Injury & Tort Law News - U.S. Eighth Circuit
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For 28 years, Michael Thompson smoked cigarettes. He stopped when he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1997. Following the diagnosis, he sued the manufacturers and distributors of the cigarettes in a personal injury action. A state court granted summary judgment for the distributors, but not for the manufacturers. The case against manufacturers R.J. Reynolds and Brown & Williamson went to trial, and Thompson obtained a verdict of more than $1 million in his favor.

After Thompson died in 2009, his wife and children brought a wrongful death suit against all the previous defendants. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit affirmed dismissal of Thompson v. R.J. Reynolds based on Missouri's "one recovery" rule.

Quite a few cases making the rounds in the Eighth Circuit are making headlines and deal with everything from Wizard of Oz merchandise, to kosher hot dogs. Here's a breakdown in the latest news out of the Eighth Circuit.

Iowa Campaign Finance Ban

In 2013, the Eighth Circuit upheld an Iowa law that "allow[s] for independent expenditures by corporations and unions but ... ban[s] ... direct contributions to candidates and committees by corporations," reports Reuters. An anti-abortion group challenged the ban, and petitioned for writ of certiorari, which the Supreme Court denied on Monday. This is highly interesting light of the Court's ruling last week in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission; it shows the Court has said all that it wants to for now on campaign finance.

Ex-Police Chief Affair Lawsuit Tossed; 8th Cir. Appeal Possible

A district court judge has dismissed a woman's lawsuit against the city of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and its former police chief Alex Moreno.

The suit involves dramatic allegations and tales of intrigue: police power, a sexual rendezvous, and harassment.

Albeit a lusty page-turner, U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf was unmoved by Tamara Villanueva's claims and dismissed the suit.

Novartis Failed to Warn About Aredia, Zometa's ONJ Risks: 8th Cir.

There are few pains in life that top dental procedures. Seeking refuge in a cocktail of prescription pills feels like the only way to cope with the unrelenting agony radiating from your face, to keep from silently sobbing in some dark corner.

Plaintiff Ruth Baldwin wished she had known a little bit more about those pills she was popping -- and more importantly, the dangers that come with their use -- before ingesting two bone drugs, Aredia and Zometa, after her dental procedures.

8th Cir. Tosses Border Control's $38M Fines Against Union Pacific

A three-member panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (mostly) upheld a lower court ruling that found U.S. border officials exceeded their authority when they imposed $38 million in fines against Union Pacific Corp. for failing to discover illegal drugs in Mexican-controlled railcars that crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into the US of A.

The case explores under what circumstances U.S. Customs and Border Protection have power to impose fines on railroad companies and seize railcars.

Two Cyclospora Lawsuits Dished Up in Iowa and Nebraska

Two Olive Garden patrons from Iowa and Nebraska have filed Cyclospora lawsuits against the chain's parent company. Federal court documents show Kelly Kunc of Hiawatha, Iowa, and Joyce Nendza of Holt County, Nebraska filed the lawsuits against Darden Corporation of Orlando, Florida, which owns the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains, reports The Associated Press.

Both plaintiffs are being represented by Minneapolis attorney Ryan Osterholm. His firm, Pritzker Olsen, specializes in food-safety and food-poisoning cases. He's also representing a plaintiff in Texas.

The lawsuits serve as a good reminder to practitioners that Cyclospora lawsuits may be a viable way to broaden their personal injury practice.

Thomson Reuters is a massive, massive company. Among its many, many products are (that's us!) and West Publishing, whose blue screens of research filled your sleep-deprived nights in law school.

One of West's available products is a driver's license information database. West obtains the information in bulk, from DMVs and third parties, and sells it to end-users for "proper purposes".

Marcy A. Johnson isn't too happy about that practice. She alleged, on behalf of herself and all similarly-situated people in the class, that the act of bulk aggregation of DMV data and the sale of such data violated the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA).

Some rapscallions were vandalizing and stealing property from Gear Automotive in Kansas City. The police, after investigating, expressed their hunch that the culprits would return, and suggested that someone guard the lot. As many of my fellow-Missourians would do, Robert Gear decided to round up a posse - himself, his brother Darrel, and some armed guy named Joe.

When unidentified individuals did show, the predictable happened, and Joe accidentally shot Robert.

Pizza delivery is a fun gig, especially for those of us who love to drive while bumping hot jams. ("I [Drove] Myself Crazy" - don't judge). Unfortunately for drivers, many pizza places now tack on a "delivery charge" of a buck or two, which some customers mistake for an automatically-included gratuity. For those restaurants that do not split that fee with the drivers, that means the drivers get shafted.

Matt Luiken was one of those drivers. He worked for Domino's, which -- at the time -- charged a $1 per delivery fee. He sued on behalf of all similarly-situated pizza boys, claiming that the big D withheld these fees from the drivers illegally, as per Minnesota law, they are tips.

Insurer Must Cover Junk Fax Settlement

We get a fair number of junk faxes at our office. Our fax machine is next to the paper recycling bin, so it’s easy to toss them and forget about them. Because that’s what most people do.

Most people are tossing out a veritable gold mine; under the Junk Fax Act, they could be suing and collecting damages for those unwanted faxes.

Before you shudder at the thousands of dollars you’re losing by simply ignoring your in-house money press fax machine, just think about the money you’re saving insurance companies. Yes, insurers have to indemnify those overly-aggressive-faxers under advertising injury provisions.