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

September 2011 Archives

Tactical Stop Loss Loses Eighth Circuit Indemnity Claim

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed this week that Travelers Casualty and Surety Company did not have to cover Tactical Stop-Loss's losses stemming from a major shareholder's criminal scheme.

Tactical Stop-Loss and an affiliate (the Tactical Group) administer trust accounts for insurance companies that provide stop-loss coverage to employee benefit-plan sponsors. Tactical Group purchased a Crime Policy (Policy) from Travelers Casualty and Surety Company insuring against loss from theft or forgery by an employee "acting alone or in collusion with other persons."

Alternative Fee Arrangements Key to Client Satisfaction?

As lawyers, we judge one another based on our billable rates. The amount of money a client is willing to pay for our time not only affects how other lawyers view us, it affects how we perceive ourselves. It's a little twisted.

Most BigLaw practitioners accept billable hours at the standard by which lawyers are paid. Accordingly, lawyers spend hours each year refining their days into six-minute increments to quantify their work to clients. Even with that miniscule unit of measure, attorneys are forced to choose between billing tiny tasks and short phone calls for a full six minutes, or giving away their time and falling behind their billable hours. Once the initial months of post-law school idealism pass, most choose to bill the time.

No Discretion Abuse in Workplace Racial Discrimination Case

Nucor is a large steel manufacturing company that operates a number of production plants throughout the United States.

Nucor has a morale problem at one of its plants.

Six current and former African-American employees of Nucor's Blytheville, Arkansas, plant brought a racial discrimination complaint - alleging both disparate treatment and disparate impact theories - against the company. The plaintiffs alleged that Nucor denied them promotions and training opportunities and tolerated a racially hostile work environment.

Eighth Cir. Upholds Night Search in Child Pornography Conviction

Does darkness cast shadows of doubt on the legality of a search warrant?

Last week, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an Arkansas man's argument that a night search of his home was illegal.

Eric Wayne Kelley lost the appeal of his 20-year sentence in a child pornography possession conviction last week after the Eighth Circuit found that police followed proper procedures for acquiring and executing a night search of Kelley's home.

Rule 35(b) Sentence Reduction Not Solely Based on Cooperation

Mark Steven Rublee pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The district court sentenced him to 132 months in prison, above the minimum sentence of 120 months. One year later, the court granted the Government’s Rule 35(b) motion to reduce the sentence below the mandatory minimum to reflect Rublee’s substantial assistance in providing information that led to the conviction of two other persons.

Rublee, unsatisfied with the reduction, appealed the reduced 98-month sentence, arguing the district court improperly considered factors unrelated to the value of his assistance in declining to grant a further reduction. The factor in question? Whether Rublee made the “bone-headed mistake” of speaking to another witness about cooperation in the investigation.

Will SCOTUS Hear 8th Circuit's Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Purge?

Back in February, the Eighth Circuit upheld James "Hot Rod" Faulkner's conspiracy and distribution drug conviction in U.S. v. Faulkner. In August, Faulkner filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court to challenge a traffic stop that factored into that conviction.

On the evening of October 31, 2008, Lieutenant Steven Stange of the University of Iowa Police Department stopped Faulkner as he was driving a car, claiming that Faulkner ran a red light. One problem: Video from Stange's own cruiser shows that Faulkner didn't run the light.

After Faulkner gave Stange his license, Stange conducted a records check and discovered that Faulkner was wanted on an outstanding federal arrest warrant. Stange then arrested Faulkner.

Eighth Circuit Upholds South Dakota's Informed Consent Law

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld a South Dakota informed consent law that requires an abortion provider to inform a pregnant patient about her “existing relationship” with an “unborn human being.”

The case stems from a Planned Parenthood challenge to a 2005 South Dakota Public Health and Safety Code amendment expanding the requirements for informed consent to abortion. Under the law, a doctor must give a woman contemplating abortion oral advisories 24 hours before the procedure and written advisories at least 2 hours before the procedure.

Court Can Reject Repayment Defense in Embezzlement Cases

Bad news for defendants in embezzlement cases: Iowa courts do not have to consider the but-I-put-the-money-back defense at trial.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that an Iowa court did not err in barring evidence that an accused embezzler returned stolen money to his employees’ Individual Retirement Account (Simple IRA).

James Norman Van Elsen solely owned Van Elsen Consulting, Inc. (VEC), a small actuarial business that serviced insurance companies. In September 2002, Van Elsen established a “Simple IRA” for his employees’ benefit.