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

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After plaintiff was assaulted by another inmate with a wooden board at a correctional facility, he suffered head injuries that require life-long medical treatment and has developed a seizure disorder. Plaintiff filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against seven correctional facility officials, alleging that each violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by failing to protect him from a substantial risk of serious harm. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss based on failure to state a claim, holding that plaintiff failed to plausibly allege an Eighth Amendment violation. In this case, the amended complaint failed to allege that defendant had previously been threatened by the assailant or by another inmate; that the assailant was known to be a violent, volatile inmate; that plaintiff and the assailant had previously argued or fought, been cellmates at any time, or even knew each other; or that either plaintiff or the assailant have recently been in protective custody or in a restrictive status such as administrative segregation. The court explained that plaintiff was the unfortunate victim of a surprise attack and thus his failure-to-protect claim failed. View "Vandevender v. Sass" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied petitions for review of the BIA's final order of removal denying petitioner's application for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). As a preliminary matter, the court held that it was precluded from reviewing the issue of whether the BIA incorrectly applied the clear error standard of review and engaged in improper factfinding, because petitioner had not exhausted his administrative remedies as to these issues when he filed his initial petition, and because, after exhausting, he never properly petitioned this court to review them. The court also held that the BIA did not err in finding that petitioner had failed to meet his burden of persuasion that he is more likely than not to be tortured if returned to South Sudan. In this case, the BIA's decision is supported by substantial evidence because the BIA correctly concluded that petitioner must show more than a pattern of general ethnic violence in South Sudan to meet the CAT's likelihood requirement. Therefore, a reasonable adjudicator could have found the evidence insufficient to establish a likelihood of torture. View "Lasu v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the union's claims against Trane concerning an arbitration award. In this case, the June Award indicated that the arbitrator did not intend for it to be final because he explicitly retained jurisdiction "until the terms of the award are met." When a dispute did arise regarding damages, the arbitrator resolved that dispute in the September Award and then expressly stated that he was "no longer retaining jurisdiction in this matter." Therefore, the express relinquishment of jurisdiction in the September Award indicated that the arbitrator intended the September Award to be final and did not contemplate further disputes regarding the award. The court held that the union is not time-barred from seeking to vacate the arbitration award because the text of the June Award indicates that it was not the final award. The court stated that the September Award is the final award and the union filed its claim to vacate within 90 days of it. Therefore, the union's claim was timely and the district court erred in concluding otherwise. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "International Union v. Trane U.S. Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for 14 counts of aiding and abetting wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and six counts of aiding and abetting securities fraud. Defendant's convictions stemmed from his involvement in a market manipulation scheme. The court held that the evidence was sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that defendant's conduct was fraudulent and manipulative within the meaning of the statutes in question; the evidence was sufficient to show nondisclosure or active concealment of a material fact where a jury could easily find that a reasonable investor would have found material the fact that a corporate insider had, through a nominee, purchased more than half of the freely tradeable stock and was directing that nominee and others to trade the stock at pre-arranged prices for the purpose of triggering tens of millions of dollars in bonus payments that would likely cripple the corporation; the district court did not abuse its discretion or plainly err in admitting lay opinion testimony; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering restitution in the amount of $15,135,361. View "United States v. Gilbertson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a member of the Board of Directors of Eagle Forum, filed suit against Eagle Forum and others, alleging violations of the organization's bylaws and breach of fiduciary duties in connection with the organization's attempt to remove plaintiff and others from the Board. The Eighth Circuit held that plaintiff waived the Bylaws claim set forth in his original complaint; the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's claim that Eagle Forum violated Illinois law by not permitting proxy voting; the district court acted within the scope of its "informed discretion" by awarding attorneys' fees by relying on its inherent power, because Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 was not "up to the task" in this situation; the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney's fees to Eagle Forum under its inherent power as a sanction against plaintiff for acting in bad faith; the district court provided a reasoned basis for its award of $9,851.25 in attorneys' fees to Eagle Forum by relying on and analyzing the invoice submitted by Eagle Forum. View "Schlafly v. Eagle Forum" on Justia Law

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Independent of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Minnesota has adopted an "open enrollment" process that allows a parent to enroll a student in a school outside of the student's local district. The Eighth Circuit held that the IDEA does not require a school district that enrolls a nonresident student like M.N.B. to provide transportation between the student's home and the school district where her parent has chosen to enroll her. The court saw nothing in the IDEA that provides clear notice to a state that it must cover transportation expenses when a student's travel is the result of a parent's choice under an open enrollment program. Therefore, under the circumstances presented here, the court concluded that the IDEA does not require the Osseo District to reimburse M.N.B.'s parent for the cost of transportation between her home and the border of the Osseo District. The court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of M.N.B. View "Osseo Area Schools v. M.N.B." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, participants in Target's employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), filed suit against Target and its senior executives, alleging violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the claims, holding that plaintiffs failed to show that the fiduciaries breached their duty of prudence. In regard to plaintiffs' proposed alternative actions, the court held that Target could not have implemented a purchase freeze without inevitable disclosure and a reasonably prudent fiduciary could still believe disclosure was the more dangerous route than the route taken. The court also held that plaintiffs failed to show that the fiduciaries violated the duty of loyalty in administering the plan because of their potential conflicts where plaintiffs point to nothing more than the tension inherent in the fiduciaries' dual roles as ERISA fiduciaries and Target officers. Plaintiffs also failed to show that the fiduciaries breached the duty of loyalty by making misleading statements to Plan participants because they failed to allege that the fiduciaries knew they were making untruthful statements in their disclosures and to specify which statements were untrue. Finally, plaintiffs' claim that Target's CEOs breached their duty to monitor the other ERISA fiduciaries cannot survive without an underlying breach. View "Dormani v. Target Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for a new trial based on newly-discovered evidence. The court held that the district court did not clearly err in denying the motion without a hearing, because defendant did not identify any evidentiary support for his allegations and thus they were insufficient to warrant a new trial. In this case, there is no reason to believe that new evidence related to a prior shooting would change the jury's verdict. View "United States v. Glinn" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eighth Circuit vacated the district court's denial of defendant's motion for a sentence reduction, holding that the district court erred in relying on a drug-quantity figure that did not match what was attributed to defendant at sentencing. In this case, defendant seeks to take advantage of Amendment 782, which retroactively lowered the base offense levels for most drug-quantity offenses. The district court assumed that the correct drug amount was 136.08 kilograms and denied the motion. However, the district court had already rejected this figure earlier at defendant's original sentencing. Therefore, the amount the district court used was at odds with its previous factual finding and the remedy for this error is remand for reconsideration. View "United States v. Rendon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence and defendant's sentence for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. In regard to the motion to suppress, the court held that the district court did not clearly err in its factual findings; the district court did not commit legal error by finding that the initial encounter between the detectives and defendant was consensual; a reasonable officer would believe that defendant had consented to the search of his luggage at a bus stop despite the existing language barrier based on defendant's responsiveness to questions and affirmative response when asked if his bag could be searched; the search of defendant's cell phone was also consensual; and the district court did not clearly err in concluding that defendant's waiver of his Miranda rights was knowing and voluntary. In regard to defendant's sentence, the court held that defendant's within-Guidelines sentence was substantively reasonable where the district court gave due consideration when weighing all the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) sentencing factors, and the court found no abuse of discretion. View "United States v. DaCruz-Mendes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law