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

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Plaintiff filed a class action suit to recover unpaid overtime wages from her former employer, Bloomingdale's. The district court granted Bloomingdale's motion to compel arbitration, determining that shortly after being hired by Bloomingdale's, plaintiff entered into a valid, written arbitration agreement and that all of her claims fell within the scope of that agreement. The court concluded that plaintiff had the right to opt out of the arbitration agreement, and had she done so she would be free to pursue this class action in court. Having freely elected to arbitrate employment-related disputes on an individual basis, without interference from Bloomingdale's, she could not claim that enforcement of the agreement violated either the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. 101 et seq., or the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 151 et seq. The court concluded that the district court correctly held that the arbitration agreement was valid and, under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq., it must be enforced according to its terms. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Johnmohammadi v. Bloomingdale's, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a class action suit alleging that Nordstrom violated various state and federal employment laws by precluding employees from bringing most class action lawsuits in light of AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion. Nordstrom, relying on the revised arbitration policy in its employee handbook, sought to compel plaintiff to submit to individual arbitration of her claims. The district court denied Nordstrom's motion to compel. The court concluded that Nordstrom satisfied the minimal requirements under California law for providing employees with reasonable notice of a change to its employee handbook, and Nordstrom was not bound to inform plaintiff that her continued employment after receiving the letter constituted acceptance of new terms of employment. Accordingly, the court concluded that Nordstrom and plaintiff entered into a valid agreement to arbitrate disputes on an individual basis. The court reversed and remanded for the district court to address the issue of unconscionably. View "Davis v. Nordstorm, Inc." on Justia Law

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Pyramid Tech filed suit against its insurer, alleging express breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith. Without holding a Daubert hearing, the district court excluded Pyramid Tech's expert witnesses and granted summary judgment to the insurer, finding insufficient evidence that a flood caused damage to Pyramid Tech's property. The court held that, after an expert establishes admissibility to the judge's satisfaction, challenges that go to the weight of the evidence are within the province of a fact finder, not a trial court judge. A district court should not make credibility determinations that are reserved for the jury. In this instance, the district court abused its discretion in excluding the expert evidence of David Spiegel and Ken Pytlewski, but did not abuse its discretion in excluding the expert evidence of Del Mortenson. The district court erred in granting summary judgment against Pyramid Tech's claims where genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether the insurer breached its contract with Pyramid Tech and breached the implied covenant of good faith. However, to the extent such claims were premised on Pyramid Tech's business interruption theory, no material issues of fact existed and the district court did not err in granting summary judgment against that theory of liability. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for retrial. View "Pyramid Tech. v. Allied Public Adjusters" on Justia Law

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UNM, a trade show cleaning company, filed suit against SDC, alleging claims for interference with contract, interference with prospective economic advantage, and antitrust violations. The court reversed the district court's holding that under California law, SDC could not be held liable for the tort of intentional interference with contractual relationship; reversed the grant of judgment as a matter of law on that ground; affirmed the district court's holding that it committed instructional error by not interpreting the terms of the contract and that this error constituted prejudicial error that warranted a new trial; affirmed the district court's holding that SDC possessed state action immunity from UNM's antitrust claim; held that the a new trial is warranted on UNM's claim for intentional interference with contractual relationship; and concluded that, under California law, SDC could not be liable for punitive damages because it is a public entity. View "United Nat'l Maint. v. San Diego Convention Ctr." on Justia Law

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Technica, a subcontractor on a federal construction project in California, filed suit under the Miller Act, 40 U.S.C. 3131-3134, against Candelaria, the prime contractor, and its surety CCIC. On appeal, Technica challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants. The Supreme Court and the Eighth and Tenth Circuits have held that rights and remedies under the Miller Act may not be conditioned by state laws. The court applied their reasoning and held that the limitation in California Business and Professions Code 7031(a) on the right of a non-licensed contractor to maintain an action for collection of unpaid services did not apply to an action under the Miller Act. Because the California licensing requirement is not a defense to a claim under the Miller Act, the court need not address whether Technica falls within the labor provider exception to the statute. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded. View "Technica LLC v. Carolina Cas. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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PAMC appealed the district court's affirmance of the Secretary's decision denying PAMC its full Medicare Annual Payment Updated for the fiscal year 2009. PAMC claimed that the Department acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it refused to excuse PAMC's late filing of the required Reporting Hospital Quality Data for Annual Payment Updated (RHQDAPU) program data by the admittedly applicable deadline. The court concluded that PAMC neither pointed to any contrary or antithetical decisions by the Department under similar circumstances, nor otherwise demonstrated that the Board acted arbitrary or capriciously when it denied equitable relief. The court rejected PAMC's argument that the Board should have used the contract doctrine of substantial performance to excuse PAMC's failure to submit data at the proper time. The court did not view the Board's adherence to the policy of strict compliance with a deadline as arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "PAMC, LTD. v. Sebelius" on Justia Law

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Retired Employees and their spouses filed suit against the County, alleging that the Retired Employees have an implied vested right to the pooling of their health care premiums with those of current employees ("pooled premiums"). The court affirmed the district court's order granting the County's motion for summary judgment, concluding that Retired Employees failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact where they did not show any link to Retired Employees' claim of an implied right to an ongoing pool premium; a practice or policy extended over a period of time did not translate into an implied contract without clear legislative intent to create that right - and intent that Retired Employees has not demonstrated in this case; Retired Employees' assertions that its involvement in negotiations with the County revealed an implied contract right to the pooled premium also lacked evidentiary support; and the nature of Retired Employees' evidence underscored the absence of any definitive intent or commitment on the part of the County to provide for the pooled premium. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of the County's motion for summary judgment. View "REAOC v. County of Orange" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a class of cardholders who paid credit card penalty fees, challenged those fees on constitutional grounds. Plaintiffs argued that the fees are analogous to punitive damages imposed in the tort context and are subject to substantive due process limits described in BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore. The court concluded that the due process analysis developed in the context of jury-awarded punitive damages was not applicable to contractual penalty clauses. Further, there was no derivative liability under the Unfair Competition Law. Accordingly, the district court did not err in dismissing the complaint where constitutional due process jurisprudence did not prevent enforcement of excessive penalty clauses in private contracts and the fees were permissible under the National Bank Act, 12 U.S.C. 85-86, and the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA), 12 U.S.C. 1831d(a). View "In re: Late Fee & Over-Limit Fee Litigation" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff purchased a background check and report from Intelius on the Internet, plaintiff discovered that Adaptive, a separate company from Intelius, had been charging his credit card each month for a Family Safety Report. Plaintiff and others filed suit against Intelius in state court. Intelius then filed a third-party complaint against Adaptive. Adaptive filed a motion to compel arbitration of both Intelius's and plaintiff's claims. The court held that plaintiff did not enter into a contract with Adaptive to purchase the Family Safety Report, and did not enter into a contract with Adaptive to arbitrate. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of the motion to compel. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Lee v. Intelius Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, the owner of a home warranty plan from First American, filed a class action complaint alleging that First American refused to make timely repairs, used substandard contractors, and wrongfully denied claims. The district court dismissed some of plaintiff's claims under Rule 12(b)(6); First American made an offer of judgment on plaintiff's remaining claims; and, when plaintiff did not accept the offer, the district court dismissed the remaining claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's remaining claims. The court vacated the dismissal of the remaining individual claims, holding that an unaccepted Rule 68 offer that would fully satisfy plaintiff's claim was insufficient to render the claim moot. Therefore, plaintiff's remaining claims were not made moot by her refusal to accept First American's Rule 68 offer, even assuming that the offer would have fully satisfied her claims. View "Diaz v. First American" on Justia Law