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Qwinstar and Pro Logistics entered into an agreement wherein Qwinstar would purchase Pro Logistics and employ its owner for a term of five years. Qwinstar fired the owner a few months after the sale and filed suit alleging that it did not receive the inventory it bargained for in the sale. The owner counterclaimed, alleging breach of the employment contract by not paying him for the full five-year term. The Eighth Circuit held that Qwinstar was unable to prove that the owner breached the contract and thus affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the owner and Pro Logistics. The court held that summary judgment was inappropriate on the owner's counterclaim because the contract provisions were ambiguous and reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation. Therefore, interpretation becomes a question of fact precluding summary judgment. View "Qwinstar Corp. v. Anthony" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint that alleged claims related to his termination from the police department. The court held that plaintiff's retaliation claim, on its face, was outside the bounds of the Title VII statute; nothing in plaintiff's complaint or his deposition testimony indicated that he was pursuing a Title VII claim encompassing race-based discrimination and thus he could not submit a claim via an affidavit at the summary judgment stage; and the district court correctly dismissed plaintiff's contract claim where the strain of public policy that plaintiff sought to invoke was simply inapposite to the facts in this case. View "Winfrey v. Forrest City, Arkansas" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit dismissed defendants' appeals after they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The court held that the change of plea hearings and plea agreements confirmed that defendants knowingly and voluntarily accepted the plea agreements and waived their rights to appeal. In this case, defendants' sentences were well within the scope of their appeal waivers. Furthermore, the district court did not base its sentencing decision on one of the defendant's faith or religion, and enforcing the appeal waiver did not constitute a miscarriage of justice. View "United States v. Sotelo-Valdovinos" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's order denying defendant's motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The court held that defendant, a building inspector, did not need probable cause to enter a building in search of building code violations because he received voluntary consent to enter. Therefore, a reasonable official in defendant's position would have not have known that he was violating the constitution when he searched plaintiffs' house after receiving signed consent to do so in the particular circumstances. View "Estate of Leon Walker, Jr. v. Wallace" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's order denying defendant's motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The court held that defendant, a building inspector, did not need probable cause to enter a building in search of building code violations because he received voluntary consent to enter. Therefore, a reasonable official in defendant's position would have not have known that he was violating the constitution when he searched plaintiffs' house after receiving signed consent to do so in the particular circumstances. View "Estate of Leon Walker, Jr. v. Wallace" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's application of a nine-level sentencing enhancement for recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft under USSG 2A5.2(a)(2). In this case, defendant pleaded guilty to one count of aiming a laser at an aircraft when he repeatedly pointed a laser at a police helicopter, temporarily blinding the pilot. The court held that, although it was a close question, the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant was aware of the danger of pointing his laser at an aircraft. View "United States v. Rogers" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for wire fraud and sentence of 48 months in prison. The court held that there was sufficient evidence to convict defendant of the substantive wire fraud counts and the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal. The court also held that the district court did not err by relying on acquitted conduct in calculating his sentencing range under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. View "United States v. Roberts" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit vacated the district court's decision affirming the denial of social security disability benefits to plaintiff. The court held that substantial evidence on the record as a whole supported the ALJ's decision to give plaintiff's treating physician's residual functioning capacity (RFC) assessments little weight and to rely more heavily on other opinions in the record. However, a conflict marred the expert's testimony that an individual with plaintiff's RFC could perform the work of a new accounts clerk. Therefore, the court remanded with instructions for the district court to return the case to the Social Security Administration for a new step-five determination. View "Thomas v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Public Benefits

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the United States' motion to substitute parties and motion to dismiss, as well as Lake Regional's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, including Lake Regional, for negligence after doctors failed to diagnose her cancer. The court held that the district court properly granted summary judgment for Lake Regional because plaintiff failed to show a genuine dispute of material fact that one of the doctors was employed by Lake Regional; the district court did not err in granting the motion to substitute because plaintiff could not rebut the prima facie evidence that the doctor was a federal employee; the district court did not err in granting the motion to dismiss where her tort claim was untimely; and equitable tolling was not applicable in this case. View "Wilcox v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Eighth Circuit vacated the district court's order determining that petitioner's one-year statute of limitations for his habeas petition should be equitably tolled. As a preliminary matter, the court held that the district court's decision was final and appealable. On the merits, the court held that petitioner was not entitled to equitable tolling because he did not demonstrate reasonable diligence during the limitations period. The court reasoned that, even assuming that discussion at the hearing in April 2008 might have led petitioner to believe that an appellate court would appoint counsel for him, a reasonably diligent prisoner should have done something thereafter to protect his rights. View "Burks v. Kelley" on Justia Law