Articles 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

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed a petition for permission to appeal the district court's order denying Article III standing to Respondent Bonnie George, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated. George filed a class action against petitioners, alleging loss of benefit-of-the-bargain for the diminution in the value of structures containing corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST). The court held that George's assertions of paying more than CSST was worth and the consequent loss in value of the structures were economic injury sufficient to establish Article III standing. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Omega Flex, Inc. v. George" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order remanding a putative class action, alleging that Ferrara engaged in false, deceptive, and misleading conduct by selling substantially under-filled boxes of Red Hot candies, back to state court. The court held that, even if plaintiffs prevailed in this case, they will be entitled to monetary relief and attorney's fees well below $5 million, regardless of whether the monetary relief comes in the form of compensatory damages, restitution, or disgorgement. Furthermore, Ferrara's affidavits were insufficient to quantify, beyond mere speculation, the costs it would incur in complying with an award of injunctive relief in this case. View "Waters v. Ferrara Candy Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and her husband filed suit against numerous defendants, alleging that police officers had improperly accessed their private information in the State's driver's license database. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the former Grand Rapids assistant chief of police and Grand Rapids. The court held that plaintiff had Article III standing to bring her Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. 2721, claim; the doctrine of equitable estoppel did not apply in this case because any delay by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety was not attributable to Grand Rapids or the assistant chief; plaintiff did not make a "mistake" in the ordinary sense of the word when she intentionally sued "John Doe" while knowing that he was not the proper defendant; and thus the amended complaint did not relate back as substituting the assistant chief for John Doe as defendant under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c). View "Heglund v. City of Grand Rapids" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to abstain from a suit arising out of the collapse of Thomas Petters' massive Ponzi scheme, because the case before the district court was duplicative of the case before the other federal court. While the district court appropriately invoked its discretion to abstain, the district court should have stayed the action rather than dismiss it. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment dismissing the action and remanded for further proceedings. View "Ritchie Capital Management LLC v. BMO Harris Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Defendant-appellant Christopher Klick was seriously injured after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning while aboard a friend’s fishing boat. An exhaust pipe had broken off at the spot where it connected with the engine. As a result, the engine had been expelling carbon monoxide gas into the engine compartment rather than through the exhaust pipe and out behind the boat. When the engine compartment hatch from within the wheelhouse was opened, carbon monoxide flowed up into the wheelhouse. Klick quickly lost consciousness and fell into the engine compartment. He awoke there several hours later, severely burned from lying on the engine. He also suffered brain damage from the carbon monoxide. The gas killed the boat’s two other occupants, but Klick survived. Klick sued the boat dealer in state court. The dealer had an insurance policy from Travelers Property Casualty Company of America that required Travelers to pay for liabilities resulting from bodily injury. The policy, however, had a pollution exclusion providing that the policy did not cover liability for injuries arising out of the release, dispersal, or migration of certain pollutants. Travelers sued in federal court, seeking a declaration that the policy did not cover liability for Klick’s injuries. The district court granted summary judgment for Travelers. We conclude that the pollution exclusion applies, and we therefore affirm. View "Travelers Property Casualty v. Klick" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant David Hosea sued two City of Saint Paul police officers following what he contended was an unlawful arrest and use of excessive force. Officers responded to a 911 hang-up call, and arrested appellant at the scene. The Officers’ motion for summary judgment was granted based on qualified immunity. On appeal, Hosea argued that the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity on his unlawful-arrest claim because the officers did not have arguable probable cause to arrest him for either obstruction of legal process or domestic assault. Also, Hosea argued that the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity on his excessive-force claim because he did not commit a crime in the officers’ presence, he did not pose a threat to the safety of the officers or others, he was not resisting arrest, the officers failed to identify themselves, and he started complying before the officers exerted force. After review of the trial court record, and finding no reversible error, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment. View "Hosea v. City of St. Paul" on Justia Law

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Clyde Carter, Jr. injured his shoulder and neck while working as a carman at BNSF Railway Company’s yard in Kansas City, Kansas. Carter immediately reported the injury to BNSF. The following year, he filed a Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) damage action, alleging that BNSF’s negligence caused his injury. BNSF’s discovery in defending the FELA lawsuit included a July 2009 deposition of Carter. In January 2012, as trial approached, a BNSF manager reviewed discovery materials provided by BNSF’s attorneys. He discovered discrepancies between Carter’s deposition testimony and information provided on his employment application and medical questionnaire submitted to BNSF in 2005. Thompson initiated a disciplinary investigation into potentially dishonest statements. Later, BNSF opened a second disciplinary investigation to determine if Carter signed a false statement that he arrived at work on time on February 5, 2012. The investigations culminated in two "on-property" evidentiary hearings, the conclusions of which found Carter committed dishonesty violations and recommended discipline in accordance with BNSF’s Policy for Employee Performance Accountability (PEPA). It was recommended Carter be terminated for dishonesty, a "stand alone" violation that could result in dismissal without regard to an employee's prior disciplinary history. Following termination, Carter filed an FRSA complaint with the Department of Labor, alleging that BNSF initiated the investigations leading to his dismissal in retaliation for Carter reporting the August 2007 work-related injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration dismissed Carter’s complaint, finding he committed the violations, and BNSF proved by clear and convincing evidence that "other employees who had not engaged in protected activity have been dismissed from service for dishonesty." Carter filed objections. After an evidentiary hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that BNSF violated 49 U.S.C. 20109(a)(4) and awarded reinstatement, back pay, attorneys’ fees, and $50,000 punitive damages. BNSF filed an administrative appeal. The Secretary’s Administrative Review Board (ARB) affirmed the ALJ. BNSF appealed. The Eighth Circuit found the ALJ's reasoning was based on a flawed interpretation of the FRSA; though the Administrative Review Board did not rely on the ALJ's chain-of-events causation theory, it affirmed based on findings which were either non-existent or insufficient to support the Board's contributing factor and affirmative defense rulings. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded with instructions. View "BNSF Railway Co. v. LABR" on Justia Law