III.      CIVIL PROCEEDINGS. 1

 

A.     Introduction. 1

1.       Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.. 1

2.       Affirming on Alternative Grounds. 1

 

B.     Pretrial Decisions in Civil Cases. 2

1.       Absolute Immunity. 2

2.       Abstention. 2

3.       Affirmative Defenses. 3

4.       Amended Complaints 4

5.       Answers 5

6.       Appointment of Counsel 5

7.       Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem.. 6

8.       Arbitration. 6

9.       Bifurcation. 9

10.    Burden of Proof 9

11.    Case Management 10

12.    Certification to State Court 10

13.    Claim Preclusion. 11

14.    Class Actions 11

15.    Collateral Estoppel 12

16.    Complaints 13

17.    Consolidation. 15

18.    Constitutionality of Regulations. 16

19.    Constitutionality of Statutes. 16

20.    Contempt 17

21.    Continuances. 17

22.    Counterclaims 18

23.    Declaratory Relief 19

24.    Discovery. 20

a.       Discovery Sanctions 22

b.       Protective Orders 23

25.    Dismissals. 23

26.    Disqualifying Counsel 29

27.    Disqualifying the Judge (Recusal) 29

28.    Diversity Jurisdiction. 29

29.    Equitable Estoppel and Equitable Tolling. 30

30.    Evidentiary Hearings. 31

31.    Exhaustion. 31

32.    Failure to State a Claim.. 32

33.    Forum Non Conveniens 33

34.    Forum Selection Clauses. 34

35.    Frivolousness. 34

36.    Immunities. 35

37.    Impleader 38

38.    In Forma Pauperis Status 38

39.    Inherent Powers. 39

40.    Injunctions 39

41.    Interlocutory Appeals 42

42.    Intervention. 43

43.    Involuntary Dismissal 44

44.    Issue Preclusion. 44

45.    Joinder/Indispensable Party. 45

46.    Judgment on the Pleadings. 46

47.    Judicial Estoppel 46

48.    Judicial Notice. 47

49.    Jurisdiction. 47

50.    Jury Demand. 47

51.    Laches. 48

52.    Lack of Prosecution. 48

53.    Law of the Case. 49

54.    Leave to Amend. 49

55.    Local Rules. 51

56.    Magistrate Judges. 52

57.    Mandamus 52

58.    Mootness. 53

59.    Oral Argument 53

60.    Pendent Jurisdiction. 53

61.    Personal Jurisdiction. 54

62.    Preemption. 54

63.    Preliminary Injunctions 55

64.    Pretrial Conferences. 55

65.    Pretrial Orders 55

66.    Primary Jurisdiction. 56

67.    Protective Orders 56

68.    Qualified Immunity. 56

69.    Recusal 57

70.    Removal 58

71.    Res Judicata. 59

72.    Ripeness 59

73.    Rooker-Feldman. 60

74.    Sanctions. 60

a.       Local Rules. 61

b.       Supervision of Attorneys. 61

c.        Inherent Powers. 61

d.       Contempt 62

e.        28 U.S.C. § 1927. 62

f.        Discovery Sanctions 63

75.    Service of Process. 63

76.    Severance. 63

77.    Sovereign Immunity. 64

78.    Special Masters. 65

79.    Standing. 65

80.    Stare Decisis. 66

81.    Statutes of Limitation. 66

82.    Stays 67

83.    Striking. 68

84.    Subject Matter Jurisdiction. 68

85.    Subpoenas 69

86.    Substitution of Parties. 70

87.    Summary Judgment 70

a.       Generally. 70

b.       Related Decisions. 72

c.        FOIA Cases. 73

88.    Summons. 73

89.    Supplemental Complaints 74

90.    Supplemental Jurisdiction. 74

91.    Venue. 75

92.    Vexatious Litigants. 75

93.    Voir Dire. 76

94.    Voluntary Dismissals 76

 

C.     Trial Decisions in Civil Cases. 77

1.       Alter Ego. 77

2.       Authentication. 77

3.       Bench Trials. 77

4.       Best Evidence Rule. 78

5.       Bifurcation. 78

6.       Choice of Laws. 79

7.       Closing Arguments. 80

8.       Credibility Findings. 80

9.       Cross-Examination. 81

10.    Directed Verdict 81

11.    Evidentiary Rulings. 81

a.       Generally. 81

b.       Attorney testimony. 82

c.        Extra-record evidence. 82

d.       Fed. R. Evid. 702. 82

e.        Hearsay. 83

f.        Best Evidence Rule. 83

12.    Experts 84

13.    Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 85

14.    Foreign Law.. 85

15.    Hearsay. 86

16.    Judgment as a Matter of Law.. 86

17.    Juror Partiality, Bias and Misconduct 87

18.    Jury Instructions 88

19.    Jury Selection. 89

20.    Jury Verdicts 90

21.    Opening Statements 92

22.    Parol Evidence. 92

23.    Proximate Cause. 92

24.    Regulations 92

25.    State Law.. 93

26.    Statutes 95

27.    Substantive Areas of Law.. 96

a.       Admiralty. 96

b.       Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) 98

c.        Antitrust 100

d.       Bankruptcy. 101

e.        Bivens Actions. 107

f.        Civil Rights. 108

g.       Constitutional Law.. 110

h.       Contracts. 112

i.         Copyright 114

j.         Declaratory Judgment Act 117

k.       Defamation. 117

l.         Employment Discrimination. 118

i.            Jury Instructions 120

ii.          Choice of Remedies. 120

iii.         Attorneys’ Fees. 120

iv.         Equal Pay Act 121

v.          Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) 121

m.     Environmental Law.. 122

i.            National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) 122

ii.          Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) 124

iii.         Clean Air Act (“CAA”) 125

iv.         Clean Water Act (“CWA”) 125

v.          Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) 126

vi.         Attorneys’ Fees Generally. 127

n.       ERISA   128

o.       Fair Debt Collection Practices Act 131

p.       Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) 132

q.       False Claims Act (“FCA”) 133

r.        Federal Employers Liability Act (“FELA”) 135

s.        Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) 135

t.        Feres Doctrine. 137

u.       Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) 137

v.       Immigration. 138

i.            Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) 139

1.     Generally. 139

2.     De Novo Review.. 140

3.     Substantial Evidence. 141

4.     Abuse of Discretion. 142

5.     Asylum.. 144

6.     Convention Against Torture. 144

7.     Cancellation of Removal 145

ii.         District Court Appeals 145

w.      Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) 147

x.       Labor Law.. 148

i.           Arbitration. 148

ii.          Collective Bargaining Agreement 149

iii.         Labor Management Relations Act 149

iv.         National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) 150

v.          Federal Labor Relations Authority. 152

vi.         Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
(“LHWCA”)
152

vii.       Jones Act 154

viii.     Railway Labor Act (“RLA”) 154

ix.         Miscellaneous. 155

y.       Negligence. 155

z.        Securities. 155

aa.    Social Security. 157

bb.    Tariffs. 157

cc.     Tax  158

dd.    Title VII 161

ee.     Trademark. 161

ff.      Warsaw Convention. 163

28.    Supervising Trials 164

29.    Supplemental Jury Instructions 164

30.    Territorial Laws. 164

a.       Guam   164

b.       Northern Mariana Islands. 165

31.    Treaties. 165

32.    Tribal Courts 166

33.    Verdict Forms 168

 

D.     Post‑Trial Decisions in Civil Cases. 169

1.       Appeals 169

2.       Attorneys’ Fees. 169

a.       Admiralty. 170

b.       Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) 171

c.        Antitrust 171

d.       Bankruptcy. 171

e.        Civil Rights. 172

f.        Class Actions 173

g.       Contracts. 173

h.       Copyright 174

i.         Environmental Laws. 174

j.         Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”) 175

k.       ERISA   175

l.         Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) 176

m.     Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) 177

n.       Inherent Powers. 177

o.       Removal 177

p.       Rule 68. 178

q.       Social Security. 178

r.        State Law.. 178

s.        Tax    179

t.        Title VII 179

u.       Trademark. 179

3.       Bonds. 180

4.       Certified Appeals 181

5.       Choice of Remedies. 182

6.       Consent Decrees. 182

7.       Costs. 183

8.       Damages. 183

a.       Liquidated. 185

b.       Punitive. 185

c.        Remittitur 186

9.       Default 187

10.    Equitable Relief 188

11.    Excusable Neglect 189

12.    Fines. 189

13.    Interest 189

14.    Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict (“JNOV”) 190

15.    Judgments 190

16.    Mandates. 192

17.    New Trials. 192

18.    Permanent Injunctions 193

19.    Reconsideration. 194

20.    Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law.. 195

21.    Reopening or Supplementing Record. 196

22.    Sanctions. 197

a.       Generally. 197

b.       Rule 11. 197

c.        Local Rules. 198

d.       Supervision of Attorneys. 198

e.        Inherent Powers. 198

f.        Contempt 199

g.       Discovery Sanctions 199

h.       28 U.S.C. § 1927. 200

23.    Settlements 200

24.    Supersedeas Bonds. 202

25.    Surety Bonds 202

26.    Vacatur 202

27.    Void Judgments 202


III.   CIVIL PROCEEDINGS

A.      Introduction

1.       Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

Findings of fact are reviewed for clear error.  See Mull for Mull v. Motion Picture Indus. Health Plan, 865 F.3d 1207, 1209 (9th Cir. 2017); L.J. by & through Hudson v. Pittsburg Unified Sch. Dist., 850 F.3d 996, 1002 (9th Cir. 2017) (noting standard applies even when findings are based on the administrative record); Stetson v. Grissom, 821 F.3d 1157, 1163 (9th Cir. 2016); Husain v. Olympic Airways, 316 F.3d 829, 835 (9th Cir. 2002). This standard also applies to the district court’s application of law to facts where it requires an “essentially factual” review.  See Hussein, 316 F.3d at 835.  The court reviews adopted findings with close scrutiny, even though review remains to be for clear error.  See Phoenix Eng’g & Supply Inc. v. Universal Elec. Co., 104 F.3d 1137, 1140 (9th Cir. 1997).

 Conclusions of law are reviewed de novo.  See Mull for Mull, 865 F.3d at 1209; Stetson, 821 F.3d at 1163; Husain, 316 F.3d at 835.  Mixed questions of law and fact are also reviewed de novo.  See Lim v. City of Long Beach, 217 F.3d 1050, 1054 (9th Cir. 2000).  A mixed question of law and fact exists when there is no dispute as to the facts or the rule of law and the only question is whether the facts satisfy the legal rule.  See id.; see also In re Cherrett, 873 F.3d 1060, 1066 (9th Cir. 2017).  “ ‘Mixed questions are typically reviewed de novo, but, depending on the nature of the inquiry involved, may be reviewed under a more deferential clearly erroneous standard.’ United States v. Lang, 149 F.3d 1044, 1047 (9th Cir. 1998), amended by 157 F.3d 1161 (9th Cir. 1998) (emphasis added).”  In re Cherrett, 873 F.3d at 1066.

 

A district court’s interpretation of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is reviewed de novo.  See United States v. 2,164 Watches, 366 F.3d 767, 770 (9th Cir. 2004).

2.       Affirming on Alternative Grounds

The district court’s decision may be affirmed on any ground supported by the record, even if not relied upon by the district court.  See Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Found., 862 F.3d 951, 974 (9th Cir. 2017); Kwan v. SanMedica Int'l, 854 F.3d 1088, 1093 (9th Cir. 2017); Campbell v. Washington Dep’t of Soc. & Health Servs., 671 F.3d 837, 842 n.4 (9th Cir. 2011); Forest Guardians v. U.S. Forest Serv., 329 F.3d 1089, 1097 (9th Cir. 2003).  Accordingly, the decision may be affirmed, “even if the district court relied on the wrong grounds or wrong reasoning.” Cigna Property and Cas. Ins. Co. v. Polaris Pictures Corp., 159 F.3d 412, 418 (9th Cir. 1998) (citation omitted); see also Muniz v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 738 F.3d 214, 219 (9th Cir. 2013).

B.      Pretrial Decisions in Civil Cases

1.       Absolute Immunity

Whether a public official is entitled to absolute immunity is a question of law reviewed de novo.  See Brown v. California Dep’t of Corr., 554 F.3d 747, 749-50 (9th Cir. 2009); Miller v. Davis, 521 F.3d 1142, 1145 (9th Cir. 2008) (governor).[1]  A dismissal based on absolute immunity is reviewed de novo.  See Garmon v. Cty. of Los Angeles, 828 F.3d 837, 842 (9th Cir. 2016); Olsen v. Idaho State Bd. of Medicine, 363 F.3d 916, 922 (9th Cir. 2004) (state board member).

2.       Abstention

This court reviews de novo whether Younger abstention is required.    See Nationwide Biweekly Admin., Inc. v. Owen, 873 F.3d 716, 727 (9th Cir. 2017); Potrero Hills Landfill, Inc. v. County of Solano, 657 F.3d 876, 881 (9th Cir. 2011); Green v. City of Tucson, 255 F.3d 1086, 1093 (9th Cir. 2001) (en banc) (overruling prior cases applying abuse of discretion standard to district court’s decision whether to abstain), overruled in part on other grounds by Gilbertson v. Albright, 381 F.3d 965, 976-78 (9th Cir. 2004). 

 

Note that Green may not apply to other abstention doctrines.[2]  See Green, 255 F.3d at 1093 n.10.  For example, the court of appeals reviews Pullman abstention decisions under a “modified abuse of discretion standard.”  Smelt v. County of Orange, 447 F.3d 673, 678 (9th Cir. 2006).  This means the court reviews de novo whether the requirements have been met, but the district court’s ultimate decision to abstain under Pullman for abuse of discretion.  See id.

 

“The proper standard of review for the district court’s decision to abstain under O’Shea is unsettled.” Courthouse News Serv. v. Planet, 750 F.3d 776, 782 (9th Cir. 2014) (declining to decide which standard of review applies).

3.       Affirmative Defenses    

“[A] district court’s decisions with regard to the treatment of affirmative defenses [are] reviewed for an abuse of discretion.”  389 Orange St. Part. v. Arnold, 179 F.3d 656, 664 (9th Cir. 1999); see also In re Hanford Nuclear Reservation Litig., 534 F.3d 986, 1000 (9th Cir. 2008) (reviewing de novo where defense inapplicable as matter of law).  Whether an affirmative defense is waived, however, is a question of law reviewed de novo.  See Owens v. Kaiser Found. Health Plan, Inc., 244 F.3d 708, 713 (9th Cir. 2001).[3] 

 

The district court’s decision to strike certain affirmative defenses pursuant to Rule 12(f) is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  See Federal Sav. & Loan Ins. Corp. v. Gemini Mgmt., 921 F.2d 241, 243-44 (9th Cir. 1990).  Likewise, the decision whether to instruct the jury on affirmative defenses is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  See Costa v. Desert Palace, Inc., 299 F.3d 838, 858-59 (9th Cir. 2002) (en banc) (instructing); McClaran v. Plastic Indus., Inc., 97 F.3d 347, 355-56 (9th Cir. 1996) (refusing to instruct).

4.       Amended Complaints

The trial court’s denial of a motion to amend a complaint is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  See Branch Banking & Tr. Co. v. D.M.S.I., LLC, 871 F.3d 751, 760 (9th Cir. 2017); AE ex rel. Hernandez v. County of Tulare, 666 F.3d 631, 636 (9th Cir. 2012); Ventress v. Japan Airlines, 603 F.3d 676, 680 (9th Cir. 2010); Caswell v. Calderon, 363 F.3d 832, 836 (9th Cir. 2004) (habeas); Chappel v. Laboratory Corp., 232 F.3d 719, 725 (9th Cir. 2000) (finding abuse of discretion).  “A district court acts within its discretion to deny leave to amend when amendment would be futile, when it would cause undue prejudice to the defendant, or when it is sought in bad faith.”  Chappel, 232 F.3d at 725-26.  The discretion is particularly broad where a plaintiff has previously been permitted leave to amend.  See Chodos v. West Publishing Co., 292 F.3d 992, 1003 (9th Cir. 2002).

 

The trial court’s decision to permit amendment is also reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  See Metrophones Telecomms., Inc, v. Global Crossing Telecomms., Inc., 423 F.3d 1056, 1063 (9th Cir. 2005); United States v. McGee, 993 F.2d 184, 187 (9th Cir. 1993).

 

Dismissal of a complaint without leave to amend is improper unless it is clear, upon de novo review that the complaint could not be saved by any amendment.  See AE ex rel. Hernandez, 666 F.3d at 636; Thinket Ink Info. Res., Inc. v. Sun Microsystems, Inc., 368 F.3d 1053, 1061 (9th Cir. 2004).[4]

 

A district court’s order denying a Rule 15(b) motion to conform the pleadings to the evidence is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  See Rosenbaum v. City and County of San Francisco, 484 F.3d 1142, 1151 (9th Cir. 2007); Madeja v. Olympic Packers, 310 F.3d 628, 635 (9th Cir. 2002).  The court’s decision to grant a Rule 15(b) motion is also reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  See Galindo v. Stoody Co., 793 F.2d 1502, 1512-13 (9th Cir. 1986).

 

The district court’s dismissal of the complaint with prejudice for failure to comply with the court’s order to amend the complaint is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  See Ordonez v. Johnson, 254 F.3d 814, 815-16 (9th Cir. 2001); McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1177 (9th Cir. 1996).  Dismissal of a complaint for failure to serve a timely summons and complaint is also reviewed for abuse of discretion.  See In re Sheehan, 253 F.3d 507, 511 (9th Cir. 2001); West Coast Theater Corp. v. City of Portland, 897 F.2d 1519, 1528 (9th Cir. 1990).

 

A district court’s decision to grant or deny a party’s request to supplement a complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(d) is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  Planned Parenthood of S. Ariz. v. Neely, 130 F.3d 400, 402 (9th Cir. 1997) (per curiam); Keith v. Volpe, 858 F.2d 467, 473 (9th Cir. 1988).

 

See also III. Civil Proceedings, B. Pretrial Decisions in Civil Cases, 54. Leave to Amend.

5.       Answers

A district court’s decision to permit a party to amend its answer is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  See C.F. ex rel. Farnan v. Capistrano Unified Sch. Dist., 654 F.3d 975, 985 (9th Cir. 2011); Waldrip v. Hall, 548 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2008). 

 

The court’s refusal to permit a defendant to amend pleadings to assert additional counterclaims in an answer is also reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  See California Dep’t of Toxic Substances Control v. Neville Chem. Co., 358 F.3d 661, 673 (9th Cir. 2004).  See also Branch Banking & Tr. Co. v. D.M.S.I., LLC, 871 F.3d 751, 764–65 (9th Cir. 2017) (no abuse of discretion in denying motion to amend answer to add four new defenses and a counterclaim).

 

The court’s decision to strike an answer and enter default judgment as a discovery sanction is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  See Fair Housing of Marin v. Combs, 285 F.3d 899, 905 (9th Cir. 2002).

6.       Appointment of Counsel

“The decision to appoint counsel is left to the sound discretion of the district court.”  Johnson v. United States Treasury Dep’t, 27 F.3d 415, 416‑17 (9th Cir. 1994) (per curiam) (employment discrimination) (listing factors for court to consider); see also Harrington v. Scribner, 785 F.3d 1299, 1309 (9th Cir. 2015).  The trial court’s refusal to appoint counsel is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  See Harrington, 785 F.3d at 1309; Campbell v. Burt, 141 F.3d 927, 931 (9th Cir. 1998) (civil rights); see also Manley v. Rowley, 847 F.3d 705, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 2017) (magistrate judge did not abuse his discretion by denying motion to appoint counsel).  The trial court’s decision on a motion for appointment of counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915 is also reviewed for an abuse of discretion.  See Solis v. County of Los Angeles,