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

Articles Posted in Civil Rights

by
Plaintiffs own and operate Telescope Media Group, a company that makes commercials, short films, and live-event productions. Plaintiffs filed suit against Minnesota, seeking injunctive relief preventing Minnesota from enforcing two provisions of the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), requiring plaintiffs to produce both opposite sex and same sex videos, or none at all. The district court denied a preliminary injunction and dismissed the complaint. Determining that plaintiffs had standing, the Eighth Circuit reversed and held that wedding videos are speech and plaintiffs have a First Amendment right to make them for only opposite sex weddings; plaintiffs, like the creators of other types of films, will exercise substantial editorial control and judgment when making the wedding videos; and Minnesota's interpretation of the MHRA interferes with plaintiffs' speech by compelling them to speak favorably about same sex marriage if they choose to speak favorably about opposite sex marriage, and it operates as a content-based regulation of their speech. Applying strict scrutiny, rather than intermediate scrutiny, the court held that Minnesota seeks to regulate speech itself as a public accommodation and has violated the First Amendment by doing so. Finally, plaintiffs may pursue their free-exercise claim on remand. View "Telescope Media Group v. Lucero" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff and MDHS brought a negligence action against defendants, alleging that a jail official provided and made plaintiff wear shoes that were too small for his feet. The shoes caused a blister on one of his left toes, which ultimately resulted in a severe infection requiring multiple corrective surgeries. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the County, holding that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the county negligently caused plaintiff's injury. In this case, the district court erred when it concluded that plaintiff's infection was not a foreseeable consequence of wearing too small shoes. The court also held that the county was not entitled to vicarious official immunity, because the duty of providing suitable shoes in a county jail setting is ministerial. View "DeLuna v. Mower County" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit alleging federal constitutional and tort claims against the city, the county, and several city and county employees after his son died of hypothermia. Plaintiff alleged that defendants, by prematurely declaring plaintiff's son dead and therefore cutting off possible aid, caused his death in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss with prejudice, holding that plaintiff failed to identify a clearly established right and defendants were entitled to qualified immunity where they did not intentionally deny emergency aid to someone they believe to be alive. The court noted that the medical guidelines were not followed here could possibly be the basis for a negligence suit, but it was not the basis for a constitutional one. View "Anderson v. City of Minneapolis" on Justia Law

by
After plaintiff and her four children died from smoke inhalation as a result of a kitchen fire in their apartment, administrators of their estate filed suit against the JHA, the manufacturer of the smoke alarm, the City, the fire department, and others. Plaintiffs appealed the district court's judgment in favor of defendants. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the Housing Authority Defendants and BRK, because no reasonable factfinder could determine, absent speculation, that the fire alarm failed to sound, causing the tragic deaths of plaintiffs; the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the City Defendants, because there was lack of evidence showing that the firefighters' actions caused plaintiffs' deaths; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying a motion to strike the affidavit of a defense expert; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by requiring one of plaintiff's counsel to pay for part of defendants' costs. View "Beavers v. Arkansas Housing Authorities Property & Casualty Self-Insured Fund, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against the City and Doc's Towing, alleging that defendants violated her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments when her car was towed and stored without her consent or a warrant. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants, holding that plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence to establish defendants' liability. In this case, a reasonable jury could find that plaintiff's truck was towed and held under the City's unwritten but widespread and persistent policy of reporting vehicles as wanted for the purpose of detaining them without a warrant. Furthermore, plaintiff has adduced evidence from which a reasonable juror could find that Doc's Towing was acting under color of law when it refused to allow her access to her truck. View "Meier v. St. Louis" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of summary judgment to plaintiff in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, alleging that a highway patrol trooper used excessive force against her in violation of her Fourth Amendment rights. The court held that the trooper did not violate plaintiff's clearly established constitutional right when he threw or shoved her to the ground after she disobeyed his repeated instructions to return to his car, was uncooperative when he grabbed her and told her to turn around, and repeatedly tried to pull her arm away from his grasp. Furthermore, plaintiff had been drinking and driving erratically, and the dashcam video showed that their struggle took place on the shoulder of a dark highway, while several cars drove by. View "Murphy v. Engelhart" on Justia Law

by
DLC filed a 42 U.SC. 1983 action against defendant, the Director of the South Dakota Division of Banking, alleging that license revocation without a pre-deprivation hearing deprived DLC of its procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's denial of absolute or qualified immunity and its decision that the quick action exception to a pre-deprivation hearing was not applicable. The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that defendant was entitled to qualified immunity because DLC failed to show a violation of a constitutional right that was clearly established. The court held that there was no procedural due process violation where DLC was on notice that the Division was investigating the lawfulness of its new loan product, DLC was afforded an opportunity to provide additional information addressing the Division's concerns, and the revocation order had no more of an effect on DLC's business than the simultaneously issued cease and desist order. View "Dollar Loan Center of South Dakota, LLC v. Afdahl" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit dismissed defendant's appeal of the district court's denial of his motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. In this case, plaintiff filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against defendant, a detective, alleging Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations committed in connection with an arrest. The court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that defendant's arguments all rest on his contention that the district court erred in its determination that a genuine dispute of material fact exists as to whether plaintiff was incapacitated when he tased plaintiff a second time. The court held that the district court's determination was not blatantly contradicted by the record, and analyzing the record to resolve the parties' dispute over the circumstances in which plaintiff was tased a second time was beyond the court's limited review. View "Graham v. Klipsch" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff, an inmate at the ADC, filed suit under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments, seeking injunctive relief against ADC officials for allegedly refusing to provide him with a daily serving of "halal" meat in accord with his personal religious beliefs. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of an injunction in favor of plaintiff, holding that he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the PLRA. In this case, plaintiff was required to exhaust ADC's proper grievance procedures regardless of the forms of relief potentially available under the Religious Diet Policy. Furthermore, the court rejected plaintiff's contention that the Religious Diet Policy was, in and of itself, a proper and complete grievance procedure. View "Muhammad v. Mayfield" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a deputy's motion for summary judgment in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, alleging that the deputy used excessive force while arresting plaintiff. The court held that the deputy did not violate a clearly established right of plaintiff under the Fourth Amendment, and thus he was entitled to qualified immunity. In this case, it was not clearly established at the time that a deputy was forbidden to use a takedown maneuver to arrest a suspect who ignored the deputy's instruction to "get back here" and continued to walk away from the officer. View "Kelsay v. Ernst" on Justia Law