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An administrative panel's denial of a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction typically is the law of the case, ordinarily to be adhered to in the absence of clear error or manifest injustice. After the Eighth Circuit affirmed petitioner's sentence for a drug offense, he then filed a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. The district court denied the motion, but granted a certificate of appealability. Seeing no error or manifest injustice, the court proceeded to the merits of the case and held that, because petitioner made the same Rule 11 argument in his direct appeal, the court declined to relitigate the issue; petitioner has not shown that the government's silence regarding a twelve-year sentence amounted to a promise that induced him to plead guilty; and defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim failed because he failed to point to sufficient contemporaneous evidence to support his post hoc assertion that he would not have pleaded guilty absent his attorney's advice. Accordingly, the court affirmed the denial of petitioner's section 2255 motion. View "Thompson v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity against a trooper who shot and killed plaintiff's dog when the dog ran onto a highway and obstructed traffic. The court held that the issue was not whether the trooper had the authority to seize the dog, but whether the degree of force he employed was reasonable to accomplish the necessary seizure. In this case, the trooper's actions were objectively reasonable under the circumstances and he was entitled to qualified immunity. Even assuming a constitutional violation, the trooper was entitled to qualified immunity because his conduct did not violate a clearly established Fourth Amendment right. Plaintiff has not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that an officer violated the Fourth Amendment when he shot and killed an unrestrained, unsupervised dog creating a serious risk to public safety and avoiding numerous attempts to control him without force. View "Hansen v. Black" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting the Union's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. In this case, plaintiffs filed suit alleging that the Union had engaged in unfair labor practices, in violation of section 8(b)(4) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 158(b)(4). The court held that the Union's conduct did not violate the statute absent a "cease doing business" object beyond the disruption of relationships with customers and suppliers, which any picketed business would suffer. The cessation of business between the Markets and their customers and suppliers was not an object prohibited by section 158(b)(4)(ii)(B). The court held that enmeshing a secondary party in the union's conflict with the owner of a now-defunct business was not conduct sufficient to constitute a violation of the statute. View "Wartman v. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 653" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed defendant's conviction of two violations of 36 C.F.R. 261.3(c), which prohibits threatening, intimidating, or intentionally interfering with any Forest officer. In this case, the citations charged defendant with harassment, which was not prohibited by section 261.3(c), and interference. Therefore, the verdict was permissible only if it rested on the theory that defendant intentionally interfered with the officers. The court held that the district court plainly erred by subjecting defendant to a constructive amendment that materially and substantially affected defendant's right to notice of the charges against him. In this case, sufficient evidence supported defendant's convictions on the grounds that he intimidated the officers. Because defendant was convicted of a crime for which he was not charged, and the conviction was supported by sufficient evidence, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. McDill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 as time-barred. The court held that the state did not knowingly and intelligently waive its statute-of-limitations defense; the district court properly analyzed the state's motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) in analyzing whether to address the state's statute-of-limitations defense; the court rejected petitioner's claim that the district court incorrectly applied 28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(1)(A) as the trigger for his one-year limitations period; petitioner was not entitled to tolling under section 2244(d)(1)(B); the district court did not fail to toll the statute of limitations for any time during which petitioner's application was "pending" and thus his habeas petition was not timely filed under section 2244; and, whether or not the court applied the stop-clock approach, petitioner was not eligible for equitable tolling. View "Coulter v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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Defendants Parker, Veltrez Black, Johnson, and Bender appealed their convictions for conspiring to possess firearms in a conspiracy involving gang members with felony convictions who enlisted "straw purchasers." In regard to Veltrez Black's contentions, the Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not err in denying his motion for a mistrial; the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the government's statements, nor did it abuse its discretion in allowing evidence to support these statements; the court rejected Veltrez Black's remaining evidentiary contentions; the evidence was sufficient to support Veltrez Black's conviction for conspiracy; but the court vacated Veltrez Black's firearm possession conviction due to insufficient evidence and remanded for resentencing. In regard to Bender's contentions, the court affirmed defendant's conviction but vacated defendant's sentence because it was procedurally unsound due to a Guidelines calculation error. Finally, the court affirmed Parker and Johnson's convictions. View "United States v. Parker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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As long as the relator had direct knowledge of the true state of the facts, she can be an original source even though her knowledge of the misrepresentation was not first-hand. In this case, the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of relator's qui tam action under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733. The district court reasoned that information underlying relator's allegations had been previously disclosed. The court held that the district court misapplied circuit precedent on the meaning of "original source" because relator did not have to have direct and independent knowledge of Bayer's allegedly false communications to the Department of Defense. The district court did not reach other arguments raised by Bayer. Therefore, the court remanded for the district court to address these matters in the first instance. View "Simpson v. Bayer Healthcare" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against individual defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and state law, alleging claims related to the Township Board's decision to install a culvert and to refund leftover grant money to FEMA without holding public meetings. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of qualified immunity as to the First Amendment retaliation claim where the district court concluded that the facts viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs established that the individual defendants retaliated against plaintiffs for exercising their First Amendment rights; affirmed the denial of qualified immunity as to the First Amendment association claim where the district court concluded that the individual defendants violated Plaintiff Mary Lee's right to freedom of association by excluding her from Township Board meetings despite her elected role as Township Board Clerk; and reversed the denial of qualified immunity as to the First Amendment right to petition claim where there was no First Amendment right to participate in a non-public government meeting as a member of the public. In regard to the cross-appeal, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the free speech claim. View "Lee v. Driscoll" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and her husband filed suit against numerous defendants, alleging that police officers had improperly accessed their private information in the State's driver's license database. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the former Grand Rapids assistant chief of police and Grand Rapids. The court held that plaintiff had Article III standing to bring her Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. 2721, claim; the doctrine of equitable estoppel did not apply in this case because any delay by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety was not attributable to Grand Rapids or the assistant chief; plaintiff did not make a "mistake" in the ordinary sense of the word when she intentionally sued "John Doe" while knowing that he was not the proper defendant; and thus the amended complaint did not relate back as substituting the assistant chief for John Doe as defendant under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c). View "Heglund v. City of Grand Rapids" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for four insurance companies in an action filed by UnitedHealth, seeking indemnity and defense costs for underlying litigation settlements under its professional liability excess insurance policies. The court held that the district court properly concluded that UnitedHealth failed to present sufficient evidence as to how the settlement should be allocated between covered and non-covered claims; it was not enough under Minnesota law for UnitedHealth to show simply that its $350 million settlement included a covered claim of an unspecified amount; UnitedHealth failed to provide non-speculative evidence to allocate the $350 million settlement between the potentially covered AMA suit and non-covered Malchow suit; and the court declined to disturb the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Insurers on the matter of defense costs in the AMA litigation. View "UnitedHealth Group Inc. v. Executive Risk Specialty Ins." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law