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Case Summaries

Attorney's Fees

[05/17] Kinney v. Clark
In a vexatious litigant-plaintiff's appeal from a post-judgment award for attorney fees and costs defendant incurred in a prior appeal while attempting to enforce an earlier award for attorney fees and costs against plaintiff, in underlying residential real estate litigation, the defendant's motion to dismiss is granted where the appeal is frivolous. Monetary sanctions are imposed on plaintiff for filing of frivolous appeal.

[05/16] Denault v. Ahern
In an action alleging a common law conversion claim against a police officer, arising out of the seizure and search of plaintiffs' car which produced no evidence but accumulated towing and storage fees owed to the city's towing vendor that exceeded the value of the seized property, the district court's judgment is affirmed over plaintiffs' attempts to revive a civil rights claim that might serve as a basis for an award of attorneys' fees.

[05/11] NOVA Chemicals Corp. v. Dow Chemical Co.
In an appeal of attorney's fees awarded under 35 U.S.C. section 235 in an underlying action in equity, seeking relief from a prior judgment that plaintiff had infringed certain patents owned by defendant, the attorney's fee award is affirmed where the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding this case exceptional for purposes of section 285.

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Antitrust

[05/03] Friedman v. AARP, Inc.
In an action brought by a plaintiff Medicare beneficiary who purchased private supplemental health insurance through a group Medigap policy, alleging that AARP Insurance Plan transacted insurance without a license in violation of the California Insurance Code, the district court's Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) dismissal of the complaint is reversed where plaintiff stated a plausible claim at the motion to dismiss stage that AARP 'solicits' insurance without a license, and, as a consequence, committed an 'unlawful' act in violation of the California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL),Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code section 17200.

[04/14] Wortman v. All Nipon Airways
In a suit alleging that defendant airlines colluded to fix the prices of certain passenger tickets and fuel surcharges on flights between the United States and Asia, in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, the district court?s partial denial of defendants' motions for summary judgment is affirmed where the filed rate doctrine did not preclude a suit for antitrust damages challenging defendants' unfiled fares, fuel surcharges, or special 'discount' fares.

[04/05] Maloney v. T3Media, Inc.
In an brought by former student-athlete plaintiffs, alleging that defendant exploited their likenesses commercially by selling non-exclusive licenses permitting consumers to download photographs from the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Photo Library for non-commercial use, the district court's order granting defendant's special motion to strike and dismissing plaintiffs' claims without leave to amend is affirmed where: 1) the federal Copyright Act preempts the plaintiffs' publicity-right claims and the derivative UCL claim; and 2) in light of that holding, plaintiffs' cannot demonstrate a reasonable probability of prevailing on their challenged claims.

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Banking Law

[05/09] Starr Int'l Co., Inc. v. US
In a suit arising out of a loan from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York under which the federal Government acquired a majority stake in American International Group, Inc. (AIG)'s equity, which the Government eventually converted into common stock and sold, brought by an AIG shareholder alleging that the Government's acquisition of AIG equity and subsequent actions relating to a reverse stock split were unlawful, the Claims Court's judgment that the Government committed an illegal exaction and remand with instructions to dismiss the equity-acquisition claims that seek direct relief is: 1) vacated in part where plaintiffs lack standing to pursue the equity-acquisition claims directly, as those claims belong exclusively to AIG; and 2) affirmed in part as to the denial of direct relief for the reverse-stock-split claims.

[05/03] Berman v. HSBC Bank
In an action brought by a plaintiff who was denied a loan modification by defendant bank, seeking injunctive relief under Civil Code section 2924.12 on the theory that the bank's denial letter was a material violation of section 2923.6(d) in that the letter only provided fifteen days for appeal instead of the thirty days as provided under that statute, the trial court's judgment sustaining the demurrer to plaintiff's complaint without leave to amend based on the conclusion that he had not alleged a violation of section 2923.6, is reversed where the denial letter constituted a material violation of section 2923.6 because it substantially misstated the time plaintiff was allowed by the law to appeal defendant's denial of his application for a loan modification.

[05/01] Bank of America Corp. v. Miami
In a City's suit against two national Banks, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which prohibits racial discrimination in connection with real-estate transactions, 42 U.S.C. sections 3604(b) and 3605(a), alleging that the Banks' discriminatory conduct led to a disproportionate number of foreclosures and vacancies in majority-minority neighborhoods, which impaired the City's effort to assure racial integration, diminished the City's property-tax revenue, and increased demand for police, fire, and other municipal services, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals' decision vacating the District Court's dismissal of the complaint is vacated where: 1) the City is an 'aggrieved person' authorized to bring suit under the FHA; but 2) the Eleventh Circuit erred in concluding that the complaints met the FHA's proximate-cause requirement based solely on the finding that the City's alleged financial injuries were foreseeable results of the Banks' misconduct.

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Administrative Law

[05/18] Defenders of Wildlife v. Zinke
In an action brought by the Defenders of Wildlife concerning the possible impacts of the Silver State South solar project on the desert tortoise, the district court's summary judgment in favor of the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and other federal officials is affirmed where: 1) the Biological Opinion's determination that Silver State South would not result in jeopardy to the desert tortoise did not impermissibly rely upon unspecified remedial measures; and 2) the Biological Opinion's determination that Silver State South was 'not likely to adversely affect the critical habitat of the desert tortoise,' which permitted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to forego an adverse modification analysis, was neither arbitrary nor capricious; 3) the Biological Opinion's failure to address the Fish and Wildlife Service's comments to a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was not arbitrary or capricious because the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and the Biological Opinion evaluated substantially different plans; and 4) because the Biological Opinion was neither legally nor factually flawed, the Bureau of Land Management permissibly relied upon the Biological Opinion in approving of the right-of-way for Silver State South.

[05/17] Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Bradford
In an action under federal environmental laws seeking to enjoin the U.S. Forest Service from constructing 4.7 miles of new roads in connection with a Forest Service project in the Kootenai National Forest, the district court's judgment in favor of federal officials and agencies is affirmed where: 1) the roads at issue would not violate the Kootenai National Forest Plan because they would be blocked to prevent motorized access upon completion of the Pilgrim Creek Timber Sale Project; and 2) it was not arbitrary and capricious for the Forest Service to conclude that roads closed to motorized access by berms or barriers do not count toward 'linear miles of total roads' under Standard II(B) of the Access Amendments; and 3) because the Forest Service's interpretation of its own Forest Plan was reasonable, Alliance for the Wild Rockies could not prevail on its National Forest Management Act, Endangered Species Act, and National Environmental Policy Act claims.

[05/16] Hardesty v. State Mining and Geology Board
In a suit under the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975 (SMARA), Pub. Resources Code section 2710 et. seq, the State Mining and Geology Board (Board)'s disputed findings conclude there are no vested rights to surface mine at the Big Cut Mine in El Dorado County, which in effect deny plaintiff a 'grandfather' exemption from the need to obtain a County mining permit, is affirmed and plaintiff's petition for a writ of mandamus is denied where: 1) a federal mining patent--a deed perfected after working a mining claim--has no effect on the application of state regulation of mining; and 2) neither of plaintiff's procedural claims proves persuasive.

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Asset Forfeiture

[03/15] ECC Capital v. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips
In an appeal from a judgment confirming a final arbitration award of attorneys' fees, expert fees, and costs against plaintiffs and in favor of defendants as the prevailing party in an underlying arbitration of legal malpractice claims, the award is affirmed over plaintiff's meritless or forfeited arguments that the trial court erred in confirming the arbitrator's interim award denying its claims because the arbitrator violated mandatory disclosure rules governing arbitrations, and that the trial court erred in confirming the final award because defendant's engagement agreement was illegal, defendant obtained the award by fraud, and the arbitrator limited plaintiff's rights to take discovery and present evidence at the arbitration on the issue of defendant's conflict of interest.

[03/15] Ramirez v. Tulare Co. District Attorney's Office
In three related asset forfeiture actions, seeking the return of seized property on the ground that government agencies purportedly conducting forfeiture proceedings failed to comply with the statutory requirements for nonjudicial forfeiture, the trial courts' judgments sustaining defendants' demurrers and dismissals without leave to amend are reversed where the trial courts erred in sustaining the demurrers on statute of limitations grounds, as the one-year statute of limitations under Code of Civil Procedure section 340 was not applicable to plaintiffs' petitions filed in the trial court. Instead, the three-year statute of limitations set forth in Code of Civil Procedure section 338(c) was applicable, and plaintiffs' petitions were timely filed under that latter statute.

[03/13] Omidi v. US
In an asset forfeiture case arising out the government's seizure of $100 million from bank accounts controlled by plaintiffs as proceeds of criminal activity and subject to forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. section 981, the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion for return of seized funds under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA), 18 U.S.C. section 983(a)(1)(F), is affirmed over plaintiffs' argument that the government did not provide the notice required by section 983(a)(1)(A) of CAFRA within 60 days of the seizure, where section 983(a)(1)(A) did not apply to this case because the provision limits the applicability of the 60-day notice deadline to 'nonjudicial' civil forfeiture proceedings, and this case involved judicial forfeiture proceedings.

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