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Court Upholds $28 Million Award for 'Beatrice Six'

DNA evidence can cut both ways -- for conviction or exoneration.

In one Nebraska case, it cut deep for exoneration. Six defendants were wrongfully imprisoned for another man's crime before DNA evidence freed them.

But the "Beatrice Six" got their payback when a trial court handed them a $28 million judgment against a small Nebraska County. The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said it was an "obvious case" and affirmed in Dean v. Searcey.

Plaintiff's Burden Raised in ADA Case Against Liquor Store

A little paint goes a long way in remodeling and also in ADA compliance.

According to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, a liquor store did enough to comply with federal disability requirements by painting a van-accessible parking spot and putting up a sign. In fact, it was moot by the time the case got to trial because the owner had already fixed the parking problem.

But there was still a problem with the service counter, which was too high for the wheelchair-bound plaintiff. The burden, however, was on him in Wright v. RL Liquor.

In what must ring out as a hollow victory for Iowa State University, a federal district court has dismissed a Title IX case alleging the institution took too long to investigate a sexual assault incident back in March 2014. The delay allegedly resulted in the student victim experiencing a deprivation of educational opportunity.

The University's issued the following statement:

For African-style hair braiders in the state of Missouri, the recent Eighth Circuit decision striking down the challenge to the state's licensing requirement means that more work is going to be needed.

While hair braiders do not cut hair, the court and state believe that what they do squarely falls within the state's legal definition of a barber or cosmetologist. In supporting the need for hair braiders to be licensed as barbers or cosmetologists, the state relied on consumer protection and health risks, including inflammation, infection, and hair loss.

For the victims of sexual harassment, it is already difficult enough to come forward to speak up, let alone file an official complaint with an employer. And when it comes to sexual harassment lawsuits, the Eighth Circuit doesn't seem to be very plaintiff-friendly, according to a Citypages writer that surveyed a few curious results from within the circuit.

Notably, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has only one single female active justice out of nine. Of the five judges on senior status, there is also one more female jurist. However, given how highly the circuit regards the high standard sexual harassment plaintiffs are held to, it's natural that those plaintiffs would perceive a hostility towards sexual harassment claims from the court that may run deeper than just a predominantly male bench.

Arkansas Abortion Pill Ruling Stands

Planned Parenthood can't get past the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

For the third time in as many months, the appeals court has handed Planned Parenthood a defeat. This time, the justices refused to reconsider a prior decision that upheld a law that restricts access to abortion pills.

"This common sense law will help ensure that medication abortions are conducted in a safe, responsible manner and with appropriate protections for women," said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge after the last decision in Planned Parenthood v. Jegley.

In what is undoubtedly a tragic case, a state trooper shot and killed a dog that was loose on the highway. Sadly, in Hansen v. Black, the owners were left with no legal remedy as the courts have ruled the officer's actions were reasonable.

The dog had gotten loose and was causing havoc for drivers. The officer attempted to get the dog off the highway, but it did not respond to his commands, and kept running away when chased. Ultimately, the officer had to shoot the dog twice before it went into the median and collapsed. Then, the officer shot the wounded animal two more times to put it down and end its suffering.

Eighth Circuit Sends Back Abortion Decision

A Planned Parenthood victory dance over an abortion law lasted shorter than most White House jobs, as a federal appeals vacated an injunction in Arkansas.

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said Planned Parenthood didn't show that the state's law was a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortion services. The law required that doctors who provide miscarriage pills must have hospital privileges in the event of complications.

"This common sense law will help ensure that medication abortions are conducted in a safe, responsible manner and with appropriate protections for women," said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Ferguson Police to Stand Trial

Dorian Johnson will get his day in court against Ferguson police for using excessive force that killed his friend three years ago.

Johnson was not injured in the incident but sued for civil rights violations and "unconstitutional law-enforcement practices." The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, turning away an appeal by the city in Johnson v. City of Ferguson, ruled that his case will go forward.

Michael Brown was not as fortunate. He died of gunshot wounds as he ran that day on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.

8th Circuit Upholds Minnesota's Sex Offender Law

"Minnesota has the highest per capita population of civilly committed sex offenders in the nation."

This is mentioned as little more than a footnote in the Eighth Circuit decision, upholding the state's sex offender program against claims of unconstitutionality. But that one sentence almost tells the whole story.

In 1994, the state enacted the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. It provides specialized sex offender assessment, diagnosis, care, treatment, supervision, and other services to civilly committed sex offenders. It has received 714 people, but no one has been fully discharged from the program and only three have been provisionally discharged from the program. That's where the case begins.