Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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After county social workers removed four children under the age of six from their family home under a suspicion of child abuse, took them to a temporary shelter, and subjected them to invasive medical examinations, without their parents' knowledge or consent and without a court order authorizing the examinations, the family filed suit against the county for violations of the parents' Fourteenth Amendment rights and the children's Fourth Amendment rights. The Ninth Circuit held that the county violates parents' Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights when it performs the Polinsky Children's Center medical examinations without notifying the parents about the examinations and without obtaining either the parents' consent or judicial authorization. The panel assumed, without deciding, that the special needs doctrine applied to the Polinksy medical examinations, but held that the searches were unconstitutional under the special needs balancing test if performed without the necessary notice and consent. In this case, the county violated the children's Fourth Amendment rights by failing to obtain a warrant or to provide these constitutional safeguards before subjecting the children to these invasive medical examinations. View "Mann v. County of San Diego" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and her minor child filed suit against officers and employees of the Child Protective Services (CPS) division of the Arizona Department of Economic Security (ADES), alleging violations of plaintiff's constitutuional rights to familial association. In this case, CPS removed the child from plaintiff's custody following the child's hospitalization for depression and suicidal ideation. The panel held that the allegations in the complaint were sufficient to state a claim to relief that was plausible on its face. In this case, a reasonable official in defendant's position would know that the available information did not establish reasonable cause to believe that the child was in imminent danger of attempting to commit suicide, or that it was necessary to separate her from her mother, transfer her to another hospital and continue to detain her after medical professionals at the hospital concluded she was a low suicide risk. Therefore, the district court erred in dismissing the familial association claim against defendants Koile and Pender on the basis of qualified immunity. However, the district court did not err in granting the motion to dismiss plaintiff's claim that defendants violated plaintiff and her child's due process right to be free from deliberately false statements during juvenile court proceedings. Finally, the district court did not err in dismissing claims against the remaining defendants. View "Keates v. Koile" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that social workers violated their constitutional rights to family unity and companionship, and as well as their small children's rights, by removing the children from home without a warrant or court order. Plaintiffs were the subject of a criminal investigation after they tried to print nude photos of their three children. Determining that the appeal was timely, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying plaintiffs' motion to seal the summary judgment order where the district court protected the privacy of the children, Arizona law prohibits the Department of Economic Security from releasing the files, the district court order employed clinical, anatomically correct language to briefly describe the nudity depicted in the photographs, plaintiffs did not file their complaint under seal, and plaintiffs gave public interviews where they described the photos at issue. The panel reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the social workers based on qualified immunity, holding that the social workers did not have reasonable cause to believe the children were at risk of serious bodily harm or molestation when they removed the children from their home without judicial authorization. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Demaree v. Pederson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit challenging the constitutionality of Arizona's revocation-on-divorce (ROD) statute after she remained the beneficiary of her ex-husband's IRA account when he died. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court correctly determined that an Arizona state court would disregard the choice-of-law provision in the Plan and instead apply Arizona's ROD statute; the application of the ROD statute was not preempted by federal statutes and regulations governing IRAs; the district courts erred when they denied plaintiff standing; and the California district court did not abuse its discretion in transferring the case to Arizona under 28 U.S.C. 1406(a) on the grounds that it lacked personal jurisdiction over the Estate. Although it disagreed with the district court's holding that plaintiff lacked standing, the panel affirmed the dismissal of the constitutional challenge to the application of Arizona's ROD statute in the allocation of the proceeds of the ex-husband's IRA. View "Lazar v. Kroncke" on Justia Law