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

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the IJ's and BIA's decisions denying relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner claimed that the Somali government will acquiesce in his torture by Al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization.The court held that substantial evidence supported the IJ's and BIA's findings that the Somali government would not acquiesce in any torture of petitioner by Al-Shabaab. In this case, the record does not show that the Somali government has willfully turned a blind eye to Al-Shabaab's activities. Rather, the Somali government and its allies have battled Al-Shabaab, retaken territory from it, and worked to maintain order. Furthermore, the Somali government is using its amnesty program as part of its fight against Al-Shabaab as a tool to encourage defections. Finally, petitioner's argument that the Somali government and Al-Shabaab act in concert to torture people is wholly without record support. The court stated that the fact that the Somali government has not successfully ended the threat posed by Al-Shabaab violence is insufficient to establish that the torture would be with the consent or acquiescence of a government official. View "Moallin v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit held that, under the fugitive disentitlement doctrine, defendant forfeited his right to have his appeal heard because he escaped from prison. On the Government's request, the appeal will be dismissed thirty days from the date of the filing of this opinion unless defendant submits himself to the jurisdiction of the United States District Court or is found and taken into custody by either state or federal officers. View "United States v. Diaz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiffs filed suit against CCMC, alleging that CCMC failed to obtain the proper construction permit under the Clean Air Act (CAA), and failed to implement the requisite dust control plan for the Coyote Creek Mine, which is adjacent to plaintiffs' ranch.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for CCMC, because the federal regulations imposing permitting and dust control requirements do not apply to CCMC's operations. The court agreed with the district court in determining that the regulations are ambiguous or in ultimately concluding that the regulations, combined with the guidance, do not resolve the relevant inquiry. The court agreed with the district court that the best interpretative aid to determine whether Subpart Y - Standards of Performance for Coal Preparation and Processing Plants, 40 C.F.R. pt. 60, applies to the coal pile is the NDDOH permitting decision, which concluded that the coal pile is not part of the coal processing plant and thus is not subject to Subpart Y. Furthermore, that decision is entitled to deference.The court also held that, on the record before it and given the overarching framework of the CAA, including the cooperative relationship between the EPA and the states, the district court appropriately gave deference to the NDDOH permitting decision to resolve the regulations' ambiguity in favor of CCMC. Therefore, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to CCMC on the basis that the coal pile is not subject to Subpart Y regulations, which would have required a major source permit and a fugitive dust control plan. View "Voigt v. Coyote Creek Mining Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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This action concerns the validity of Minn. Stat. 204B.13, subd. 2(c), which addresses the administration of an election when the candidate of a major political party dies after the seventy-ninth day before a general election. Tyler Kistner is the candidate of the Republican Party for the United States House of Representatives in the Second Congressional District of Minnesota; Angela Craig is the incumbent Representative and the candidate of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party for that office; and Jenny Winslow Davies is a voter in the district. The dispute arose from the death of a third candidate in the race, Adam Charles Weeks, the Candidate for the Legal Marijuana Now Party, on September 21, 2020. At issue is whether Minnesota has authority to forego the election for Representative on November 3, 2020, and schedule a special election for February 2021. The district court ruled that the Minnesota statute is likely preempted, ordered that section 204B.13 must not be enforced as to the election on November 3 for Representative from the Second District, and enjoined the Minnesota Secretary of State from refusing to give legal effect to the ballots cast for Representative on November 3.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting a preliminary injunction. The court agreed with the district court that the Minnesota statute is likely preempted by federal law. Even assuming for the sake of analysis that federal law permits a state to cancel an election and thereby to produce a "failure to elect" in certain extraordinary situations, the court concluded that federal law would allow that course only in truly "exigent" circumstances. The court concluded that the death of candidate Weeks is likely not the sort of exigent circumstance that permits the state to refrain from holding the election for United States Representative on the date prescribed by federal law. Nor do the unofficial results announced by the Secretary of State suggest that the balloting on November 3 failed to elect a Representative. Therefore, the court saw no error in the district court's determination that Craig and Davies would suffer irreparable harm without an injunction, as they would be left without representation in the House of Representatives between the end of the incumbent's term in January 2021 and the seating of a new Representative after a special election in February 2021. Furthermore, the balance of harms and the public interest do not militate against an injunction, especially when there is a likelihood of success on the merits of the complaint. View "Craig v. Simon" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Meridian in an action brought by Meridian seeking a declaration that it has no obligation to provide underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits to either Lois Schmitt-Selken or the Estate of Donald Selken for injuries or damages arising out of a motor vehicle accident occurring while Lois was a passenger in husband Donald Selken's car.The court held that, under the unambiguous policy language, the "owned-but-not-insured" exclusion in the Meridian policy bars Lois's claim for UIM benefits for the accident occurring while she was a passenger in her husband's vehicle. In this case, Lois's argument that the definition of "you" requires joint ownership of a vehicle before the exclusion applies is neither a reasonable interpretation of the policy language, nor consistent with the purpose of an "owned-but-not-insured" exclusion. View "Meridian Security Insurance Co. v. Schmitt-Selken" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law
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Plaintiff and his wife filed claims of negligence and failure to warn against Grainer, a distributor of industrial equipment, and its subsidiary, Dayton, after plaintiff was injured by a web sling at work. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding plaintiff's expert's opinion that the subject sling was a Grainger-distributed Juli sling. In this case, the district court concluded that the expert's report was inadmissible because his opinion that the subject sling was a Grainger-distributed Juli sling was based on insufficient facts. Without the expert's report, plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence that defendants supplied the sling to the employer in order to defeat summary judgment. View "Hirchak v. W.W. Grainger, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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Engineered Sales filed suit against Endress, alleging a violation of the Minnesota Termination of Sales Representatives Act. At issue is whether the Act, as amended in 2014, applies to their contractual relationship.The Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court's ruling as to whether Endress had "good cause" and otherwise violated the Act in its termination of the agreement. The court held that Engineered Sales continued to solicit orders with Endress's "consent or acquiescence" after August 1, 2014, and thus the parties' agreement was renewed after August 1, 2014, making the anti-waiver provision applicable to its terms. The court also held that the parties' Indiana choice-of-law provision would allow Endress to circumvent the requirements of the Act in this case, and thus the provision is void and unenforceable under Minn. Stat. 325E.37, subd. 7. View "Engineered Sales, Co. v. Endress + Hauser, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence of a firearm. The court held that, in light of the totality of the circumstances, the officer had reasonable suspicion that defendant and his companion were the assailants described in a 911 call so as to have justification to stop them in the first place. In this case, defendant and his companion were two men, they matched the generic description of the assailants, they were in close temporal and geographical proximity to the crime, their clothing partly matched the assailants' clothing, and they were walking away from the crime scene. Having concluded that reasonable suspicion existed to justify the stop, the court had no trouble concluding further that reasonable suspicion existed to justify the frisk. View "United States v. Slater" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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After Drake University and its Board of Trustees expelled plaintiff for sexually assaulting a female student, plaintiff filed suit for violations of Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities (ADA), as well as claims related to breach of contract. On appeal, plaintiff challenges the district court's grant of summary judgment on his Title IX claim based on an erroneous outcome theory, his ADA claim, and his breach of implied duty of good faith and promissory estoppel claims.After determining that the court had jurisdiction to review plaintiff's appeal, the court held that there is no genuine dispute of material fact regarding whether being male was a motivating factor for plaintiff's expulsion from Drake; Drake's Code of Student Conduct and Policy on Sexual and Interpersonal Misconduct processes, although not equivalent to those provided in nonacademic settings, are not reflective of gender bias, either in statement or in application; the hearing panel did not reach decisions contrary to the weight of the evidence; and the pressure that was being put on Drake to investigate and adjudicate Title IX complaints by females against males does not appear to have approached that described in Doe v. University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, 974 F.3d at 865, nor was it combined with the clearly irregular investigative and adjudicative processes that were found to support a prima facie claim of sex discrimination in Doe v. Columbia University, 831 F.3d at 56-57, and in Menaker v. Hofstra University, 935 F.3d 20, 35 (2nd Cir. 2019).The court rejected plaintiff's ADA claim and affirmed the district court's ruling that no genuine issue of material fact existed regarding plaintiff's need for accommodations. Finally, the court held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on plaintiff's claims for breach of implied duty of good faith and promissory estoppel. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Drake and remanded with instructions to dismiss with prejudice the claims that had previously been dismissed without prejudice by stipulation. View "Rossley v. Drake University" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for five controlled substance offenses. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's convictions for conspiring to distribute crack and heroin and distribution of heroin; defendant's Batson challenge failed because the government offered race-neutral reasons for its peremptory strike and the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant failed to establish that the government's combination of reasons was pretextual; and there was no error in answering the jury's question for clarification of the term "on or about" and there was no abuse of the district court's substantial discretion in formulating jury instructions. View "United States v. Stevenson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law