U.S. Tenth Circuit

U.S. Tenth Circuit - The FindLaw 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


Four-month-old A.H. was severely injured when his Evenflo car seat broke apart, sending the seat -- and A.H. -- hurtling into the back of the car driven by his mother.

A.H.'s father, Tony Hadjih, sued Evenflo on a theory of design defect and failure to warn, as Evenflo knew the two-piece car seat had a tendency to separate during accidents. Even so, the court directed a verdict in favor of Evenflo on the failure to warn claim, and a jury returned a verdict in favor of Evenflo on the design defect claim.

The Hadjihs appealed on these issues and on allowing into the trial a videotaped deposition of a defense witness.

It was the first trial in the "Borg Cube," the new federal courthouse in Salt Lake City. The defendant, Siale Angilau, allegedly grabbed a pen or pencil and rushed the witness stand. A nearby U.S. marshal pulled out his gun and fired multiple times. Angilau, 25, did not survive.

Now, word has emerged that there is a tape of the shooting, one which the district court, in the name of security, refuses to release. Does Chief Judge Ted Stewart have a point?

For some reason, Anita Hansen wanted to go into a Hollister store. You know Hollister: the Abercombie & Fitch brand designed to make everyone think they're a hip surfer dude. Anyway, for some reason, Anita Hansen wanted to go into this place -- maybe to figure out what that smell was -- but she couldn't get in. Hansen is disabled, and says she couldn't get into the store because there are steps leading to its front entrance (Abercrombie wants you to think you're entering a hut or something). Even after she was let in through a side door, she couldn't move around the store because the pathways between display tables were too narrow.

Abercrombie made a few changes to the store's layout, but that silly entrance remained. As a result, Hansen filed an ADA complaint. After Abercrombie couldn't get her claim tossed out of court, Hansen then had the case certified as a class action.

The district court held that the ridiculous hut-stairs not only offended good taste, but violated Title III of the ADA, issuing an injunction requiring Abercrombie to modify Hollister stores' entrances.

Rule changes are never exciting. (Heck, I fell asleep four times reviewing these.) But rule changes are important. Why? Because if you file a printed addendum instead of an appendix, Chief Judge Mary Beck Briscoe will leave Lawrence, Kansas, get into her car, drive to your office, and kick you in your appendix. Or something like that.

The rule changes include Fed-wide changes to bankruptcy appeals, as well as tweaks to the local rules for appendices and other housecleaning.

When the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated President Obama's NLRB "recess" appointments in NLRB v. Noel Canning, the question arose: what happens to all the decisions these now-unlawfully-appointed NLRB members made?

That's the first issue the Tenth Circuit had to grapple with in Teamsters Local Union No. 455 v. NLRB (Harborlite). When the union and management at Harborlite couldn't agree on a new contract, the union members wanted to keep working. The law lets them, but is also allows the employer to conduct a "lock out" and hire temporary replacements until an agreement is reached. Harborlite did more than that, though: it threatened to hire permanent replacements if the union didn't agree with management. The NLRB found this was not OK, but in light of Noel Canning, does that determination mean anything?

Kansas recently passed a law requiring voters to prove their citizenship before they can register to vote. Arizona also passed such a law. But here's the rub: Federal law doesn't make voters prove their citizenship through a document like a passport or a birth certificate. Under federal law, voters merely have to affirm they're citizens, and that's that.

On Monday, the Tenth Circuit heard oral arguments in an appeal of the Kansas version of the case. Earlier this year, a U.S. District Court in Kansas ordered the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to alter federal voting forms to reflect each state's requirements.

This is not a complicated case.

Homaidan Al-Turki is an inmate at Limon Correctional Facility in Colorado. He was in pain. His pain was so severe that he was unable to stand and was vomiting. Mary Robinson, the nurse on duty at the time, refused to treat him, telling him to take it up in writing with the doctor who would be around in the morning. Eventually he passed out, woke up still in pain, and passed two kidney stones.

Crisis averted, but there was still the matter of hours of untreated pain. Hence, his lawsuit against Robinson for deliberate indifference.

In a case from the wild prair-ee, the Tenth Circuit was called upon to figure out who owns rights to what, stemming from an almost 100-year-old mineral rights law. The Ballad of Jed Clampett this is not.

Stull is a ranching company. It runs a grouse-hunting business above ground in rural Colorado. Entek is a mineral company. It mines for minerals, oil, and other valuable underground stuff -- largely under Stull's land. Entek needed access to Stull's land in order to develop new oil well and to maintain its existing oil wells on adjacent BLM land. Stull said no; Entek's presence would disturb its grouses.

A federal district court granted Entek the right to access portions of Stull's land -- but not the right to cross over Stull's land to service its wells on BLM land.

Hobby Lobby happened: Employers can request an exemption from the contraceptive coverage mandate portion of Obamacare if the closely held corporation's owners' religious beliefs would be burdened by the mandate.

But it wasn't just the coverage requirement that burdened these owners' religious beliefs. Later that week, the Court issued an order in the Wheaton College appeal, blocking enforcement of the religious accommodation procedures against the college. The college argued that the procedures amounted to facilitating the religiously objectionable conduct (providing birth control). And facilitating the sin is still a sin, it seems.

Though that injunction was far from a decision on the merits, the Obama administration, in a filing in a Tenth Circuit case, has told the appeals court that the accommodation procedure will be tweaked, hopefully to the religious objectors' satisfaction.

The Black Hills National Forest ("BHNF") straddles Wyoming and South Dakota, and its infestation by pine beetles has made the forest a subject of litigation in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Last week, the Tenth Circuit joined the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in denying environmental activist organizations the ability to challenge plans to address the pine beetle infestation in the BHNF, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley announced.