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

November 2009 Archives

US v. Linderman, No. 09-1044

Defendant's carjacking and firearm possession sentence is affirmed where: 1) the district court gave adequate consideration to the allegedly mitigating facets of defendant's personal history and characteristics; and 2) the district court's statements did not warrant a conclusion that the court was dissatisfied with defendant's Guidelines range or that it was the basis for his sentence.

Read US v. Linderman, No. 09-1044

Appellate Information

Submitted: October 23, 2009

Filed: November 30, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Murphy

Gross v. FBL Fin. Servs., Inc., No. 07-1490

In an Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) action claiming that defendant demoted plaintiff because of his age, judgment for plaintiff is reversed where the burden of persuasion should not have been shifted to the defendant in this ADEA case considering that plaintiff never set forth any direct evidence of age discrimination, and the jury instruction at issue impermissibly shifted the burden in such a manner.

Read Gross v. FBL Fin. Servs., Inc., No. 07-1490

Appellate Information

Submitted: September 28, 2009

Filed: November 30, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Colloton

Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 08-3798

In an ERISA action claiming that defendant benefit plan administrator (Wal-Mart) failed adequately to evaluate the investment options included in the plan, dismissal of the complaint is reversed where: 1) the district court erred by conflating the issue of plaintiff's Article III standing with his potential personal causes of action under ERISA; and 2) the district court erred by ignoring reasonable inferences supported by the facts alleged and drawing inferences in defendants' favor, faulting plaintiff for failing to plead facts tending to contradict those inferences.

Read Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 08-3798

Appellate Information

Submitted: September 24, 2009

Filed: November 25, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Murphy

Ladyha v. Holder, No. 09-1294

In asylum proceedings involving a native of Belarus, petition for review of the BIA's denial of the asylum application is denied where: 1) petitioner did not demonstrate that the record evidence compelled reversal on the basis of past persecution; and 2) as the BIA reasonably concluded that petitioner did not meet the lesser burden of establishing a basis for asylum, he could not show that withholding was necessary.

Read Ladyha v. Holder, No. 09-1294

Appellate Information

Submitted: November 17, 2009

Filed: November 24, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Murphy

US v. Wood, No. 08-3998

Defendant's sentence for sending threatening communications to a judge is affirmed where: 1) the district court reviewed defendant's mental health history and specifically addressed his disparity claim, providing sufficient reasoning to support imposition of the sentence; and 2) it was reasonable to conclude that defendant's threats would increase if he were not deterred by a Guidelines sentence.

Read US v. Wood, No. 08-3998

Appellate Information

Submitted: October 21, 2009

Filed: November 23, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Benton

Kipkemboi v. Holder, No. 07-3460

Petition for review of the BIA's order denying Kenyan petitioners' application for asylum is denied where: 1) because petitioner did not establish past persecution, she was not entitled to a rebuttable presumption of a well-founded fear of future persecution; 2) petitioners pointed to nothing that called into doubt the fundamental fairness of the procedures employed.

Read Kipkemboi v. Holder, No. 07-3460

Appellate Information

Submitted: October 20, 2009

Filed: November 23, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Benton

US v. Moser, No. 08-2909

In a petition for attorney's fees pursuant to the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA) after petitioner prevailed in an asset forfeiture proceeding pursuant to 21 U.S.C. section 853(n), denial of the petition is affirmed where the arguments for and against permitting a prevailing section 853(n) petitioner to receive attorneys' fees from the government were too closely balanced to allow the court of appeals to conclude that Congress's waiver of sovereign immunity clearly and unequivocally applied in this situation.

Read US v. Moser, No. 08-2909

Appellate Information

Submitted: April 17, 2009

Filed: November 18, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Melloy

US v. Parker, No. 08-2883

Defendant's drug possession conviction is affirmed where the district court did not err in finding there was no Fourth Amendment violation in a search of defendant's vehicle because the stop was properly administered under the authority of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and defendant was not unlawfully detained when he consented to the search.

Read US v. Parker, No. 08-2883

Appellate Information

Submitted: April 14, 2009

Filed: November 18, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Shepherd

Brown v. J.B. Hunt Transp. Servs., Inc., No. 08-3803

In an ERISA action based on the discontinuation of plaintiff's long-term disability (LTD) benefits, summary judgment for defendant is affirmed in part where defendant-insurer could not be held liable for statutory penalties because 29 U.S.C. section 1132(c) only provided a cause of action against plan administrators.  However, the order is reversed in part where defendant's failure to comply with its duty under section 1133(2) to provide plaintiff with "a reasonable opportunity for a full and fair review" of defendant's decision to discontinue plaintiff's LTD benefits excused plaintiff's failure to exhaust before bringing suit under section 1132(a).

Read Brown v. J.B. Hunt Transp. Servs., Inc., No. 08-3803

Appellate Information

Argued October 8, 2009

Decided November 17, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Riley

Parmley v. Norris, No. 08-3107

In a drug possession prosecution, dismissal of petitioner's habeas petition as untimely is affirmed where the Arkansas Court of Appeals was not a "state court of last resort," and therefore the statute of limitations began running immediately after the Arkansas Court of Appeals denied petitioner's motion for a rehearing.

Read Parmley v. Norris, No. 08-3107

Appellate Information

Submitted: September 24, 2009

Filed: November 16, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Melloy

US v. Bain, No. 07-2981

Defendant's child pornography sentence is affirmed where: 1) although the district court committed Gall error by requiring extraordinary circumstances to justify the requested non-Guidelines sentence, defendant failed to establish a reasonable probability that he would have received a lower sentence absent the error; and 2) the sentence was not outside the range of choice dictated by the facts of the case.

Read US v. Bain, No. 07-2981

Appellate Information

Submitted: June 9, 2009

Filed: November 16, 2009

Judges

Per Curiam

Christiansen v. Comm'r of Int'l. Rev., No. 08-3844

In the IRS's appeal from the tax court's determination that a partial disclaimer was valid as to an amount that subsequently passed to a foundation that the decedent named as a contingent beneficiary in her will, the order is affirmed where 1) Treasury Regulation section 20.2055-2(b)(1) did not speak in terms of the existence or finality of an accounting valuation at the date of death or disclaimer; and 2) the court of appeals could find no evidence of a clear Congressional intent suggesting a policy to maximize incentives for the Commissioner to challenge or audit returns.

Read Christiansen v. Comm'r of Int'l. Rev., No. 08-3844

Appellate Information

Submitted: September 22, 2009

Filed: November 13, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Melloy

Bell v. Norris, No. 07-3432

In a murder prosecution, the denial of petitioner's habeas petition is affirmed where the Arkansas Supreme Court identified and reasonably applied the correct legal standard for assessing whether the minor made a knowing and intelligent waiver of his Miranda rights.

Read Bell v. Norris, No. 07-3432

Appellate Information

Submitted: June 9, 2009

Filed: November 16, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Melloy

US v. Whittington, No. 08-3698

Defendant's tax fraud conviction is affirmed where: 1) even if the burden were on the government to prove defendant's competence to stand trial, the government met its burden; and 2) the district court's finding by a preponderance of the evidence that defendant was competent to stand trial was not arbitrary, unwarranted, or clearly erroneous.

Read US v. Whittington, No. 08-3698

Appellate Information

Submitted: September 25, 2009

Filed: November 12, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Riley

US v. Jensen, No. 06-2284

Defendant's drug conspiracy sentence is vacated where the Supreme Court's decisions in Gall and Burns changed the law of the circuit and granted authority to district courts that they lacked under the Eighth Circuit's pre-Gall precedents, including the authority to make certain major reductions in the absence of extraordinary assistance.

Read US v. Jensen, No. 06-2284

Appellate Information

Submitted: April 23, 2008

Filed: November 12, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Colloton

Nance v. Sammis, No. 09-1353

In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action alleging excessive force by the police, denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity is affirmed where the facts taken in the light most favorable to plaintiffs could establish the excessive use of force and unreasonable seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Read Nance v. Sammis, No. 09-1353

Appellate Information

Submitted: September 22, 2009

Filed: November 10, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Murphy

Flowers v. Norris, No. 09-1083

In a robbery prosecution, denial of petitioner's habeas petition is affirmed where: 1) the record clearly showed that defense counsel based his decision not to seek a severance of petitioner's trial on his general denial defense, not on any mistaken understanding about the admissibility of petitioner's conviction prior to trial; and 2) thus, counsel did not render ineffective assistance.

Read Flowers v. Norris, No. 09-1083

Appellate Information

Submitted: September 25, 2009

Filed: November 10, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Gruender

Clemons v. Crawford, No. 08-2807

In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action challenging the manner in which Missouri's written lethal injection protocol might be implemented in future executions, dismissal of the action is affirmed where the complaint made no factual allegations suggesting any current or prospective member of Missouri's execution team would intentionally or unintentionally deviate from or ignore the written protocol.

Read Clemons v. Crawford, No. 08-2807

Appellate Information

Submitted: February 11, 2009

Filed: November 10, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Riley

White v. Nat'l Football League, No. 08-2001

In a case involving whether, after NFL quarterback Michael Vick was convicted of dog fighting charges, his team was entitled to recover certain bonus money he earned, rulings against the NFL are affirmed where: 1) the district court properly rejected the NFL's argument that Vick's roster bonuses were signing bonus allocations subject to the years-performed test; and 2) it did not err in determining that the bonuses were earned when Vick met the roster provisions in his contract, and were thus not subject to forfeiture pursuant to the terms of a settlement in an antitrust class action and the CBA.  Moreover, the denial of the NFL's motion to recuse the district judge and terminate the consent decree is affirmed where 1) there was no indication that the NFL was restrained by any fear of antitrust liability; 2) the parties' agreement to the district court's involvement mitigated concerns about unsettling the power structure under the labor laws; and 3) the district judge's comments to the press did not create an appearance of partiality.

Read White v. Nat'l Football League, No. 08-2001

Appellate Information

Submitted: March 12, 2009

Filed: November 10, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Wollman

Smith v. Kansas City Police Dep't., No. 09-1484

In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action alleging unlawful entry and excessive force by police, denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity for defendants is affirmed where: 1) the presence of a domestic violence suspect did not alone justify defendant's warrantless entry; and 2) on all the facts alleged, including the lack of exigent circumstances, the lack of an immediate safety threat, and the lack of active resistance to arrest, a jury could find that defendant's use of force was not objectively reasonable.

Read Smith v. Kansas City Police Dep't., No. 09-1484

Appellate Information

Submitted: September 24, 2009

Filed: November 9, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Benton

US v. Curry, No. 09-1325

Denial of defendant's motion for a sentence reduction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. section 3582(c)(2) is affirmed where: 1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in failing to explicitly state what sentence it would have imposed had Amendment 706 to the Sentencing Guidelines been in effect when defendant was originally sentenced; and 2) the district court's observation that defendant's 100-month sentence was the product of negotiation was an accurate reflection of the record and not speculation regarding what might otherwise have occurred.

Read US v. Curry, No. 09-1325

Appellate Information

Submitted: September 24, 2009

Filed: November 9, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Wollman

Rohrbough v. Hall, No. 08-3617

In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action alleging excessive force by the police, denial of qualified immunity to defendants is affirmed where a jury could conclude that plaintiff's pushing the officer was de minimis or inconsequential, and so a reasonable officer, when faced with the circumstances, would have known that responding by punching plaintiff in the face, taking him to the ground face down, landing on top of him and thereby causing him serious injury was illegal.

Read Rohrbough v. Hall, No. 08-3617

Appellate Information

Submitted: September 24, 2009

Filed: November 9, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Arnold

Diop v. Holder, No. 08-3378

In a petition for review of the BIA's denial of petitioner's asylum application, the petition is denied where the evidence that petitioner's daughter would be harmed if she were returned to Senegal was not so compelling that no reasonable fact finder could fail to find the requisite fear of persecution.

Read Diop v. Holder, No. 08-3378

Appellate Information

Submitted: February 13, 2009

Filed: November 9, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Wollman

Norman v. Schuetzle, No. 08-1686

In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action alleging that defendant prison officials failed to protect plaintiff from an assault, district court's denial of qualified immunity to defendants is reversed where: 1) defendants did not have reason to know of plaintiff's attacker's dangerousness; and 2) defendants' conduct did not rise to the level of deliberate indifference.

Read Norman v. Schuetzle, No. 08-1686

Appellate Information

Submitted: February 13, 2009

Filed: November 9, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Hansen

Sunder v. U.S. Bancorp Pension Plan, No. 07-3485

In an ERISA action seeking additional retirement benefits under defendant's retirement plan, an award of damages against defendant on the ground that plaintiffs' accrued benefits were decreased by the conversion of the plan into a cash balance system is reversed where neither ERISA nor the terms of the plan precluded defendant from calculating the opening cash balances using the plan's discount rate. Adverse rulings against plaintiffs regarding the determination of the date of the plan conversion and on their ERISA age discrimination claim are affirmed on cross appeal.

Read Sunder v. U.S. Bancorp Pension Plan, No. 07-3485

Appellate Information

Submitted: April 13, 2009

Filed: November 9, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Hansen

Sell v. US Dep't. of Justice, No. 08-3645

In an action alleging that plaintiff was the victim of medical malpractice that occurred while he was in federal custody awaiting trial, dismissal of the action on statute of limitations grounds is affirmed where: 1) plaintiff's mental illness did not prevent him from discovering the alleged injury; and 2) the continuous treatment doctrine did not toll the statute.

Read Sell v. US Dep't. of Justice, No. 08-3645

Appellate Information

Submitted: September 21, 2009

Filed: November 6, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Wollman

Yohannes v. Holder, No. 08-3519

In a petition for review of the BIA's order denying petitioner a waiver of the spousal joint-filing requirement for removal of the conditions on his permanent resident status, the petition is denied where: 1) petitioner produced virtually no documentation in support of his claim of a bona fide marriage; and 2) the Immigration Judge's discussion of extreme hardship was brief, but her reasoning was sufficiently clear and supported by the evidence.

Read Yohannes v. Holder, No. 08-3519

Appellate Information

Submitted: September 22, 2009

Filed: November 5, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Wollman

Petersen v. Reisch, No. 09-1899

In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action by a prisoner alleging inadequate medical treatment, defendants' appeal from a denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity is dismissed where the district court's order did not in fact resolve the qualified immunity issue and was purely administrative in nature, and therefore was not appealable.

Read Petersen v. Reisch, No. 09-1899

Appellate Information

Submitted: October 19, 2009

Filed: November 4, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Riley

McCullough v. AEGON USA, Inc., No. 08-1952

In an ERISA action alleging that various employee benefit plan fiduciaries breached their fiduciary duties to the plan and engaged in prohibited transactions, summary judgment for defendants is affirmed where 29 U.S.C. section 1132(a)(2) did not permit the plaintiffs to bring suit because the plan's surplus was sufficiently large that the investment loss did not cause actual injury to plaintiffs' interests in the plan.

Read McCullough v. AEGON USA, Inc., No. 08-1952

Appellate Information

Submitted: December 12, 2008

Filed: November 3, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Colloton

In re: Prempro Prods. Liab. Litig., No. 08-2555

In a product liability action against hormone therapy manufacturers, partial judgment for plaintiff and for defendants is affirmed in part where: 1) plaintiff's Arkansas law claims were not preempted because there was no evidence that the FDA would not have permitted the strengthening of the labels of the drugs at issue in a manner consistent with Arkansas law; 2) plaintiff's expert testimony on causation was properly admitted because the expert ruled out other possible causes of plaintiff's disease; 3) the district court's instruction on proximate cause was correct; and 4) judgment for defendants on punitive damages was correct because defendants did not act with recklessness or malice.

Read In re: Prempro Prods. Liab. Litig., No. 08-2555

Appellate Information

Submitted: May 13, 2009

Filed: November 2, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge Wollman