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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Plaintiff filed suit against Boeing, alleging that defendants wrongfully escheated her property to the state. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Boeing. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that plaintiff's claims are subject to Missouri's five-year statute of limitations period and, in this case, plaintiff's cause of action accrued more than five years before she filed suit. Accordingly, the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's claim as time-barred. View "Weinbach v. The Boeing Company" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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Pepsi previously granted Mahaska exclusive rights to distribute bottles and cans of certain Pepsi products in identified territories. Pepsi also granted Mahaska limited rights to distribute fountain syrup products in identified territories. The claims and counterclaims in this case arose out of these agreements. After a jury trial, the jury returned a split verdict. The jury awarded Mahaska a total of $2,956,540.10 in damages and Pepsi a total of $24,000 in damages. Pepsi filed a motion for a new trial asserting a number of claims, including that Mahaska's closing arguments were improper and prejudicial. The district court denied Pepsi's motion and Pepsi appeals only the closing argument issue.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the comments Pepsi challenges, either alone or together, did not so infect the trial with the type of impropriety that would make a new trial appropriate. In this case, the court grouped Pepsi's claimed improper statements into a five categories: (1) statements regarding Mahaska's survival; (2) statements referencing Pepsi's size; (3) statements allegedly encouraging local bias; (4) statements denigrating Pepsi's defenses and counterclaims and its witnesses' credibility; and (5) statements related to punishment, sending signals, or malice. The court explained that, while portions of Mahaska's closing argument were hyperbolic and other portions perhaps approached the line for permissible argument, Pepsi's failure to object during or after the closing argument is some indication that the multitude of statements deemed improper weeks after the jury returned its verdict were not viewed by Pepsi's counsel as prejudicial or improper when they were made in context before the jury. Furthermore, the statements raised by Pepsi on appeal were based on evidence presented during trial or reasonable inferences that could be drawn from the evidence. View "Mahaska Bottling Co. v. Pepsico, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action brought by Smart against the County, based on the forum-selection clause in the parties' contract. The district court determined that the clause precluded Smart from suing the County in federal court and dismissed the case.The court explained that the ordinary understanding of "Arkansas courts" refers to courts that are constituted under the Arkansas state government, not any court that happens to be within Arkansas's borders. Furthermore, the word "pertinent" does not alter the meaning of "Arkansas courts," as Smart suggests. In this case, both the forum-selection clause and the anti-removal provision in the contract are clear, and they obviate the need to resort to the rule against surplusage. View "Smart Communications Collier Inc. v. Pope County Sheriff's Office" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of EaglePicher's motion to dismiss Timothy Stockton's intervenor complaint for lack of standing. Stockton sought to intervene in a lawsuit brought by Certon against EaglePicher, arguing that Certon had assigned to him the rights that it was asserting against EaglePicher. However, the court concluded that the district court correctly determined that Stockton had standing only if the assignment was in effect, and the district court correctly determined that, even considering the excerpts from the Stock Purchase Agreement (SPA), Stockton failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the assignment was in effect. The court explained that, even considering the excerpts from the SPA, it is at least as likely as not that the circumstances required for the assignment to be in effect were not present by the time Stockton sought to intervene. View "Stockton v. EaglePicher Technologies, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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AGRED filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment regarding its rights and obligations under a written agreement with the United States. The Corps, acting on behalf of the United States, moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the grounds that AGRED lacks standing.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of AGRED's declaratory judgment claim based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction and agreed with the district court that AGRED's injury was not caused by the Corps. In this case, AGRED failed to establish a connection between its injury of being enjoined from charging fees for access a lake plaintiff owns and the Corps' conduct. The court explained that there are several kinks in AGRED's causal chain, including that AGRED's injury results directly from FOLEA's thus far successful lawsuit. In this case, there is no real contractual dispute between AGRED and the Corps. Therefore, AGRED fails to meet the causation requirement for standing because it cannot show that its injury is fairly traceable to the Corps. View "Agred Foundation v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's decision to remand this removed action to state court under the local-controversy exception to the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA). In this case, plaintiff filed a class action complaint in Missouri sate court against defendants, alleging that defendants owned and/or operated the West Lake Landfill and were responsible for the contamination of plaintiffs' property, which plaintiffs claimed occurred due to defendants' allegedly improper acceptance and handling of radioactive waste at the landfill. Rock Road Industries was a citizen of Missouri at the time plaintiffs filed their complaint. After plaintiffs filed the complaint, Rock Road Industries merged with Bridgeton Landfill. Defendants removed to federal court, alleging federal-question jurisdiction existed under the Price-Anderson Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.After determining that it has jurisdiction over the appeal of the remand order under 28 U.S.C. 1291, the court concluded that CAFA's local-controversy exception does not require remand in this case because plaintiffs failed to show that the conduct of defendant Rock Road Industries - the only Missouri-citizen defendant and thus the only possible local defendant for purposes of the exception - formed a significant basis for the claims asserted in the complaint. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Kitchin v. Bridgeton Landfill, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of BNSF in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging constructive discharge and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) under Nebraska law. The court concluded that the Railway Labor Act (RLA) divested the district court of subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's constructive discharge claim and thus the claim was properly dismissed.However, the court concluded that the district court erred in dismissing the IIED claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) because that claim can be resolved interpreting the collective bargaining agreement. Therefore, the district court did have subject matter jurisdiction over the claim. Nevertheless, the court concluded that dismissal was appropriate under Rule 12(b)(6) because the complaint failed to state a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress under Nebraska law no matter what the collective bargaining agreement says. In this case, plaintiff alleged that BNSF or its employees disciplined and fired him without cause and berated him with expletive laced language and threats of physical violence. The court explained that it is unnecessary to interpret the collective bargaining agreement to conclude that these allegations do not support a reasonable inference of liability. Rather, plaintiff's allegations of discipline and termination without cause are insufficient to generate a reasonable inference of liability because discipline and termination without cause are not so outrageous that they give rise to a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress under Nebraska law. View "Richardson v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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Daredevil filed suit against ZTE for breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment. After the case went to arbitration in Florida, Daredevil sought to add ZTE Corp., the parent company of ZTE USA, to its arbitration claims. The arbitrator rejected the request to add ZTE Corp., ruling that Daredevil's claims against ZTE Corp. were outside the scope of arbitration. Daredevil then filed this suit against ZTE Corp., alleging breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, and tortious interference with contract. The arbitrator ultimately denied each of Daredevil's claims against ZTE USA. The arbitration award was confirmed by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida and affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Daredevil subsequently reopened this case in the Eastern District of Missouri against ZTE Corp.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to apply Florida law, holding that Daredevil's claims met the requirements for claim preclusion and were therefore barred. The court explained that Daredevil's current and previous claims share identity of the parties and identity of the cause of action, and Daredevil does not dispute that Florida's other two requirements are satisfied. In this case, privity exists between ZTE Corp. and ZTE USA where ZTE Corp. and ZTE USA are parent and subsidiary. Furthermore, Daredevil's current claims are so closely related to its arbitration claims and thus the identity-of-cause-of-action requirement has been met. Accordingly, Daredevil's claims against ZTE Corp. are barred by the decision in its prior arbitration against ZTE USA. View "Daredevil, Inc. v. ZTE Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, Singapore residents and citizens who invested in a now-defunct North Dakota company called North Dakota Developments, LLC (NDD), filed suit seeking damages from defendant for his role in convincing plaintiffs to buy fraudulent, unregistered securities.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, concluding that the district court did not err in determining that it had personal jurisdiction over defendant because his conduct and connection with North Dakota were such that he should have reasonably anticipated being haled into court there. The court also agreed with the district court that venue was proper where plaintiffs' claims arose from the sale or solicitation of unregistered, fraudulent North Dakota securities related to real property located in North Dakota. The court declined to consider the issue of forum non conveniens because defendant failed to raise the claim in the district court. Finally, the court concluded that the district court correctly granted summary judgment where defendant decided to stop participating in the district court litigation, including not responding to the motion for summary judgment. View "Panircelvan Kaliannan v. Ee Hoong Liang" on Justia Law

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Gould was appointed as a business agent for the Carpenters Regional Council by the Executive Secretary-Treasurer (EST). Gould began complaining of financial and administrative waste in 2008. The EST removed Gould. Gould sued, asserting wrongful termination. Gould received voluminous Council documents in discovery and, in a letter to the EST, outlined alleged financial improprieties and breaches of fiduciary duties. The Council hired the Calibre accounting firm to perform an audit and invited Gould to assist in the investigation. Gould questioned Calibre’s independence but agreed to provide documents.Gould subsequently sought to amend his state court suit to add Labor Code breach of fiduciary duty counts against the EST, 29 U.S.C. 501(b). The Council declared that the EST’s approval of expenditures was outside the scope of Gould’s demand letter and therefore “Calibre was not asked to investigate” The state court denied Gould leave to add the claims. The documents Gould provided were never forwarded by the Council's attorney to Calibre. The audit concluded that the Council’s expense reimbursement policy was sound. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of Gould’s motion for leave to file a federal complaint under 29 U.S.C. 501(b) against the EST. A union member who files a Section 501(b) lawsuit after a union has taken action in response to the member’s request should show an objectively reasonable ground for belief that the union’s accounting or other action was not legitimate. Gould failed to make the necessary showing and failed to meet the condition precedent of a timely and appropriate request to sue or recover damages or secure an accounting or other appropriate relief within a reasonable time. View "Gould v. Bond" on Justia Law