March 19, 2012

A “No” to the Ninth Circuit

The Supreme Court more often than not agrees to answer state law questions posed to it by the Ninth Circuit. Last week, however, the court said “no,” a response that is very common for everyone (other than the Ninth Circuit) who asks the court to hear a case.

In Sierra Pacific Power Co. v. Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co., the Ninth Circuit wanted to hear the Supreme Court’s take on two questions of California insurance law. The court turned down the request. Although the court didn’t explain its negative response, we noted it wasn’t clear that California law — as opposed to Nevada law — should apply in the case. It was a Nevada district court case, after all. Although the Ninth Circuit concluded that it would apply California law to the case, any lingering uncertainty was possibly a factor behind the Supreme Court’s “no.”

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