Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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Plaintiff filed a class action against Harne defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the State's failure to share annual payments under a Settlement Agreement, where Minnesota released and forever discharged tobacco companies from claims that they violated state consumer protection statutes in exchange for substantial period payments, constituted a taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss, holding that res judicata barred the claim. In this case, plaintiff's takings claim in federal court was identical to the federal takings claims asserted in Harne v. State, No. A14-1985, 2015 WL 4523895; Harne involved the same parties; under Minnesota law, the dismissal of the claims in Harne as time-barred was a final judgment on the merits; and plaintiff and Harne actually litigated their federal claims in Harne. View "Foster v. Minnesota" on Justia Law

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The City of Kennett, Missouri, sued the Environmental Protection Agency, challenging the EPA’s approval of a total maximum daily load for Buffalo Ditch. Buffalo Ditch was a stream that ran southwest into Arkansas from the City. The City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant was a point source of pollutants into it. Parts of Buffalo Ditch had been on Missouri’s EPA-approved list of impaired waters since 1994, due to low levels of dissolved oxygen (DO), which supported aquatic life. The final total maximum daily load” (TMDL) set wasteload allocations for pollutants from the Treatment Plant. These wasteload allocations were more stringent than the limited in the City’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The City’s permit was to expire in 2015; in its “Implementation Plan” for point sources, the TMDL stated if it was determined the current water quality criterion for dissolved oxygen was appropriate, the wasteload allocations from the TMDL would be implemented. If not appropriate, and a new dissolved oxygen criterion was promulgated, then new wasteload allocations would be calculated and implemented. Despite this intention, the DO criterion and the TMDL did not change. The City sued, alleging: (1) the EPA exceeded its authority in approving the TMDL; (2) the EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously; (3) the EPA failed to provide the required notice and comment. The Eighth Circuit determined the City waived a claim by failing to mention or argue for summary judgment on that claim, and by failing to respond to the EPA's motion for summary judgment on the claim. With respect to its remaining claims and the issue of standing, the City established injury in fact as it would incur costs in complying with any new limits on pollution discharge from its waste water plant. Similarly, because the injury was impending, the City also established redressability, and it had standing to bring this action. Further, the Court determined the case was ripe, and the district court erred in granting the EPA summary judgment based on a lack of standing and ripeness. The EPA argued the City waived its remaining claims by failing to raise them in the administrative process; because it would be beneficial to permit the district court to address this issue in the first instance, the matter was remanded for further proceedings on this question and, if necessary, the merits of those issues. View "City of Kennett v. Env. Prot. Agency" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether substantial evidence was presented in support of the objection as a matter of law sufficient to rebut the Internal Revenue Service’s (“IRS”) proof of claim. Debtors-appellees Scott and Anna Austin filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code with the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in 2014. In their schedules, the Austins listed two pending worker’s compensation claims as contingent and unliquidated exempt property. These claims were valued at $0.00 or an “unknown value.” The Austins listed the IRS as a secured creditor. The IRS filed proof of claim no. 5-1, asserting in part a secured claim as a result of a tax lien. The Austins objected to the amount of the IRS’s priority claim (“January Objection”), arguing that no value should be attributable to their worker’s compensation claims in determining the secured portion of the IRS’s claim. They also argued, in the alternative, that since there were neither settlement offers nor a basis to determine the value of the worker’s compensation claims, the present value of the worker’s compensation claims should be $0. The Bankruptcy Court overruled the Austins’ January Objection, finding they failed to meet their burden to produce substantial evidence to rebut the IRS’s claim. The Bankruptcy Court disagreed the worker’s compensation claims had no value. In the meantime, the Austins negotiated a settlement of the worker’s compensation claims for $21,448.80. After attorneys’ fees, the Austins received a net settlement of $15,661.60. The IRS learned of the settlement, and filed an amended claim, No. 5-3, which included as part of its secured claim the amount of $15,661.60 for the value of the settlement. The Austins again objected to the IRS’s claim, filing an affidavit their worker’s compensation attorney, who opined that the worker’s compensation claims had a “nuisance” value of $3,000.00 on the petition date. The IRS argued that the affidavit was not substantial evidence sufficient to overcome the prima facie validity of the IRS’s claim. The Bankruptcy Court ruled that the affidavit was “substantial evidence” of the value of the claims, sufficient to rebut the prima facie validity of the IRS’ claim. The Bankruptcy Court therefore sustained the Austins’ objection and valued the worker’s compensation claims at $3,000, and reduced the IRS’s secured claim by $12,661.00. Based on its de novo review of the record, the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel found the Austins failed to present substantial evidence sufficient to overcome the presumption of the validity and amount of the IRS’s proof of claim. Therefore, their objection to claim should have been overruled. View "United States v. Austin" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant, a police officer, in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action. The court held that the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff brought his claims against the officer in his official capacity only. In this case, the officer acquiesced in an unexpressed motion to amend the complaint to include individual-capacity claims against him, that a formal motion to so amend the complaint was not necessary, and that the complaint was correspondingly amended. View "Stephens v. Jessup" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant, a police officer, in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action. The court held that the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff brought his claims against the officer in his official capacity only. In this case, the officer acquiesced in an unexpressed motion to amend the complaint to include individual-capacity claims against him, that a formal motion to so amend the complaint was not necessary, and that the complaint was correspondingly amended. View "Stephens v. Jessup" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit granted Borowiak's petition for mandamus in an underlying action involving claims related to a supply agreement between the parties. Borowiak sought to vacate an order of the district court that granted a motion to strike Borowiak's jury demand and to require the district court to reinstate a jury trial. The court held that Borowiak's right to a jury trial was clear and indisputable under the rules of civil procedure on the record in this case and it had no other means to attain the relief desired. Accordingly, the court directed the district court to reinstate the jury trial consistent with AFM/AWG's jury trial demand. View "In re: Borowiak IGA Foodliner, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the complaint based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The parties had previously entered into a Separation Agreement to divide jointly owned assets, and the Agreement contained an arbitration clause. The court held that, because a valid arbitration clause alone does not strip the federal courts of subject matter jurisdiction, the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's claim on that basis. Rather, the appropriate procedure would have been for the district court to stay or dismiss the case based on a Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 56 motion pending arbitration. The court also held that the district court erred when it alternatively found that res judicata and collateral estoppel were sufficient grounds to grant a Rule 12(b)(1) motion. The court explained that Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 56 motions are the more appropriate vehicles for a dismissal based on preclusion. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Seldin v. Seldin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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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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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction an action alleging that a fee paid to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the transitional reinsurance program in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), 42 U.S.C. 18061(b)(1)(A), did not apply to self-insured, self-administered plans. The Fund asked the district court to declare that it was not required to submit the fee and was entitled to reimbursement of its mistaken payment to the Department. The court affirmed the district court's holding that the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 702, 704, did not waive sovereign immunity and, even without sovereign immunity, the Tucker Act would vest exclusive jurisdiction over this lawsuit in the United States Court of Federal Claims. View "Batsche v. Price" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the dean of the University of Iowa College of Law had rejected her applications to teach legal analysis and writing at the law school due to political discrimination in violation of the First Amendment. After two remands and a jury trial, plaintiff challenged the denial of her motion for a new trial. The Eighth Circuit noted the routine failure of plaintiff's main brief to cite the parts of the record on which she relied and rejected some of her arguments on that basis. The court denied plaintiff's claim that she was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on her discrimination claim based on lack of jurisdiction. Finally, any claims of error regarding the district court's decision not to instruct the jury on punitive damages was moot in light of the jury's verdict. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Manning v. Jones" on Justia Law