Justia U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Personal Injury
Ritchie Spec. Cred. Investments v. JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Plaintiff fell victim to a massive Ponzi scheme. Plaintiff sued JP Morgan and Richter Consulting. Plaintiff’s principal theory is that these firms aided and abetted fraud. And even if they did not, the complaint alleges that the transfers to JP Morgan were fraudulent. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint. The court explained that early on, JP Morgan agreed to pay over $30 million to settle a group of claims filed by the trustees. To protect the settlement, two courts issued bar orders preventing creditors like Plaintiff from asserting any claims that belong or belonged to one or more of the bankruptcy trustees. Those orders, along with general bankruptcy-standing doctrine, prevent Plaintiff from pursuing JP Morgan separately. The same goes for the fraudulent-transfer claims against JP Morgan. Further, Plaintiff’s aiding-and-abetting claim against Richter Consulting under New York law cannot move forward either, but for a different reason. The court explained that viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the allegations in the complaint describe no more than constructive knowledge of the fraud. View "Ritchie Spec. Cred. Investments v. JPMorgan Chase & Co." on Justia Law
Steve Williams v. Jeremy Baum
Two doctors missed Plaintiff’s cancer: Dr. P.J. in March 2015, and Dr. J.B in January 2018. After another doctor eventually discovered cancer, Plaintiff sued both Dr. P.J and Dr. J.B., arguing that their negligence reduced his chance of surviving. The jury returned a favorable verdict for Dr. J.B and Plaintiff moved for a mistrial based on the district court’s evidentiary rulings. The court denied that motion and the Eighth Circuit affirmed.On appeal, Plaintiff argues that the district court should have granted his motion for a new trial for three reasons. First, he says that the testimony about Dr. P.J.’s diagnosis was irrelevant and prejudicial. He next argued that the district court improperly allowed Exhibits S, T, and U to be referenced at trial. Those exhibits are hearsay, but the district court held that they fell within an exception under Federal Rule of Evidence 803. Finally, Plaintiff claimed that even if Rule 803(18) applies to Exhibits S, T, and U, those exhibits still should not have been received by the jury.The court held that the district court’s finding was not a clear abuse of discretion. While it is a close call, the record contained enough evidence for a jury to properly find that Plaintiff failed to meet his burden of proof. The court explained that the district court, which “is in the best position to determine the impact evidence will have upon the jury,” did not abuse its discretion in finding that the jury wasn’t prejudiced by the disputed evidence. View "Steve Williams v. Jeremy Baum" on Justia Law
Allen Beaulieu v. Clint Stockwell
Plaintiff, Prince’s photographer, claims his former collaborators and a potential investor in a book project kept his photographs and used them without permission. He sued. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants on all claims. Plaintiff appealed. The district court granted summary judgment to all defendants. Beaulieu appeals the judgment and the costs awarded to Defendant. Plaintiff presented two possible theories of conversion. The first is an ongoing conversion, that the collaborators still have his photos. The second is a technical conversion, that the collaborators kept his photos for several months after he demanded their return. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained Plaintiff has not given a firm inventory of how many photos he believes are missing. An extensive forensic protocol did not identify any of his materials in their possession or any wrongful use. Plaintiff provides nothing more than speculation and suspicion against Defendants. While Plaintiff has a method for counting the total number of his photos, this is not sufficient to substantiate his allegations. Further, in regards to Plaintiff’s copyright infringement claim, the court explained silence, coupled with continued and normal interactions between him and the collaborators, implied his approval of the marketing plan and the corresponding distribution of his images, and thus showed an implied license. Finally, the court wrote that since Defendants prevailed in showing there was no issue of material fact about the conversion claim or the copyright claim, they also prevail on the tortious interference claim because there is no underlying improper conduct. View "Allen Beaulieu v. Clint Stockwell" on Justia Law
Robert Morrow v. United States
Plaintiff wife of decedent and executor of the estate of the decedent, brought suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The district court granted summary judgment to the government, dismissing the suit with prejudice. On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that the district court (1) erred in denying their motion for voluntary dismissal and (2) erred in granting summary judgment to the government. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that because Plaintiffs moved for voluntary dismissal after the government filed its answer, the action could be dismissed only by court order, on terms the court considers proper. Here, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Plaintiffs’ motion for voluntary dismissal without prejudice. Plaintiffs argued that their filing of unverified medical records with the complaint substantially complied with the requirement to file an expert witness affidavit on the question of the standard of care within the prescribed deadline. However, the court explained it is undisputed that Plaintiffs failed to serve the government with a certificate of merit within 60 days of the government filing its answer.” Thus, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the government and in dismissing Plaintiffs’ complaint with prejudice. View "Robert Morrow v. United States" on Justia Law
Posted in: Personal Injury
Katherine Anderson v. Jeffrey Hansen
Plaintiffs, independent contractors of American Family Life Insurance Company of Columbus (Aflac), alleged that an Aflac employee, sexually assaulted Plaintiff in her hotel room during a work conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant, asserting tort claims for battery, assault, false imprisonment, and loss of consortium, among others. the beneficiary under Plaintiffs’ Arbitration Agreements with Aflac. The district court denied the motion as to the aforementioned claims, holding that they did not arise under or relate in any way to the arbitration agreements. Defendant appealed, arguing that the claims fall within the scope of the arbitration agreements. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court held that Plaintiffs’ tort claims do not fall within the scope of the Arbitration Agreements. The facts underlying Plaintiffs’ tort claims do not touch matters covered by Plaintiffs’ Arbitration Agreements in light of the Agreements’ limiting language requiring the “dispute arise under or relate in any way to the Associate’s Agreements. As a result, the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration. View "Katherine Anderson v. Jeffrey Hansen" on Justia Law
Elizabeth Zick v. Paccar, Inc.
Plaintiff was severely injured in a crash while he was driving a Peterbilt semi-truck. He sued the truck’s manufacturer, PACCAR, Inc. (PACCAR), alleging that the truck’s defective design caused his injuries. A jury returned a verdict in PACCAR’s favor. His estate appeals, arguing that the district court committed several evidentiary errors at trial.The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court held, 1.) Plaintiff's expert's second report was untimely under the discovery orders in the case, and the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding it; 2.) the district court did not abuse its discretion by concluding that plaintiff had failed to show the good cause required under Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4) to modify the scheduling order after the court declared a mistrial; 3.) Plaintiff failed to preserve his challenge to Defendant's "state-of-the-art" defense.Applying plain error review to Plaintiff's challenge to Defendant's "state-of-the-art" defense, the court held the district court did not plainly err in admitting the testimony as the witnesses were testifying based on their extensive industry experience, and noted that Iowa law permits industry custom as evidence of the state of the art. View "Elizabeth Zick v. Paccar, Inc." on Justia Law
James Cleek v. Ameristar Casino KC, LLC
Plaintiffs appealed the district court’s denial of their motion to remand and adverse grant of summary judgment in this diversity action arising out of a slip-and-fall on Ameristar Casino Kansas City, LLC’s property. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court found that the district court properly applied the Massachusetts Rule and granted Ameristar’s motion for summary judgment. There is no dispute that the patch of ice on which Plaintiff slipped and fell had accumulated naturally on the walkway outside the casino’s entrance. There was no dispute that the accumulation was attributable to weather conditions general to the community. Plaintiffs point to no evidence, for example, that the ice on the walkway was an isolated condition unique to Ameristar’s property, rather than the result of weather affecting the entire Kansas City area. Thus, because Ameristar took no steps to remove or treat the ice that accumulated where Plaintiff fell, the district court properly found that Ameristar assumed no duty of care. Further, Plaintiffs point to no Missouri case where a property owner has been found to have assumed a duty by agreement under similar circumstances. The court wrote that in essence, the Plaintiffs’ implied-agreement theory is an attempt to hold Ameristar liable based on the alleged existence of a company snow-and-ice-removal policy, but Missouri courts do not recognize such an exception to the Massachusetts Rule. View "James Cleek v. Ameristar Casino KC, LLC" on Justia Law
Lori Nicholson v. Biomet, Inc.
This product liability case arises out of the multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) proceedings regarding Biomet’s M2a Magnum hip-replacement device. After experiencing complications from a hip replacement surgery using the M2a Magnum, Plaintiff sued Biomet, Inc., Biomet Orthopedics, LLC, Biomet Manufacturing LLC, and Biomet U.S. Reconstruction, LLC (collectively, “Biomet”), alleging multiple claims, including defective design. A jury ultimately found in Plaintiff’s favor, concluding the M2a Magnum was defectively designed. The jury also awarded Plaintiff punitive damages. Biomet moved for a new trial and renewed its motion for judgment as a matter of law, but the district court denied these motions. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the district court’s summary judgment ruling concluded the M2a Magnum’s warnings and instructions were legally sufficient in the context of Plaintiff’s failure to warn claim. This ruling has no bearing on whether the M2a Magnum’s warnings and instructions prove an alternative design was unreasonable or would not have prevented the foreseeable risks it posed. Further, at trial, Plaintiff introduced evidence suggesting Biomet should have tested the M2a Magnum device before introducing it to the market but failed to do so. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, a reasonable jury could have found in favor of Plaintiff on the issue of punitive damages. Thus, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, the district court did not err in denying Biomet’s motion for judgment as a matter of law on punitive damages View "Lori Nicholson v. Biomet, Inc." on Justia Law
Christa Peterson v. Experian Information Solutions
Plaintiff initiated action against Experian Information Solutions (“Experian”), alleging a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1681 (“FCRA”). The district court found that Plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence to create a jury question on damages. Plaintiff contends that a genuine dispute of material fact exists on damages because she provided evidence of financial and emotional harm. The court explained that to maintain a claim for negligent violation of the FCRA, a plaintiff must offer proof of “actual damages sustained by the consumer as a result of the failure. Further, Plaintiff argues that she sustained financial injury based on the denial of her application for a Chase Bank credit card after a hard inquiry on her Experian report. However, her deposition testimony refutes this claim. The record bolsters the conclusion that the bankruptcy drove Chase’s decision to deny Plaintiff’s credit card application. Thus, Plaintiff’s assertion of financial harm is insufficient to create a jury question on damages. Finally, the court wrote that like in other decisions where the court has denied damages for emotional distress, the record reveals that Plaintiff “suffered no physical injury, she was not medically treated for any psychological or emotional injury, and no other witness corroborated any outward manifestation of emotional distress. View "Christa Peterson v. Experian Information Solutions" on Justia Law
Hannah Jesski v. Dakota, MN & Eastern RR
Two people were killed and one was injured when a locomotive owned by Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corporation (“DM&E”) collided with their SUV at a railroad crossing Collectively, “Appellants” sued DM&E for negligence. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of DM&E.Appellants argued the district court erred in granting summary judgment to DM&E with respect to two of Appellants’ theories of negligence. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Appellants offer no evidence that the driver's SUV was doing anything other than unwaveringly approaching the crossing prior to 5.4 seconds before the collision. And to avoid summary judgment, Appellants “must provide more than conjecture and speculation,” but must “designate specific facts creating a triable controversy.”Further, the court wrote that the FRSA clarifies that an action under state law seeking damages for personal injury, death, or property damage is not preempted by federal regulation where the action is based on a railroad’s failure to comply with the standard of care provided by federal regulation. Because Appellants do not argue that a lack of lighting contributed to the collision, the gravamen of Appellants’ excessive speed theory is simply that the locomotive was moving too fast (as Appellants’ own “excessive speed” label would suggest). FRA regulations set the speed limit for the subject locomotive at forty miles per hour. The court wrote that they are not persuaded by Appellants’ attempt to rebrand the lighting requirements under Section 229.125(d) into an alternative speed limit. Accordingly, the Appellants’ excessive speed claim is preempted by 49 C.F.R. Section 213.9 and the FRSA. View "Hannah Jesski v. Dakota, MN & Eastern RR" on Justia Law
Posted in: Personal Injury