Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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In three consolidated cases, the court concluded that the motion for relief and the petition for writ constitute second or successive habeas applications, and denied authorization for the district court to consider them; petitioner's claim that his counsel was ineffective for failing to undertake an investigation into juror bias or misconduct was sufficiently similar to a habeas corpus application; and, even if the court were to conclude that the motion was not a second or success habeas petition, petitioner has not shown extraordinary circumstances that would justify relief. The court denied petitioner's application for a certificate of appealability as moot; petitioner's protective application to file a second or successive habeas petition; and motions for stay of execution that were currently pending in each of the three cases. View "Williams v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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The court affirmed the grant of summary judgment to Underwriters after Underwriters denied coverage based on the flood exclusion of the insurance policy at issue. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Hudson's motion to strike Underwriters' expert's opinion, because only a few days had passed at most between when Underwriters obtained their expert's opinion and disclosed it to Hudson; the term "flood" in this insurance contract was unambiguous and the court adopted the definition of "flood" given in Ebbing v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co.; and Hudson's submission of lay testimony that the storm generated strong wind gusts and a photograph of the downed utility pole did not create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether wind or flood caused the damage to the docks, nor that the force generated from the flood waters directly or indirectly caused the damage to the marina's docks. View "Hudson Enterprises v. Certain Underwriters" on Justia Law
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The court affirmed the denial of habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 to petitioner, convicted of first degree felony murder, rejecting his claims that defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by advising him not to testify after counsel had promised the jury that he would. The court concluded that the Minnesota Supreme Court did not unreasonably apply Strickland v. Washington, because defense counsel's change in strategy was based on unexpected developments. The court rejected petitioner's claim that the Minnesota Supreme Court's decision was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts where the record supported the state court's factual findings. View "Bahtuoh v. Smith" on Justia Law
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The court affirmed the approval of a class action settlement and grant of attorneys' fees and service awards in a suit alleging that Symantec failed to disclose that consumers could use various free alternatives to re-download their Norton anti-virus software. The district court did not abuse its discretion by approving the settlement without knowing the final administrative costs or the final amount received by the class; in awarding the requested fees where the circumstances of this case justified a large award, and the reasonableness of the award was cross-checked against the lodestar method; in approving the terms of the settlement agreement providing that any minimal remaining funds would be distributed to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as an appropriate cy pres recipient; and in awarding service awards to each of the named plaintiffs. View "Caligiuri v. Symantec Corp." on Justia Law

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The court affirmed the denial of plaintiff's application for supplemental security income, concluding that substantial evidence supported the ALJ's decision. Substantial evidence supported the ALJ's conclusion that claimant did not meet or equal Listing 12.05C because he did not demonstrate the adaptive function limitations necessary to qualify; the ALJ adequately accounted for plaintiff's limitations in concentration persistence, or pace in the residual functional capacity; and the vocational expert's testimony constituted substantial evidence supporting the ALJ's finding at step five. View "Scott v. Berryhill" on Justia Law
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The court affirmed the grant of a permanent injunction enjoining BC Cleaners from using Martinizing's trademarks, concluding that Martinizing failed to prove willful infringement by BC Cleaners. Because Martinizing failed to prove that it was entitled to monetary remedies against BC Cleaners, the individual defendants were likewise not liable for damages, an accounting for profits, and attorneys' fees. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in not granting injunctive relief against the individual defendants, because BC Cleaners had agreed to stop using the trademarks. Therefore, the court reversed as to these issues; affirmed the denial of a default judgment against Defendants Lundell and Carver; and remanded with directions to enter amended judgments. View "Martinizing International v. BC Cleaners" on Justia Law

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The court vacated the dismissal of The Med's claim of alleged impairment of a hospital lien, concluding that the claim was not barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The court explained that to apply Rooker-Feldman in this case to a non-party who had an opportunity to intervene in state-court proceedings would echo the pre- Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp. lower-court rulings that expanded the doctrine too far. Here, the Med did not seek to reverse the order of the Arkansas state court, and acknowledged that it could not seek a judgment directly against the proceeds of the personal injury settlement. The court also concluded that the district court erred by alternatively ruling that Arkansas law applied to the dispute between the parties. Rather, the court applied a choice-of-law analysis and concluded that Tennessee law applied in this case. View "Shelby County Health Care Corp. v. Southern Farm Bureau Casualty" on Justia Law
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Creditor challenged the bankruptcy court's order confirming debtor's Chapter 13 plan. In this case, Creditor did not provide the panel with a transcript of the relevant bankruptcy proceedings, specifically the confirmation hearing. The panel concluded that, because the bankruptcy court stated her findings of fact and conclusions of law on the record and the panel has no transcript of the bankruptcy court's statements made during the portion of the hearing during which she did so, there was no basis upon which the panel could say that the bankruptcy court erred. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the bankruptcy court's decision. View "Situm v. Coppess" on Justia Law
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Defendant pled guilty to accessing and possessing child pornography, possessing child obscenity, and violating the terms of his supervised release. The district court sentenced defendant to the statutory mandatory minimum for each offense and ran the sentences for the new conduct concurrently to each other, but consecutively to the revocation sentence. The court concluded that the district court did not ignore the mitigating factors; rather, the mitigating factors were a major focus at the sentencing hearing. In this case, the district court expressly addressed the essence of defendant's position, and did not fail to consider a relevant factor that should have received significant weight. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by making defendant's revocation sentence run consecutive to any other sentences. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Beyers" on Justia Law
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Defendant appealed his conviction after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The district court imposed a sentencing enhancement pursuant to the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e)(1), based on defendant's two prior Arkansas residential burglary convictions. The court concluded that the Arkansas residential burglary convictions did not qualify as ACCA predicate felonies because Arkansas residential burglary categorically sweeps more broadly than generic burglary. Accordingly, the court vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Sims" on Justia Law
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