U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Civil Procedure, Criminal, ERISA, Family Law and Government Benefits Matters

In US v. Nguyen, No. 08-3791, the Eighth Circuit affirmed defendants' drug conspiracy convictions and sentences, holding that 1) defendants' plea agreement only permitted him to appeal an "unconstitutionally defective sentence," and defendant did not appeal on those grounds; 2) the government presented sufficient evidence to show that defendant knowingly participated in a marijuana conspiracy; and 3) the district court erred when it instructed the jury that conspiracy may constitute a predicate offense for a continuing criminal enterprise (CCE).  However, the court reversed in part the district court's forfeiture order, holding that there was no sufficient facilitation nexus between defendant's car and the CCE.

In US v. Burtton, No. 09-1380, the Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's drug possession conviction, holding that defendant's commission of the "infraction" of possessing an open alcohol container in the presence of officers supplied the officers with probable cause to arrest defendant under the Fourth Amendment.

In US v. Rutherford, No. 09-1421, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's sentence for using interstate communications to transmit a threat, holding that 1) U.S.S.G. section 5G1.2 was not controlling, but advisory, and the district court had discretion to impose either consecutive or concurrent sentences under 18 U.S.C. section 3584; and 2) the district court properly considered the 18 U.S.C. section 3553(a) factors and, given the evidence, the district court's imposition of consecutive sentences was not an abuse of discretion.

Dodson v. Univ. of Arkansas for Med. Sci., No. 09-1659, involved an action claiming that a university's refusal to allow plaintiff control over the disposition of embryos created by plaintiff and her ex-husband violated her constitutional rights and breached an implied contract.  The court affirmed the dismissal of the action, holding that plaintiff's claims complained of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced, and thus the action was barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.

Chorosevic v. MetLife Choices, No. 09-1880, concerned an ERISA class action alleging that defendants improperly calculated secondary health benefits owed to plaintiffs.  The Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for defendants on the grounds that 1) plaintiffs failed to exhaust their remedies with defendant-insurer because they did not appeal or even reference the claims they filed in the present lawsuit; 2) defendants complied with "reasonable claims procedures" in denying benefits; and 3) plaintiff failed to show that demand would have been futile.

Halverson v. Astrue, No. 09-2076, involved petitioner's appeal from the district court's order affirming the decision of an administrative law judge (ALJ) denying her claim for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act.  The court of appeals affirmed, holding that 1) nearly all of petitioner's mental status examinations revealed no abnormalities or were inconsistent with her complaints; 2) the ALJ properly explained his bases for discounting the two reports suggesting petitioner would be unable to maintain consistent employment; and 3) based on the ALJ's evaluation of petitioner's daily activities, the objective medical evidence, and other inconsistencies in the record as a whole, the court would not disturb the ALJ's decision to discredit, in part, petitioner's subjective complaints.

Barzilay v. Barzilay, No. 09-2358, concerned plaintiff's appeal from the district court's dismissal of his petition under the International Child Abduction Remedies Act and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, arising out of defendant's allegedly wrongful retention of their children.  The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the children's country of "habitual residence" within the meaning of the Hague Convention was the United States and their retention in Missouri was therefore not wrongful.

In US v. Small, No. 09-2769, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's armed bank robbery sentence, holding that 1) defendant's flight from a law enforcement officer that recklessly created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to other persons justified a sentencing enhancement; and 2) the district court's denial of a downward departure was not reviewable.

Related Resources