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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendants' conviction of conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law, and falsifying a record. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction for illegal arrest where a reasonable jury could find that another person, the Mayor, conspired with defendant to arrest a mayoral candidate. The court also held that the district court did not plainly err by admitting an unsigned copy of the incident report under the best evidence rule; the district court did not plainly err by permitting hearsay testimony from the Mayor because the Mayor was the coconspirator; the Government's comment during closing was not improper; the district court did not err by responding to the jury's question regarding the charge of falsifying a document; defendant's absence during a jury question about a transcript did not prejudice him; and defendant was not entitled to have the jury review a transcript of the government's witnesses' testimony. View "United States v. Blakeney" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint in district court, alleging sex, race, and age discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The Eighth Circuit found that plaintiff likely adequately exhausted her remedies, and her pleadings indicated this prerequisite, especially on a motion to dismiss. Even if the lack of an initial verified charge would have indicated lack of exhaustion, the documents plaintiff supplied with her objections, including a copy of the verified charge mailed on July 28 and received by the EEOC, plus the Notice of Right to Sue, indicated she had cured any deficiency in the exhaustion requirements. Finally, the district court's failure to conduct a de novo review after plaintiff filed timely and specific objections was reversible error. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded with directions to allow plaintiff to amend her pleadings. View "Rush v. Arkansas DWS" on Justia Law

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Tension Envelope filed suit against JBM, its former supplier, for selling directly to its customers after promising not to do so. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to JBM on the breach of contract claim because no enforceable requirements contract existed between the companies; on the promissory estoppel claim based on the statute of frauds; on the fraudulent misrepresentation claims; on the fraudulent nondisclosure claim where JBM had no duty to disclose its plans to market envelopes; on the tortious interference claim where there was no evidence Tension used improper means to sell to plaintiff's customers; the unfair competition claim; and the misappropriation of trade secrets claim under Missouri law. View "Tension Envelope Corp. v. JBM Envelope Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed the bankruptcy court's determination that debtor failed to meet her burden of proof to establish an undue hardship pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(8) to discharge her student loans. The panel held that the bankruptcy court did not err in dividing her federal tax refund by each month in the year and including it as monthly income; based upon the evidence of her age, health, skill sets and abilities, debtor failed to meet her burden to demonstrate that her future employment opportunities will not result in higher wages and full time employment; and the bankruptcy court's finding that debtor had sufficient income in excess of her expenses to make modest monthly payments to her lenders was amply supported by the evidence. View "Piccinino v. U.S. Department of Education" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that the district court did not commit plain error by denying defendant's request for a third level of reduction for acceptance of responsibility under USSG 3E1.1(b) where he did not make a sufficiently specific objection to the government withholding the reduction; bad faith was not a basis for the district court to order the government to file a section 3E1.1(b) motion; the government's sole reason for not moving for the third point reduction -- that it had to prepare for a contested sentencing hearing -- was not unconstitutional and was rationally related to a legitimate government interest; and defendant's denial of relevant conduct did not allow the government and the district court to allocate their resources efficiently. View "United States v. Jordan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against UHS under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1132, seeking to recover unpaid benefits. The Eighth Circuit held that plaintiff could not bring claims for benefits due to her husband in her personal capacity, but rather, a legal representative of her husband's estate must bring the claim. Furthermore, plaintiff could not bring a section 1132(a)(3)(B) claim in equity. However, a restitutionary claim for premiums she paid under section 1132(a)(3)(B) was potentially available to her if there was a plan violation. The court remanded to the district court to determine initially if there was such a plan violation and, if so, whether restitution of plaintiff's premiums was "appropriate equitable relief" under section 1132(a)(3)(B). The court also held that the district court did not err in determining that UHS was not the plan administrator and plaintiff's breach of contract claim was preempted by ERISA. View "Ibson v. United Healthcare Services" on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a 28 U.S.C. 2255 petition, holding that the district court correctly found that Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989), barred the application of the Supreme Court's decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010). Given the importance of protecting the finality of criminal convictions, the court joined its sister circuits and held that the Teague limit on retroactivity applies to collateral review of both state and federal convictions. The court also held that Teague's bar applied to federal petitioners raising ineffective assistance of counsel claims. View "Barajas v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Byron Financial filed suit against each other for breach of contract. The jury found that plaintiff had violated an agreement between the parties and owed Byron Financial $500,000.00. The district court then granted a remittitur, reducing the jury's verdict to $245,510.93 without offering Byron Financial the alternative of a new trial. The Eighth Circuit held that plaintiff failed to preserve for review his claim that defendant was seeking to recover damages for services that fell beyond the scope of the breach-of-contract claim; plaintiff did not object at trial that Byron Financial's evidence concerned matters beyond the scope of its pleadings; the jury's verdict was not motivated by passion and prejudice; the size of the verdict was not so monstrous, shocking, or plainly unjust as to require a new trial; but the district court erred when it ordered remittitur in the amount of $245,510.93. The court held that, under the maximum recovery rule, plaintiff owed Byron Financial $206,395.78 in base commissions, $5,209.80 in renewal commissions, and $39,115.18 in expenses, totaling $250,720.76. View "Wright v. Byron Financial, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The Libertarian Party filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against the Arkansas Secretary of State, claiming that the ballot access statutory scheme violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. During the Secretary's appeal of the district court's judgment, the Arkansas General Assembly amended its statute to allow new political parties to hold their nominating convention and submit their certificates of nomination at 12:00 p.m. on the day of the major parties' primary election. The Fifth Circuit held that the Libertarian Party's claim for declaratory relief has been rendered moot. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded with directions to dismiss the complaint. The court affirmed the award of costs and attorney's fees. View "Libertarian Party of Arkansas v. Martin" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order of restitution in a case where defendant was convicted of distributing a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The court held that the district court's estimate of future psychological damages, based on the testimony of the victim's mother and the documented expenses already incurred, where not clearly erroneous. The court also held that the evidence before the district court provided a basis to conclude that some of the victim's losses were uniquely caused by defendant distributing the video of her assault. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in deciding to award restitution and it did not clearly err in assessing the amount of restitution awarded. View "United States v. Hoskins" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law