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

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Superheated Hormel Bacon Case Is Done

A federal appeals court sent both parties packing in a battle over precooked bacon.

It was a big deal, too, as bacon prices have continued to climb. In HIP, Inc. v. Hormel Foods Corporation, the litigation was about who owned a process for superheating bacon.

Both parties appealed summary judgments dismissing their claims, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. That's right, nobody took home the bacon.

University Lecturer Loses Free Speech Case

After complaining about preferential grades for student athletes, a lecturer lost an appeal in his free speech case against a university.

Henry Lyons sued the University of Missouri-Kansas City for terminating his contract. He said school officials retaliated against him because he complained after they overruled his grade for a student athlete.

In Lyons v. Vaught, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that university officials were immune from liability. Basically, the court said there is no free speech for employee grievances.

The Eighth Circuit has pulled the plug on a putative class action against GameStop, the video gaming store and publisher of magazines like Game Informer. Game aficionado Matthew Carlsen had sued the company, alleging that GameStop's Game Informer website shared user information with Facebook, in violation of its own privacy policy and Minnesota consumer fraud laws.

A district court tossed Carlsen's suit last summer for lack of standing. In a decision released yesterday, the Eighth Circuit briefly revived Carlsen's hopes of videogame class action success, ruling that he indeed had standing to sue -- only to toss his lawsuit for failure to state a claim. The ruling could be "game over" for the class action.

'Wal-Mex' Derivative Suit Dismissed on Quasi-Procedural Grounds

The Mexican arm of Walmart (known as Wal-Mex) has been at the center of several Walmart lawsuits recently. The latest, involving allegations that top brass at Walmart knowingly engaged in violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, has been dismissed by the Eighth Circuit, largely on quasi-procedural grounds and particularity.

Litigators, should take note: Demand clear specifics from your clients when they allege fraudulent activity. It could defeat a dismissal.

8th Circuit Clarifies When a Party Loses Arbitration Rights

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit clarified just when a party loses its arbitration rights in a wrongful termination suit, deciding that rights of an employer were lost when it acted inconsistently with the rights of the opposing party.

Gaming Company on the Hook for $5M to NIGC, 8th Cir. Rules

The Eighth Circuit backed up a lower court decision in finding that Bettor Racing, Inc. had operated its business in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and that it was rightfully ordered to pay up $5 million in fines.

If only they'd agree to an earlier offer to make this go away for for $4.5 million ...

In 2009, Dr. Douglas Weiher, a Wisconsin dentist, started to look for a new insurance disability policy. He found it in Northwestern Mutual, but the company made him promise to cancel one of his two previous insurance policies when he signed up. A few years later, Weiher became fully disabled and sought to collect on his policies.

But, it turns out, he had never canceled the earlier policy as promised. That caused Northwestern to rescind his disability insurance, arguing that Weiher's broken promise to cancel an earlier policy was a misrepresentation. Not so, the Eighth Circuit ruled on Tuesday, finding that Northwestern hadn't shown that Weiher's over-insurance increase its risk at the time of the loss.

The NFL Players Association has submitted its briefs to the Eight Circuit regarding the overturned suspension of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson was suspended by the NFL after he was accused of physically abusing his son. A district court reversed that suspension, finding that the NFL's domestic abuse policy was new and couldn't be retroactively applied to actions Peterson took in the past.

The NFL's appeal of that ruling is now currently pending in the Eight Circuit. In their filings, the Players Association -- essentially a union for NFL athletes -- argues, unsurprisingly, that the district court was correct in throwing out Peterson's suspension.

Arbitrator Decides Whether Arbitration Clause Applies: 8th Cir.

Arbitration clauses are everywhere, and we write about them a lot. Whether it's Sirius XM, Indian tribe payday lenders, or cell phone companies, we've seen everything in arbitration cases.

Or so we thought.

Last month, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld going to arbitration even after a customer was beaten and robbed in his own home by an employee. That's right: Even an incidental tort claim might be governed by the arbitration agreement. This is way worse than American Express charging extra fees.

Ark. Sup. Ct. Strikes Alltel Arbitration Agreement for Non-Mutuality

In AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, the U.S. Supreme Court told us that the Federal Arbitration Act overrides state contract law if a contract contains an arbitration clause. In American Express v. Italian Colors Restaurant, the Court upheld an arbitration agreement's class action waiver even when the cost of arbitrating a federal antitrust claim would exceed the recovery amount.

This approach has it critics. Notably, Judge Richard Posner said that class action waivers effectively eliminate litigation: "The realistic alternative to a class action is not 17 million individual suits, but zero individual suits, as only a lunatic or a fanatic sues for $30."

Looking into my crystal ball, I foresee Alltel Communication v. Rosenow to be the Supreme Court's next class action/arbitration case.