Success in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal

Appellate, Investigations

McManis Faulkner represented an entertainment company in an action brought by two long-time activists.  The case proceeded to trial in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, with a unanimous jury verdict in favor of the company.  The activists appealed from the District Court’s pretrial rulings dismissing several of their claims before trial.  The issues presented to the Ninth Circuit included the following:

  1. Whether the collateral estoppel doctrine was properly applied to prevent the activists from litigating whether they had the constitutional right to videotape the company’s employees who were in a non-public forum (here, a backstage area guarded by security personnel and surrounded by a 10 foot high concrete wall);
  2. Whether there is a state-action requirement to file a claim for alleged violations of free speech rights under the California Constitution; and
  3. Whether a party may file a cause of action for vandalism under California law.

Oral arguments were held and an unpublished opinion was released shortly thereafter, affirming the District Court’s rulings on all three issues.  The Ninth Circuit ruled that 1) the collateral estoppel doctrine applied; 2) there is a state action requirement; and 3) the activists did not follow the proper procedures for challenging the vandalism decision. The oral argument may be viewed here