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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Defendant appealed a judgment of the district court committing him to the custody of the Attorney General for medical care and treatment under 18 U.S.C. Section 4246. The court found that Defendant presently suffered from a mental disease or defect as a result of which his release from custody posed a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person or serious damage to the property of another.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the findings underlying the commitment were not clearly erroneous. The court explained that the district court’s finding that Defendant posed a substantial risk to persons or property was adequately supported in the record. The court relied on the unanimous recommendation of the experts. The experts observed that the most reliable predictor of future violence is past violence, and they detailed Defendant’s history of random and unpredictable violent actions. The court further found that the parties have not made a sufficient showing to justify sealing the briefs in this appeal. View "United States v. Dewayne Gray" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued the government pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), asserting multiple negligent and intentional tort causes of action after being sexually assaulted by an employee of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The government moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The district court granted the government’s motion. Plaintiff appealed the district court’s determination that the assault occurred outside the scope of the employee’s employment.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the FTCA makes clear that the scope-of-employment test is defined by state law, not the employer. Plaintiff argued that the district court erred in concluding that the provider’s duties were restricted to providing battlefield acupuncture therapy (BFA). The court explained that initially, the provider denied sexually assaulting or massaging Plaintiff. He later admitted to the sexual assault and admitted that it was inappropriate for him to massage a patient. He also failed to document anything that occurred after the BFA therapy, including the massage. This is consistent with the finding that the massage and subsequent sexual assault exceeded the scope of his treatment authority. The court explained that in light of the pleadings and undisputed evidence, the district court did not err, determining that the provider acted outside the scope of his employment. View "Jane Doe v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) after an employee of a hospital operated by the Indian Health Service (IHS) struck Plaintiff with his vehicle. Plaintiff claimed that the hospital employee was negligent by driving despite his prior seizures; and the employee’s supervisor was negligent for not preventing the employee from driving; and the employee’s doctor was negligent for releasing the employee to drive   The district court concluded that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because United States’ sovereign immunity applied to Plaintiff’s claims. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court held that because it is Plaintiff’s burden to establish subject-matter jurisdiction, he must adduce evidence showing that Rosebud Health had sufficient control or supervision over the employee’s doctor’s work. He has not done so. Therefore, the district court correctly concluded that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over this claim. View "Lonnie Two Eagle, Sr. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs made contracts for deed for two properties of farmland in South Dakota with L & L Partnership, owned in part by Defendants. After several foreclosure proceedings and state court cases, Plaintiffs lost all interest in the properties. Years later, the Plaintiffs sued the Defendants for fraud, conversion, and breach of contract. The district court dismissed their claims for lack of standing, res judicata preclusion, and failure to plead fraud with particularity.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that because Plaintiffs have no interest in the properties, they cannot show they suffered an injury in fact that would likely be redressed by judicial relief and have no standing to pursue the claim. The court explained that Plaintiffs do not have standing because they have not suffered an injury in fact, that would likely be redressed by judicial relief. The South Dakota Supreme Court held that Plaintiffs' equitable ownership of the property and all rights under the contract for deed, including the right to cure any default, were transferred. Further, the court wrote that Plaintiffs have no legal or equitable rights in the properties. View "David Finneman v. Walter Laidlaw" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff bought a laptop with a manufacturer’s warranty from Target. He filed a class action on behalf of “all citizens of Arkansas who purchased one or more products from Target that cost over $15 and that were subject to a written warranty.” His theory was that Target violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act’s Pre-Sale Availability Rule by refusing to make the written warranties reasonably available, either by posting them in “close proximity to” products or placing signs nearby informing customers that they could access them upon request. Target filed a notice of removal based on the jurisdictional thresholds in the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. The district court the class action against Target Corporation to Arkansas state court.   The Eighth Circuit vacated the remand order and return the case to the district court for further consideration. The court explained that the district court applied the wrong legal standard. The district court refused to acknowledge the possibility that Target’s sales figures for laptops, televisions and other accessories might have been enough to “plausibly allege” that the case is worth more than $5 million. The district court then compounded its error by focusing exclusively on the two declarations that accompanied Target’s notice of removal. The court wrote that the district court’s failure to consider Target’s lead compliance consultant’s declaration, Target’s central piece of evidence in opposing remand, “effectively denied” the company “the opportunity . . . to establish [its] claim of federal jurisdiction.” View "Robert Leflar v. Target Corporation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an attorney, sued the Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, associated government officials, and lawyers and other private defendants alleging, among other claims, they violated his constitutional rights by pursuing an ethics complaint against him. The district court granted the state defendants' motion to dismiss under Younger v. Harris and found that Plaintiff waived his abuse-of-process claim against the private defendants. The court also held that Plaintiff lacked standing to seek sanctions based on the private defendants' alleged violations of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct.Finding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in any of its determinations, the Eighth Circuit affirmed. View "Herbert Igbanugo v. Minnesota OLPR" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, husband and wife, have appealed an order of the district court granting summary judgment for J&M Securities, LLC, in an action arising from disputes over debt collection. The district court concluded that Plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to bring claims under federal law, and dismissed their claims under Missouri law on the merits. The husband died while the appeal was pending. The wife moved under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 43(a)(1) to substitute herself for her husband.   Plaintiffs appealed the district court’s reinstated order and judgment. As part of the appeal, the wife contends that once the district court concluded that Plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue their federal claims, the court should have remanded the case to state court. The district court agreed with this contention in its amended judgment but then vacated that judgment on the view that it lacked jurisdiction to enter it.   The Eighth Circuit concluded that the district court erred by vacating the amended judgment and that the case should be remanded to state court. The court explained that here, the district court reconsidered its own remand order before any appeal. Under the statute, however, the remand order is “not reviewable on appeal or otherwise.” And This language has been universally construed to preclude not only appellate review but also reconsideration by the district court. The court remanded to the district court with instructions to reinstate the amended judgment of January 26, 2022, as to the claims of the wife, and to return the case to Missouri state court. View "Felicia Stone v. J & M Securities, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Religious Sisters of Mercy, Sacred Heart Mercy Health Care Center, SMP Health System, and the University of Mary (collectively, “RSM plaintiffs”) filed suit, alleging that the Department of Health and Human Services (‘HHS’) had violated, among other things, the APA, the First Amendment, and the RFRA. Additionally, the Catholic Benefits Association (CBA); Diocese of Fargo (Diocese); Catholic Charities North Dakota (“Plaintiffs”) filed suit, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to the RFRA against HHS’s and the EEOC’s interpretation and enforcement of the relevant statutes to the extent they required the CBA plaintiffs to “provide, perform, pay for, cover, or facilitate access to health services for gender transition.”   The district court held that the RFRA entitles Plaintiffs to permanent injunctive relief. On appeal, HHS and the EEOC (collectively, “the government”) challenge the district court’s grant of declaratory and permanent injunctive relief to Plaintiffs.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court first held that the CBA lacks associational standing to sue on behalf of unnamed members. However, the court held that Plaintiffs have satisfied the elements necessary to establish standing to challenge the government’s interpretation of Section 1557. Moreover, the court wrote that contrary to the government’s position, we conclude that the district court correctly determined that the CBA plaintiffs face a “credible threat” of enforcement from the EEOC. Accordingly, the court concluded that the district court correctly held that “intrusion upon the Catholic Plaintiffs’ exercise of religion is sufficient to show irreparable harm.” View "The Religious Sisters of Mercy v. Xavier Becerra" on Justia Law

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Defendant violated her joint custody agreement with Petitioner by traveling from Switzerland to the United States with their then-12- year-old daughter, M.D., in July 2020. Petitioner filed a petition seeking M.D.’s return to Switzerland, pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Hague Convention). After an evidentiary hearing on the merits, the district court denied the petition based on the mature child defense, finding that M.D. was of sufficient age and maturity such that the court should take account of her views and that she objected to returning to Switzerland. Petitioner appealed.   The Eighth Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded the case with directions to grant the petition for the return of M.D. under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The court explained that it agreed with the district court that M.D. is an “innocent party” in this acrimonious dispute. But because M.D. did not express a particularized objection to returning to Switzerland, instead describing a preference—for a variety of understandable reasons—to remain in the United States, the district court’s finding that M.D.’s statements constituted an objection within the meaning of the mature child defense was clearly erroneous. View "Vladyslav Dubikovskyy v. Elena Goun" on Justia Law

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Pocket Plus, LLC, sued Pike Brands, LLC (“Running Buddy”) for trade-dress infringement of Pocket Plus’s portable pouch. The district court granted summary judgment to Running Buddy and awarded it a portion of its requested attorney fees. Pocket Plus appealed the summary judgment, and both parties appeal the attorney fees award.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court wrote there is no genuine dispute that Pocket Plus’s trade dress is functional and thus not protected by trademark law. To grant trade-dress protection for Pocket Plus would be to hand it a monopoly over the “best” portable-pouch design. Trademark law precludes that. Further, Running Buddy argued that the district court abused its discretion in awarding only a portion of the requested fees. The court found no abuse of discretion in finding that this was an exceptional case. It considered the appropriate law, reviewed the litigation history, held a hearing, and explained its decision. View "Pocket Plus, LLC v. Pike Brands, LLC" on Justia Law