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

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Plaintiffs, hourly production employees, filed suit against their employer, EaglePicher, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201-219, and the Missouri Minimum Wage Law, Mo. Rev. Stat. 290.500-290.530. Plaintiffs seek payment for time spent on various tasks, including the donning and doffing of work clothing and protective gear, walking to and from production lines, and waiting in line to clock in and out for work. The district court granted summary judgment for EaglePicher. The court concluded that, the interim labor agreement here was an implied-in-fact contract between the employer and the union regulating employment conditions, wages, benefits, and grievances. It was made in good faith, without fraud or deceit. As such, it met the ordinary definitions of “bona fide” and “collective bargaining agreement.” The court also concluded that there is no genuine dispute that donning and doffing time was excluded from measured working time by “custom or practice” under the implied-in-fact agreement. Therefore, the court concluded that the district court correctly ruled that section 203(o) excluded that donning and doffing time from “hours worked” for which compensation was due, and the court affirmed the judgment. View "Jackson v. Old EPT, LLC" on Justia Law

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After the LPD conducted a high-risk traffic stop of plaintiff, he filed suit against the City and three officers involved in the stop under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for deprivation of his constitutional rights. The district court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. In this case, an officer relied on an incident report that did not contain information sufficient to create reasonable suspicion that plaintiff had already, was, or was about to commit a crime; Nebraska law permits individuals who are at least 18 years old to open carry handguns in public; the City does not restrict an individual's right to open carry except in certain locations; and the mere report of a person with a handgun is insufficient to create reasonable suspicion. The court concluded that an objectively reasonable officer could not reliably conclude that the young man described in the report could not legally possess a firearm. The incident report also did not adequately make out a case that the young man committed assault; the officers' reports reflect that they were responding to the display of a weapon, not a threat against the clerk; and an objectively reasonable police officer would not mistake a 58-year-old bald, double amputee, male for a young adult with hair. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiff sufficiently alleges a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Because the district court erred in granting the officers qualified immunity, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Duffie v. City of Lincoln" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and was sentenced to 97 months in prison. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing enhancements for "sadistic" material under USSG 2G2.2(b)(4) and for "use of a computer" under USSG 2G2.2(b)(6) where defendant indisputably used a computer to morph and possess images that were "per se sadistic" under Eighth Circuit precedent; the district court did not abuse its discretion in applying a five-level enhancement under USSG 2G2.2(b)(5) because defendant engaged in a pattern of activity involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of a minor; the district court considered the 18 U.S.C. 3533(a) factors and set forth a reasoned basis for its sentence; and the mitigating evidence did not outweigh the damage that has been done and the unique nature of the conduct involved in this case. Accordingly, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its substantial sentencing discretion in imposing a within-guidelines sentence and affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Burns" on Justia Law
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Plaintiffs, employed as truck drivers, filed suit against Tutle and Schlumberger, alleging that defendants failed to pay them overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 207(a)(1), and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (AMWA), Ark. Code Ann. 11-4-211(a). The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. The court affirmed, concluding that plaintiffs are exempt under the federal Motor Carrier Act, 29 U.S.C. 213(b)(1), where the evidence establishes that the character of plaintiffs' job duties was such that they were called upon “either regularly or from time to time” to drive in interstate commerce. There was a reasonable expectation of interstate travel, the Motor Carrier Act exemption applies to plaintiffs, and plaintiffs thus are not entitled to overtime compensation. View "Alexander v. Tutle and Tutle Trucking" on Justia Law

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After he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, plaintiff applied for long term disability benefits under his Sun Life policy. The policy required plaintiff to provide written notice of his claim within 30 days of the end of a set period of time (referred to as the elimination period), and to provide proof of his claim no later than 90 days after the end of the elimination period. The policy also included a limitations period requiring any lawsuit regarding benefits to be brought within 3 years of the date that proof of claim was required. In this case, plaintiff did not file his lawsuit until March 2013, well after the contractual limitations period had expired. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiff's suit is untimely and affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Sun Life. View "Schmitz v. Sun Life Assurance Co." on Justia Law
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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that 21 Budget rental car businesses willfully violated the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), 15 U.S.C. 1681c(g)(1), by issuing receipts that contained more than five digits of customers’ credit card numbers. The parties subsequently mediated and agreed on a proposed settlement. The settlement provided that each class member would receive a certificate worth $10 off any car rental or $30 off a rental over $150, with no holiday blackout days. Applying the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1712(a)-(c), the district court awarded $23,137.46 in attorneys’ fees and costs, and a $1,000 class representative incentive fee. Plaintiffs appealed. The court concluded that the district court erred by following the In re HP Inkjet Printer Litig. mandatory approach in applying section 1712(a)-(c) without explicitly stating that the award was based on an exercise of the district court’s discretion to determine a reasonable attorney’s fee. But plaintiffs do not argue the award was a breach of the district court’s discretion, and if the court remanded, it would be for an explicit exercise of that discretion, applying the principles of section 1712(a)-(c). The court determined that any award greater than $17,438.45 would be unreasonable in light of class counsel’s limited success in obtaining value for the class. Accordingly, the court concluded that any error was harmless and affirmed the judgment. View "Galloway v. The Kansas City Landsmen, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Verizon, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 227, and the Iowa Debt Collection Practices Act, Iowa Code 537.7103 (2014), arising out of a billing dispute. Verizon moved to compel arbitration and plaintiffs filed a response consenting to arbitration. Before the court ruled on Verizon's motion to compel arbitration, plaintiff filed a Notice of Settlement. When the parties were unable to agree on a written settlement agreement, each filed a motion to enforce its version of the settlement. The court concluded that the district court did not err in deciding there was no binding pre-arbitration settlement; the district court did not clearly err in finding no enforceable settlement; and plaintiff Shultz had agreed to arbitration. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order denying plaintiffs' motion to amend or correct the judgment. View "Schultz v. Verizon Wireless" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed her conviction for two counts of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, and one count of attempted witness tampering. The court concluded that the district court did not plainly err by joining the conspiracy charges with the witness-tampering charge where the charges were interrelated. The court also concluded that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of witness tampering where the context of the case supports the conclusion that defendant's statement that "snitches get stitches" would cause a reasonable person in the witness's position to fear bodily injury, and defendant's First Amendment rights were not infringed upon. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Colhoff" on Justia Law
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A1's, packages and sells landscaping materials, filed suit against Decker to recover losses after Decker sold defective plastic bags to A1's. Because Decker failed to manufacture the bags with an ultraviolet inhibitor (UVI), the bags deteriorated in the sunlight, causing small shreds of plastic to commingle with A1’s landscaping materials, sometimes while still in A1’s inventory and sometimes after delivery to its customers. Decker filed a claim with its comprehensive general liability (CGL) insurer, West Bend. After West Bend denied coverage, Decker filed suit and West Bend removed to federal court. The district court granted summary judgment to West Bend. Determining that Iowa law governs the court's interpretation of the West Bend policy, the court concluded that there was an "occurrence" triggering coverage under the terms of West Bend's policy. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Decker Plastics Inc. v. West Bend Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law
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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, alleging that the company terminated his position and then refused to rehire him because of his age, in violation of federal and Minnesota law. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the employer where plaintiff has not presented a submissible case of age discrimination under Minnesota law. It follows that plaintiff’s claim under the more demanding federal standard fails as well. In this case, plaintiff is understandably frustrated that the employer deviated from written guidelines under which he likely would have been retained as a pharmacist. But plaintiff cannot prevail in this lawsuit by showing sloppy management or arbitrary decisionmaking. The company’s regular practice of ranking all pharmacists together and terminating those with the lowest score is not sufficient evidence of age discrimination to defeat summary judgment. The balance of the evidence does not establish a submissible case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Noreen v. PharMerica Corp." on Justia Law