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

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
by
Plaintiff filed a qui tam action under the False Claims Act (FCA), alleging that Planned Parenthood violated Iowa law by dispensing extra cycles of oral contraceptives without a physician’s order and that Planned Parenthood illegally billed Iowa Medicaid Enterprise (IME) for post-abortion related procedures.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Planned Parenthood, concluding that plaintiff failed to sufficiently plead with particularity, pursuant to the heightened pleading standards of the FCA, her claim regarding the dispensing of oral contraceptives. Furthermore, even if plaintiff is right that Planned Parenthood submitted a false claim or statement as to Patients C, D, E and F, she fails to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact over whether those claims and statements were knowingly false. View "Thayer v. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment declaring that the United States has a duty to provide "competent physician-led healthcare" to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and its members. In light of the promises the United States made to the Tribe more than 150 years ago in the Fort Laramie Treaty, and relevant legislation since that time, such as the Snyder Act and the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the district court correctly articulated the existence and scope of the duty and declaratory judgment was proper. View "Rosebud Sioux Tribe v. United States" on Justia Law

by
Ameren appeals an adverse judgment of the district court in a Clean Air Act (CAA) enforcement action brought by the United States, acting at the request of the EPA Administrator, arguing that the district court erroneously found it liable for not obtaining permits for projects at its Rush Island Energy Center and assessing liability under the applicable federal regulations. Ameren also contends that the district court ordered legally flawed injunctions at both Rush Island and at a different plant, Labadie Energy Center.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's liability determination, holding that the district court did not err in holding that the Rush Island projects required permits through application of the actual-to-projected-actual applicability test under 40 C.F.R. 52.21(a)(2)(iv)(c), incorporated by reference in section 6.060(8)(A) of the Missouri state implementation plan (SIP). The court also held that the district court did not impermissibly shift the burden of proof to Ameren in proving the applicability of the demand-growth exclusion; the district court did not err in holding that to prove the applicability of the demand-growth exclusion, Ameren had to establish that demand on the unit increases; and the district court did not err in holding that no special standard of care evidence is required for the factfinder to be able to determine whether a reasonable power plant operator or owner would have expected the projects to cause a significant emissions increase. Furthermore, even assuming that the district court abused its discretion by admitting the expert testimony, any error would be harmless. However, the court reversed in part the remedial portion of the district court's order concerning the Labadie plant. Finally, the district court had jurisdiction to consider whether Ameren violated the express terms of its Title V permit. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Ameren Missouri" on Justia Law

by
During a search of plaintiff's home, police seized a large number of coins and gave them to the IRS where an IRS agent deposited the coins at their face value into an IRS account and later remitted the amount to plaintiff. Plaintiff filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for conversion, contending that the coins were collectors' items. The district court agreed with plaintiff and awarded her $94,880.The Eighth Circuit reversed and concluded that the district court erred when it concluded that the FTCA had waived the government's sovereign immunity to suit in the current circumstances. The court concluded that the agent's decision to deposit the coins for processing rather than preserve them was a discretionary decision and the agent was not required to first investigate whether the coins had collectors' value. Furthermore, the agent's choice to treat the coins as ordinary currency was based on relevant policy considerations. Therefore, the discretionary function exception applies and the government has not waived its sovereign immunity. View "Willis v. United States" on Justia Law

by
At issue in this case are two provisions of North Dakota Senate Bill 2231. The first prohibits air ambulance providers from directly billing out-of-network insured patients for any amount not paid for by their insurers (the payment provision). The second prohibits air ambulance providers or their agents from selling subscription agreements (the subscription provision).Guardian Flight filed a declaratory judgment action claiming that both provisions are preempted under the Airlines Deregulation Act (ADA). Defendants responded that, even if preempted, the provisions were saved under the McCarran-Ferguson Act. The district court concluded that although the ADA preempted both provisions, the McCarran-Ferguson Act saved the subscription provision.The Eighth Circuit agreed with the district court's ADA preemption analysis and concluded that the ADA preempts both the payment provision and the subscription provision. However, the court held that the McCarran-Ferguson Act does not apply because the provisions were not enacted "for the purpose of regulating the business of insurance." Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded with instructions. View "Guardian Flight LLC v. Godfread" on Justia Law

by
Henin began working Canadian Pacific (CP) in 2003. CP terminated Henin’s employment in 2015, citing rule violations. Henin filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, alleging violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. After investigating, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration dismissed Henin’s complaint in a Decision, dated January 11, 2019. Henin received the Decision on January 22. On January 28, Henin filed with the Administrative Review Board a petition for review. On February 5, the Clerk issued a notice indicating acceptance of Henin’s petition. On February 26, the Board dismissed Henin’s petition as untimely. In his motion for reconsideration, Henin explained that he did not receive the Decision until 11 days after its issuance; that before the Decision, there had been no case activity since 2017; and that between December 22, 2018, and January 25, 2019, the federal government experienced a “shutdown.”The Board reinstated Henin’s claim as timely but immediately dismissed it, citing a complaint that Henin filed in federal court under 49 U.S.C. 20109(d)(3), which grants federal district courts jurisdiction to review employee claims de novo if, like here, the Secretary of Labor does not issue a “final” decision within 210 days of the complaint’s filing date. The Eighth Circuit denied CP’s petition for review. The Board properly granted reconsideration and appropriately utilized its equitable powers to control its own docket and to recognize the record’s incongruities and the 11-day delay in service. View "Soo Line Railroad Co. v. Administrative Review Board United States Department of Labor" on Justia Law

by
Sarasota filed suit against the Officials, seeking prospective relief, alleging that Missouri's liquor control laws, by preventing out-of-state retailers from shipping directly to Missouri consumers, discriminate against interstate commerce and citizens of other States in violation of the dormant Commerce Clause and the Privileges and Immunities Clause.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Sarasota's amended complaint. The court concluded that, although plaintiffs have standing to challenge the Missouri Liquor Control Act, the district court did not err in dismissing the action for failure to state viable claims under the dormant Commerce Clause and the Privileges and Immunities Clause. The court agreed with the Sixth Circuit that the Supreme Court in Granholm v. Heald, 544 U.S. 460, 476-86 (2005), and Tenn. Wine & Spirits Retailers Ass'n v. Thomas, 139 S. Ct. 2449, 2462-70 (2019), did not decide that essential elements of the three-tiered system are subject to frontal attack under the dormant Commerce Clause or the Privileges and Immunities Clause. The court explained that those seeking a more consumer-oriented organization of alcohol industries must turn to state-by-state political action on behalf of consumers who are hurt by these laws. View "Sarasota Wine Market, LLC v. Schmitt" on Justia Law

by
The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) removed sovereign immunity from suits for “injury or loss of property, or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission” of a federal employee acting within the scope of his employment, 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)(1)). The FTCA generally exempts intentional torts, which remain barred by sovereign immunity. The “law-enforcement proviso” allows plaintiffs to file claims arising “out of assault, battery, false imprisonment, false arrest, abuse of process, [and] malicious prosecution” that are the result of “acts or omissions of investigative or law enforcement officers of the United States Government” and defines investigative or law enforcement officer as “any officer of the United States who is empowered by law to execute searches, to seize evidence, or to make arrests for violations of Federal law.”Iverson went through security at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, walking with the aid of crutches. Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) performed a pat-down search; Iverson was allowed to place his hands on his crutches but had to stand on his own power. Iverson alleges that a TSO pulled him forward and then abruptly let go, causing Iverson to fall and be injured. The TSA denied an administrative claim. Iverson sued, asserting battery and negligence. The Eighth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the case, finding that TSOs satisfy the FTCA’s definition of an investigative or law enforcement officer. View "Iverson v. United States" on Justia Law

by
POET petitioned for review of a letter from the Assistant Administrator of the EPA, contending that the letter embodies the EPA's final decision to deny POET's application to generate D3 Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) by producing cellulosic ethanol from corn-kernel fiber at its facility in Hudson, South Dakota.The Eighth Circuit held that the controversy regarding the EPA's alleged denial of the application is moot and dismissed the petition. In this case, POET has since filed a new, non-identical application to generate D3 RINs at its Hudson facility, which is currently pending for the EPA's review. View "POET Biorefining - Hudson, LLC v. Environmental Protection Agency" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's order affirming the ALJ's denial of plaintiff's application for disability benefits. The court held that the ALJ's error in failing to provide good reason for giving plaintiff's treating psychiatrist's opinion limited weight was not harmless error. In this case, the failure to comply with SSA regulations is more than a drafting issue, it is legal error. Furthermore, the court cannot determine whether the ALJ would have reached the same decision denying benefits, even if the ALJ had followed the proper procedure for considering and explaining the value of the psychiatrist's opinion. Accordingly, the court remanded for further administrative proceedings and for reconsideration of plaintiff's claims. View "Lucus v. Saul" on Justia Law