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

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that he was entitled to use the Fortymile Trail for access to his state mining claims. Plaintiff sought a declaration that he was entitled to a right-of-way to access his state mining claims on the Fortymile Trail both under a federal statute commonly referred to as R.S. 2477 and because he has an easement by implication or necessity, and that the real property interests claimed by the non-federal defendants were subject to this right-of-way. The district court dismissed plaintiff's claims against all defendants and plaintiff appealed. The court concluded that plaintiff's claims against the federal government were barred by sovereign immunity, but that the district court erred in concluding that his claims against Doyon Limited and Hungwitchin Corporation were barred by principles of prudential standing. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Mills v. United States" on Justia Law

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This litigation arose from the City's recent efforts to complete its power system expansion plan first conceived in 1972 and re-affirmed in 2007. The City owns and operates Idaho Falls Power. Alliance sought declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing that the City lacked the power to condemn property outside its boundaries for the purpose of building electric transmission lines. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Alliance, finding that Idaho law did not grant the City (or, by extension, IFP) the power to condemn property outside its corporate limits for the purpose of constructing the transmission lines. Because the power to exercise eminent domain extraterritorially for the purpose of constructing electric transmission lines (1) has not been expressly granted to the City by the state, (2) cannot be fairly implied from the powers that the City has been given by the state, and (3) is not essential to accomplishing the City's objects and purposes, the City does not have that power. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Alliance v. City of Idaho Falls" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the City's enactment of an ordinance which had the practical effect of prohibiting new group homes - i.e., homes in which recovering alcoholics and drug users live communally and mutually support each other's recovery - from opening in most residential zones. The court reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' disparate treatment claims; plaintiffs have created a triable fact that the ordinance was enacted in order to discriminate against them on the basis of disability, and that its enactment and enforcement harmed them; and the court reversed the district court's dismissal of all of plaintiffs' damages claims, except for its dismissal of Terri Bridgeman's claim for emotional distress. View "Pac. Shores Properties v. City of Newport Beach" on Justia Law

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These consolidated appeals concerned the 1999 Final Rules, identifying which navigable waters within Alaska constituted "public lands," promulgated by the Secretaries to implement part of the Alaska National Interstate Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), 16 U.S.C. 3101-3233. The court concluded that Katie John I was a problematic solution to a complex problem, in that it sanctioned the use of a doctrine ill-fitted to determining which Alaskan waters were "public lands" to be managed for rural subsistence priority under ANILCA; but Katie John I remains the law of this circuit and the court, like the Secretaries, must apply it the best it can; in the 1999 Rules, the Secretaries have applied Katie John I and the federal reserved water rights doctrine in a principled manner; it was reasonable for the Secretaries to decide that the "public lands" subject to ANILCA's rural subsistence priority included the waters within and adjacent to federal reservations; and reserved water rights for Alaska Native Settlement allotments were best determined on a case-by-case basis. View "John v. Alaska Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fund" on Justia Law

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Firebaugh claimed that a lack of adequate drainage in part of the Central Valley Project (CVP) caused poor quality water flow into its service area. Firebaugh argued that Interior should be ordered to provide the necessary drainage or, alternatively, to pay money damages. The court held that Interior's broad discretion in matters of drainage precluded both claims. Firebaugh's proposals did not involve discrete actions that Interior was legally required to take; rather, they involved matters of discretion and, as such were beyond the scope of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706(1). Providing irrigation water without concomitantly providing adequate drainage for it was a discretionary function and, therefore, not actionable under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2674. View "Firebaugh Canal Water District, et al v. United States, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that defendants enforced two local ordinances in violation of the Eighth Amendment. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's order granting summary judgment to defendants. The court reversed the dismissal of plaintiffs' claims for retrospective relief because those claims were not barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; the court reversed the dismissal of plaintiffs' claims for prospective relief because those claims have not been mooted by defendants' voluntary conduct; the court did not reach the merits of plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment challenges; and the court held that jurisdiction existed as to plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment claims and remanded for a consideration of the merits in the first instance. View "Bell, et al v. City of Boise, et al" on Justia Law

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Good News appealed from the district court's determination on remand from the Ninth Circuit that the Town's ordinance restricting the size, duration, and location of temporary directional signs did not discriminate between different forms of noncommercial speech in an unconstitutional manner. In Reed v. Town of Gilbert, the court held that the ordinance was not a content-based regulation and was a reasonable time, place, and manner restriction. Accepting the court's opinion in Reed as law of the case, the court concluded that the Sign Code was constitutional because the different treatment of types of noncommercial temporary signs were not content-based as that term was defined in Reed, and the restrictions were tailored to serve significant government interests. Good News' other challenges did not merit relief. Further, the court determined that the amendments to the Sign Code made by the Town during the pendency of the appeal did not moot this case and that Good News could file a new action in the district court should it wish to challenge the new provisions of the Sign Code. View "Reed, et al v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, et al" on Justia Law

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The City of Glendale and various other parties sought to set aside the Department of the Interior's decision to accept in trust, for the benefit of the Tohono O'odham Nation, a 54-acre parcel of land known as Parcel 2. The Nation hoped to build a destination resort and casino on Parcel 2, which was unincorporated county land, entirely surrounded by the city. This appeal related the the status of the land as trust. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the government after that court concluded that the Secretary of the Interior reasonably applied the Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act, Pub. L. No. 99-503, 100 Stat. 1798, and that the Act did not violate the Indian Commerce Clause or the Tenth Amendment. View "City of Glendale, et al v. United States, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were owners and operators of motels in Los Angeles. Plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) 41.49, which requires operators of hotels in the City to maintain certain guest registry information and to make that information available to police officers on request. Appellants contended that LAMC 41.49 was facially unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment because it authorized unreasonable invasions of their private business records without a warrant or pursuant to any recognized warrant exception. Following a bench trial on stipulated evidence, the district court held that the ordinance was reasonable and granted judgment in favor of the City, concluding that the hotel operators did not establish that they had a privacy interest in the guest registry information. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs' facial challenge to the ordinance failed. That the ordinance might operate unconstitutionally under some circumstances was not enough to render it invalid against a facial challenge. View "Patel v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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This case was a challenge to the State of Washington's Building Code brought by the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) along with individual builders and contractors. The impetus for this challenge was the State's 2009 requirement that new building construction must meet heightened energy conservation goals. At issue was the Energy Policy and Conservation Act's (EPCA) preemption-exemption provision, which expressly preempts state standards requiring greater efficiency than federal standards but exempts from preemption state building codes promoting energy efficiency, so long as those codes meet statutory conditions. Plaintiffs argued that the Building Code did not satisfy EPCA's conditions for exemption. The district court held that Washington had satisfied EPCA's conditions and therefore was not preempted. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the Building Code satisfied the conditions Congress set forth in the EPCA for exemption from federal preemption. View "Bldg. Ind. Ass'n of Wash. v. Wash. State Bldg. Code" on Justia Law