Articles Posted in Legal Ethics

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In a previous appeal, the Eighth Circuit held that portions of Minnesota's Next Generation Energy Act were unconstitutional in North Dakota v. Heydinger, 825 F.3d 912 (8th Cir. 2016). The State appealed the district court's determination on remand that plaintiffs were entitled to attorney's fees and award of $1,310,088 in fees and costs. The court affirmed the district court's order without opinion. View "North Dakota v. Lange" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment confirming an arbitrator's award of attorney's fees and expenses to Beumer. The court held that the arbitrator acted within the scope of his authority and did not violate the arbitration agreement's provision when he determined that attorneys' fees were "costs" and not "loss" under Missouri law. Therefore, these costs were not subject to the limitation of liability. The court held that ProEnergy failed to demonstrate grounds to vacate the arbitration award under 9 U.S.C. 10, and denied Beumer's motion for sanctions. View "Beumer Corp. v. ProEnergy Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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An Arkansas trial judge filed suit against the Arkansas Supreme Court and justices in their official capacities, alleging that they violated his constitutional rights by permanently barring him from presiding over death penalty cases. The district court dismissed claims against the Arkansas Supreme Court as barred by sovereign immunity and denied the justices' motion to dismiss. The Eighth Circuit granted the justices' motion for writ of mandamus and directed plaintiff to dismiss the complaint with prejudice. The court held that plaintiff's free speech claim failed because he did not allege that he engaged in a protected activity where the recusal order applied to him in his role as a public employee and where recusal from death penalty cases was not an adverse employment action; the recusal order did not affect defendant's right to practice religion and his Free Exercise Clause claim failed; plaintiff's claim under the Arkansas Religious Restoration Act also failed; plaintiff was not deprived of his due process rights where he alleged no cognizable life, liberty or property interest; plaintiff failed to plausibly allege an equal protection claim; and the district court erred in allowing plaintiff's civil conspiracy claim to proceed were he failed to allege a plausible constitutional violation to support the claim. View "In Re: Honorable John Kemp" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's award of attorney fees and its order denying defendant's motion to untimely file a second request for attorney fees. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by reducing her requested attorney's fees for administrative proceedings. In this case, the district court was well within its discretion to deny defendant's motion for an extension of time to request the attorney fees she had failed to timely include in her first request. View "Paris School District v. Harter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The district court granted summary judgment to Effort for Aids in an action seeking to enjoin the Health Insurance Marketplace Innovation Act of 2013 (HIMIA), but denied attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. 1988(b). The Eighth Circuit reversed the denial of attorney's fees, holding that Effort for AIDS's claims all arose from Missouri's passage of the HIMIA regulating Effort for AIDS, and thus the claims arose from a common nucleus of operative fact. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "St. Louis Effort For AIDS v. Lindley-Myers" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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When plaintiff learned that the State Bar Association of North Dakota (SBAND) was using his compulsory fees to oppose a measure that he volunteered time and money to support, he filed suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. In Knox v. Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, 567 U.S. 298 (2012), a public-sector union provided an annual Hudson notice calculating germane expenses and permitting non-members to opt out of non-germane expenses by objecting within thirty days. The Eighth Circuit held that the opt-out issue debated by the Supreme Court in Knox was simply not implicated by SBAND's revised license fee statement. Accordingly, because Knox did not overrule prior cases holding that the First Amendment does not require an opt-in procedure, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment and dismissal of the case. View "Fleck v. Wetch" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit found no violation of Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 or abuse of the judicial process in this consolidated appeal involving parties in a putative action. The court held that counsel did not violate Rule 41 in stipulating to the dismissal of the action and counsel had at least a colorable legal argument that the district court’s approval was not needed under Rule 23(e) to voluntarily dismiss the claims of the putative class. Therefore, the district court abused its discretion in finding that counsel acted with an improper purpose under Rule 11 and abused the judicial process by stipulating to the dismissal of the federal action for the purpose of seeking a more favorable forum and avoiding an adverse decision. Consequently, the district court also abused its discretion in imposing sanctions upon plaintiffs' counsel for the purported violation. The court reversed the district court's orders and remanded for further proceedings. View "Castleberry v. USAA" on Justia Law

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PPKM sought and obtained a permanent injunction against DHSS after DHSS attempted to revoke PPKM's license to provide abortion services. PPKM's license expired before the district court granted its motion for attorney's fees. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding PPKM attorney's fees or its work at all stages of this litigation, and PPKM's recovery in this case was not so technical as to render the award an abuse of discretion. In this case, PPKM was the prevailing party and DHSS offered no additional reason to conclude that PPKM was not entitled to the attorney's fees awarded by the district court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Planned Parenthood Great Plans v. Dr. Randall Williams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The Eighth Circuit vacated the district court's order directing Pfizer to pay attorney's fees in an order remanding to state court. The Eighth Circuit agreed with plaintiffs that the filing of the satisfaction of judgment has mooted the appeal, and vacated the district court's order directing Pfizer to pay attorney's fees given an order of vacatur was the usual course, that all parties agree that vacatur was proper, and that vacatur would go a long way toward repairing any possible harm that Pfizer claimed it suffered. The court reasoned that otherwise the prevailing party could solidify a decision as precedent or create a preclusive effect without that decision being subjected to appellate review. View "Robinson v. Pfizer, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Dindinger, Loring, and Freund filed suit against Allsteel, alleging claims of sex-based wage discrimination under the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. 206(d); Dindinger and Loring also brought claims of sex-based wage discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, Iowa Code 216.6A, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e; and Loring additionally brought a claim of sex-based discrimination for failure to promote under Title VII. On appeal, Allsteel challenged the district court's denial of its motion for a new trial and grant of plaintiffs' motions for attorney's fees and costs. The court concluded that the district court correctly instructed the jury that Allsteel could not rely on economic conditions to establish its affirmative defense to the Equal Pay Act claim that a factor other than sex justified the pay discrepancies between plaintiffs and their male comparators; even if the court were to agree that economic conditions could be a factor other than sex justifying a pay differential in some circumstances, Allsteel did not present evidence to establish such a defense here; and because Allsteel did not present evidence that economic conditions caused the pay differentials plaintiffs experienced, the district court did not abuse its discretion in instructing the jury that Allsteel could not rely on economic conditions to establish an affirmative defense. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting "me-too" evidence; limiting Allsteel's ability to offer evidence regarding the audit; and by admitting testimony from Loring's supervisor. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in regard to attorney's fees, but remanded the issue of costs with instructions to determine whether charging clients separately for Westlaw research is the prevailing practice in Iowa. Accordingly, the court remanded as to this issue and affirmed in all other respects. View "Dindinger v. Allsteel, Inc." on Justia Law