U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Case Status


Docket Number

05-10067, 05-15006 & 05-55354


Case Updates

Ninth Circuit rejects overbroad seizure of electronic drug testing records

August 26, 2009

The Ninth Circuit decided en banc that the government had violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the parties when it conducted an overbroad seizure of electronic drug testing records of Major League Baseball players. In this case, the federal government obtained a subpoena for the drug testing records of ten specific baseball players, but instead seized the records of hundreds of other players; these athletes were not identified in the government’s search warrant, nor implicated in any criminal investigation of steroid use. The Ninth Circuit reversed three lower court decisions and held that the government may seize “intermingled data for off-site review.”

En banc review granted

September 30, 2008

U.S. Chamber files brief urging en banc review

March 20, 2008

NCLC filed an additional brief urging en banc review after the Ninth Circuit issued its first decision.

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief

February 20, 2007

NCLC urged the Ninth Court to hold that the federal government is not permitted to seize sensitive electronic data unrelated to a criminal investigation from companies that are not themselves the target of the investigation. As part of a criminal investigation into the Bay Area Lab Cooperative (“BALCO”) scandal involving the distribution of illegal steroids to certain Major League Baseball (MLB) players, the federal government seized from two private medical labs the medical records of hundreds of MLB players who were not targets of the investigation. NCLC argued that the Ninth Circuit rule disregards privacy and proprietary interests and will affect every employer who maintains sensitive or confidential information in an electronic format. Although the government seized medical information in this case, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling would permit the government to seize without probable cause many other types of confidential information, including trade secrets, accounting records, and the personal information of innocent persons whose information is seized without notice. Moreover, unionized employers who collectively bargain over issues of employee drug testing would be seriously undermined in their ability to negotiate drug testing arrangements if there is no promise of confidentiality or anonymity in conducting such testing.

Case Documents