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

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Plaintiff filed suit against Ford under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA), claiming that Ford terminated him twice and took other adverse employment action against him based on his asthma and scoliosis. The district court dismissed the FMLA claim as time-barred, and dismissed his ADA and MHRA claims on the ground that he exhausted his administrative remedies.The Eighth Circuit concluded that FMLA claims were sufficient to survive a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion. The court also concluded that plaintiff has cleared the exhaustion hurdle on his MHRA claim but has pulled up short on his three ADA claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Weatherly v. Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to possessing an unregistered short-barreled shotgun. The court concluded that the district court plainly erred in imposing the destructive-device enhancement under USSG 2K2.1(b)(3)(B). The court also concluded that the error affected defendant's substantial rights because his Guidelines imprisonment range would have been lower without the enhancement and the error seriously affects the fairness of the proceedings. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing without the destructive-device enhancement. View "United States v. Zarate" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, alleging six claims under Iowa law: (1) fraudulent or intentional misrepresentation; (2) negligent misrepresentation; (3) breach of contract; (4) unjust enrichment; (5) misappropriation of trade secrets; and (6) breach of fiduciary duty. Plaintiff's claims arose from statements and actions that followed the sudden death of plaintiff's husband and involved defendant, the husband's business partner. The district court dismissed all claims.The Eighth Circuit concluded that plaintiff sufficiently state a claim for breach of contract as to the sale of life insurance to RK where plaintiff's accusations were sufficient to plead consideration in support of the contract. In this case, there was consideration for the agreement in that defendant was to receive an override commission upon sale of the insurance products and plaintiff agreed not to take her client's insurance business to another agent. The court also concluded that the district court erred in granting defendant's motion to dismiss on plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim as related to the RK insurance sale; plaintiffs sufficiently stated a claim for breach of fiduciary duty; and, to the extent plaintiff's claims for fraud or negligent misrepresentation related to the sale of life insurance products to plaintiff's client, the claims were sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Meardon v. Register" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to three counts of possessing a firearm and ammunition as a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). Assuming, without deciding, that the government knowingly intruded into the attorney-client relationship when officers seized privileged documents from defendant's cell, the district court concluded that defendant fails to demonstrate any particular prejudice or substantial threat of prejudice to his sentencing proceeding. In this case, the district court's offer of additional time to prepare for the sentencing hearing was an adequate shield from prejudice, given the relatively short-term deprivation of materials and absence of any evidence derived from the seized materials being used for sentencing. Therefore, there was no Sixth Amendment violation.The court also concluded that the district court did not commit procedural error when calculating defendant's Guidelines-recommended sentence by relying on his two prior Iowa convictions. The court explained that the convictions are counted independently because they are separated by an intervening arrest. Furthermore, the district court correctly considered defendant's prior convictions as controlled substance offenses for purposes of determining his base offense level. Finally, the court concluded that defendant's sentence was not substantively unreasonable where the district court denied defendant's request for a downward variance, weighed the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors, and did not abuse its discretion in sentencing defendant. View "United States v. Sawatzky" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Debtors' claims relate to matters stemming from the 2018 foreclosure sale of their home. Mila Homes, represented by its counsel, purchased the property at the foreclosure sale.The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed the bankruptcy court's orders denying debtors' motions for sanctions against Mila's counsel; to alter or amend the order denying the request for sanctions and for additional findings of fact and conclusions of law; and seeking to disqualify the bankruptcy judge. The panel concluded that the bankruptcy court did not err by denying debtors' sanctions request based on counsel's statements on behalf of Mila Homes in the Mila Stay Motion. In this case, the bankruptcy court provided debtors with a hearing, listened patiently to their arguments, read methodically through the Bankruptcy Sanctions Motion, and addressed in detail why nothing in the Mila Stay Motion violated Rule 9011. Finally, the panel denied debtors' requests for judicial notice and awarded Mila's counsel $3,000 in sanctions from debtors. The panel concluded that the bankruptcy court did not err in denying debtors' fifth motion for disqualification of recusal and that debtors' appeal is frivolous. View "Scott v. Anderson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for carjacking; two counts of carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting government exhibits at trial related to a photo on defendant's Facebook, Facebook conversations, and a video of defendant with a firearm while counting a large amount of cash. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in instructing the jury on the "intent" element of carjacking and the phrase "carried a firearm" in 18 U.S.C. 924(c); the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's convictions for carjacking, carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person; and the district court did not err in imposing an enhancement under USSG 2K2.1(b)(1) for possession of between 3 and 7 firearms, and in applying the carjacking offense characteristic under USSG 2B3.1(b)(5). View "United States v. Wright" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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American Modern Home filed suit against defendants for insurance fraud after a fire destroyed their home, and the jury found in favor of defendants.The Eighth Circuit reversed, concluding that the district court did not err by refusing to admit evidence of one of the defendant's three prior convictions for sex offenses because they were highly probative on credibility. Furthermore, the danger of unfair prejudice, undue delay, and confusion did not substantially outweigh the probative value of the evidence. In view of the uncertainty in Missouri law, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in its instruction about the meaning of "material" in cases regarding misrepresentations about the fire's cause or a proof of loss. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in giving a supplemental instruction on vexatious refusal to pay in response to a jury question, and the district court did not err in excluding expert testimony on the grounds it was untimely disclosed and cumulative. Accordingly, the court remanded for a new trial. View "American Modern Home Insurance Co. v. Thomas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law
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Plaintiff filed suit against two debt collectors, TAG and CMLP, alleging that they violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in attempting to collect debt related to her treatment at North Memorial Health Care.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the debt collectors, concluding that the assignment of a contract is enough to put the assignee into privity with an original party to that contract under Minnesota law. In this case, the record before the district court established that there was a written agreement between North Memorial and CMLP due to TAG's assignment. Therefore, there is no dispute over a material fact and summary judgment on this issue was proper. The court also concluded that the district court did not err when it granted summary judgment under 15 U.S.C. 1692(e) where CMLP was the valid assignee of the contract between North Memorial and TAG; CMLP could legally take action to collect that debt on behalf of North Memorial, and CMLP did not violate section 1692e by saying as much; and even viewing all of this from the perspective of the unsophisticated consumer, no reasonable jury would believe that there was any deception. Finally, the court concluded that the district court properly interpreted section 1692e(5) and 1692f(1) and that, because TAG and CMLP are not hospital organizations and do not operate hospital facilities, the Treasury Department regulations governing North Memorial do not apply. View "Klein v. The Affiliated Group, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the Board's determination that petitioner's 2011 Iowa conviction for possession of a controlled substance disqualifies him from relief in the form of cancellation of removal. The court concluded that the Board correctly found Iowa Code Section 124.401(5) divisible as between marijuana and other controlled substances, and the Board did not err in finding petitioner ineligible for cancellation of removal. The court also concluded that the Board did not abuse its discretion in denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration when it interpreted petitioner's arguments in his motion as new and as clearly distinct from what he had raised in his appeal. View "Aquino Arroyo v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 96-month sentence after a jury found him guilty of three counts of abusive sexual contact of a child. The court concluded that any evidentiary error in admitting defendant's prior sexual assault accusation against defendant was harmless because it had little to no influence on the verdict. The court also concluded that the district court did not make a mistake by treating the prior abuse as part of "a pattern of activity involving prohibited sexual conduct" under USSG 4B1.5(b). Furthermore, the district court could consider it once it found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the prior prohibited conduct occurred, regardless of whether it "resulted in a conviction." Finally, the district court did not rely on a "clearly erroneous fact." View "United States v. Oakie" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law