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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing several products liability claims brought against Jones Stephens Corporation by Apex Oil. Applying Arkansas law to this dispute, the court held that the district court properly dismissed the strict liability claim where Apex did not present sufficient evidence that Jones Stephens's product was unreasonably dangerous; the district court properly dismissed the negligence and negligent failure to warn claims where Apex did not present evidence showing a causal connection between voids created by the manufacturing process and a structural failure of the parts; and the district court properly dismissed Apex's claim that Jones Stephens acted deceptively and unconscionably by advertising a "Leak proof seal" on the label of the plastic coupling nut where there was insufficient evidence that Apex's water damage was a result of the alleged deceptive trade practice. View "Apex Oil Company, Inc. v. Jones Stephens Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Products Liability

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A public employee cannot be terminated for making protected statements during a campaign for public office where that speech has no demonstrated impact on the efficiency of office operations. The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity in an action alleging that defendant terminated plaintiff's employment as a deputy in the Sheriff's Office for statements plaintiff made during an election campaign. The court held that plaintiff's statements were made as a citizen on matters of public concern; defendant failed to show an adequate justification for his actions, and thus plaintiff's speech was protected by the First Amendment; and defendant was not entitled to qualified immunity where defendant's termination of plaintiff violated a right secured by the First Amendment and that right was clearly established at the time of the termination. View "Morgan v. Robinson" on Justia Law

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Mark and Ornella Hammerschmidt were convicted of charges related to their involvement in two schemes to obtain fraudulent tax refunds from the Treasury through the IRS. Mark was sentenced to 135 months in prison and Ornella was sentenced to 48 months in prison. The Eighth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence, holding that the district court did not make the findings required to increase Mark's offense level for being a manager or supervisor and it should not have assessed criminal history points for a 2008 purged disposition of civil contempt. The court affirmed Ornella's sentence, holding that the district court did not err in applying an enhancement for being in the business of preparing or assisting in the preparation of tax returns. Furthermore, the district court did not err in relying on victim impact statements and Ornella's criminal history. View "United States v. Hammerschmidt" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of committing a hate crime in violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, 18 U.S.C. 249(a)(1). The court held that the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment on constitutional grounds where Congress rationally determined, in light of the Thirteenth Amendment, that racially motivated violence constitutes a badge and incident of slavery; the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to give the proposed jury instruction on character evidence; and the evidence was clearly sufficient to support the conviction. View "United States v. Metcalf" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. The court held that defendant's motion to suppress was properly denied where defendant had no objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the trash, which had been left for collection in an area accessible to the public; the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction; and defendant's remaining ten arguments in his pro se supplemental brief were without merit. View "United States v. Thompson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of defrauding Georgia Pacific, a company that operated a paper mill in Arkansas, by falsely presenting scale tickets for non-existent pulpwood loads that resulted in payments to defendant; the government did not improperly vouch for the credibility of a witness at trial; the district court did not err in giving a deliberate indifference/willful blindness jury instruction; the district court did not err by imposing a two-point sophisticated means enhancement under USSG 2B1.1(b)(10)(C) or a two-level enhancement for defendant's role in the offense under USSG 3B1.1; and defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable when compared to the sentence of defendant's co-conspirator. View "United States v. Atkins" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of Eco-Energy in a breach of contract action filed by the Bank. The court held that the district court did not err by granting partial summary judgment for Eco-Energy because Eco-Energy did not breach a sublease where that sublease did not require Eco-Energy to give its partner in the sublease, Nedak, notice and opportunity to cure a default. Furthermore, Eco-Energy did not breach the Assignment where the district court found no causation. View "First Dakota National Bank v. Eco Energy, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus. Assuming that petitioner enjoyed a constitutional right to choose counsel whom his parents could afford to retain, and that clearly established law precluded an arbitrary denial of a motion to continue that was designed to facilitate that choice of counsel, petitioner could not demonstrate that he was entitled to relief. In this case, the decision of the Arkansas courts was within the range of reasonableness. The court explained that without an identified counsel of choice and a proposed trial date, the benefits of a continuance were too speculative to show the denial of a clearly established right. View "Daniels v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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In the underlying lawsuit, A1's filed an action against Decker after the plastic bags Decker sold to A1's deteriorated in the sunlight because they were not manufactured with an ultraviolet inhibitor. In this appeal, the Eighth Circuit affirmed on remand the district court's grant of summary judgment to West Bend, Decker's insurer, holding that Decker's claims were properly dismissed because there was no property damage triggering coverage under West Bend's policies. The undisputed facts established that A1's landscaping materials were not physically injured due to the incorporation of the deteriorated packaging material. View "Decker Plastics Inc. v. West Bend Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e), holding that defendant's previous conviction for Minnesota first degree robbery was a violent felony and a predicate offense under the ACCA. The court reasoned that Minnesota's express requirement that a defendant communicate a threat to overcome resistance or to compel acquiescence necessarily implicated the use of violent force. View "United States v. Libby" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law