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

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The Eighth Circuit held that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act does not preempt the imposition of statewide tax on the gross receipts of a nonmember contractor for services performed in renovating and expanding the Tribe's gaming casino located on the Reservation. The court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Tribe and held that the Tribe has failed to show that the tax has more than a de minimis financial impact on federal and tribal interests. Furthermore, the State's legitimate interests in raising revenues for essential government programs that benefit the nonmember contractor-taxpayer in this case, as well as its interest in being able to apply its generally applicable contractor excise tax throughout the State, were sufficient to justify imposing the excise tax on the construction services performed on the Casino's realty. Finally, the court granted the State's motion to dismiss the State Treasurer and remanded for further proceedings. View "Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe v. Haeder" on Justia Law

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After the Tribe failed to remit the use tax on goods and services sold to nonmembers at its casino and store, the State's Department of Revenue denied the Tribe renewals of alcoholic beverage licenses that were issued to the casino and the store. The South Dakota Office of Hearing Examiners upheld the decision and the Tribe appealed. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that imposition of the South Dakota use tax on nonmember purchases of amenities at the Casino is preempted by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Applying the analysis in White Mountain Apache Tribe v. Bracker, 448 U.S. 136 (1980), the court held that the Tribe’s on-reservation Class III gaming activity is analogous to the nonmember logging activity on tribal land at issue in Bracker, and to the nonmember activity in building a reservation school at issue in Ramah Navajo School Bd., Inc. v. Bureau of Revenue of N.M., 458 U.S. 832, 838 (1982). Furthermore, raising revenues to provide government services throughout South Dakota does not outweigh the federal and tribal interests in Class III gaming reflected in the IGRA and the history of tribal independence in gaming. However, the court reversed the district court's Amended Judgment declaring that the State could not condition renewal of any alcoholic beverage license issued to the Tribe on the collection and remittance of a use tax on nonmember consumer purchases. In this case, the Tribe has failed to meet its burden to demonstrate that the State alcohol license requirement was not reasonably necessary to further its interest in collecting valid state taxes. View "Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe v. Noem" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against two officers, Hawkins and Swinton, for civil conspiracy and one of the officers, Hawkins, for excessive force and performing an unreasonable search. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the civil conspiracy and excessive force claims, holding that plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts to support her claims. In this case, plaintiff failed to allege the existence of an agreement between the officers for the conspiracy claim. Furthermore, it was not clearly established at the time that the amount of force used by Hawkins was excessive considering the injuries sustained by plaintiff were minor. However, the court affirmed the district court's denial of summary judgment to Hawkins on the unreasonable search claim, because issues of material fact remain as to whether Hawkins' search was reasonable. The court stated that a reasonable jury could conclude that the search was unreasonable in both scope and manner. Finally, the district court did not err in denying Hawkins qualified immunity on plaintiff's unreasonable search claim. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Robinson v. Hawkins" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the University under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and various state laws, alleging that the University failed to protect them against stalking and sexual harassment by a fellow student. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the University, holding that, because Plaintiff Kirkpatrick could not satisfy the actual knowledge element, her Title IX claim failed as a matter of law and the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the University on that claim; the district court properly granted summary judgment to the University on Pearson's Title IX claim because there was no genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the University was deliberately indifferent to any stalking or harassment that she experienced; and the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs' state law premises liability and general negligence claims, because plaintiffs could not establish that the school owed them a duty of care under Missouri law. View "Pearson v. Logan University" on Justia Law

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The decedent had insurance policies with Unum Life. After he died, he was survived by two minor children and his domestic partner. The district court granted a declaratory judgment, holding that Unum Life had adopted an unreasonable interpretation of the plans to support its decision to pay the domestic partner rather than the decedent's estate. The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that Unum life reasonably interpreted the plan as allowing it to pay a decedent's domestic partner in the absence of a designated beneficiary. In this case, it was reasonable for Unum Life to interpret the word "spouse" in the plan to include domestic partners and to pay the death benefits to the covered person's domestic partner. Accordingly, the court remanded with instructions to enter judgment in defendant's favor. View "Engle v. Land O'Lakes, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction to one count of distribution of child pornography. The court held that the statute of conviction, 18 U.S.C. 2252A(a)(2), as constitutionally applied to him, did not violate his rights under the First and Fifth Amendments. The court rejected defendant's contention that the statute unconstitutionally violated defendant's First Amendment right to free speech, because child pornography is categorically excluded from protection under the First Amendment. The court also rejected defendant's contention that the statute violated a right o privacy or sexual intimacy under the Fifth Amendment. The court held in United States v. Bach, 400 F.3d 622, 629 (8th Cir. 2005), that the Due Process Clause as interpreted in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), did not prevent a prosecution for transmitting a visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, even though the conduct was not criminal. View "United States v. Rouse" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that Officers Bryant and Oldham used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment when they arrested her and her minor son. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The court held that the officers' actions did not violate plaintiff and her son's clearly established rights, because there was no controlling authority at the time establishing a right to be free from any of the three tasings applied to plaintiff. The situation in this case involved aggressive behavior and a chaotic combative scene. Therefore, the court held that plaintiff failed to identify a robust and consensus of cases that placed the excessive force question beyond debate at the time of the violation. The court also held that Oldham did not violate a clearly established right by handcuffing the son's wrists behind his back. View "Rudley v. Bryant" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence after he conditionally pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that the officer who stopped defendant lacked reasonable suspicion to detain defendant. However, the court held that the officer discovered the evidence against defendant after he learned of an outstanding arrest warrant, and thus the initial violation of defendant's Fourth Amendment rights was sufficiently unrelated to the ultimate discovery of the evidence that suppression was inappropriate. Therefore, the discovery of the evidence used against defendant was attenuated from his unlawful stop. View "United States v. Lowry" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of defendants, holding that plaintiffs were not entitled to equitable tolling on their claims under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act. The court held that no extraordinary circumstances prevented plaintiffs from pursuing their rights and therefore violations of the Act that occurred before September 15, 2009 were untimely. In this case, plaintiffs' confusion over the scope of a Driver and Vehicle Services audit was insufficient to warrant equitable tolling. View "Kampschroer v. Anoka County" on Justia Law

Posted in: Transportation Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of HRMC's motion for remittitur or a new trial following the jury's award of damages to plaintiff, one of HRMC's former physicians, in a breach of contract action. The court held that the jury's award was not so grossly excessive that the district court committed a manifest abuse of discretion in failing to order remittitur for a lesser amount; even if HRMC's analysis of the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 immunity provision was correct, HRMC failed to properly preserve the issue; and there was no injustice in this case where HRMC had ample opportunity to raise this defense but failed to do so until it was too late. View "Miller v. Huron Regional Medical Center" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts