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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for CIC on the Trust's claims for breach of contract, vexatious refusal, and declaratory judgment. The court held that the district court properly afforded the appraisal provision its plain meaning in determining it was unambiguous, enforceable, and did not abridge the Trust's rights under Missouri's vexatious refusal statute; the district court properly concluded CIC did not waive the appraisal provision; the Trust's contention that there was no basis for the district court to order appraisal of all covered damages, including replacement cost, was unfounded; the district court committed no error in finding the Trust's breach of contract claim failed as a matter of law; and the district court properly granted CIC summary judgment on the Trust's vexatious refusal claim. View "Olga Despotis Trust v. Cincinnati Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The "free-choice-of provider" provision of the Medicaid Act, 42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(23)(A), did not unambiguously create a federal right for individual patients that could be enforced under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiff, three Arkansas patients identified by the Planned Parenthood affiliate, filed suit against the Director of the Department under section 1983, claiming that the Department violated a federal right of the patients under the Medicaid Act to choose any "qualified" provider that offers services that the patients seek. The Eighth Circuit vacated injunctions forbidding suspending payments for services rendered to the class of Medicaid beneficiaries, holding that plaintiffs did not have a likelihood of success on the merits of their claims. View "Does v. Gillespie" on Justia Law

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After a jury found that Charter Oak was liable for breach of contract and deceit for its handling of plaintiff's underinsured motorist (UIM) claim, the district court partly granted judgment as a matter of law and approved some of the compensatory damages, as well as all of the punitive damages. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that the independent duty rule did not bar plaintiff's deceit claim; there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict that there was deceit and the deceit harmed plaintiff; the evidence supported the jury's finding that Charter Oak's breach of contract prevented plaintiff from submitting her UIM claim sooner and award of interest on UIM monies from the delay; the district court did not err by failing to conform plaintiff's pleadings, and properly nullified the award for mental and emotional harm; the district court properly applied South Dakota law and applied a 15% interest rate on the $900,000 payment of the UIM claim; and the evidence supported the award of punitive damages and the award was not excessive. View "Dziadek v. The Charter Oak Fire Ins." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress, motions in limine, motion for mistrial, motion for judgment of acquittal, and proposed buyer–seller instruction. The court held that the search warrant application supported a finding of probable cause where, considering the totality of the circumstances, the affidavits and application in support of the search warrant contained sufficient facts to establish a fair probability that evidence of criminal activity would be found in defendant's residence; the information contained in the warrant was not fatally stale; the district court did not err by admitting evidence of defendant's prior drug convictions; evidence of defendant's flight was probative of consciousness of guilt and was not unduly prejudicial; any error in declining to grant a mistrial based on a government witness's statements was harmless; the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting the proposed buyer–seller instruction because the evidence established that defendant sold resale quantities of methamphetamine over an extended period of time. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In 2012, plaintiff filed suit against Union Pacific under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. 51 et seq., alleging liability for a lower back injury. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, holding that plaintiff's suit was time-barred because he should have known about his injury and its cause more than three years before filing suit. In this case, plaintiff, a locomotive engineer for Union Pacific, testified that in 2007 and 2008 he experienced recurring lower-back pain that he attributed to potholes in the tracks, and that this was the same pain for which he later sought medical treatment. View "White v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to JRMC in this breach of contract suit and the district court's subsequent award of $64,931.81 to JRMC. The court held that the documents executed in connection with defendant's employment at JRMC should be considered separately: the Recruitment Agreement and the Employment Agreement; defendant's obligation to pay the remaining debt under a promissory note was not excused by his allegations of fraud or breach of the duty of good faith, as well as breach of contract and personal injury; the terms of the note control and the note provided that defendant agreed to pay all costs and expenses incurred by JRMC in connection with the collection and enforcement of the note; and the district court did not abuse its discretion with respect to the award of attorney's fees. View "Johnson Regional Medical Center v. Halterman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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After plaintiff was injured in a car accident while driving a loaner vehicle from Billion, she filed suit against Billion's insurer, Travelers, for coverage under the commercial insurance policy. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit for failure to state a claim. Although plaintiff did not allege facts showing that her tort or punitive damages or attorneys fees would exceed $75,000, it was not legally impossible that she could recover at least that amount. Therefore, the district court had jurisdiction over the suit. The court held that, reading the endorsement together with the declarations page, the district court properly found the policy did not cover auto medical payments; because plaintiff was not insured under the auto medical coverage provision of the policy, the district court properly dismissed her remaining claims; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying her motions to reconsider or amend. View "Peterson v. The Travelers Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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Plaintiff-appellant David Hosea sued two City of Saint Paul police officers following what he contended was an unlawful arrest and use of excessive force. Officers responded to a 911 hang-up call, and arrested appellant at the scene. The Officers’ motion for summary judgment was granted based on qualified immunity. On appeal, Hosea argued that the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity on his unlawful-arrest claim because the officers did not have arguable probable cause to arrest him for either obstruction of legal process or domestic assault. Also, Hosea argued that the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity on his excessive-force claim because he did not commit a crime in the officers’ presence, he did not pose a threat to the safety of the officers or others, he was not resisting arrest, the officers failed to identify themselves, and he started complying before the officers exerted force. After review of the trial court record, and finding no reversible error, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment. View "Hosea v. City of St. Paul" on Justia Law

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Defendant-appellant Christopher Klick was seriously injured after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning while aboard a friend’s fishing boat. An exhaust pipe had broken off at the spot where it connected with the engine. As a result, the engine had been expelling carbon monoxide gas into the engine compartment rather than through the exhaust pipe and out behind the boat. When the engine compartment hatch from within the wheelhouse was opened, carbon monoxide flowed up into the wheelhouse. Klick quickly lost consciousness and fell into the engine compartment. He awoke there several hours later, severely burned from lying on the engine. He also suffered brain damage from the carbon monoxide. The gas killed the boat’s two other occupants, but Klick survived. Klick sued the boat dealer in state court. The dealer had an insurance policy from Travelers Property Casualty Company of America that required Travelers to pay for liabilities resulting from bodily injury. The policy, however, had a pollution exclusion providing that the policy did not cover liability for injuries arising out of the release, dispersal, or migration of certain pollutants. Travelers sued in federal court, seeking a declaration that the policy did not cover liability for Klick’s injuries. The district court granted summary judgment for Travelers. We conclude that the pollution exclusion applies, and we therefore affirm. View "Travelers Property Casualty v. Klick" on Justia Law

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Rex Lee Furman was convicted by jury on thirteen counts of producing child pornography; two counts of distributing child pornography; one count of receiving child pornography; one count of possession of child pornography; and one count of commission of a felony offense involving a minor when required to register as a sex offender. The district court sentenced Furman to life imprisonment, as well as to a 120-month consecutive sentence. Furman appealed, arguing the district court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal on the production and distribution counts and in admitting evidence of his 1999 conviction of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He also contends that his sentence violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Finding no abuse of discretion of other reversible error, the Eighth Circuit affirmed Furman’s convictions. View "United States v. Furman" on Justia Law