U.S. Tenth Circuit - The FindLaw 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


A lawsuit filed just days ago in Colorado's state courts against two of the biggest oil companies, Exxon and Suncor, alleges that the oil producers have caused climate change and damages to the citizens of the state of Colorado.

Unlike similar cases filed in New York and California, Colorado is not alleging damages based upon sea level change. Rather, the state claims that the "dwindling" snow pack, increased fire risk, and changes in the amount of annual precipitation, caused by climate change, are its damages.

Court: Plaintiff Can't Prove Benzene Caused Leukemia

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals turned down a leukemia victim who said a refinery gave her cancer.

In Hall v. Conoco, Samantha Hall sued Conoco for strict liability and negligence, alleging the company's refinery emitted cancer-causing benzene into the air where she grew up. A trial judge excluded her expert witness, however, saying the doctor's opinion was unreliable.

The expert said benzene particles potentially caused her disease, but did not rule out an unknown cause of the cancer. So it turns out what you don't know really can hurt you.

Overstock Sued for Allegedly Following Bitcoin Frenzy

If Overstock.com continues to loose market value, at least it won't be alone.

To start the month, the stock market dove more than 750 points before rebounding to an overall loss of 459 points for the day. Investors were scared off by tariff wars and problems in technology companies.

It was bad for Overstock.com, too, but not as bad as the allegations in a new stockholder lawsuit. A new class action claims the company defrauded shareholders by using blockchain technology as "a thinly veiled strategy to take advantage of the Bitcoin Frenzy."

The Utah Republican Party has sought to enjoin the enforcement of SB54, a state law passed to provide two methods for a party's candidates to make it onto the primary ballot: via the party's caucus or convention, or via signature gathering.

The Utah Republicans did not want to allow the latter method as its stated preference is to only allow the party's primary candidates to be chosen at their state nominating convention. However, unfortunately for the Utah Republican Party (but maybe fortunately for the party members), the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals explained that the law is not unconstitutional and does not violate the party's First Amendment rights.

A recent Tenth Circuit decision upholding a contempt sanction issued by the lower district court provides some certainty for organizations that use children for unpaid labor. The basic lesson is that if kids are going to pick nuts on a commercial ranch operation, they need to be paid in money, not peanuts or pecans.

The Fundamental Church of Latter-day Saints, perhaps most widely known for their pro-polygamy stance, got mixed up with Paragon Contractors Corporation, which was recently ordered to pay the church's children $200,000 for unpaid wages again. The corporation attempted to argue that the church kids were actually volunteers, and regardless, the corp. claimed that the church controlled the children, not them. Neither of these arguments persuaded the appellate court to reverse the sanction.

Investment Manager Owes $5 Million for Misappropriation

A former investment manager got a break on nearly $50 million in fines, but still has to disgorge more than $5 million for misappropriating investors' money.

A federal appeals court had upheld orders that Charles Kokesh pay $34.9 million, plus $18 million in interest and a $2.4 million penalty two years ago. It wasn't enough to recoup $85 million his investment firms lost, but he appealed anyway.

Catching the case on the rebound from the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has settled on $5 million. For the government in Securities and Exchange Commission v. Kokesh, it was literally too little, too late.

Coal Dust, Not Smoking, Caused Worker's Death, Court Rules

Bradford McClean spent almost half his life working in coal mines.

By the time he quit, doctors said less than one-third of his lungs were working. He claimed benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act, then he died.

His widow continued with the claim, but McClean's employer said he died from smoking -- not black lung disease.

Prison Officials Escape Liability for Gassing Inmates

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals called it textbook negligence.

If so, it could well end up in a law school casebook someday. But they'll probably call it the "prison tear-gas case" because that's what happened.

Prison officials accidentally gassed 100 men inside their cells. There was nothing they could do about it then, and according to the appeals court, they can't do a thing about it now.

Ninja Turtles Snap at Live-Action Show, Viacom Sues for Copyright Violation

If only turtles could talk.

Like, would the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles really want to sue the live-action dancers who portray them for elementary school children? That's what the Guardian Anti-Bullying Campaign does, traveling across the Southwest to teach kids to stand up to bullies.

Horse manure, cowabunga or whatever, says Viacom, which owns the Ninja Turtle enterprise. The company has sued Mark Anthony Baca and his show for copyright and trademark violations.

Federal Judge Blocks Law Against Israel Boycott

A federal judge said a Kansas woman may boycott Israel, and the state cannot require otherwise.

In Koontz v. Watson, the judge enjoined the state's enforcement of a Kansas law that requires people who contract with the state to certify they are not engaged in the boycott.

Esther Koontz, a public school teacher, sued for relief saying "she could not sign the form in good conscience." The American Civil Liberties Union called it a "major victory" for free speech.