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

January 2011 Archives

US v. Hambrick, No. 10-1096

Cocaine Possession Conviction Affirmed

In US v. Hambrick, No. 10-1096, the court affirmed defendant's conviction for possessing with intent to distribute at least five grams of cocaine base where 1) while the government concedes that some pretense existed surrounding the traffic stop at issue based on the suspended license due to the officers' reliance on the informant's tip, it is well-settled that any traffic violation provides a police officer with probable cause to stop a vehicle, even if the officer conducted the valid traffic stop as a pretense for investigating other criminal activity; and 2) the officers had probable cause to search the vehicle, irrespective of Gant, under the automobile exception.

LeFaivre v. KV Pharm. Co., No. 10-1326

Tort Action Against Pharmaceutical Company

In LeFaivre v. KV Pharm. Co., No. 10-1326, an action alleging that a pharmaceutical company breached its implied warranty of merchantability and violated the Missouri Merchantability Practices Act (MMPA) by failing to manufacture a medication in compliance with federal regulations, the court reversed the dismissal of the action where federal law did not preempt plaintiff's MMPA claims.

 

Van Zee v. Hanson, No. 10-1588

Action Claiming Improper Disclosure of Juvenile Records

In Van Zee v. Hanson, No. 10-1588, an action alleging that defendant violated plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment rights by disclosing his juvenile records to an Army recruiter, the court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint where 1) plaintiff had (at least) constructive notice that the district court intended to consider matters outside the complaint when the court, by memorandum to counsel, requested copies of any release forms plaintiff signed when enlisting in the Army; and 2) the court need not determine whether plaintiff had a property interest in the confidentiality of his juvenile records, because he waived any interest he might have had.

US v. Vanover, No. 09-3571

Drug and Firearm Convictions Affirmed

In US v. Vanover, No. 09-3571, the court affirmed defendants' drug trafficking and firearm convictions where 1) substantial evidence supported the district court's finding that a police detective read defendant his Miranda rights; and 2) a reasonable jury could find that defendant knowingly possessed the High Point underneath his mattress.

 

US v. Spires, No. 09-3663

Crack Conviction and Sentence Affirmed

In US v. Spires, No. 09-3663, the court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for possession with intent to distribute 50 or more grams of cocaine base where 1) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it refused defendant's request to attach a "cautionary tail" to the instructions pertaining to cooperating witness testimony; 2) defendant's mandatory life sentence did not violate the Eighth Amendment; and 3) the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 was not retroactive.

 

PPS, Inc. v. Faulkner Cty., Ark., No. 09-3540

Action Against Police for Seizing Pawnshop Property

In PPS, Inc. v. Faulkner Cty., Ark., No. 09-3540,  an action claiming that the police seized property from a pawn shop's inventory without a warrant and in violation of its Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendant where 1) the plain view doctrine justified an officer's seizure of an item; and 2) the district court did not need to find that the alleged victim of a theft was in fact the owner of the property before the plain view doctrine would authorize the item's seizure.

 

WWP, Inc. v. Wounded Warriors Family Support, Inc., No. 10-1794

Action Claiming False Web Advertising

In WWP, Inc. v. Wounded Warriors Family Support, Inc., No. 10-1794, an action alleging that defendant sowed confusion on the Internet by using a website to solicit donations intended for plaintiff, in violation of Nebraska law, the court affirmed judgment for plaintiff where 1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to require plaintiff to "dump" all of its donation records on defendant; 2) the district court gave a cautionary instruction about its prior entry of a preliminary injunction; and 3) a reasonable jury could infer that many of the 7,500 donations -- even those lacking any specific reference to plaintiff or its more well-known marketing efforts -- were intended for plaintiff in light of defendant's deceptive and unfair trade practices and defendant's lack of advertising or promoting its own charitable work.

 

US v. Jones, No. 10-1080

Crack Sentence Affirmed

In US v. Jones, No. 10-1080, the court affirmed defendant's sentence for conspiring to distribute and possessing with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base and 500 grams or more of cocaine powder, where 1) a witness's uncertainty regarding what type of gun defendant possessed was not a basis for rejecting the district court's determination that the witness was credible; and 2) the district court did not misapply U.S.S.G. section 5G1.3(c) by not crediting defendant for the time he had served in state custody prior to the date the federal sentence was imposed.

 

US v. Randolph, No. 10-1907

Felon in Possession Conviction Affirmed

In US v. Randolph, No. 10-1907, the court affirmed defendant's conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm where 1) failing to signal a turn, in violation of the law, was sufficient probable cause to support a traffic stop; 2) the search at issue was lawful under Arizona v. Gant because defendant's vehicle contained evidence of the firearm offense; and 3) in any event, defendant had no standing to contest the search.

Hart v. US, No. 10-1604

Wrongful Death Action Against Bureau of Indian Affairs

In Hart v. US, No. 10-1604, a wrongful death action under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), asserting that a Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement officer failed adequately to supervise, secure, and detain plaintiff's son after his arrest for federal sex crimes, resulting in his suicide, the court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint where a federal law enforcement officer's on-the-spot decisions concerning how to effectuate an arrest -- including how best to restrain, supervise, control or trust an arrestee -- fell within the discretionary function exception to the FTCA absent a specific mandatory directive to the contrary.

 

US v. Replogle, No. 10-1544

Child Pornography Sentence Affirmed

In US v. Replogle, No. 10-1544, the court affirmed defendant's sentence for production of child pornography where 1) the district court properly relied on the factual statements in the presentence report, and that defendant waived his right to argue factual objections on appeal; 2) the district court did not clearly err in applying the vulnerable victim enhancement; and 3) the district court adequately explained the sentence, and the term imposed was not unreasonable.

 

US v. Barrera, No. 09-3873

Assault Conviction Affirmed

In US v. Barrera, No. 09-3873, the court affirmed defendant's assault conviction where 1) even if some jurors understood a witness's comment to refer to something that happened during defendant's and the witness's past relationship, there was no reason for them to suspect that defendant had physically abused the witness; and 2) the combined strength of the government's testimony made defendant's contention that he did not cause Apodaca's serious bodily injury implausible.

 

US v. McKanry, No. 10-1027

Conviction for Defrauding Lenders Affirmed

In US v. McKanry, No. 10-1027, the court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for conspiring to defraud lenders, lying to a U.S. postal worker, mail fraud, and wire fraud where 1) it was reasonable for the jury to convict defendant of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud; 2) a reasonable jury could infer defendant, an experienced real estate professional, was aware these bogus payouts were meant to deceive the lenders; and 3) the district court did not err by basing its loss calculation upon the fraudulent transactions for which defendant was acquitted or not charged.

 

US v. Hackman, No. 09-3948

Dogfighting Sentences Affirmed

In US v. Hackman, No. 09-3948, the court affirmed defendants' sentences arising out of a Missouri-based dog-fighting conspiracy where 1) the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant knew the dogs he sold could die or be maimed; and 2) the plain language of the upward departure provision stated that the maiming of a dog is enough to satisfy the extraordinary cruelty requirement.

 

Masters v. UHS of Del., Inc., No. 09-3543

Trademark Infringement Action

In Masters v. UHS of Del., Inc., No. 09-3543, an action claiming that defendant breached the parties' trademark license agreement, and committed trademark infringement, the court affirmed judgment for plaintiff where 1) defendant's equitable defenses presented fact-bound inquiries that were properly submitted to the jury; 2) the jury properly found that defendant used the mark at issue for unlicensed purposes; and 3) the district court did not err when it determined that monetary relief was appropriate, were the jury to conclude that defendant willfully infringed the mark.

US v. Vinton, No. 09-3323

Firearm Conviction Affirmed

In US v. Vinton, No. 09-3323, the court affirmed defendant's firearm possession conviction and sentence where 1) defendant was not in custody at the time of the challenged interrogation, because a reasonable person in his position would have felt at liberty to terminate the interrogation and ask the officers to leave; 2) the increase in base offense level depends on a conviction for a crime of violence, not on an express admission of guilt.

Wintermute v. Kansas Bankers Surety Co., No. 09-2806

Action to Collect on D&O Insurance Policy

In Wintermute v. Kansas Bankers Surety Co., No. 09-2806, an action claiming that a directors and officers (D&O) liability insurance policy obligated defendant to defend plaintiff in a criminal action brought against her, the court reversed summary judgment for defendant where 1) because the doctrine of res judicata would have foreclosed the claims plaintiff sought to add to her complaint, any amendment would have been futile; 2) looking beyond the allegations in the complaint would not result in a final adjudication requirement even though the policy contained no such requirement; and 3) missing from the facts stated in the indictment was an allegation that plaintiff received a personal gain to which she was not legally entitled.

 

Clay v. Bowersox, No. 11-1016

Capital Habeas Petition

In Clay v. Bowersox, No. 11-1016, a capital habeas matter, the court affirmed the denial of petitioner's habeas petition where petitioner did not make a substantial showing that the decision of the Supreme Court of Missouri to apply its new construction of Mo. Rev. Stat. section 565.035.3 prospectively only was an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.

 

Tyler v. Univ. of Ark. Bd. of Trustees, No. 10-1251

Action for Racial Discrimination

In Tyler v. Univ. of Ark. Bd. of Trustees, No. 10-1251, an action claiming that defendant university did not hire plaintiff for the newly created position of Director of Recruitment for Diversity in retaliation for the charge of race discrimination he had filed against the school back in 2004, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendant where 1) plaintiff put forward no evidence establishing an inference of retaliatory animus through temporal proximity of the two events; and 2) plaintiff could not demonstrate that the University's explanation for its preference was pretextual.

 

US v. Finch, No. 10-1157

Crack Conviction Affirmed

In US v. Finch, No. 10-1157, the court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for possession with intent to distribute 5 grams or more of cocaine base where 1) there was sufficient evidence of defendant's dominion over the northwest bedroom of the home at issue to support the jury's conclusion that he knowingly possessed the crack cocaine; and 2) the government's expert testimony was not "fundamentally unsupported" and its admission did not constitute an abuse of discretion.

Council Tower Assn. v. Axis Specialty Ins. Co., No. 09-3900

Action Concerning Insurance Coverage

In Council Tower Assn. v. Axis Specialty Ins. Co., No. 09-3900, an action against an insurer, asserting insurance coverage and related claims for losses incurred when a portion of the brick veneer covering the east wall of plaintiff's apartment building fell to the ground, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendant where the falling of less than one-third of plaintiff's decorative brick veneer was not a collapse of a part of the building within the meaning of the Additional Coverage for Collapse provision of the policy.

Johnson v. Astrue, No. 09-3685

Challenge to Denial of Disability Benefits

In Johnson v. Astrue, No. 09-3685, a challenge to the Social Security Commissioner's denial of disability benefits to plaintiff, the court affirmed judgment for plaintiff where the administrative record as a whole provided substantial evidence to support the ALJ's finding that plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform her past relevant work and therefore was not disabled.

 

US v. Craig, No. 09-3398

Felon In Possession Conviction Affirmed

In US v. Craig, No. 09-3398, the court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm where 1) an officer's testimony was sufficient to support the district court's finding that the physical evidence the officers observed while illegally in the residence did not prompt the officers to obtain the warrant; 2) the rule in Payton was designed to protect the physical integrity of the home, not to grant criminal suspects protection for statements made outside their premises where the police had probable cause to arrest the suspect for committing a crime; and 3) defendant's sexual battery offense met the definition of "crime of violence" under U.S.S.G. section 4B1.2(a)(2).

Ritchie v. St. Louis Jewish Light, No. 10-1356

FLSA Overtime Action

In Ritchie v. St. Louis Jewish Light, No. 10-1356, an action claiming that plaintiff's employment was terminated in retaliation for insisting on recording her overtime work, the court affirmed the dismissal of the action where informal Fair Labor Standards Act complaints to one's employer were not protected.