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Decisions In Criminal, ERISA, Civil Rights, & Class Action Lawsuits

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By FindLaw Staff on July 30, 2010 7:44 PM

Walker v. Monsanto Co. Pension Plan, 09-3637, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment in a class action lawsuit challenging the manner in which certain credits accrue in the defendant company's pension plan as inconsistent with a provision of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  In affirming the grant of summary judgment, the court held that the interest credits have no impact on the accrued benefit at normal retirement age and therefore have no effect on an employee's rate of benefit accrual, and Notice 96-8 and Revenue Ruling 2008-7 are wholly irrelevant to plaintiffs' claims.

US v. Vaughn, 09-3789, concerned a challenge to the district court's imposition of a 180-month sentence in a prosecution of an inmate for committing aggravated assault on a federal officer.  In affirming the sentence, the court held that the district court's explanations, that its decision rested on the need to deter defendant and others from such senseless attacks, the effort by defendant to prolong the attack, and the gruesome quality of the weapon, in imposing the above-guideline sentence are all reasonable.

US v. Jones, 09-3537, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for possession of 5 grams or more of a mixture containing cocaine base with the intent to distribute.  In affirming the conviction, the court held that the facts were sufficient for the officers to possess a reasonable factual basis to believe that there was sufficient probable cause to obtain a warrant; and 2) defendant has provided no basis for the court to conclude that the credibility determination was clear error.

US v. Cozzi, 09-2648, involed a challenge to the district court's denial of a former police officer's motion to dismiss an indictment charging him with violating a victim's civil rights, in convicting defendant for violating 18 U.S.C. section 242 and imposing a 40-month sentence.  In affirming bothe the conviction and the sentence, the court held that a tip to the FBI was not an improper use of defendant's immunized statements, and that the district court correctly calculated the applicable guideline range.

Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 10-1122, concerned a pro se's suit against Citibank and other individual defendants claiming that defendants discriminated against her on the basis of her race (African-American) when Citibank turned down her application for a home-equity loan, district court's dismissal of the suit for failure to state a claim.  In affirming in part, the court held that the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's fraud claim against Citibank as there was absence of particular information required under Rule 9. The court also held that the district court correctly dismissed plaintiff's common-law fraud claim against the appraisal defendants as she has not adequately alleged that she relied on their appraisal, nor has she pointed to any out-of-pocket losses that she suffered because of it.  However, the court reversed in part as, the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's Fair Housing Act claim against Citibank as the complaint included all that the plaintiff needed to put in the complaint, and also erred in dismissing plaintiff's Fair Housing Act claims against the appraisal defendants as she has pleaded enough to survive a motion under Rule 12(b)(6); and 4)

Siegel v. Shell Oil Co., 09-3451, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of class certification and entry of summary judgment for the defendants, in plaintiff's motion for class certification, seeking relief under both the Illinois Consumer Fraud (ICFA) and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the common law doctrine of unjust enrichment, in his suit against five of the eight largest oil companies.  In affirming the judgment, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that questions of fact common to class members did not predominate over any questions affecting only individual members.  Also, plaintiff's  ICFA claim is rejected as he cannot show that the defendants' conduct caused him to purchase their gasoline, and absent that the defendants engaged in unfair practice, plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim is not viable.

Parish v. Elkhart, 09-2056, concerned a challenge to the district court's dismissal of all of plaintiff's state law claims on the ground that they were barred by Indiana's statute of limitations in plaintiff's civil rights case against a city and several officers for serving eight years of a thirty-year prison sentence for attempted murder, of which all charges were dropped after his release.  The court affirmed the dismissal as to the false arrest and false imprisonment claims but reversed as to an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim as, under Indiana's adoption of Heck, plaintiff could not have brought the claims until his conviction was disposed of in a manner favorable to him, and as such, plaintiff brought his claim within two years of when the claim accrued upon his exoneration.

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