Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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After Gerritt Vos was shot and killed by police, Vos's parents filed suit alleging federal and state law claims. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. In this case, officers responded to a call about Vos behaving erratically and brandishing a pair of scissors. Vos eventually charged in the officers' direction while holding the scissors above his head and officers shot him. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the facts were such that a reasonable jury could conclude that Vos was not an immediate threat to the officers, but nonetheless the officers were entitled to qualified immunity on the 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim because existing precedent did not clearly establish, beyond debate, that the officers acted unreasonably under the circumstances; because a reasonable jury could find that officers violated Vos's Fourth Amendment rights, it was appropriate to remand plaintiffs' conspiracy claims and Monell claims; defendants were not entitled to summary adjudication of plaintiffs' claims under the American with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act; and the panel reversed as to the negligence and state law claims. View "Vos v. City of Newport Beach" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit dismissed as moot plaintiffs' appeal of the district court's dismissal of their action alleging that their teacher unions' requirement to pay a fee to support political and ideological activities violated their constitutional right to free speech. The panel held that a change in plaintiffs' professional circumstances during the pendency of this appeal fundamentally altered the posture of this case. The panel also denied plaintiffs' motion to add an organization plaintiff to their suit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21. Accordingly, the panel remanded with instructions to dismiss the case. View "Bain v. California Teachers Association" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in an action alleging employment discrimination claims. The panel held that plaintiff, a teacher, failed to establish a prima facia case of disparate treatment based on her sex and race under Title VII because she did not show that she was subject to an adverse employment action or that similarly situated individuals outside her protected class were treated more favorably; plaintiff's hostile work environment claim failed because the few isolated and relatively mild comments that plaintiff alleged were not sufficient to show a severe and pervasive environment that altered the terms or conditions of her employment; plaintiff's retaliation claim failed because plaintiff did not establish that defendants' asserted rationale for its actions was mere pretext; and plaintiff's Title IX claims for intentional discrimination failed for essentially the same reasons that her Title VII claims failed. View "Campbell v. Hawaii Department of Education" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief where petitioner contended that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel because his trial attorney held deeply racist beliefs about African Americans in general and him in particular. The panel rejected petitioner's claim in light of Mayfield v. Woodford, 270 F.3d 915 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc), where petitioner conceded that he was unaware of his attorney's racism until years after his conviction was final and failed to identify any acts or omissions by his attorney that fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. View "Ellis v. Harrison" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief where petitioner contended that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel because his trial attorney held deeply racist beliefs about African Americans in general and him in particular. The panel rejected petitioner's claim in light of Mayfield v. Woodford, 270 F.3d 915 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc), where petitioner conceded that he was unaware of his attorney's racism until years after his conviction was final and failed to identify any acts or omissions by his attorney that fell below an objective standard of reasonableness. View "Ellis v. Harrison" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the Supreme Court of California: Does a plaintiff suffer discriminatory conduct, and thus have statutory standing to bring a claim under the Unruh Act, when the plaintiff visits a business's website with the intent of using its services, encounters terms and conditions that deny the plaintiff full and equal access to its services, and then departs without entering into an agreement with the service provider? Alternatively, does the plaintiff have to engage in some further interaction with the business and its website before the plaintiff will be deemed to have been denied full and equal treatment by the business? View "White v. Square, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the Supreme Court of California: Does a plaintiff suffer discriminatory conduct, and thus have statutory standing to bring a claim under the Unruh Act, when the plaintiff visits a business's website with the intent of using its services, encounters terms and conditions that deny the plaintiff full and equal access to its services, and then departs without entering into an agreement with the service provider? Alternatively, does the plaintiff have to engage in some further interaction with the business and its website before the plaintiff will be deemed to have been denied full and equal treatment by the business? View "White v. Square, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's summary judgment denying qualified immunity to a sheriff's sergeant in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, alleging that the sergeant violated plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights when he conducted an after-hours dog search of plaintiff's locked office. The panel held that issue preclusion did not apply in this case and that the panel was bound by the state justices' conclusion that the sergeant violated the Fourth Amendment; the panel applied Nevada issue preclusion law and determined that the alleged Fourth Amendment violation was at issue in the state court proceeding, the sergeant was a party, the state justice's order extending the protective order was final for issue preclusion purposes; and the state justices actually and necessarily litigated the Fourth Amendment issue and found that the search was not lawful; and it was clearly established at the time of the search that the sergeant's conduct violated plaintiff's rights. View "Pike v. Hester" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a motion to dismiss a second amended complaint on Eleventh Amendment immunity, judicial exhaustion, and abstention grounds. The panel granted Regents' request for publication in a concurrently filed order. A male University of California student filed suit against Regents and others, alleging claims under Title IX, 42 U.S.C. 1983, and state law, after he was disciplined for the sexual assault of a female student during a trip. On the merits, the panel held that the Eleventh Amendment barred plaintiff's California Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5 petition against Regents and the district court should have dismissed it with prejudice. Furthermore, plaintiff's section 1983 and Title IX claims were precluded because he has failed to exhaust judicial remedies by filing a section 1094.5 writ petition in state court. The panel remanded with instructions to dismiss the section 1094.5 writ claim with prejudice, but without prejudice to refiling in state court, and his section 1983, Title IX, and declaratory relief claims without prejudice. View "Doe v. Regents of the University of California" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity to defendants, University of California officials, for the use of batons against protesters by University police officers during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. Regarding direct force claims, the panel held that Sergeant Tucker and Officer Lachler did not use excessive force against four plaintiffs and they were entitled to use the minimal force they did to move the crowd in order to gain access to the tents erected in violation of university policy. Regarding the supervisory force claims, the panel held that the district court erred by denying summary judgment to some defendants, who were not in the police chain of command, and had no supervisory authority over the police who allegedly committed the violations. The panel also held that other defendants did not have sufficient personal involvement in the alleged acts of force. Finally, regarding supervisory force claims, some plaintiffs either failed to identify officers who used excessive force, or plaintiffs had not shown a violation of a clearly established right. View "Felarca v. Birgeneau" on Justia Law