Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss an action filed by plaintiff, challenging the termination of his employment from the University. The court held that plaintiff's speech stemmed from his professional responsibilities and was made in furtherance of those responsibilities, and was therefore not protected under the First Amendment; the pre- and post-termination procedures did not violate plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment due process rights; plaintiff failed to establish a substantive due process claim because he failed to show that the University President's decision to terminate him was both conscience shocking and in violation of one or more fundamental rights; the district court properly dismissed the individual capacity claims against the University President based on qualified immunity; and the district court properly dismissed the claims against defendants in their official capacity. View "Groenewold v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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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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After being arrested, Whitney was taken to the St. Louis University Hospital for treatment of an irregular heartbeat. He attempted to escape and said that he wanted the police to take his life so that he would not be sent back to prison. He was determined to be suicidal. After being treated by psychiatry and showing improvement, he was released and transported to the St. Louis City Justice Center. Two days later, Whitney was moved to a medical unit, suffering from detoxification from heroin use, congestive heart failure, hypertension, and diabetes. Sharp was assigned to monitor Whitney in his cell via closed-circuit television. Sharp last saw Whitney pacing by the shower area at 9:05 a.m. Within the next 14 minutes, she discovered that he had hanged himself, using his ripped hospital gown. The district court dismissed 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims by Whitney’s estate. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The complaint failed to allege that Sharp knew that Whitney presented a suicide risk. There was no claim that any identifiable jail official had knowledge or suspected that Whitney was suicidal or was harming himself; the complaint fails to allege any constitutional violation arising out of a municipal policy that would expose the city to Monell liability. View "Whitney v. City of St. Louis" on Justia Law

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After being arrested, Whitney was taken to the St. Louis University Hospital for treatment of an irregular heartbeat. He attempted to escape and said that he wanted the police to take his life so that he would not be sent back to prison. He was determined to be suicidal. After being treated by psychiatry and showing improvement, he was released and transported to the St. Louis City Justice Center. Two days later, Whitney was moved to a medical unit, suffering from detoxification from heroin use, congestive heart failure, hypertension, and diabetes. Sharp was assigned to monitor Whitney in his cell via closed-circuit television. Sharp last saw Whitney pacing by the shower area at 9:05 a.m. Within the next 14 minutes, she discovered that he had hanged himself, using his ripped hospital gown. The district court dismissed 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims by Whitney’s estate. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The complaint failed to allege that Sharp knew that Whitney presented a suicide risk. There was no claim that any identifiable jail official had knowledge or suspected that Whitney was suicidal or was harming himself; the complaint fails to allege any constitutional violation arising out of a municipal policy that would expose the city to Monell liability. View "Whitney v. City of St. Louis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, who was paralyzed from the waist down and used a wheelchair, filed suit against RL Liquor for violating Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), after he encountered barriers at the store. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action as moot, holding that plaintiff failed to meet his burden to prove a readily achievable barrier removal method. Following the Tenth, Second, and Eleventh Circuits, the court held that the district court properly required plaintiff to initially present evidence tending to show that the suggested method of barrier removal was readily achievable under the circumstances. In this case, plaintiff failed to offer a plausible proposal for barrier removal. View "Wright v. RL Liquor" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer for hostile work environment sexual harassment and retaliatory termination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA). Plaintiff was terminated after she burned a customer with her cigarette when he was sexually harassing her. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the ICRA claim as time-barred and held that the pendency of an EEOC review did not toll a state civil rights claim. The court rejected the Title VII claims on summary judgment where the customer's action did not constitute conduct so severe or pervasive to affect a term, condition, or privilege of plaintiff's employment. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to show that the employer new of the customer's harassing conduct but failed to take remedial action. The court also held that the retaliatory discrimination claim was time-barred. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's exclusion of evidence regarding previous sexual assaults and expert testimony. View "Hales v. Casey's Marketing Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer for hostile work environment sexual harassment and retaliatory termination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA). Plaintiff was terminated after she burned a customer with her cigarette when he was sexually harassing her. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the ICRA claim as time-barred and held that the pendency of an EEOC review did not toll a state civil rights claim. The court rejected the Title VII claims on summary judgment where the customer's action did not constitute conduct so severe or pervasive to affect a term, condition, or privilege of plaintiff's employment. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to show that the employer new of the customer's harassing conduct but failed to take remedial action. The court also held that the retaliatory discrimination claim was time-barred. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's exclusion of evidence regarding previous sexual assaults and expert testimony. View "Hales v. Casey's Marketing Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging claims of excessive force and municipal liability, as well as state tort claims. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the officers' motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity where plaintiff established that the officers violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force. In this case, the officers delivered repeated strikes, punches, and blows to plaintiff while plaintiff pleaded with them to stop hitting him because he was not resisting arrest or doing anything wrong. Therefore, a reasonable officer standing in defendants' shoes would have understood that the amount of force used to subdue plaintiff was excessive, as was their action in purposefully dropping plaintiff face-first onto the sidewalk after he had been subdued and handcuffed. The court also held that it lacked jurisdiction over the officers' appeal of the denial of summary judgment on the state law claims because the court's resolution of the qualified immunity appeal did not necessarily resolve plaintiff's state law claims against the officers. View "Burnikel v. Fong" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a pro se civil rights action against four South Dakota corrections officials, asserting both facial and as-applied challenges to the State's prison-pornography policy. The Eighth Circuit found it prudent to decide whether the policy was constitutional as applied to plaintiff before reaching his facial challenges. However, the court could not adopt the district court's as-applied analysis because it was error to resurrect and apply the 2000 Policy. The court explained that this was not the policy that plaintiff actually challenged, nor was it the authority under which SDSP staff withheld the rejected materials. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's summary judgment order and remanded for it to reevaluate defendant's as-applied claims based on the 2014 Policy. View "Sisney v. Kaemingk" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action alleging that defendant violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101-12213. Plaintiff has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair for mobility. In this case, she tried to eat at an Omaha steakhouse owned and operated by defendant and alleged that she could not access the steakhouse due to certain physical barriers. The court held that the action became moot after defendant's mediation; plaintiff could not use the violation encountered in the parking space to expand her standing to sue for unencountered violations inside the steakhouse that never injured her; the district court did not abuse its wide discretion in allowing evidence on jurisdictional issues; plaintiff's request for discovery was futile because she did not have standing to sue in this action; and the district court did not err in deciding the Rule 12(b)(1) motion and denying discovery under Rule 56. View "Davis v. Anthony, Inc." on Justia Law