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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to sentence defendant under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) after he pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that defendant's two prior third degree assault convictions in violation of Minn. Stat. 609.223, subdiv. 1, qualified as violent felonies under the ACCA. The court also held that defendant's prior conviction for a Minnesota controlled substances offense in violation of Minn. Stat. Sec. 154.024, subdiv. 2(2), was a serious drug offense under the Act. Therefore, defendant had three qualifying felony convictions and was properly sentenced as an armed career criminal. View "United States v. Wadena" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed Defendant Sharkey and Burton's sentences after they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The court held that Sharkey's 140 month sentence was substantively reasonable and the district court did not abuse its discretion by considering an improper factor at sentencing; the district court did not clearly err in determining Burton was not entitled to a mitigating-role reduction under USSG 3B1.2(b); Burton's sentence was not substantively unreasonable where the district court did not abuse its discretion in expressing its views as to the seriousness of his prior offenses; the district court did not abuse its discretion by rejecting Burton's policy arguments regarding sentences in methamphetamine cases; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by not varying downward based on Burton's health issues and drug addiction. View "United States v. Sharkey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed DNRB's conviction of a Class B misdemeanor for willfully violating two safety regulations and causing an employee's death. The court held that, because the employee was not connected to an anchorage point before he fell, there was sufficient evidence that DNRB violated 29 C.F.R. 1926.760(a)(l) and (b)(1); sufficient evidence supported the district court's finding of willful violation by the company; and the factual findings were sufficient to support a conclusion that DNRB's failure to comply with the safety standards caused the employee's death. The court rejected DNRB's challenges to other-acts evidence and FRE 404(b) evidence; the district court considered and applied the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors before imposing a $500,000 fine; and the district court could impose the maximum fine allowed by law even though it recognized the likelihood DNRB, which had ceased operations, might not be able to pay. View "United States v. DNRB, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 600 month sentence after he pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography. The court held that the district court did not dismiss defendant's history of victimization; defendant's within-the-advisory-guidelines sentence was not substantively unreasonable where the district court conducted an individualized assessment and considered the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors; the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding $3,000 in restitution to one of the victims; and the district court did not err by imposing two conditions of supervised release related to his use of pornography and erotica. View "United States v. Bordman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment deferring to an insurance policy interpretation made by the FCIC and a determination regarding the FCIC's authority made by the RMA. The court held that the clear language of the Federal Crop Insurance Act indicated that Congress intended the Corporation to have extensive and broad authority; given the FCIA's broad grant of authority to the Corporation, and the specific authority over the provisions of insurance and insurance contracts found in 5 U.S.C. 1505 and 1506, substantial deference was given to the FCIC's interpretation of the special provision; and, considering the plain language of the insurance contract and the deference given to the RMA in its role of supervisor of the FCIC, the RMA's determination that the FCIC was required to provide an interpretation of the special provision to the arbitrating parties was not clearly erroneous. View "Bottoms Farm Partnership v. Perdue" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, several wire-line telecommunications carriers, challenged the City's ordinance that charged plaintiffs for their use of public rights-of-way. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's finding that the federal Telecommunications Act did not preempt the City's ordinance. The court remanded as to the issue of whether construction costs were management costs that the City could properly charge plaintiffs. In this case, the record was replete with dense reports and conflicting expert opinions and much turned on which experts to believe. Therefore, such decisions must be made in the first instance by the trier of fact. View "Qwest Corp. v. City of Des Moines, Iowa" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law

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The district court granted Federated's motion for summary judgment after determining that plaintiff's disclosures did not qualify as protected reports under the Minnesota Whistleblower Act (MWA). The Minnesota Supreme Court recently issued Friedlander v. Edwards Lifescis., LLC, 900 N.W.2d 162, 166 (Minn. 2017), which explained that the 2013 amendment to the Minnesota Whistleblower Act eliminated the judicially created requirement that a putative whistleblower act with the purpose of exposing an illegality. In light of Friedlander, the Eighth Circuit vacated and remanded for reconsideration of summary judgment. View "Scarborough v. Federated Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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False representation of the amount of a debt that overstates what is owed under state law materially violates 15 U.S.C. 1692e(2)(A) as well. Plaintiff filed a putative class action against Midland Funding and two debt collectors under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The district court dismissed plaintiff's amended complaint for failing to state a claim. At issue on appeal was whether Messerli violated 15 U.S.C. 1692e and 1692f by attempting to collect, and representing plaintiff owed, compound interest on the debt in violation of Minn. Stat. 334.01. The Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded as to the claim against Messerli, holding that the district court erred in holding that the allegation under review did not state a plausible claim under sections 1692e and 1692f. View "Coyne v. Messerli & Kramer P.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law

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The Eighth Circuit granted Bussen's petition for review of the MSHA's issuance of a citation to Bussen. In this case, the Secretary claimed that Bussen violated federal regulation 30 C.F.R. 56.15005, which requires the use of certain fall-protection equipment at surface metal and nonmetal mines when working where there is a danger of falling. The court held that there was no evidence to support a conclusion that any miner approached the highwall edge when moving the pump cart or were otherwise working without safety belts and lines where there was a danger of falling. Therefore, substantial evidence did not support the ALJ's finding that Bussen violated section 56.15005. View "Bussen Quarries, Inc. v. Acosta" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed Defendants Lomax and Gaines' sentences after they pleaded guilty to the federal crime of Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin. The court held that the district court did not err in applying a career offender enhancement to Lomax's Guidelines offense level based on his prior conviction for domestic abuse assault under Iowa Code Sec. 708.2A, because the offense had an element of physical force. The court also held that the district court did not err by applying a 21 level career offender enhancement under USSG 4B1.1(b)(3) as the starting point for Gaines's sentence, and his sentence was substantively reasonable where the district court varied downward from his Guidelines range and considered the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors. View "United States v. Gaines" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law