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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for four counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and two counts of abusive sexual conduct of a child in Indian country. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of a prior sexual assault, commenting to the child witness "to try to answer the questions so that you can get off the stand," and limiting the testimony of a defense witness regarding a financial dispute between defendant and one victim's parents and his beliefs regarding defendant's reasons for giving gifts to the victim. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendant's motion for a variance and by imposing a 540 month term of imprisonment. View "United States v. Keys" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1981 race discrimination claim. The court held that the employer articulated a legitimate, non-discriminatory basis for its hiring selection and plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the stated reason was a pretext for discrimination. In this case, the employer's regional executive selected another individual for a promotion, rather than plaintiff, because the individual scored the highest during the interviews and her duties were more directly relevant to the position. View "Nelson v. USAble Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was injured while working at a surface gravel mine, he filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), arguing that his injuries were caused at least in part by a federal mine inspector's inadequate inspection of the mine. Under Missouri's Good Samaritan doctrine, a key requirement for liability is an increase in the risk of harm based upon the defendant's actions. The court noted that the Eighth Circuit has not yet addressed claims against mine inspectors under the FTCA. Several sister circuits have addressed such claims, and in each case, the parties have conceded the existence of discretion or the courts have expressly determined that the inspectors' duties involved an element of judgment or choice for purposes of the discretionary function exception to FTCA liability. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court finding no waiver of sovereign immunity and dismissing the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction in all respects other than the allegations of a failure to inspect training records. The court explained that the question of the inspector's failure to fulfill his mandatory and non-discretionary duty to inspect training records was so bound up with the merits of the case as to require further factual development. Therefore, the court reversed as to this claim, remanding for further proceedings. View "Buckler v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that CenturyLink and CenturyLink's operations director terminated him in retaliation for a prior Fair Labor Standards Act suit he had participated in. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants on his FLSA retaliation claim, holding that there were no genuine issues of material fact as to defendants' motives for terminating him. In this case, defendants provided a legitimate, non-retaliatory ground for terminating plaintiff, his low productivity. The court also held that the district court did not err by determining that plaintiff was an independent contractor and lacked standing to bring his claim under the Minnesota Whistleblower's Act. Finally, plaintiff's claim for tortious interference was properly dismissed because neither CenturyLink nor the operations director violated federal or state law, and their interference was not independently tortious. View "Engelhardt v. Qwest Corp." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action challenging the denial of his application for disability insurance benefits. The court held that plaintiff was not entitled to equitable tolling of the time limit, because no extraordinary circumstance prevented him from timely filing an action in the district court. In this case, plaintiff's failure to file his appeal despite clear, repeated instructions that he should do so, was at best a garden variety claim of excusable neglect for which equitable tolling was unavailable. Therefore, plaintiff's action was time-barred and was properly dismissed by the district court. View "Thompson v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration" on Justia Law

Posted in: Public Benefits

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The owner of a lawful bridge may be found comparatively negligent for an allision even absent an affirmative legal duty to alter the bridge's configuration. DM&E filed suit against Ingram for damages stemming from a barge accident. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment for DM&E for the full amount sought, and held that the district court erred by concluding that DM&E could not be assigned any share of fault because it had no legal duty to remove or alter the lawfully permitted bridge. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to determine whether DM&E was in fact comparatively negligent. View "Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railway, Corp. v. Ingram Barge Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, alleging that defendant was grossly negligent and that this negligence caused plaintiff substantial harm. Both parties were electrical linesman. Plaintiff was injured at a worksite when a wire defendant's team disconnected from a downed pole snapped free and struck plaintiff in the face. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendant and held that the district court did not err in concluding that Iowa's Workers' Compensation Act provided the exclusive remedy for plaintiff's injury because he could not establish that defendant was grossly negligent. The court held that plaintiff failed to present evidence creating a factual dispute with regard to defendant's awareness that injury was probable. In this case, defendant's crew members agreed with him that the jerry-rigged setup would be the best way to secure the wire. While plaintiff's injuries suggested that the setup may have been negligent, mere negligence did not satisfy Iowa's stringent requirements for allowing co-employee liability. View "Van Dorn v. Hunter" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of an unregistered firearm. The court held that defendant's failure to file a timely pretrial motion under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(b)(3) foreclosed each of the defective indictment issues he sought to raise on appeal. Although defendant acknowledged that the district court appropriately rejected his Speedy Trial Act claim, he asked the court to adopt a new rule giving preference to the defendant's assertion of his speedy trial rights over the wishes of his attorney and the court. The court declined to do so and explained that this rule would be contrary to the plain text of the statute and the court's prior decisions. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence regarding the drugs seized at the time of defendant's arrest because the evidence was clearly intrinsic to the charged offense. View "United States v. Fogg" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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After Mako acquired a historic building with intentions to restore it using state and federal historic tax credits, it retained the law firm of Winthrop & Weinstine to draft the tax credit bond. CRBT then retained Winthrop to represent it in connection with the building tax credit project. CRBT, through counsel Winthrop, later sought to foreclose on the building. Mako retained separate counsel and moved to dismiss the complaint and to disqualify Winthrop. The district court denied both of Mako's motions and awarded $5.2 million to CRBT. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not err by denying Mako's motion to dismiss the action for failure to join Chevron as a necessary party under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a)(1); the district court did not err in calculating the money judgment; and, although the district court erred in failing to disqualify Winthrop as counsel for CRBT, the error was harmless. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment for money damages; reversed the district court's denial to disqualify counsel in any future proceedings; and, as proceedings continue and the Winthrop law firm has a conflict of interest necessitating removal as counsel, remanded for further proceedings. View "Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust Co. v. Mako One Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts, Legal Ethics

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of petitioner's application for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court agreed with the BIA that the harm petitioner suffered -- being threatened by a phone call and letter from a gang demanding money -- did not constitute past persecution. The court held that substantial evidence supported the BIA's ultimate finding that petitioner failed to prove that she had a well-founded fear of future persecution if removed to El Salvador. The court also held that the BIA did not err in ruling that petitioner failed to prove past persecution on account of her membership in two particular social groups: Salvadoran female heads of households and vulnerable Salvadoran females. Petitioner's claims for withholding of removal and relief under the CAT likewise failed. View "Blanco De Guevara v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law