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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Plaintiffs, three individuals who purchased oil filters designed by K&N, seek to represent a nationwide class of all purchasers of three styles of K&N oil filters that they allege share a common defect, although most proposed class members had oil filters that never exhibited the alleged defect.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's finding that plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege the amount in controversy exceeded $5 million and therefore lacked jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act. The court concluded that the class members whose oil filters never failed have not sustained injury or damages and cannot assist plaintiffs in meeting the $5 million jurisdictional threshold. Therefore, without these losses to aggregate, plaintiffs do not not plausibly allege an amount in controversy in excess of $5 million. View "Penrod v. K&N Engineering, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2017, Andeavor agreed with the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, known as the Three Affiliated Tribes, to renew the right-of-way over tribal lands, and to pay trespass damages for continued operation of an oil pipeline after expiration. Andeavor then began renewal negotiations with individual Indian landowners. In 2018, the Allottees filed a putative class action seeking compensatory and punitive damages for ongoing trespass and injunctive relief requiring Andeavor to dismantle the pipeline. The district court granted Andeavor's motion to dismiss, concluding that the Allottees failed to exhaust administrative remedies with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).The Eighth Circuit concluded that the case turns on issues sufficiently within the primary jurisdiction of the BIA to warrant a stay, rather than dismissal, to give the BIA opportunity to take further action. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. The court denied the Allottees' motion to dismiss Robin Fredericks as a plaintiff. View "Chase v. Andeavor Logistics, L.P." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's award of damages after a bench trial that resulted in a judgment in favor of appellees and a group of state guaranty associations where the district court ruled that Allegiant Bank breached its fiduciary duties in administering seven trusts, and that PNC was liable for the breach as the successor-in-interest to National City Bank, which in turn had acquired Allegiant.The court concluded that the district court did not clearly err in calculating the compensatory damages award; even assuming for the sake of analysis that Missouri law does require damages to be readily ascertainable to award prejudgment interest, the court still found no basis for reversal of the award of prejudgment interest; assuming that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(a) was not the proper source of authority for the district court's correction of a clerical mistake, any error was harmless; considered in its entirety, the evidence supports an award of punitive damages; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney's fees and PNC's claims to the contrary are unavailing. View "Jo Ann Howard & Assoc., PC v. National City Bank" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against CJS Solutions, a Florida entity doing business as The HCI Group, in the District of Minnesota. Plaintiffs moved to certify a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The putative class of plaintiffs was composed of all HCI employees hired on a per-project basis who were not paid wages for out-of-town travel to and from remote project locations. After the district court conditionally certified a collective action limited to claims arising out of travel to and from Minnesota, it granted summary judgment for HCI on the ground that plaintiffs were not employees when traveling.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the district court did not err in finding defendant had not waived its jurisdictional defense to plaintiffs' claims for certification of collective actions covering all of defendant's employees for all of their travel time anywhere in the United States; the district court properly excluded all claims with no connection with the forum state of Minnesota; and, in regard to the out-of-town travel claims, the district court did not err in finding that two plaintiffs were not employees when traveling and that defendant had no obligation to pay for their time. View "Vallone v. CJS Solutions Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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After plaintiffs filed a class action against defendants under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (AMWA), plaintiffs negotiated a settlement agreement with Welspun for the wage claim and attorneys' fees. However, the district court did not approve the settlement because it determined that the claim and fees were not separately negotiated. When the parties presented the district court with only the wage-claim portion of the settlement, the district court approved it. The district court subsequently partially granted plaintiffs' motion for an award of attorneys' fees and costs, awarding $1.00 in fees. Alternatively, the district court noted that it would award $25,000 in fees if $1.00 was improper.The Eighth Circuit concluded that the district court did not clearly err when it denied the parties' joint motion for approval of the settlement based on its conclusion that the FLSA claims and the attorneys' fees were not separately negotiated. However, because the record contains no lodestar calculation, the court vacated the award of attorneys' fees. In this case, plaintiffs' claim was not frivolous or groundless, and it is unlikely that a $1.00 attorneys' fee is reasonable. Furthermore, the court cannot conduct a meaningful review of the district court's alternative award. The court declined to reassign the case and remanded for further proceedings. View "Vines v. Welspun Pipes Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, 14 purchasers of off-road vehicles, filed a putative class action against Polaris alleging that a design defect caused the vehicles, all of which contain "ProStar" engines, to produce excessive heat. Plaintiffs claim that the heat degrades vehicle parts, reduces service life, and creates a risk of catastrophic fires. 7 of the 14 plaintiffs experienced fires which destroyed their vehicles.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Polaris's motion to dismiss the claims of the "no-fire" purchasers, because they failed to allege an injury in fact as required to establish an Article III case or controversy. The court concluded that the district court correctly applied circuit precedent in determining that the no-fire purchasers failed to allege an injury sufficient to confer standing. View "Forrest v. Polaris Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

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In December 2015, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation created and centralized the In re Bair Hugger Forced Air Warming Devices Products Liability Litigation (MDL) in the District of Minnesota for coordinated pretrial proceedings. Plaintiffs in the MDL brought claims against 3M alleging that they contracted periprosthetic joint infections (PJIs) due to the use of 3M's Bair Hugger, a convective (or forced-air ) patient-warming device, during their orthopedic-implant surgeries. The MDL court excluded plaintiffs' general-causation medical experts as well as one of their engineering experts, and it then granted 3M summary judgment as to all of plaintiffs' claims, subsequently entering an MDL-wide final judgment.The Eighth Circuit reversed in full the exclusion of plaintiffs' general-causation medical experts and reversed in part the exclusion of their engineering expert; reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of 3M; affirmed the discovery order that plaintiffs challenged; affirmed the MDL court's decision to seal the filings plaintiffs seek to have unsealed; and denied plaintiffs' motion to unseal those same filings on the court's own docket. View "Amador v. 3M Company" on Justia Law

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Jim Bakker and Morningside filed suit against several out-of-state defendants in Missouri federal court, alleging that defendants, while acting in their official capacities, violated their First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. In February 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic was beginning in the United States, Jim Bakker and Morningside began advertising a product called Silver Solution on the Jim Bakker Show. Bakker and Morningside claimed that Silver Solution "has been proven by the government that it has the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on;" that it "has been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours;" and that it is "patented, it works, we have tested it, it works on just about everything." Bakker and Morningside allege that defendants' investigations into Silver Solution violate their constitutional rights and that the state statutes defendants have acted under are unconstitutional.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction. Assuming defendants fell under Missouri's long-arm statute, the court concluded that asserting personal jurisdiction in this case violates due process where the only contact with Missouri were letters and emails directed at Morningside Church and Bakker, rather than the forum state. Therefore, after considering the five factor test for assessing the sufficiency of a defendant's contacts, the court concluded that Bakker and Morningside have not demonstrated that defendants' conduct connects them to the forum in a meaningful way. View "Morningside Church, Inc. v. Rutledge" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's adverse grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's political retaliation claim related to disciplinary measures and his ultimate termination from the Sheriff's Office. The court concluded that there was no error in the district court's determination that collateral estoppel barred plaintiff from pursuing his political retaliation claim based on those issues he raised in his termination appeal; the district court could give the Iowa Civil Service Commission's determination preclusive effect; and plaintiff failed to make a prima facie case that his two-day suspension was political retaliation because he could not establish a causal connection between the suspension and his political campaign. View "Charleston v. McCarthy" on Justia Law

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The Union, Welfare Plan, and Pension Plan filed suit against Anderson Excavating, requesting that the district court order Anderson Excavating to pay the contributions it allegedly owes to the Welfare Plan and Pension Plan, along with interest, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees and costs. The district court found Anderson Excavating liable to plaintiffs for delinquent contributions and entered judgment in favor of plaintiffs. Anderson Excavating appealed, and the Eighth Circuit concluded that the district court legally erred in applying the alter-ego doctrine to justify an award of unpaid contributions for an alleged employee's work.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment on remand, concluding that the district court did not err in calculating the prejudgment interest at the rate set by the Delinquent Policy and Procedure document adopted by the Plan Trustees as part of the trust agreement, which Anderson had agreed to; the district court properly calculated the amount of liquidated damages, which was based on the amount of prejudgment interest; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorneys' fees. View "Marshall v. Anderson Excavating & Wrecking Co." on Justia Law