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West v. United States

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 3, 2017

Carl West, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
United States of America; Joe Gordwin, an FBI agent, Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued and Submitted January 6, 2016 San Francisco, California

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona D.C. No. 2:13-cv-00304-GMS G. Murray Snow, District Judge, Presiding

          David W. Dow (argued), Phoenix, Arizona, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Peter M. Lantka (argued), Phoenix, Arizona, for Defendants-Appellees.

          Before: Alex Kozinski, Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain and M. Margaret McKeown, [*] Circuit Judges.

         SUMMARY[**]

         Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 3

         The panel reversed the district court's judgment in a civil action, which dismissed claims brought by Carl West against the United States and FBI agent Joe Gordwin based on misconduct in West's criminal case.

         The panel sua sponte considered whether West's notice of appeal ("NOA") complied with Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 3, which lists the requirements for taking an appeal as of right in federal court.

         Under Fed. R. App. P. 3(c)(1)(A), the NOA must identify each appellant, but does not mention appellees. The panel held that failing to name an appellee in an NOA is not a jurisdictional bar to considering an appeal against that appellee. The panel concluded that any ambiguity about the identity of the appellees in West's NOA did not preclude the court's review of West's claims against FBI Agent Gordwin.

         Under Fed. R. App. P. 3(c)(1)(B) the NOA must "designate the judgment, order, or part thereof being appealed." The panel construed the NOA functionally, and concluded that it sufficiently indicated West's intent to appeal the entire district court order and the judgment dismissing the whole suit.

         The panel noted that the district court failed to distinguish between claims against the United States and claims against Gordwin when dismissing the case with prejudice. The panel held that it was clear error for the district court to dismiss the claims against Gordwin, who was not a party to the case because he had not been served and the time for service had not expired.

         The panel addressed the merits of West's other claims in a concurrently filed memorandum disposition.

         Judge O'Scannlain concurred in part and dissented in part. He concurred in the court's reversal of the final judgment in the concurrent memorandum disposition with regard to West's claims against the United States, and dissented from the majority's holdings with regard to West's claims against FBI Agent Gordwin. Because of a serious jurisdictional defect, Judge O'Scannlain would dismiss the appeal as to Gordwin rather than reverse and remand and expose him to further proceedings. Judge O'Scannlain concludes that the majority erred when it held that West's intent to appeal the judgment with respect to Agent Gordwin could be inferred and that he was not prejudiced.

          OPINION

          KOZINSKI, Circuit Judge:

         We consider whether an appellant's notice of appeal satisfied the requirements of Federal ...


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