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

December 2010 Archives

Veatch v. Bartels Lutheran Home, No. 09-3678

Action for False Arrest

In Veatch v. Bartels Lutheran Home, No. 09-3678, an action for false arrest based on an allegedly false accusation that plaintiff assaulted her mother, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendant where 1) the information gathered by defendant was sufficiently reliable to establish a reasonable ground for belief that plaintiff had committed a misdemeanor assault; and 2) plaintiff failed to satisfy the "rigorous standards of culpability and causation" required for municipal liability under section 1983.

Lexicon, Inc. v. ACE Am. Ins. Co., No. 10-1100

Action Under Commercial Liability Policy

In Lexicon, Inc. v. ACE Am. Ins. Co., No. 10-1100, an action claiming that defendant-insurers were obligated under commercial general liability policies to cover certain property damage, the court affirmed in part summary judgment for defendants where the district court correctly held the insurers were not obligated to reimburse plaintiff for its reconstruction of its collapsed silo.  However, the court reversed in part where it was foreseeable that faulty subcontractor work would damage the silo, but not foreseeable that faulty subcontractor work would cause millions of dollars in collateral damage.

Rogers Group, Inc. v. Fayetteville, No. 09-3915

Action to Enjoin Rock Quarry Ordinance

In Rogers Group, Inc. v. Fayetteville, No. 09-3915, an action seeking to prevent the enforcement of a city's ordinance regulating rock quarries in or near the city's corporate limits, the court affirmed a preliminary injunction in favor of plaintiffs where 1) the city's statutory authority extended one mile beyond its corporate limits but only to abate a nuisance, and the quarry was not a nuisance per se under Arkansas law; and 2) plaintiffs established a likelihood of irreparable harm because any customers the quarry lost, if and when the ordinance went into effect, would be unlikely to return once the ordinance's restrictions are lifted.

Clark v. Mathews Int'l. Corp., No. 10-1037

Action Claiming Age-Based Termination

In Clark v. Mathews Int'l. Corp., No. 10-1037, an action claiming that plaintiff was terminated and suffered other adverse employment actions due to his age, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendants in part where 1) a 4% drop in the employment rate of over-age-forty employees was not sufficient for purposes of establishing that age was a factor in a termination decision; and 2) plaintiff failed to create a triable issue of fact regarding whether he was intentionally selected for termination during the RIF at issue because of his age.  However, the court reversed in court where the court was unsure whether a Missouri court would find that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether plaintiff's age was a contributing factor in his termination or the rejection of his request to join a certain division of the company.

  • US v. Cox, No. 09-3956

    Firearm Possession Conviction Affirmed

    In US v. Cox, No. 09-3956, the court affirmed defendant's conviction for knowingly possessing a firearm after three prior violent felony convictions, where the jury asked a question of law, and the district court's response properly directed the jury away from this line of reasoning back to the proper focus of whether the charged offense had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • US v. Koestner, No. 10-2097

    Witness Tampering Sentence Affirmed

    In US v. Koestner, No. 10-2097, the court affirmed defendant's sentence for tampering with a witness to cover up the fraudulent use of food stamp benefits where the court was permitted to consider the district court's additional explanation of its reasons for imposing an upward variance set forth in its order denying defendant's motion to stay the fine pending appeal.

  • Puc-Ruiz v. Holder, No. 09-1296

    Petition for Review of Removal Order

    In Puc-Ruiz v. Holder, No. 09-1296, a petition for review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision dismissing petitioner's appeal from an Immigration Judge's (IJ) order removing him from the United States to Mexico, the court denied the petition where 1) there was no evidence in the record that the St. Charles police employed an unreasonable show or use of force in arresting and detaining petitioner; and 2) the BIA did not err in affirming the IJ's determination that petitioner's statements to an agent regarding his alienage and lack of lawful status in the U.S. were voluntarily made and need not be suppressed.

  • Gates v. Astrue, No. 10-1269

    Denial of Disability Benefits Affirmed

    In Gates v. Astrue, No. 10-1269, plaintiff's appeal from the decision of the district court upholding the Social Security Commissioner's denial of her application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income, the court affirmed where 1) the medical record supported the conclusion that any depression experienced by plaintiff was situational in nature, related to marital issues, and improved with a regimen of medication and counseling; and 2) the ALJ did not err in not fully crediting plaintiff's testimony about her mental and physical limitations on her ability to do work-related activities.

    US v. Datcu, No. 10-1770

    Identity Theft Conviction Affirmed

    In US v. Datcu, No. 10-1770, the court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for conspiring to possess device making equipment and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft, where 1) there was probable cause to believe contraband would be found in defendant's SUV at the time the officers searched it; and 2) the district court did not commit procedural error in imposing a four level sentencing enhancement under U.S.S.G. section 2B1.1(b)(2)(B).

  • US v. Brown, No. 09-3731

    In US v. Brown, No. 09-3731, the court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for wire fraud, causing interstate travel in execution of a scheme to defraud, engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, where 1) the evidence of intent to defraud was more than sufficient to convict Brown of each count of conviction; 2) district courts were not required to mechanically recite the 18 U.S.C. section 3553(a) factors when it was clear the factors were properly considered; and 3) defendant's sentence was within his properly determined advisory guidelines range of 168 to 210 months in prison and was therefore presumptively reasonable.

    Duello v. Buchanan Cty. Bd. of Supervisors, No. 10-2061

    Wrongful Termination Action

    In Duello v. Buchanan Cty. Bd. of Supervisors, No. 10-2061, an action against Buchanan County, Iowa for wrongful termination, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Iowa Civil Rights Act, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendants where, even assuming plaintiff met the essential prerequisites for his position, he was unable to perform the essential functions of his job.

    US v. Crippen, No. 10-1299

    Drug Conviction Affirmed

    In US v. Crippen, No. 10-1299, the court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and conspiracy to tamper with a witness where 1) a suspicion on the part of police that a person is involved in a drug transaction supports a reasonable belief that the person may be armed and dangerous because weapons and violence are frequently associated with drug transactions; 2) each of the statements defendant asked the district court to exclude from the recordings at issue merely provided context for other admissible statements made by defendant and his coconspirators and were not offered for their truth; and 3) there were at least two prior felony convictions for career offender purposes because there was an intervening arrest.

    US v. Brewer, No. 09-3898

    Sex Offender Registration Conviction Affirmed

    In US v. Brewer, No. 09-3898, the court affirmed defendant's conviction for knowingly failing to register as a sex offender where 1) defendant raised an issue of fact -- whether he knowingly violated 18 U.S.C. section 2250 -- not an issue of law warranting dismissal of the indictment; and 2) because Congress deliberately chose to impose longer terms of supervised release on persons convicted of certain sex offenses, including Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act offenses, the district court's imposition of a fifteen-year term was not a substantively unreasonable abuse of discretion in this case.

    R&J Enterprizes v. Gen'l. Cas. Co. of Wis., No. 09-3887

    Denial of Declaratory Judgment in Insurance Case Affirmed

    In R&J Enterprizes v. Gen'l. Cas. Co. of Wis., No. 09-3887, an action seeking a declaration that defendant-insurer owed plaintiff under its commercial marketplace policy and damages under several theories of liability, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendant where 1) the policy unambiguously precluded coverage for dishonest acts of an employee with an intent to procure enhanced compensation from the employer; 2) plaintiff was not entitled to coverage under the reasonable expectations doctrine; and 3) mere inequality in bargaining power did not make the contract unconscionable.

     

    The Minch Family LLLP v. Buffalo-Red River Watershed Dist., No. 09-3223

    Judgment Allowing Watershed District Access to Private Property Affirmed

    In The Minch Family LLLP v. Buffalo-Red River Watershed Dist., No. 09-3223, an action claiming that the Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD) exceeded the scope of a judge's order authorizing the BRRWD to "clean out" or remove accumulated silt and topsoil from a ditch running next to a road along the length of one of plaintiffs' fields, the court affirmed judgment on the pleadings for defendants where the plain meaning and clear import of the state court's order was to allow BRRWD access to not only plaintiffs' ditch, but also to the surrounding area necessary to conduct the clean-out.

     

    Kurka v. Iowa Cty., No. 09-2849

    Dismissal for Failure to Serve Summons Affirmed

    In Kurka v. Iowa Cty., No. 09-2849, an action alleging gender discrimination and retaliation against Iowa County, the court affirmed the dismissal of the action for failure to timely serve the summons, holding that 1) finding good cause based on the clerk's error alone, as plaintiff suggested, would improperly shift the burden to effect service from plaintiff to the clerk and undermine the purpose of Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(m); and 2) plaintiff was not diligent following discovery of the error and was not forthright with the court about other matters.

    US v. Williams, No. 10-1287

    Felon in Possession Firearm Affirmed

    In US v. Williams, No. 10-1287, the court vacated defendant's sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm, where the district court correctly concluded that defendant's escape conviction should be analyzed using the modified categorical approach, but procedurally erred by concluding that defendant's 2002 escape conviction was a crime of violence based on the information before it.

     

    Arnold v. ADT Security Servs., Inc., No. 09-3565

    Sanctions Order Affirmed

    In Arnold v. ADT Security Servs., Inc., No. 09-3565, plaintiffs' appeal from the district court's order (i) granting defendant's motion to compel further discovery responses and requiring plaintiffs to pay $10,988.00 in attorneys' fees and a $100 per day fine and (ii) denying their motion for reconsideration and their motion to stay the imposition of sanctions, the court affirmed where 1) the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant had attempted to confer with plaintiffs in good faith; and 2) plaintiffs failed to show, with clear and convincing evidence, that defendant engaged in a fraud or misrepresentation that prevented them from fully and fairly prosecuting their case.

     

    Brown v. Medtronic, Inc., No. 09-2524

    ERISA Class Action

    In Brown v. Medtronic, Inc., No. 09-2524, an action raising class-action claims pursuant to the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (ERISA), the court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint where plaintiff alleged no plausible claim that defendant's stock became an imprudent investment due to a physician's report on one of defendant's medical devices, or due to the company's actions following receipt of the report.

    US v. Benton, No. 10-1718

    Revocation of Supervised Release Affirmed

    In US v. Benton, No. 10-1718, following defendant's conviction for firearm possession, the court affirmed the revocation of defendant's supervised release where 1) the court did not clearly err in finding that the throwing stars found on defendant were dangerous weapons under Iowa's concealed weapon statute; and 2) although the district court could have made specific reference to other factors relevant under 18 U.S.C. section 3553(a), the court was aware of the statute and adequately considered it in determining the appropriate sentence.

     

    US v. King, No. 10-1759

    Methamphetamine Conviction Affirmed

    In US v. King, No. 10-1759, the court affirmed defendant's sentence for conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, holding that, relying on convictions unrelated to defendant's designation as a career offender but which demonstrated his longstanding propensity towards violence, the district court did not abuse its discretion by deciding that this was an unusual case warranting an upward departure.

    US v. Mayo, No. 10-1752

    MDMA Convictions Affirmed

    In US v. Mayo, No. 10-1752, the court affirmed defendants' convictions for possession with intent to distribute and aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute MDMA, where 1) the officer who searched defendants' vehicle had probable cause to believe drug contraband would be found in the minivan when he searched it; 2) the district court did not clearly err in finding that the officers' search of the minivan did not exceed the scope of defendant's consent; and 3) defendant waived certain issues by failing to include them in his motion to suppress.

     

    US v. Yellow, No. 09-3734

    Sexual Abuse Sentence Affirmed

    In US v. Yellow, No. 09-3734, the court affirmed defendant's sentence for sexual abuse of a minor, holding that the government did not breach the plea agreement because it did recommend, albeit unenthusiastically, an acceptance-of-responsibility reduction and because the government never promised to refrain from presenting evidence of obstruction of justice.

     

    Katzenmeier v. Blackpowder Prods., Inc., No. 09-1146

    Personal Injury Action Involving Allegedy Defective Rifle

    In Katzenmeier v. Blackpowder Prods., Inc., No. 09-1146, a personal injury action arising out of an alleged defect in a muzzleloader rifle manufactured and distributed by defendants, the court affirmed judgment for defendants where 1) certain prior incidents of which plaintiff sought to introduce evidence were not "substantially similar" to plaintiff's accident, and the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to admit the evidence; 2) defendant did not offer certain alleged hearsay testimony for the truth of what a proof house said, but rather to demonstrate the reasons for the company's marking procedures; and 3) certain witnesses' testimony was not so fundamentally unsupported that it could offer no assistance to the jury.

     

    Junk v. Terminix Int'l. Co., No. 08-3811

    Insecticide Exposure Suit

    In Junk v. Terminix Int'l. Co., No. 08-3811, an action alleging that plaintiff's son's multiple medical conditions were caused by exposure to Dursban, an insecticide manufactured by Dow Chemical Co., summary judgment for defendant is affirmed in part where the district court determined that plaintiff's expert had not used a "scientifically valid" method to estimate that plaintiff's son's exposure exceeded a safe level.  However, the court reversed in part where there was arguably a reasonable basis for predicting that the state law might impose liability based upon the facts involved against an allegedly fraudulently joined individual defendant.

  • US v. Winn, No. 09-2805

    Marijuana Possession Conviction Affirmed

    In US v. Winn, No. 09-2805, the court affirmed defendant's convictions for possession with intent to distribute less than 50 kilograms of marijuana and use or carriage of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense, holding that 1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by determining that the government's allegations were similar in material respects to the circumstances of defendant's August 2007 arrest; 2) the key final marshaling instruction, which directed the jury how to reach a verdict, correctly recited the elements of the use or carriage offense that was charged in the indictment; and 3) the jury reasonably could infer that defendant discharged, and thus "used," the firearm in a shootout with individuals in a dispute related to defendant's trafficking in marijuana.

  • US v. Mahoney, No. 10-3374

    Child Pornography Pre-Sentencing Release Reversed

    In US v. Mahoney, No. 10-3374, a prosecution for transporting and possessing child pornography, the court reversed the district court's order releasing defendant pending sentencing where it was well-settled that compliance with the terms of pretrial release was commendable but does not justify release under 18 U.S.C. section 3145(c).

     

    US v. Scott, No. 09-3549

    Crack Cocaine Appeal Dismissed

    In US v. Scott, No. 09-3549, the court dismissed defendant's appeal from his sentence for knowingly possessing five grams or more of cocaine base with intent to distribute, holding that 1) defendant did not allege that he entered into either the plea agreement or the appeal waiver unknowingly or involuntarily, and nothing in the record suggested that he did so; and 2) because defendant's sentence was unaffected by 18 U.S.C. section 841(b)(1)(B)(iii), he did not demonstrate a causal connection between his injury (i.e., his sentence) and the mandatory minimum sentence contained in section 841(b)(1)(B)(iii).

     

    US v. Nash, No. 09-3796

    Felon In Possession Sentence Affirmed

    In US v. Nash, No. 09-3796, the court affirmed defendant's sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm, holding that 1) defendant's 1995 adjudication for First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct under Minnesota's Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction (EJJ) was not a predicate offense under 18 U.S.C. section 924(e); 2) because the firearm defendant possessed in Minnesota was manufactured in Massachusetts, there was a sufficient interstate nexus to provide federal jurisdiction; and 3) given defendant's violent and extensive criminal history, as well as the district court's consideration of the sentencing factors, the imposed sentence was substantively reasonable.

     

    US v. Curry, No. 09-3031

    Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act Conviction Affirmed

    In US v. Curry, No. 09-3031, the court affirmed defendant's conviction for failing to register as a sex offender, as required by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), where defendant's arguments were foreclosed by the court's precedents, which held that Congress had authority under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause to enact SORNA. However, defendant's sentence is vacated where the district court failed to comply with the rule that an inquiry about special conditions must take place on an individualized basis.

    US v. Hinkeldey, No. 09-2841

    Child Pornography Sentence Affirmed

    In US v. Hinkeldey, No. 09-2841, the court affirmed defendant's sentence for possession of child pornography, where defendant's double jeopardy challenge to the separate possession counts must fail, because it was not "clear" or "obvious" under current law that Congress intended that conduct like defendant's make up a single unit of prosecution.

    US v. Redzic, No. 08-2418

    Mail and Wire Fraud Conviction Affirmed

    In US v. Redzic, No. 08-2418, the court affirmed defendant's mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery, and conspiracy, upon remand from the Supreme Court, where the theory of fraud under which defendant was convicted remained viable under Skilling.

    US v. Alston, No. 10-1478

    In US v. Alston, No. 10-1478, the court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for possessing with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base, holding that 1) In the context of this case, the officer who performed the search at issue had more than a general suspicion of wrongdoing; 2) the district court did not err in excluding defendant's proffered hearsay evidence, because it was not all that probative of the officer's character for truthfulness, even if it was true that the detective lied to his superiors; and 3) defendant did not show why the district court would have altered his sentence based on the burden placed on defendant's dependents by his obligation to pay per quarter.

    Johnson v. Astrue, No. 10-1124

    Denial of SSI Benefits Affirmed

    In Johnson v. Astrue, No. 10-1124, plaintiff's appeal from the district court's affirmance of the Social Security Commissioner's denial of his claim for Supplemental Security Income, the court affirmed where 1) the record of plaintiff's IQ was sufficiently developed, and the ALJ did not commit reversible error by failing to request that a doctor administer an IQ test; and 2) the residual functional capacity finding employed in the hypothetical to the vocational expert was acceptable, and the ALJ's finding based on the expert's response was supported by substantial evidence.

    US v. Hoffman, No. 09-3651

    Mann Act Prosecution

    In US v. Hoffman, No. 09-3651, defendant's conviction and sentence for transporting five minor females across state lines for the purpose of engaging in illegal sexual activity in violation of the Mann Act are affirmed where 1) the evidence supported the jury's conclusion that at all times defendant's intent in transporting the girls across state lines was for the purpose of engaging in illegal sexual activity; and 2) given the court's sentencing colloquy, the record reflects that the court appropriately based the sentence on the sum of the evidence in light of the advisory sentencing Guidelines and the court's analysis of the 18 U.S.C. section 3553(a) factors.

     

    US v. Bauer, No. 09-1970

    Child Pornography Conviction and Sentence Affirmed

    In US v. Bauer, No. 09-1970, defendant's conviction and sentence for attempted receipt of child pornography are affirmed where 1) defendant's undisputed belief that his victim was a minor satisfied the "knowingly" requirement of the statute; 2) the district court did not commit plain error in determining that the factual basis for defendant's guilty plea was adequate; and 3) the district court correctly applied U.S.S.G. section 2G2.2(c)(1) to Bauer's conduct.

     

    Wilburn v. Astrue, No. 09-3564

    Denial of Supplemental Security Income Benefits Affirmed

    In Wilburn v. Astrue, No. 09-3564, an action challenging the Social Security Administration's (SSA) denial of Supplemental Security Income benefits to plaintiff, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendant where 1) the SSA did not violate its own regulations by failing to provide advance notice of the substitution of one ALJ for another; and 2) the SSA's notice adequately apprised plaintiff of the pending hearing and afforded her the opportunity to present her objections.