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

Articles Posted in Family Law
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Plaintiffs filed suit on behalf of themselves and their children against the social workers involved in their cases and two of their DHS supervisors, alleging violations of their constitutional rights. The Eighth Circuit held that plaintiffs had standing to seek damages, to the extent they did so, against the individual defendants where plaintiffs' injuries were fairly traceable to defendants. However, plaintiffs lacked standing to obtain declaratory and injunctive relief, which they sought as remedies for their facial attack on the constitutionality of the relevant statutes, because the injury was too speculative to form the basis for the relief sought. The court upheld the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' facial challenge to the relevant statutes, but remanded with instructions to dismiss the claim without prejudice. On the merits, the court held that plaintiffs' damages claims against social workers for failure to receive prompt post-deprivation hearings failed, because the social workers did not contribute to any subsequent delays, considering they lacked the authority to file ex parte petitions or to schedule hearings on state-court dockets. Furthermore, the court could not say that a policy or custom the supervisors created or applied, or their alleged failure to train or supervise, caused plaintiffs' harm. However, the court held that the district court erred in applying the Rooker-Feldman doctrine to plaintiffs' claim that the social workers used ex parte proceedings containing knowingly false allegations, because the state court never issued any judgments in the case. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to consider the claims on the merits. View "Webb v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed the bankruptcy court's entry of summary judgment in favor of the bankruptcy trustee. The Bank challenged whether the terms of the judgment were fulfilled in transferring debtor's ex-wife's interest to debtor. The panel held that there was no genuine issue of fact regarding debtor's divorce which resulted in the trustee's ability to rely upon the judgment as a purchaser for value. Even if the bank was successful on this point, it would not serve to repair the defect in its mortgage. In this case, the state court determined that debtor would retain the real estate that was already titled in his name, and the only interest the ex-wife held was her marital interest which vested upon dissolution of the marriage. View "Kunkel v. CUSB Bank" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy, Family Law
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Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of her minor children and mother, filed suit against the Commissioner, the County, two tribal courts, and related tribal judges, contesting the tribal court's jurisdiction over the children's child custody proceedings. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that there was no conflict between the Indian Child Welfare Manual's requirement that local social service agencies refer child custody proceedings involving Indian children to tribal social service agencies for proceedings in tribal court, and the Indian Child Welfare Act's recognition of exclusive or presumptive tribal jurisdiction for child custody proceedings involving Indian children. Section 1911(b) of the Act addresses the transfer of proceedings from state court to tribal court and, in this case, there were no state court proceedings. Furthermore, the tribal court's jurisdiction over the children was consistent with Public Law 280. Finally, the court held that plaintiffs have presented no evidence of a due process violation. View "Watso v. Lourey" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to St. Luke's in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging that the hospital interfered with her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The court held that plaintiff's case consists of an unpersuasive argument of temporal proximity combined with her subjective belief that she was being treated differently and a few stray comments that she perceived to interfere with her FMLA rights. The evidence did not undermine or even raise a genuine issue of material fact regarding St. Luke’s legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for her termination: her work performance. Therefore, plaintiff failed to present a submissible case of retaliation for exercising her FMLA rights. View "Beckley v. St. Luke's Episcopal-Presbyterian Hospitals" on Justia Law

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After child abuse investigators removed seven minor children from plaintiffs' home, plaintiffs brought a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against DHS and others. On appeal, a civilian investigator for the Crimes Against Children Division appealed the district court's denial of her motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity. The Eighth Circuit affirmed and held that the facts plausibly alleged that the investigator could be liable if the children were removed from their parents' home without reasonable suspicion of child abuse. Furthermore, it was clearly established at the time the investigator acted that reasonable suspicion was required to remove the children from their home and their parents' custody. View "Stanley v. Finnegan" on Justia Law

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Father, a citizen of Israel, petitioned for return of the child under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, as implemented by the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), 22 U.S.C. 9001-9011. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not err in finding that the child's habitual residence was the United States, and thus the retention of the child was not wrongful within the meaning of the Convention. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Cohen v. Cohen" on Justia Law

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Torres are the parents of M. and G. who were born and resided in Peru until Torres removed them to the United States. Custodio seeks return of the children to Peru under the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention), Oct. 25, 1980, T.I.A.S. No. 11,670, 1343 U.N.T.S. 89, and its implementing statute, the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), 22 U.S.C. 9001–11. The district court denied Custodio's petition. Because M. turned 16 during the pendency of these proceedings, the court concluded that the Hague Convention no longer applies to him and dismissed as moot the appeal as to M. The court also concluded that the district court did not clearly err in finding that G.’s statements constituted an objection within the meaning of the mature child defense. Finally, the court concluded that the district court’s decision to respect 15-year-old G.’s opposition to returning to Peru and desire to remain in the United States was not an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment as to G. View "Custodio v. Torres Samillan" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against ASB, claiming wrongful interference with his rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 26 U.S.C. 2601 et seq. The court concluded that the district court did not clearly err in its factual determination that, at the time ASB fired him, plaintiff’s back condition met the objective criteria of a chronic condition; the district court acted well within its discretion in awarding liquidated damages to plaintiff where the district court found that ASB knew plaintiff was attempting to take FMLA leave, but fired him before it even received, let alone reviewed, plaintiff’s application for FMLA leave; and the court rejected ASB's challenges to the award of attorney's fees and concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to exclude any evidence of plaintiff’s attorney’s fees, the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to apply judicial estoppel to the facts of this case, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in not limiting the attorney's fees. In regard to plaintiff's cross-appeal, the court concluded that the district court's finding that ASB met its burden to prove that plaintiff was released from jail on July 20, 2011, was clearly erroneous under the after-acquired evidence doctrine. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "Smith v. AS America, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, formerly employed at UICSM as a physician assistant, filed suit alleging violations of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601. The district court granted summary judgment to UICSM. The court noted that 29 C.F.R. 825.311(a) inarguably permitted UICMS to contact plaintiff to inquire about her "status and intent to return to work." The court concluded that UICMS was entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's interference claim where plaintiff has not presented evidence that UICMS's requests for her to work from home when she had a broken foot were a condition of her employment nor that her compliance with them was anything but voluntary. The evidence does not permit a reasonable jury to find that UICMS interfered with plaintiff's right to FMLA leave. In regard to plaintiff's discrimination claim, the court concluded that the sequence of events alone does not give rise to a causal link between UICMS's alleged discriminatory motive and its decision not to renew plaintiff's contract strong enough to permit her to forgo the burden-shifting framework; applying the McDonnell Douglas framework, the court concluded that UICMS has proffered plaintiff's tardy charting as a nondiscriminatory justification for deciding not to renew her contract; and plaintiff has not created a dispute as to pretext. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Massey-Diez v. UICMS" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his employer, BATO, alleging that BATO violated his rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601. The district court ruled in favor of BATO on plaintiff's FMLA discrimination, retaliation, and harassment claims, but ruled in favor of plaintiff on his FMLA interference claim. On appeal, BATO challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiff. Plaintiff cross-appealed regarding attorneys' fees and expenses. Based on BATO's overtime procedure, case law, and the statutory language, legislative history, and implementing regulations of the FMLA, the court concluded that plaintiff's overtime hours were mandatory. Therefore, hours missed for FMLA-qualifying reasons were correctly deducted from plaintiff's FMLA leave entitlement. By scheduling mandatory overtime hours that were not included in plaintiff's FMLA-leave allotment and yet were deducted from his FMLA entitlement when he missed an overtime shift, BATO denied plaintiff FMLA benefits to which he was entitled. In regard to plaintiff's cross-appeal, the court rejected plaintiff's claims that the district court erred when it reduced plaintiff's recoverable fees for lack of success on some of his claims; that the district court erred when it reduced his recoverable expenses by 20%; and that the district court erred when it excluded costs for computerized legal research. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Hernandez v. Bridgestone Americas Tire" on Justia Law