whether the DOJ has adopted technical specifications for the particular types of facilities involved. Therefore, the court held that plaintiff has stated a claim under the ADA and the CDPA based on the City's alleged failure to provide accessible on-street diagonal stall parking. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Fortyune v. City of Lomita" on Justia Law

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El Dorado, a mobile home park owner located in the City of Fillmore alleged that the City interfered with an application for a subdivision of its seniors-only mobile home park by causing unreasonable delays and imposing extralegal conditions because of a fear that subdivisions would lead to El Dorado opening the Park to families. El Dorado's complaint was dismissed for lack of standing. The court concluded, however, that El Dorado had Article III standing where El Dorado suffered a concrete and particularized, actual, injury, in the form of added expenses caused by the City's interference of the application. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "El Dorado Estates v. City of Fillmore" on Justia Law