Justia Legal Ethics Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
Tobeler v. Colvin
Plaintiff appealed the district court's order denying his motion for attorney's fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. 2412. The court concluded that the underlying agency action lacked a reasonable basis in law because the Social Security ALJ disregarded competent lay witness evidence on plaintiff's symptoms without comment. The court concluded that, because the ALJ disregarded competent lay witness evidence without comment, the position of the United States in the underlying action was not substantially justified. Because the government's underlying position was not substantially justified, the court awarded fees, even if the government's litigation position may have been justified. Therefore, plaintiff was entitled to an award of attorney's fees. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Tobeler v. Colvin" on Justia Law
Family Pac v. Ferguson
Family PAC filed suit alleging that three provisions of the Washington election law violated the First Amendment as applied to ballot measure committees. The district court granted summary judgment in part for Family PAC and Family PAC subsequently sought attorneys fees and expenses. The court held that the term "costs" under Rule 39 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure did not include attorney's fees and recoverable as part of costs under 42 U.S.C. 1988 and similar statutes. Therefore, in this case, the district court properly concluded that the statement in the court's previous opinion that "[e]ach party shall bear its own costs of appeal," did not preclude Family PAC, as prevailing party, from obtaining an award of appellate attorney's fees under section 1988. View "Family Pac v. Ferguson" on Justia Law
Blixseth v. Yellowstone Mountain Club, LLC, et al.
Plaintiff claimed that the judge who presided over the administration of the Yellowstone Mountain Club ski resort's bankruptcy was biased against him and should have recused himself. The bankruptcy judge denied the recusal motion and the district court affirmed. The court rejected plaintiff's claim that the judge made ex part communications; the rulings made by the judge purportedly denied plaintiff due process; and the judge made supposed biased statements during various proceedings. Plaintiff's claims were a transparent attempt to wriggle out of an unfavorable decision by smearing the reputation of the judge who made it. Accordingly, the court affirmed the denial of the recusal motion. View "Blixseth v. Yellowstone Mountain Club, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Carter v. Caleb Brett LLC
Plaintiff appealed the district court's award of attorneys' fees and costs. Under Costa v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration, where a fee award has been reduced by almost 30 percent, as here, the district court was required to provide relatively specific reasons for making such significant reductions. In this instance, the court concluded that the district court did not explain its decision to reduce plaintiff's fee request with sufficient specificity to allow the court to review the reasonableness of the fee award. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Carter v. Caleb Brett LLC" on Justia Law
Republic of Ecuador v. Mackay
The Republic and Diego Garcia Carrion (collectively, the "Applicants") sought discovery, including expert materials, for use in a foreign proceeding under 28 U.S.C. 1782. On appeal, Chevron and two of its experts challenged two district court decisions ordering the production of documents. The court concluded that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(3) did not provide presumptive protection for all testifying expert materials as trial preparation materials; the 2010 amendments did not fundamentally restructure Rule 26 to do so; and therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Republic of Ecuador v. Mackay" on Justia Law
Legal Voice v. Stormans, Inc.
This appeal relates to a discovery dispute that arose in this action challenging Washington's rules that require pharmacies to maintain a representative assortment of drugs for which there was patient demand and to dispense prescription drugs and drugs approved by the FDA for restricted distribution, unless one of several enumerated exceptions applies. On appeal, Law Center challenged the district court's denial of sanctions and costs under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(d). Concluding that the court had jurisdiction over the appeal, the court affirmed the denial of sanctions under Rule 45(d)(1). The court agreed with the D.C. Circuit's analysis of the amended rule and held that Rule 45(d)(2)(B)(ii) requires the district court to shift a non-party's costs of compliance with a subpoena, if those costs are significant. The court concluded that the district court erred in its interpretation of Rule 45(d)(2)(B)(ii) framing the issue in terms of undue burden, rather than significant expense. Accordingly, the court reversed the denial of costs and remanded for consideration of the proper allocation of costs. View "Legal Voice v. Stormans, Inc." on Justia Law
Graham-Sult v. Clainos
Bill Graham, a successful promoter of rock and roll concerts, died testate and his will created individual trusts for his sons, Alexander and David. Nicholas Clainos was the trustee of the trusts and the executor of the estate and Richard Greene, through his firm, provided Clainos legal counsel. On appeal, Alexander and David challenged the district court's disposition of a motion to dismiss, a special motion to strike under California's anti-SLAPP statute, Cal. Proc. Code 425.16(b)(1), and related attorney's fees awards. The court affirmed the disposition of the motion to strike in part and reversed in part. The court concluded that striking plaintiffs' conversion and unjust enrichment claims against Clainos was erroneous. The court also concluded that striking plaintiffs' breach of fiduciary duty claim against Clainos was erroneous. The court further concluded that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged claims for conversion, copyright infringement, and declaratory relief against the BGA Defendants and that dismissal of those claims was erroneous. In regards to attorney's fees, the court vacated the post-motion-to-strike fee award to Clainos, as well as the post-motion-to-dismiss fee award to the BGA Defendants. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Graham-Sult v. Clainos" on Justia Law
Kalitta Air L.L.C. v. Cent. Texas Airborne Sys.
Kalitta filed suit against numerous defendants, including CTAS, alleging various causes of action stemming from the modification of two of its aircraft from passenger to cargo planes. In this appeal, Kalitta challenged the district court's award of costs to CTAS following a jury's unanimous verdict in favor of CTAS. The court reversed the district court's award of costs for the pro hac vice admission of CTAS's counsel; reversed the district court's award of costs for editing and synchronizing deposition videotapes; and affirmed the court's award of costs for graphics consultants and the 2002 costs award. View "Kalitta Air L.L.C. v. Cent. Texas Airborne Sys." on Justia Law
Muniz v. UPS
UPS appealed the district court's award of attorney fees to plaintiff. At issue was whether the district court abused its discretion in awarding plaintiff $697,971.80 where the jury awarded her only $27,280 after finding that UPS had discriminated against her on the basis of her gender. The court affirmed in part and vacated in part, remanding to the district court to reconsider an award of fees for paralegal work on behalf of plaintiff and to determine, in the first instance, whether any hearsay exception applied to the paralegal's declaration regarding fees for paralegal work in this case, and to determine an award to plaintiff for reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred in defending this appeal. View "Muniz v. UPS" on Justia Law
Graves v. McEwen
The district court denied habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 to petitioner but issued a certificate of appealability (COA) on five issues. The district court then appointed appellate counsel under the Criminal Justice Act, 18 U.S.C. 3006A. Counsel subsequently filed an opening brief under Anders v. California, seeking permission to withdraw. At issue on appeal was what procedure appointed counsel in a habeas appeal should follow when seeking to withdraw. The court concluded that Ninth Circuit Rule 4-1 directly addressed the issue; counsel followed the proper procedure under Rule 4-1(c)(6); and, on the merits, the certified issues provided no basis for appellate relief and the court declined to expand the COA to cover the uncertified issues identified in the Anders brief. Accordingly, the court granted the district court's judgment and granted the motion for counsel to withdraw as counsel of record for petitioner. View "Graves v. McEwen" on Justia Law