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


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.

In the state of Oklahoma, a person convicted of an aggravated sex offense is required to get a driver license that has a marking indicating that they are an aggravated sex offender. Ray Carney is one such offender, and he filed a lawsuit ahead of his release to try to avoid this punishment. And while this level of punishment is more than just the Hawthorn-ian Scarlet Letter of sorts, it was dismissed at the federal court level and won nothing in or on appeal.

The offender argued that the compulsory requirement violated his First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The court considered each claim briefly, but in the end it upheld the Oklahoma licensing requirement.

The Federal District Court for New Mexico issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state's Secretary of State from limiting the amount of money Representative Steve Pearce can transfer over from his prior federal campaign to his state bid for the governor's office.

Pearce apparently has (or at this point, maybe, had) nearly a million dollars just sitting in his federal campaign account. However, the New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver limited Pearce from transferring more than $11,000 from that account to his state campaign account due to New Mexico's campaign finance laws. The federal court disagreed and issued an injunction allowing Pearce to access the funds while the matter is pending in the courts.

In a line of cases that has subtly flown under the radar, you might be surprised to find out that your prescription drug records are not that confidential. In fact, in many states, law enforcement officers have access to a Prescription Drug Monitoring Database, often referred to as a PDMP database (Prescription Drug Monitoring Program).

A recent Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal opinion confirming the dismissal of two distinct cases alleging Fourth Amendment violations stemming from the warrantless search of a PDMP database explains the procedural problem the litigants faced more so than the actual problem with warrantless PDMP searches.

In a case that's proving eerily spooky to the tech community, the claims of Caldera International, now Santa Cruz Operation Inc. (a.k.a. SCO) against IBM over a 2001 software release have been brought back to life thanks to an order of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued on October 30, 2017. The nearly fifteen year old case has just been revived and sent back down to the federal district court to proceed as to one rather big claim against the industry titan: misappropriation.

Originally filed in 2003, this case has been litigated thoroughly, and has a record long enough to prove it. Prior to this Tenth Circuit appeal, the three remaining claims in the matter had been dismissed on summary judgment less than a couple years ago.

'Underwear Bomber' Sues Over Alleged Mistreatment

The Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado houses some of the most hated mass murderers in the world.

They include Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, and terrorists in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Twin Towers.

Then there's the "Underwear Bomber." He's in the news again, claiming prison officials have mistreated him.

Colorado Court Strikes Human Smuggling Law

Sometimes, you just don't know where the road will take you -- especially when you take a wrong turn.

Bernardino Fuentes-Espinoza found that out when he was driving illegal immigrants across state lines into Colorado. He was caught and convicted of smuggling under state laws.

Seven years later, the Colorado Supreme Court threw out his conviction because Colorado's law was preempted by federal law. His case, Fuentes-Espinoza v. People, will go down as a litigation landmark.

In a rare instance, the American Bar Association has rated Judge Charles Goodwin, President Trump's nominee to the Federal District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, as "unqualified." This may be puzzling to some as Judge Goodwin has served as a federal magistrate judge in the same court for the past four years.

However, whether or not that rating will hold up or prevent his confirmation cannot be predicted with any certainty. While traditionally the ABA issued their evaluations prior to the announcement of a nomination, President Trump has not bothered with seeking the ABA's evaluation prior to announcing a nomination.

Tenth Circuit Dismisses Fracking Appeals

Fracking, for all its attention-getting repercussions, is not getting any more attention from a federal appeals court.

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed consolidated fracking appeals that included more parties and amici than judges in the four-state circuit.

In State of Wyoming v. Zinke, the appeals panel said the cases were "prudentially unripe" because a disputed federal fracking regulation is being rescinded.