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

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to distributing cocaine base, and possessing controlled substances with intent to manufacture and distribute at least 280 grams of cocaine base. The court concluded that there was no error in applying the USSG 4B1.1 career offender enhancement because defendant's prior Iowa conviction for attempted murder qualified as a crime of violence and his Iowa drug conviction constituted a qualifying controlled substance offense. The court also concluded that defendant's 240-month sentence was not substantively unreasonable where the district court had wide latitude to consider the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors and did not abuse its discretion. View "United States v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Daredevil filed suit against ZTE for breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment. After the case went to arbitration in Florida, Daredevil sought to add ZTE Corp., the parent company of ZTE USA, to its arbitration claims. The arbitrator rejected the request to add ZTE Corp., ruling that Daredevil's claims against ZTE Corp. were outside the scope of arbitration. Daredevil then filed this suit against ZTE Corp., alleging breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, and tortious interference with contract. The arbitrator ultimately denied each of Daredevil's claims against ZTE USA. The arbitration award was confirmed by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida and affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Daredevil subsequently reopened this case in the Eastern District of Missouri against ZTE Corp.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to apply Florida law, holding that Daredevil's claims met the requirements for claim preclusion and were therefore barred. The court explained that Daredevil's current and previous claims share identity of the parties and identity of the cause of action, and Daredevil does not dispute that Florida's other two requirements are satisfied. In this case, privity exists between ZTE Corp. and ZTE USA where ZTE Corp. and ZTE USA are parent and subsidiary. Furthermore, Daredevil's current claims are so closely related to its arbitration claims and thus the identity-of-cause-of-action requirement has been met. Accordingly, Daredevil's claims against ZTE Corp. are barred by the decision in its prior arbitration against ZTE USA. View "Daredevil, Inc. v. ZTE Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, Singapore residents and citizens who invested in a now-defunct North Dakota company called North Dakota Developments, LLC (NDD), filed suit seeking damages from defendant for his role in convincing plaintiffs to buy fraudulent, unregistered securities.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, concluding that the district court did not err in determining that it had personal jurisdiction over defendant because his conduct and connection with North Dakota were such that he should have reasonably anticipated being haled into court there. The court also agreed with the district court that venue was proper where plaintiffs' claims arose from the sale or solicitation of unregistered, fraudulent North Dakota securities related to real property located in North Dakota. The court declined to consider the issue of forum non conveniens because defendant failed to raise the claim in the district court. Finally, the court concluded that the district court correctly granted summary judgment where defendant decided to stop participating in the district court litigation, including not responding to the motion for summary judgment. View "Panircelvan Kaliannan v. Ee Hoong Liang" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was injured in a car accident, she sought underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits from American Family. American Family paid only half of its $100,000 policy limit because of an offset provision in the policy. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the offset provision did not apply.The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff, concluding that the terms of the original policy—which included the offset provision—govern here. The court explained that, under Missouri law, by continuing to pay her insurance premiums, plaintiff obtained new policy periods, but the terms of her initial policy—including the offset provision—remained the same. The court rejected plaintiff's claim that American Family created ambiguity in the insurance policy by issuing the summary. Accordingly, American Family is entitled to summary judgment. View "Micheel v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law
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Plaintiffs, parents of LD, filed suit against the school district and others after their daughter LD, a 13-year-old, 7th grade student, was sexually abused by her teacher, Brian Robeson.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the school district and the principal. The court concluded that plaintiffs failed to present any evidence that the principal had actual notice of the abuse, and the principal and the school district were entitled to summary judgment on plaintiffs' Title IX and 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims. The court also concluded that the district court did not err by granting summary judgment in favor of the school district and principal on plaintiffs' Nebraska Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act where plaintiffs' claim arose out of Robeson's sexual assault of LD, an intentional tort to which the Act's intentional tort exception applies. The court further concluded that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the principal on plaintiffs' aiding and abetting intentional infliction of emotional distress claim where nothing in the record, even when viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, indicates that the principal encouraged or assisted Robeson in inflicting emotional distress on LD.The court joined its sister circuits in finding that there is no right to a jury trial on the issue of damages following entry of default judgment. The court affirmed the district court's order denying plaintiffs' request for a jury trial on the issue of damages against Robeson. Finally, the court affirmed the $1,249,540.41 amount of damages awarded against Robeson. View "KD v. Douglas County School District No. 001" on Justia Law

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Employer-appointed trustees filed a complaint in the district court seeking the appointment of an impartial umpire to resolve a deadlock on a motion, pursuant to Section 302(c)(5) of the Labor Management Relations Act, brought by one of the employer-appointed trustees. The district court dismissed the complaint and declined to appoint an umpire.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that, based on the entirety of the Trust Agreement, the delegation proposed by the employer trustees' motion is beyond the trustees' authority to implement. The court explained that because the proposed delegation and amendment to the Trust Agreement are beyond the trustees' authority to implement, the deadlocked motion is not a matter arising in connection with the administration of the plan or a matter within the trustees' jurisdiction. Therefore, the Trust Agreement does not authorize the appointment of a neutral umpire to resolve the deadlocked motion. Furthermore, because the court found that adopting the employer trustees' proposed motion would require amending the Trust Agreement, the court also necessarily concluded that the deadlocked motion does not concern trust fund "administration" under section 302(c)(5). Accordingly, the deadlocked motion is not a matter of trust "administration" under either the Trust Agreement or section 302(c)(5), and thus the district court did not err in declining to appoint an umpire. View "Gillick v. Elliott" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order of restitution where defendant sexually and financially exploited a high school student who he helped enter the United States on a fraudulent visa. The court concluded that defendant waived his first two arguments claiming that he did not commit an offense against property and that A.S.M. is not a victim, because these arguments are the opposite of what defendant argued before the district court.Although defendant did not waive the issue of whether his specific conduct caused A.S.M.'s losses, defendant's claim failed on the merits. The court concluded that the district court did not clearly err by finding that A.S.M.'s losses for future wage loss and medical expenses stemming from the sexual abuse, as well as lost wages, were caused by defendant's specific conduct. Therefore, there was no error in awarding restitution under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act. View "United States v. Sukhtipyaroge" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiff, a tenured professor, filed suit against the University, a faculty union, and the Board of Trustees, alleging First and Fourteenth Amendment violations. Plaintiff claimed that the designation of IFO as plaintiff's exclusive representative violates the First Amendment by wrongly compelling her to speak through and associate with an entity with which she disagrees. Plaintiff also claimed that granting preferences to IFO members to serve on meet-and-confer committees discriminates against her and others who declined to associate with the union.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants on all of plaintiff's claims. Because plaintiff properly concedes that the district court correctly rejected her compelled-speech claim (Count I) under Minnesota State Board of Community Colleges v. Knight, 465 U.S. 271 (1984), the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on her Count 1 claims. Furthermore, the district court correctly rejected plaintiff's invitation to read Count II as an unconstitutional-conditions claim for three reasons: first, the complaint's text does not support this reading; second, there are inconsistencies in plaintiff's filings; and plaintiff's claim that IFO's meet-and-confer rights under Minnesota law discriminate against her associational preferences is similar to Knight. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's request for leave to amend her complaint, which she made in her Rule 59(e) motion to vacate the judgment. View "Uradnik v. Inter Faculty Organization" on Justia Law

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Gould was appointed as a business agent for the Carpenters Regional Council by the Executive Secretary-Treasurer (EST). Gould began complaining of financial and administrative waste in 2008. The EST removed Gould. Gould sued, asserting wrongful termination. Gould received voluminous Council documents in discovery and, in a letter to the EST, outlined alleged financial improprieties and breaches of fiduciary duties. The Council hired the Calibre accounting firm to perform an audit and invited Gould to assist in the investigation. Gould questioned Calibre’s independence but agreed to provide documents.Gould subsequently sought to amend his state court suit to add Labor Code breach of fiduciary duty counts against the EST, 29 U.S.C. 501(b). The Council declared that the EST’s approval of expenditures was outside the scope of Gould’s demand letter and therefore “Calibre was not asked to investigate” The state court denied Gould leave to add the claims. The documents Gould provided were never forwarded by the Council's attorney to Calibre. The audit concluded that the Council’s expense reimbursement policy was sound. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of Gould’s motion for leave to file a federal complaint under 29 U.S.C. 501(b) against the EST. A union member who files a Section 501(b) lawsuit after a union has taken action in response to the member’s request should show an objectively reasonable ground for belief that the union’s accounting or other action was not legitimate. Gould failed to make the necessary showing and failed to meet the condition precedent of a timely and appropriate request to sue or recover damages or secure an accounting or other appropriate relief within a reasonable time. View "Gould v. Bond" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress after he conditionally pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm offense. Under the totality of the circumstances, the court concluded that an officer with forty years experience must be allowed to draw on this experience and training to make inferences from and deductions about whether there was reasonable suspicion that one or both of these suspects may be armed and dangerous. In this case, police suspected that defendant's companion was a suspect in the theft of two firearms stolen three days earlier; a Terry stop of both men was reasonable; and the officer had a reasonable suspicion to conduct a pat down search of defendant based on information related to the companion. Furthermore, the officer asked the men if they were armed and defendant stated that the he was. Therefore, the officer retrieved the firearm from defendant's pocket. View "United States v. Harvey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law