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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction an action alleging that a fee paid to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the transitional reinsurance program in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), 42 U.S.C. 18061(b)(1)(A), did not apply to self-insured, self-administered plans. The Fund asked the district court to declare that it was not required to submit the fee and was entitled to reimbursement of its mistaken payment to the Department. The court affirmed the district court's holding that the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 702, 704, did not waive sovereign immunity and, even without sovereign immunity, the Tucker Act would vest exclusive jurisdiction over this lawsuit in the United States Court of Federal Claims. View "Batsche v. Price" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity in an action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that UMKC's decision not to renew plaintiff's contract was in retaliation of his free speech rights as a public employee. The court held that plaintiff's speech regarding the school's preferential treatment of student athletes was unprotected speech done pursuant to his duties as a lecturer. Plaintiff failed to show, using the particularized inquiry required, that his right to make this speech in these circumstances was clearly established. In this case, defendants could reasonably conclude that plaintiff spoke solely as an aggrieved lecturer in asking the Chancellor to investigate grading policies for student athletes. View "Lyons v. Vaught" on Justia Law

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The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel affirmed the bankruptcy court's order remanding an adversary proceeding brought against debtor by the Law Firm. The panel held that the bankruptcy court did not abuse its discretion by committing a clear error of judgment in weighing the listed criteria. In this case, the bankruptcy court's analysis demonstrated its exercising jurisdiction would not resolve any bankruptcy issue or serve any bankruptcy purpose that was not at least equally well-served by remanding the matter to the state court. The court rejected debtor's arguments to the contrary and affirmed. View "Zahn Law Firm, P.A. v. Baker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of 75 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to wire fraud, use of unauthorized access devices, and aggravated identity theft. The court held that the presentencing report's statement that the scheme involved more than 50 participants was not material to any enhancement under USSG 3B1.1(b), and any error in overruling defendant's objection was harmless. The court also held that the district court properly overruled defendant's objections to the PSR; the district court did not err by finding that she was a manager or supervisor of a criminal activity involving five or more participants where defendant admitted the scheme involved more than 15 participants. Finally, the district court did not err by denying a two-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility under USSG 3E1.1(a). View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Allstate after the insurance company denied their homeowner's insurance claim. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Allstate's motion for judgment as a matter of law. In regard to the breach of contract claim, the court held that plaintiffs failed to present sufficient evidence of the home's value and the personal property's value before or after the fire. Furthermore, a bankruptcy filing was insufficient to establish value. In this case, plaintiffs could have submitted an estimate of the personal property's value immediately before the fire, but they did not. Values on their proof-of-loss list were estimates of original purchase prices and it did not account for deterioration, obsolescence, or other depreciation as required by the policy and under Missouri law. Because plaintiff's vexatious refusal claim was derivative of their breach of contract claim, the court affirmed as to that claim. View "Aziz v. Allstate Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 130 month sentence after he pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of child pornography. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by not considering the sentences of other similarly situated defendants. The court explained that, although sentencing-disparity arguments were properly raised to the district court, the court declined to impose a procedural requirement that a district court must compare and contrast the defendant under consideration with a similar offender who has been sentenced by another federal judge. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing a substantively unreasonable sentence. View "United States v. McElderry" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the revocation of defendant's supervised release and sentence of 24 months in prison. The court held that the sentence was substantively reasonable, the district court properly imposed the sentence based on multiple violations and the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors, and did not procedurally err in varying upwards. View "United States v. Durr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for a hearing to determine whether he should be discharged from the Federal Medical Center at Rochester (FMCR). The court held that ample evidence supported the district court's finding that defendant required ongoing commitment at FMCR under 18 U.S.C. 4245(d) for treatment of his schizophrenia. View "United States v. Wedington" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit dismissed defendant's appeal of his sentence based on the appellate waiver in his plea agreement. Defendant pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and was ultimately sentenced to 108 months in prison. Defendant challenged the calculation of his sentencing guidelines range, the substantive reasonableness of the sentence, and certain special conditions of his supervised release. In this case, defendant signed a plea agreement and assented again at the plea hearing. Therefore, he knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to appeal. View "United States v. Cooney" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's claim under 28 U.S.C. 2255, alleging that counsel was ineffective because counsel failed to object to testimony concerning his statement to an agent or to a remark the Government made during closing arguments about his decision not to testify. Petitioner was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and sentenced to life in prison. The court held that counsel did not violate petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel by failing to object to the Government's use of his pre-arrest, pre-Miranda statement to the agent. Given the split of authority at the time petitioner was tried, and the complete lack of Eighth Circuit or Supreme Court authority on the subject, counsel's performance fell within the wide range of professionally competent assistance. View "Long v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law