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Criminal, ERISA and Immigration Decisions

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By FindLaw Staff on March 01, 2010 3:01 PM

The Eighth Circuit decided one criminal matter, one appeal concerning ERISA, and another case regarding immigration law.

Jones v. Unum Provident Corp., No. 08-3830, involved an action under ERISA for wrongful denial of benefits.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, holding that: 1) defendant thoroughly investigated plaintiff's claim, both initially and when plaintiff appealed, and its initial and final decisions were carefully reasoned; and 2) coverage under the policy at issue lapsed more than six weeks prior to plaintiff's return to full-time work, and thus her later disability claim was not covered because of a pre-existing condition clause.

Lang v. Napolitano, No. 09-1285, was an action against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials seeking an order enjoining defendants from removing plaintiff and a writ of mandamus ordering defendants "to issue a Notice to Appear before an immigration judge."  The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of the complaint on the grounds that: 1) the DHS's letter to plaintiff was a final administrative order of removal reviewable only in a court of appeals; and 2) at least in the absence of a legal or constitutional defect that could not be remedied by a direct petition for review, the order was final, and no court had jurisdiction over a claim to prevent execution of that order, either by collateral attack or by the imposition of further procedures.

In US v. Owens, No. 09-1829, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's cocaine base sentence following an appeal by the government.  The government claimed that the district court erred when it found that defendant's prior Missouri state conviction for burglary of a commercial building was not a crime of violence.  The Eighth Circuit held that the district court plainly did not disregard the applicability of the Career Offender provision under the Sentencing Guidelines.

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