Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries
Jeff Bonomo v. The Boeing Company
Plaintiff began working for McDonnell Douglas in 1985. He stayed there until it merged with The Boeing Company (Boeing) in 1997. In 2017 and 2018, Plaintiff unsuccessfully applied for promotions within Boeing. Both times, the promotion was given to younger candidates who scored better in the interview. In 2017, the promotion went to an employee aged 33; in 2018, to one aged 34. Plaintiff alleged that Boeing discriminated against him on the basis of age, in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA). Plaintiff brought two separate lawsuits, now consolidated, alleging age discrimination in relation to the 2018 opening and a claim for constructive discharge. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Boeing on both claims, holding that Plaintiff (1) failed to demonstrate a material dispute as to whether Boeing’s stated rationale for the hiring decision was a mere pretext for age discrimination and (2) failed to timely file a complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights within six months of when his constructive-discharge claim accrued. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court concluded that Plaintiff failed to rebut the non-age-based, legitimate reasons offered by Boeing for its choice to hire the other applicant instead of him. Further, Plaintiff alleged that his termination paperwork started the clock, not his email. The court explained that Plaintiff gave his employer a little more than five weeks’ notice. But his claim still accrued then—on the day he gave notice, not the day he filed the paperwork. Because May 28, 2020, falls 185 days after November 25, 2019, Plaintiff’s complaint was untimely and thus barred. View "Jeff Bonomo v. The Boeing Company" on Justia Law
United States v. Timothy Caruso
Defendant was convicted of two counts of child pornography for using the social-media website Pinterest to trade child pornography. He claimed that the evidence was insufficient to show that he distributed or accessed the material. Further, on appeal, he argued that the district court should have kept the jury from hearing about his Pinterest profile, search history, and chat records. Defendant contends that uploading the image to the “Little” board does not count as “distribution . . . by computer.” Second, he argued that even assuming someone distributed child pornography, the government never proved it was him. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Defendant knew that there was at least one other user who had access to the “Little” board. From that evidence, the jury was free to draw the common-sense conclusion that he had access to the pornographic image that Defendant posted. Nothing more was necessary to “distribute . . . child pornography . . . by computer.” Further, in regard to Defendant’s alternative-perpetrator defense, the court held that the government proved its case. First, it showed how Defendant set up the account. The government’s theory was that he created his profile while at work and then uploaded the image from his friend’s house using an Android phone. To support that theory, his friend confirmed that Defendant was in each of those places during the dates and times in question and that he had given him an Android phone. Second, the government connected the Pinterest account to Defendant. View "United States v. Timothy Caruso" on Justia Law
United States v. Gary Primm, Jr.
Defendant was found guilty by a jury on a three-count indictment charging him with failure to file a tax return and tax evasion for personal returns in 2014 and 2015. After considering and denying Defendant’s post-trial motions for a new trial and acquittal, the district court sentenced Defendant to 36 months imprisonment and ordered him to pay over $350,000 in restitution. Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court abused its discretion when it (1) allowed for the expert testimony of the Special Agent (SA), (2) denied Defendant’s motions for a new trial and acquittal, and (3) ruled for the government on a Jencks Act issue. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court found that here, the SA did not directly testify to Defendant’s mental state but rather to the modus operandi of tax evasion criminals. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the SA’s expert testimony. Further, the court found that had the SA testified about specific cases that he had worked on in the past, these statements may have been related. But the general testimony given by the SA describing common types of tax evasion does not trigger Jencks Act disclosure of all statements from prior investigations related generally to tax evasion. Finally, the court explained that regardless of whether the government was required to prove that UAD was a C corporation or “a corporation not expressly exempt from tax,” the court held that the evidence was sufficient for a jury to convict on the indictment. View "United States v. Gary Primm, Jr." on Justia Law
Posted in: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Tax Law
Tamara O’Reilly v. Daugherty Systems, Inc.
Plaintiff appealed the adverse grant of summary judgment on her claim under the Equal Pay Act. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Daugherty Systems, Inc. (“Daugherty”) on the basis that Plaintiff had failed to establish a prima facie case because almost all her alleged comparators were either paid less than she was or did not perform equal work. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that the pay disparity was justified by a legitimate factor other than sex. The court explained that Daugherty’s explanation for the pay differential—the differences in skillsets and experience and the desire to incentivize Plaintiff to grow in the position—is sufficient to satisfy its burden of proving the pay differential was based on a factor other than sex. The court wrote that because “no reasonable jury” could find other than in Daugherty’s favor on the affirmative defense, Plaintiff failed to raise a genuine dispute for trial, and Daugherty has shown it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Tamara O'Reilly v. Daugherty Systems, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Rights, Labor & Employment Law
United States v. Roger Cooley
A grand jury indicted Defendant. He moved to dismiss for violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. The district court denied his motion. A unanimous jury found him guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute (and distribute) a controlled substance. Defendant appealed. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by not holding an evidentiary hearing on Defendant’s motion to dismiss. The court found that the motion to dismiss, and even the limited evidentiary hearing, addressed only contested inferences and legal conclusions, not facts. Further, the period from Defendant’s indictment to his arrest is 19 months of the total 29-month delay. The 10-month period of post-arrest delay was primarily due to motions for continuance submitted by the government and Defendant’s co-defendants (for health concerns). For 8 of the first 19 months, Defendant’s warrant had been removed from the NCIC database. The district court found no evidence that the government negligently or intentionally delayed prosecution. Although this court treats this finding with special deference, human or technical error resulting in the removal of Defendant’s warrant from the NCIC database was the fault of the government. But this error is attributable only to negligence. There is no evidence that the government intentionally caused any delay. Moreover, the court wrote that Defendant did not offer evidence that the delay resulted in a loss of evidence or witness testimony or any impediment to his ability to mount a defense. View "United States v. Roger Cooley" on Justia Law
United States v. Jonathan Wells
Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of receipt of child pornography. The parties stipulated in the plea agreement that his offense level would be reduced by two levels pursuant to U.S.S.G. Section 2G2.2(b)(1) because he did not intend to distribute the illegal material. The district court sentenced Defendant to 120 months of imprisonment, a sentence within the calculated Guidelines range of 97–121 months. Defendant appealed, arguing that the government breached the plea agreement by arguing at sentencing that he had distributed the material. Defendant did not object at sentencing. The Eighth Circuit affirmed and held that the district court did not plainly err. The court explained that Defendant bears the burden of proving that his substantial rights were affected. Defendant pointed to no evidence that the district court’s ultimate sentence of 120 months was the result of the government’s statements about distribution software and the neutral state of the evidence. The language of the district court specifies the quantity of images, the nature of the images, and the victimization of the family friend’s daughter as the basis for its sentence. It would be speculation to assume the court’s phrase “attendant circumstances” meant it relied on the government’s mention of torrenting software. The specific facts mentioned, without more, support the sentence imposed. Defendant received the benefit of his plea bargain—the two-level reduction in offense level for not distributing. Because Defendant cannot show that the result would have been different in the absence of the alleged error, he fails to show entitlement to reversal on the basis of plain error. View "United States v. Jonathan Wells" on Justia Law
United States v. Jonathan Rooney
Defendant was charged with second-degree murder and tampering with evidence. A jury acquitted Defendant of the murder charge but found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter, a lesser included offense, and tampering with evidence. The district court sentenced Defendant to a total term of 300 months imprisonment. Defendant raised three issues on appeal: (1) the denial of his motion to suppress custodial statements; (2) the sufficiency of the evidence on the manslaughter and tampering counts; and (3) the procedural and substantive reasonableness of his sentence. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court concluded that Defendant’s waiver of his Miranda rights was voluntary. Considering all the circumstances surrounding the ongoing search for the victim and conditions in which Defendant was held and questioned by law enforcement, the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress. Further, the court explained that a close review of the record establishes that a jury could have reasonably concluded that Defendant was guilty of manslaughter. The jury heard evidence that Defendant and the victim were the only two adults present at the cabin; that the victim’s blood was found both inside and outside the cabin; that Defendant had scratch marks on his face and upper body; and that Rooney and the victim were fighting in the time leading up to her death. There was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that Defendant put the victim’s body in the fire, which destroyed any evidence of the cause of death. Finally, the court found that Defendant’s claim that his sentence was substantively unreasonable is unavailing. View "United States v. Jonathan Rooney" on Justia Law
United States v. Melvin Shields
Defendant pleaded guilty to a firearms offense. The district court imposed a sentence of thirty-two months’ imprisonment. Defendant argued that the district court committed procedural error in calculating his base offense level. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the guidelines define “crime of violence” as “any offense under federal or state law, punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another.” Commentary to the guidelines provides that “crime of violence” includes the crimes of aiding and abetting or conspiring to commit such an offense. Defendant contends that carjacking does not categorically involve the use of threatened force because the “intimidation” element in the statute does not require a communicated threat of force. The Eighth Circuit has explained, however, that “bank robbery by intimidation requires proof that the victim ‘reasonably could infer a threat of bodily harm’ from the robber’s acts.” Defendant also argued that his conspiracy to commit carjacking offense does not qualify as a crime of violence because conspiracy offenses do not require the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force. His argument is foreclosed by the commentary to USSG Section 4B1.2 and the court’s precedent. View "United States v. Melvin Shields" on Justia Law
Nicolas Tashman v. Advance Auto Parts, Inc.
Plaintiff sued Advance Auto Parts, claiming unlawful discrimination under 42 U.S.C. Section 1981, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The district court granted Advance Auto’s motion for summary judgment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court reasoned that here, unlike Green v. Dillard’s Inc., there is no genuine dispute whether Advance Auto acted negligently or recklessly under Section 213. As for Section 213(a), Plaintiff does not allege that Advance Auto made improper orders or regulations. It had a written policy prohibiting discrimination based on any protected status; all employees had to read and familiarize themselves with this policy and complete annual training. The court further explained that Advance Auto is not liable under Section 1981 for discrimination based on its employee’s conduct. Plaintiff’s claims for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress fail under respondeat superior and ratification. View "Nicolas Tashman v. Advance Auto Parts, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Labor & Employment Law, Personal Injury
United States v. Christopher Evans
Defendant pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sections 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). The district court sentenced him to 110 months in prison. He appealed his sentence. Defendant argued the district court erred in determining he had a “controlled substance offense” under U.S.S.G. Sections 2K2.1(a)(4)(A) and 4B1.2(b). The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that there is no equal protection violation “if there is any reasonably conceivable state of facts that could provide a rational basis” for the application of United States v. Henderson. Because Henderson was neither unexpected nor indefensible, its interpretation of the guidelines had a rational basis. The district court did not plainly err in not sua sponte finding that applying Henderson violated Defendant’s equal protection rights. Moreover, the court wrote that the district court considered Section 3553(a) factors and thoroughly explained its decision. It did not abuse its discretion. View "United States v. Christopher Evans" on Justia Law