Can Congress create a statutory right to standing for a Plaintiff who suffers no concrete harm?
On November 3, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the closely watched class action, Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, a case dealing with a statutory cause of action created by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). At issue: whether Congress can create a statutory right to standing for a plaintiff who suffers no concrete harm?
Spokeo is a website that allows users to search for an individual’s personal information. In Spokeo, Plaintiff Robins alleges that Spokeo willfully violated the FCRA by publishing a consumer report that falsely claimed he had a graduate degree and was married with children. According to Plaintiff, the false report injured his job prospects. Spokeo moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the alleged injury was not enough to meet Article III’s requirement that a party seeking relief must have suffered an injury-in-fact. The District Court had dismissed the case, finding that Robins lacked standing because he failed to allege an injury in fact. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Robins and reversed the District Court’s decision, holding that Robins had Article III standing because the mere violation of a statutory right was enough to satisfy Article III.
Continue reading SCOTUS To (Hopefully) Clarify Congress’ Right To Create Art. III Standing →
Is it a federal crime to use a co-worker’s password with permission in order to access information for an improper purpose? What about those who get usernames and passwords from unwitting victims in an email scam? What does it mean to have authority to access a computer system, and who can give that authority? Could Congress have anticipated these questions in 1986 when it passed the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”)? A three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal wrestled with these questions recently as they tried to augur the limits of the CFAA during oral argument in United States v. Nosal.
The CFAA makes it a criminal offense to use a computer without authorized access or in a manner that exceeds authorized access. The Act also provides a civil right of action to hacking victims. The same prohibition applies to both criminal and civil causes of action, and requires proof on the issue of whether the activities of the alleged hacker either accessed the computer without authorization or exceeded the authorization he or she had.
Continue reading Defining the Limits of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: The Ninth Circuit’s Second Take on United States v. Nosal. →
California employers have been facing increasing incidents of so-called “boss-ectomy” claims, in which an employee claims to be disabled as a result of anxiety, depression, or other mental condition caused by the stress of working for a particular supervisor. As a result of her condition, the employee asserts a right to extended leave and a change of supervisor as an accommodation for her disability. Tuesday’s decision in Higgins-Williams v. Sutter Medical Foundation should put an end to that.
Applying the well-established standard for demonstrating a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, federal courts have universally concluded that an employee’s inability to work with a particular supervisor is not a “substantial limitation” on a major life activity and, therefore, is not a disability protected by the ADA. (See, e.g., Kennedy v. Dresser Rand Co. (2nd Cir. 1999) 193 F.3d 120; Gaul v. Lucent Technologies, Inc. (3rd Cir. 1998) 134 F.3d 576; Weiler v. Household Fin. Corp. (7th Cir. 1996) 101 F.3d 519.) California plaintiffs, however, have asserted that an employee’s inability to work with an assigned supervisor satisfies the lesser standard for demonstrating a disability under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, which recognizes conditions that merely limit—as opposed to substantially limit—a major life activity.
Continue reading Hanson Bridgett Brings Home Appellate Victory for California Employers, Defeating ‘Boss-ectomy’ Claims →
When is a judgment not a judgment (for purposes of appeal)? When it fails to encompass complete relief between the parties. If you didn’t find that joke funny, imagine if you were Alfonse Castaldi. His appeal was dismissed sua sponte by California’s Fifth District Court of Appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, despite the court’s fairly evident belief that the trial court had committed reversible error.
In Baker v. Castaldi, Case No. F067687, plaintiff Ken Baker sued Therese and Alfonse Castaldi for alleged conversion of personal property, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. The trial court held a trial on liability commencing March 25, 2013. The case then proceeded through a fairly tortured procedural history, including a series of injunctions and other interim orders, to a statement of decision and nominal “Judgment” on May 20, 2013, finding for Mr. Baker in the amount of $610,500.
In its May 20 Judgment, the court also found that the Castaldis had acted with malice and oppression, justifying an award of punitive damages. The defendants filed notices of appeal from the May 20 Judgment on July 2.
Continue reading In A Multi-Phase Trial? Don’t Appeal At The Wrong Time →
In August 2014, the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States proposed to change Rule 32 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure to reduce the permissible length of appellate briefs. Comments on the proposed rule change were due February 17, 2015, and the responses have been almost universally negative.
Continue reading Proposed Changes To Federal Appellate Rules Face Opposition →
In Evilsizor v. Sweeney (14 C.D.O.S. 12327), the answer was ASAP!
In a contentious dissolution proceeding, a husband sought documents by subpoena from his wife’s bank account, not knowing that his wife’s father’s financial information was contained in the records sought.
Continue reading How Soon Should You Withdraw a Motion That Becomes Moot? →
Can the Court of Appeal find an “abuse of discretion” by the trial court even if the trial court did nothing wrong? Yes, as explained in Connerly v. State of California (C073753).
In Connerly, Ward Connerly and the American Civil Rights Foundation (“Petitioners”) sued the State of California, the State auditor, and the California Citizens Redistricting Commission (collectively, the ‘State”), alleging the statutory method for selecting members of the Commission violated Proposition 209, because it gave improper preferences based on race, ethnicity, and gender.
Continue reading Appeals Court Finds a Phantom Abuse of Discretion →