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

A recent Tenth Circuit decision upholding a contempt sanction issued by the lower district court provides some certainty for organizations that use children for unpaid labor. The basic lesson is that if kids are going to pick nuts on a commercial ranch operation, they need to be paid in money, not peanuts or pecans.

The Fundamental Church of Latter-day Saints, perhaps most widely known for their pro-polygamy stance, got mixed up with Paragon Contractors Corporation, which was recently ordered to pay the church's children $200,000 for unpaid wages again. The corporation attempted to argue that the church kids were actually volunteers, and regardless, the corp. claimed that the church controlled the children, not them. Neither of these arguments persuaded the appellate court to reverse the sanction.

Investment Manager Owes $5 Million for Misappropriation

A former investment manager got a break on nearly $50 million in fines, but still has to disgorge more than $5 million for misappropriating investors' money.

A federal appeals court had upheld orders that Charles Kokesh pay $34.9 million, plus $18 million in interest and a $2.4 million penalty two years ago. It wasn't enough to recoup $85 million his investment firms lost, but he appealed anyway.

Catching the case on the rebound from the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has settled on $5 million. For the government in Securities and Exchange Commission v. Kokesh, it was literally too little, too late.

Coal Dust, Not Smoking, Caused Worker's Death, Court Rules

Bradford McClean spent almost half his life working in coal mines.

By the time he quit, doctors said less than one-third of his lungs were working. He claimed benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act, then he died.

His widow continued with the claim, but McClean's employer said he died from smoking -- not black lung disease.

Prison Officials Escape Liability for Gassing Inmates

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals called it textbook negligence.

If so, it could well end up in a law school casebook someday. But they'll probably call it the "prison tear-gas case" because that's what happened.

Prison officials accidentally gassed 100 men inside their cells. There was nothing they could do about it then, and according to the appeals court, they can't do a thing about it now.

Ninja Turtles Snap at Live-Action Show, Viacom Sues for Copyright Violation

If only turtles could talk.

Like, would the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles really want to sue the live-action dancers who portray them for elementary school children? That's what the Guardian Anti-Bullying Campaign does, traveling across the Southwest to teach kids to stand up to bullies.

Horse manure, cowabunga or whatever, says Viacom, which owns the Ninja Turtle enterprise. The company has sued Mark Anthony Baca and his show for copyright and trademark violations.

Federal Judge Blocks Law Against Israel Boycott

A federal judge said a Kansas woman may boycott Israel, and the state cannot require otherwise.

In Koontz v. Watson, the judge enjoined the state's enforcement of a Kansas law that requires people who contract with the state to certify they are not engaged in the boycott.

Esther Koontz, a public school teacher, sued for relief saying "she could not sign the form in good conscience." The American Civil Liberties Union called it a "major victory" for free speech.

A case out of Oklahoma's Supreme Court is making national headlines for holding the oil and gas industry to task and overturning the heavy handed state law that was in its favor.

The 2014 case involves the death of David Chambers, who, while working for a trucking company, was severely burned while working at an oil well site owned by Stephens Production Company. A change to the state's worker compensation laws in 2011 that specifically exempted oil and gas companies from lawsuits, essentially rendered Stephens immune from liability for the injury and death. Seeing no valid reason for oil and gas companies to be exempted in this way, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held the law to be unconstitutional.

Court: Religious Accommodation Is a Jury Question

Seventh Day Adventists take their Sabbath very seriously; some will forfeit their jobs over it.

Richard Tabura and Guadalupe Diaz are that serious. When they refused to work on the Seventh Day, their employer fired them.

They responded with a lawsuit, which a federal judge dismissed. But these plaintiffs are very serious, and they appealed in Tabura v. Kellogg USA.

While taking a beginners ski lesson from an unlicensed, non-certified, instructor from a Vail Summit Resorts employee, Dr. Brigance was instructed to use a ski lift. When trying to get off the lift, her ski boot became stuck.

Rather than stopping the lift, the employee running it only slowed it down, apparently, per resort policy. This resulted in Dr. Brigance suffering a complex fracture to her femur. After filing an injury lawsuit in the federal district court (on diversity grounds as Dr. Brigance hails from Florida and the surgeries alone were about triple the $75,000 jurisdictional limit), the doctor's complaint was dismissed, partly on a motion to dismiss, and the remainder on summary judgment, as a result of the liability waiver she signed for the lesson and the waiver on the back of her ski lift ticket.

If you haven't heard of the national Free the Nipple movement, perhaps you haven't been listening, or looking, close enough. Basically, the general idea behind the movement is gender equality through the decriminalization of the female breast, chest, and nipple.

In short, the movement seeks to make sure the law is the same for both men and women that want to walk around topless. Currently, a preliminary injunction prevents women from facing potential criminal penalties for walking around topless in Fort Collins, Colorado. That injunction was ordered by a federal district court judge upon the motion of Free the Nipple, the organization behind the national movement, and the two brave plaintiffs. However, the City of Fort Collins has appealed the injunction to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will be hearing arguments mid-January.