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

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Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his putative class action alleging that ebay.com's Automatic Bidding system breached two provisions of eBay's User Agreement, violated California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), Cal. Bus. Prof. Code 17204, and constituted intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. The court concluded that the district court properly dismissed plaintiff's claim for breach of contract where the two provisions at issue in the User Agreement did not constitute an enforceable promise by eBay. The court also concluded that plaintiff failed to state a claim under the UCL where, even if the User Agreement had represented that eBay would directly transmit bids to sellers, plaintiff has not plausibly alleged that he relied on this representation. Moreover, since a reasonable person in plaintiff's position could not have relied on such a representation, it would not have been material. Finally, the court concluded that plaintiff failed to set forth a claim for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Block v. Ebay, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action against FreeScore under the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA), 15 U.S.C. 1679 et seq. The district court dismissed the claim, concluding that FreeScore was not a "credit repair organization" as defined in the CROA. The court held, however, that FreeScore was a credit repair organization because FreeScore, through the representations it made on its website and in its television advertising, offered a service, in return for the payment of money, for the implied purpose of providing advice or assistance to consumers with regard to improving the consumer's credit record, history, or rating. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Stout v. FreeScore, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Spokeo, operator of a website that provides users with information about other individuals, for willful violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq. Because the district court had neither been divested of jurisdiction nor submitted this case to the jury, it was free to reconsider its own prior ruling. Therefore, the court concluded that the law-of-the-case doctrine did not limit the district court in its final order. The court also concluded that alleged violations of plaintiff's statutory rights were sufficient to satisfy the injury-in-fact requirement of Article III, and plaintiff had adequately pled causation and redressability. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded the district court's dismissal, concluding that plaintiff adequately alleged Article III standing. View "Robins v. Spokeo, Inc." on Justia Law

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Experience Hendrix filed suit against Pitsicalis alleging that Pitsicalis was infringing trademarks in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1051-1127, and that the trademark infringement also amounted to an unfair or deceptive trade practice proscribed by Washington's Consumer Protection Act (WCPA), Wash. Rev. Code 19.86.010-19.86.920. Determining that Pitsicalis had Article III standing, the court concluded, inter alia, that the WPRA was constitutional as applied to the narrow set of non-speculative circumstances at issue in this case; Pitsicalis was liable under the Lanham Act for using domain names that infringed Experience Hendrix's trademark "Hendrix"; and Paragraph 5 of the permanent injunction failed to state clearly the terms of the injunction and did not describe in reasonable detail the acts that were and were not restrained. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's determination that the Washington statute was unconstitutional and remanded Pitsicalis's declaratory judgment claims pertaining to the WPRA with instructions to enter judgment on those claims in favor of Experience Hendrix; affirmed the grant of partial summary judgment on Experience Hendrix's claim that Pitsicalis's use of domain names infringed Experience Hendrix's mark; vacated the permanent injunction and remanded so the district court could revise the language at issue; reversed the Rule 50(b)(3) decision to strike most of the jury's award of damages under both the Lanham Act and the WPRA; affirmed the district court's order granting a new trial on damages under both statutes; remanded for a new trial on such damages; vacated the district court's award of attorney's fees under the WCPA; and remanded the fee request for further proceedings. View "Experience Hendrix v. HendrixLicensing.com" 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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137 named plaintiffs filed suit against 25 financial institutions alleging, among other things, that the institutions' deceptive mortgage lending and securitization practices decreased the value of their homes, impaired their credit scores, and compromised their privacy. The court concluded that the action was properly removed from state court to federal court because more than 100 named plaintiffs proposed a joint trial and because the other prerequisites of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), Pub. L. No. 109-2, 119 Stat. 4, were satisfied. However, the court reversed and remanded to the district court to dismiss without prejudice the claims of all plaintiffs but the first named plaintiff because, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a), the First Amended Complaint did not present common questions of law. View "Visendi v. Bank of America" on Justia Law

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Former starting quarterback for Arizona State University, Samuel Keller, filed a putative class action suit against EA, alleging that EA violated his right of publicity under California Civil Code 3344 and California common law by using Keller's likeness as part of the "NCAA Football" video game series. EA moved to strike the complaint as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) under California's anti-SLAPP statute, Cal. Civ. Proc. Code 425.16. The court concluded that EA could not prevail as a matter of law based on the transformative use defense where EA's use did not qualify for First Amendment protection because it literally recreated Keller in the very setting in which he had achieved renown. The court also concluded that, although there was some overlap between the transformative use test and the Rogers v. Grimaldi test, the Rogers test should not be imported wholesale to the right-of-publicity claims. Finally, the court concluded that state law defenses for reporting of information did not protect EA's use. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of the motion to strike the complaint. View "In re: NCAA Licensing Litig." on Justia Law

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Retired Hall of Fame football player, James "Jim" Brown, filed suit against EA, alleging that EA violated section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a), through the use of Brown's likeness in EA's "Madden NFL" series of football video games. The court rejected the "likelihood of confusion" test and the "alternative means" test, concluding that the only relevant legal framework for balancing the public's right to be free from consumer confusion about Brown's affiliation with "Madden NFL" and EA's First Amendment rights in the context of Brown's section 43(a) claim was the Rogers v. Grimaldi test. Applying the Rogers test, the court concluded that the use of Brown's likeness was artistically relevant to the "Madden NFL" games and that there were no alleged facts to support the claim that EA explicitly mislead consumers as to Brown's involvement with the games. In this case, the public interest in free expression outweighed the public interest in avoiding consumer confusion. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of EA's motion to dismiss. View "Brown v. Electronic Arts, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative consumer class action suit against DirecTV and Best Buy, alleging violations of California's consumer protection laws. The arbitration agreement at issue in this instance was a customer service agreement between DirecTV and individuals who believed they purchased DirecTV equipment from Best Buy stores. AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion held that Section 2 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 2, preempted the State of California's rule rendering unenforceable arbitration provisions in consumer contracts that waive collective or class action proceedings. The court concluded that the arbitration agreement in this case was enforceable under Concepcion and, therefore, the district court did not err in compelling plaintiffs to arbitrate their claims against DirecTV. The court concluded, however, that plaintiffs were not required to arbitrate their claims with Best Buy. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Murphy v. DirecTV, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Wells Fargo under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692-1692p, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C. 1691-1691f. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' FDCPA claim because the complaint did not plausibly allege that Wells Fargo was a debt collector under section 1692a(6). The court reversed, however, the district court's dismissal of the ECOA claim where the complaint's allegations that Wells Fargo took an adverse action without complying with ECOA's notice requirements were enough for the ECOA claim to survive a motion to dismiss because the parties agreed that Wells Fargo did not send plaintiffs an adverse action notice. View "Schlegel v. Wells Fargo Bank" on Justia Law