U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the nomination to the federal appellate bench of federal district court judge Ralph Erickson by a vote of 20-0. Now Erickson will need to win the approval of the full Senate before becoming eligible to accept the position as the Eighth Circuit's newest jurist.

Though nominated in a nearly bi-polar political climate, Erickson's nomination has received bipartisan support, which should mean he will be a lock for the full Senate vote.

Mothers Charged in Female Genital Mutilation Case

Federal prosecutors said it was the first of its kind -- a female genital mutilation case that has scandalized a religious community.

As reports spread, however, it revealed a deeply disturbing question for the nation: why has it taken so long to take action against the practice? The principal defendant, an Indian American doctor, was arrested five months ago, and two mothers have now been indicted in Minnesota for submitting their seven-year-old daughters for the procedure.

But what's worse, female genital mutilation apparently has been going on in the United States for generations. What on earth is wrong with this picture?

Sen. Al Franken Opposes New 8th Cir. Nominee

Live from Minnesota, it's Sen. Al Franken's night.

The former Saturday Night Live star is rising in American politics after he effectively blocked President Trump's nomination to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Franken has withheld his "blue slip" approval of the nominee, Judge David Stras, forcing even staunch Democrats to concede the point.

"The purpose of the blue slip is to ensure consultation between the White House and home-state senators on judicial nominees from their states," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. "I expect the committee to honor Sen. Franken's decision not to return a blue slip, as was always done when Republican senators didn't return blue slips on President Obama's nominees."

Court Affirms Defunding Planned Parenthood

Women have the right to get an abortion anywhere in America, but they may have a hard time paying for one in Arkansas.

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said in Does v. Gillespie that Arkansas can kick Planned Parenthood out of its network of Medicaid-approved health providers. Setting up a possible showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Eighth Circuit has changed the abortion litigation landscape.

"The plaintiffs are asserting a right -- the absolute right to a particular provider of their choosing -- that (the law) does not grant them," Judge Steven Colloton wrote for the Eighth Circuit, which includes Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota.

In June 2017, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the $11 million judgment against Toyota stemming from an unintended acceleration case that left three people dead, and put the driver behind bars for over two years. Toyota requested reconsideration of the matter, and a month later, in August 2017, the Eighth Circuit upheld the judgment against them once again.

The big issue that Toyota sought reconsideration on, apart from the size of the judgment, involved the evidence of "other similar incidents." In the case, testimony from three other individuals, unrelated to the accident in the present case, described situations where their Toyota Camrys (of the same model year) suffered the unintended acceleration problem alleged to have caused the accident in the present case.

Civil rights can sometimes be a bit confusing. The case of Anthony Runion is definitely one of those 'I-may-not-agree-with-what-you're-saying-but-I-support-your-right-to-say-it' situations in the view of the Eighth Circuit.

Runion was picketing his employer, Cooper Tire, after striking union employees were locked out. As a group of strike-breaking employees crossed the picket line, Runion made racist comments, which were not heard by the strike-breaking employees. Nevertheless, Cooper Tire terminated Runion for making the racist comments.

Runion appealed the termination, and at arbitration it was upheld as a "for cause" termination. However, Runion appealed the arbitrator's decision to the NLRB, which reversed, and ordered Runion reinstated with back pay. The NLRB found that despite the content of the comments, precedent required ruling in Runion's favor.

Lawyers Avoid Federal Sanctions in Forum Shopping Case

Usually, judges like to see cases settled.

But Judge P.K. Holmes was not one of those judges in Adams v. USAA Casualty Insurance Company. He found out that the parties in one of his former cases had settled in another court, and he wanted to know why he shouldn't sanction the lawyers for forum shopping.

One sanctions order and an appeal later, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals gave the lawyers a reprieve because the federal rules allowed it.

Eighth Circuit Sends Back Abortion Decision

A Planned Parenthood victory dance over an abortion law lasted shorter than most White House jobs, as a federal appeals vacated an injunction in Arkansas.

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said Planned Parenthood didn't show that the state's law was a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortion services. The law required that doctors who provide miscarriage pills must have hospital privileges in the event of complications.

"This common sense law will help ensure that medication abortions are conducted in a safe, responsible manner and with appropriate protections for women," said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Ferguson Police to Stand Trial

Dorian Johnson will get his day in court against Ferguson police for using excessive force that killed his friend three years ago.

Johnson was not injured in the incident but sued for civil rights violations and "unconstitutional law-enforcement practices." The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, turning away an appeal by the city in Johnson v. City of Ferguson, ruled that his case will go forward.

Michael Brown was not as fortunate. He died of gunshot wounds as he ran that day on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.

No Luck for Man Wrongfully Listed on Sex Registry

Once a registered sex offender, always a registered sex offender -- even if the offender was wrongfully listed on the sex offender registry.

That's a hard-edge reading of a federal appeals court decision in Roe v. State of Nebraska. The plaintiff sued the state for negligently listing him on the registry, but a trial court dismissed the case as untimely.

"We conclude that even if Roe's pleading was sufficient to state a claim of negligence against the defendants, his claim is barred by the two-year statute of limitations of the Nebraska State Tort Claims Act," said the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.