Fair Credit Reporting Act; Invasion of Privacy; Punitive Damages
(1)Where a mortgage company challenged a $400,000 punitive damages award against it on a claim of invasion of privacy in a case brought against it by a homeowner who also alleged a negligent violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the record showed that the homeowner repeatedly contacted the defendant to resolve issues with her account, but the defendant continued to aggressively pursue collection, and sufficient evidence supported a determination that the defendant acted with a reckless indifference to the homeowner’s rights, and the award is affirmed because the defendant also failed to show that the award was unconstitutionally excessive.
(2)Where a homeowner challenged the exclusion of testimony in her action against a mortgage company, the exclusion of testimony was proper to avoid a mini trial of another borrower’s experience, and the homeowner also did not show that a jury instruction was erroneous.
Judgment is affirmed.
16-1285 May v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC, appealed from the Eastern District of Missouri, Wright, J.
Employer – Employee
Costs; Westlaw Research; Iowa Law
Where a jury found an employer liable to three female employees for sex-based wage discrimination, and the employer challenged the award of attorney’s fees and costs to the plaintiffs, the employer did not show that it was entitled to a new trial based on instructional or evidentiary error, but the issue of costs is remanded for a determination of whether charging clients separately for Westlaw research is the prevailing practice. Remanded; affirmed.
16-1305 Dindinger v. Allsteel, Inc. appealed from the Southern District of Iowa, Kelly, J.
Employer – Employee
Disability Discrimination; Essential Job Functions
Where a package delivery driver sued his employer for disability discrimination and retaliation, summary judgment for the employer is reversed on his 2012 disability claim because the district court erred in determining as a matter of law that the plaintiff was unable to perform the essential job functions of a feeder driver position and the plaintiff also provided evidence that the employer expected such jobs to become open in the near future, but the plaintiff’s 2013 discrimination claim failed as a matter of law because he did not offer sufficient evidence that he was qualified to perform the essential job functions of any available job. Judgment is affirmed in part; reversed in part; remanded.
16-1073 Faidley v. United Parcel Service of America, Inc. appealed from the Southern District of Iowa, Murphy, J.
Life Insurance Policy; Beneficiary Designation; Revocation Upon Divorce
Where a policyholder’s ex-wife was still the primary beneficiary on his life insurance policy after his death and she and the policyholder’s adult children cross claimed for the policy proceeds, the district court’s award of the proceeds to the children is reversed and remanded because applying a revocation-upon-divorce statute to the policy retroactively was an impermissible impairment under the Contract Clause. Judgment is reversed and remanded.
16-1172 Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. Melin, appealed from the District of Minnesota, Benton, J.
Easements; Unjust Enrichment; Damages
(1)Where landowners brought claims of trespass and unjust enrichment against a power cooperative that held easements to construct and operate electric transmission lines and against a telecommunications company to which the cooperative assigned the cables’ excess capacity, and a jury awarded the landowners more than $79 million for the fair market rental value of the use, the use for public-serving commercial telecommunications unrelated to electric transmission was a prohibited, expanded use, and the use exceeded the scope of the easements, and the district court’s grant of summary judgment for trespass liability is affirmed.
(2)Where a power cooperative and a telecommunications company exceeded their use of easements, unjust enrichment is not available as a remedy for trespass to real property, so the grant of summary judgment is reversed, and the relevant damages award is vacated.
Judgment is affirmed in part; reversed in part; remanded.
15-2964 Barfield v. Sho-Me Power Electric Cooperative, appealed from Western District of Missouri, Benton, J.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction; Indian Country
Where an Indian defendant, who was charged with committing federal felony offenses in a town that was historically part of a reservation, challenged subject matter jurisdiction, the district court properly found that the evidence failed to show that Congress diminished the reservation in a 1905 act, so the judgment is affirmed because the town in which the offenses occurred was part of Indian country. Judgment is affirmed.
15-1789 U.S. v. Jackson, appealed from the District of Minnesota, Loken, J.
Where defendants in a drug conspiracy and money laundering case argued that an affidavit written from prison by a third conspirator claiming that he misled them was newly discovered evidence to support a new trial, the denial of the new trial motion is affirmed because the defendants failed to show that the affidavit was likely to produce an acquittal, and the defendants also did not show that the district court erred by giving a willful blindness instruction. Judgment is affirmed.
16-1980 U.S. v. Delgrosso, appealed from the Western District of Missouri, Gruender, J.
Possession of Firearm
Where a defendant who was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm argued that the indictment charged him with receipt rather than possession of the gun, the indictment sufficiently charged the defendant with the crime for which he was convicted based on its plain language and its setting forth of the necessary elements of unlawful possession, so the judgment is affirmed. Judgment is affirmed.
16-1729 U.S. v. Wyatt, appealed from the Western District of Missouri, Riley, J.
Hearsay; Child Pornography
Where a defendant in a child pornography case challenged the admission of two screenshots, testimony from a special agent authenticated that the screenshots accurately represented online content, and to the extent a chart used by the government included inadmissible hearsay statements, the error was harmless, so the convictions are affirmed since the defendant also failed to show that the court erred in rejecting a definition requested by the defendant. Judgment is affirmed.
16-1027 U.S. v. Needham, appealed from the District of Minnesota, Smith, J.
Armed Career Criminal
Where a defendant challenged his designation as an armed career criminal for sentencing purposes, the sentence is vacated and remanded for resentencing to determine whether the defendant’s second-degree burglary convictions were “of a building” and thus violent felonies under the Armed Career Criminal Act. Vacated; remanded.
15-1712 U.S. v. Phillips, appealed from the Western District of Missouri, Benton, J.
Unproven Facts; Child Pornography
Where a defendant in a child pornography case challenged his 360-month sentence, the district court erred by relying on unproven, objected-to facts from the presentence investigation report, but the defendant did not show a reasonable probability that but for the error he would have received a more favorable sentence, and he also did not show that the sentence was substantively unreasonable, so the judgment is affirmed. Judgment is affirmed.
16-1775 U.S. v. Cottrell, appealed from the Northern District of Iowa, Melloy, J.