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Summary Judgment in Title VII Action Affirmed, and Criminal, Employment, Government Benefits and Tort Matters

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By FindLaw Staff on September 06, 2010 2:24 PM

In Chism v. Curtner, No. 09-2632, a Title VII racial discrimination action related to plaintiff's termination from employment as a firefighter for the city of Forrest City, Arkansas, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendants, holding that 1) prior arrests involving his coworkers concerned individuals who were not similarly situated to plaintiff, and therefore he could not meet his prima facie case of discrimination; and 2) plaintiff had no reasonable and legitimate expectation of employment in light of Arkansas law and the terms of his employment, which was at-will.

In Colenburg v. STARCON Int'l, Inc., No. 09-2544, an action for race-based employment discrimination, reprisal, and hostile work environment under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), the court affirmed summary judgment for defendant, holding that 1) plaintiff lacked evidence suggesting that defendant's decision to promote plaintiff's white coworker was based upon race; and 2) plaintiff could show no other non-class members that were not fired for doing the same things, and thus his claim was required to fail at the outset.

Jones v. Astrue, No. 09-3263, involved plaintiff's appeal from the district court's judgment upholding the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of her application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income.  The court affirmed on the grounds that 1) the ALJ had no need to contact plaintiff's treating physician because there was no ambiguity to resolve in her report, and the report contained all the necessary information, including the results of diagnostic testing; 2) the ALJ appropriately considered plaintiff's subjective complaints of pain under Polaski; and 3) substantial evidence on the record as a whole supported the ALJ's decision.

In Mader v. US, No. 09-1025, an action against the U.S. under the Federal Tort Claims Act, alleging the Department of Veterans Affairs acted negligently in providing medical treatment to plaintiff's husband, the court reversed the dismissal of the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that a plaintiff meets the Act's jurisdictional prerequisites when she provides the relevant agency with: 1) sufficient information for the agency to investigate the claims; and 2) the amount of damages sought.

In US v. Acosta, No. 08-3086, the court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for receipt and possession of child pornography, holding that ) sufficient evidence supported the district court's finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; 2) although the evidence supporting the distribution enhancement was largely circumstantial, the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that defendant distributed pornography; and 3) enhancing a defendant's sentence for the number of illegal items with which he was involved was a common practice throughout the Guidelines and was not unreasonable.

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