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

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence after he conditionally pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful use of identification documents. In this case, ICE officers determined that defendant was not the suspect that they were in fact looking for, but the officers learned during an investigatory stop that defendant had been previously charged with an immigration offense. The court held that the officer had a reasonable suspicion that the initial suspect had committed a crime and that the suspect lived at the residence where defendant was arrested because the suspect listed the address as his residence and had a car registered to the address. Furthermore, it was not unreasonable for the officer to mistake defendant for the actual suspect in light of the circumstances. Therefore, the officer's mistake was not objectively unreasonable and he had reasonable suspicion to stop defendant. View "United States v. Lopez-Tubac" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of 600 months in prison imposed after he was convicted of eight child pornography offenses and one count of sexually exploiting a child while required to register as a sex offender. The court held that any error in determining that defendant's Nebraska conviction related to the possession of child pornography was a predicate offense for application of 18 U.S.C. 2551(a) was harmless error. The court also held that defendant's conviction for sexual exploitation of a minor and for possession of the images did not constitute double jeopardy under the Blockberger test or the merged offenses doctrine. View "United States v. Hansen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiffs filed suit against federal and state agencies in a dispute over the widening of Interstate Highway 630, alleging violations of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., and NEPA's implementing regulations, 40 C.F.R. 1500-1508. Determining that it had jurisdiction over this interlocutory appeal, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of injunctive relief, holding that plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed on the merits of their claims. In this case, plaintiffs failed to show that the FHWA's determination that the project qualifies for a categorical exclusion from NEPA requirements because the project takes place entirely within the existing operational right-of-way was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law. View "Wise v. Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

Posted in: Environmental Law
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When Aetna terminated plaintiff's disability benefits, she filed an Employee Retirement Income Security Act suit. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment on remand, holding that the district court did not err by determining that plaintiff failed to administratively exhaust her breach of fiduciary duty claim. View "Jones v. Aetna Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA
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After plaintiff was injured when a neck brace allegedly caused or failed to protect him from serious bodily injury, he filed suit against the makers and sellers of the neck brace. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's orders granting defendants' motions to dismiss. The district court correctly noted that, even though entry of default was proper where a party fails to respond in a timely manner, a court must not enter default without first determining whether the unchallenged facts constitute a legitimate cause of action. In this case, all but one of the allegations in the amended complaint constitute mere legal conclusions and recitations of the elements of the causes of action. The court agreed with the district court that where, as here, there are so few facts alleged in the complaint, the court need not address each individual claim to make a sufficiency determination on a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Accordingly, because the amended complaint failed to allege sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that was plausible on its face, the district court did not err in granting defendants' motion to dismiss. View "Glick v. Western Power Sports, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. The court held that Application Note 8 to USSG 1B1.3 foreclosed petitioner's argument that his 2008 and 2009 Iowa drug convictions were relevant conduct to the federal offense of conviction. The court explained that Application Note 8 plainly provides that prior criminal conduct for which a sentence was imposed before the conduct charged in the indictment is not relevant conduct. The court need not determine whether the district court erred in finding that it was unclear whether petitioner's proffer interview supported his argument. View "Keys v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that TMBC's nationwide practice of charging a fee for preparing legal documents when selling boats and trailers constituted unauthorized law business in violation of Mo. Rev. Stat. 484.010 and 484.020. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the class, but reversed the award of attorney's fees and costs. The court directed the district court to enforce a contractual fee-shifting provision that entitled the class to recover "all litigation costs and expenses, including reasonable attorneys' fees" from TMBC. On remand, the district court shifted $2,398,353.09 in attorney's fees to TMBC but awarded $700,000 in costs from the common fund. Plaintiffs appealed. The court held that plaintiffs suffered a concrete injury and therefore had standing to bring this action. The court found no error in the amount of attorney's fees and costs awarded, but reversed the district court's decision to award plaintiffs costs from the common fund rather than shifting them to TMBC. View "McKeage v. Bass Pro Outdoor World, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics
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The Eighth Circuit vacated the revocation judge's denial of a 28 U.S.C. 2241 petition, holding that petitioner failed to show that he was unable to pursue his desired relief by filing a 28 U.S.C. 2255 petition with the sentencing judge. In this case, while petitioner's decision to bring his claim under section 2241 rather than section 2255 theoretically allowed him to litigate in his preferred forum, it was in fact an ethereal election because it did not render section 2255 inadequate or ineffective. Therefore, the revocation judge lacked jurisdiction over his petition. View "Lee v. Sanders" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Appellant attempted to appeal two bankruptcy court orders to the district court by filing a single notice of appeal. The district court struck the notice of appeal as violating the local bankruptcy court rule. The Eighth Circuit held that, although Local Bankruptcy Rule 8001(A) was valid, the district court erred by treating the rule as a jurisdictional requirement without providing appellant an opportunity to cure the defect by filing separate notices of appeal for each order and paying the accompanying fees. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Briggs v. Rendlen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy
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Plaintiff, an equity partner at the firm, filed suit alleging that the firm's mandatory requirement policy was in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The provision at issue in the law firm's partnership agreement required mandatory retirement at age 70. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of judgment on the pleadings in favor of the law firm, holding that plaintiff was not an employee of the firm and was therefore not covered by the ADEA. The court found that the undisputed record established that as an equity partner, plaintiff's compensation scheme -- which included sharing in the firm's profits and losses, his ability to vote on changes to the firm's policies or admission of new partners, the lack of supervision over his substantive work, the influence he had when requesting to lower his hourly rate for a client, and the limited ways in which he could be expelled from the firm -- simply did not bear a close relationship to that of an employee. View "Von Kaenel v. Armstrong Teasdale, LLP" on Justia Law