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8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Digest: Dec. 21, 2022

Administrative Law

 

Affordable Care Act

Gender Transition Care; Title VII Violation

Defendants, officials of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, appealed the district court’s judgment granting permanent injunctive relief to plaintiffs. The injunction barred defendants from interpreting §1557 of the ACA to compel plaintiffs to provide insurance for gender transitions, which interpretation plaintiffs argued discriminated against their religious beliefs.

Although the association plaintiff lacked associational standing to sue on behalf of unnamed members, the remaining plaintiffs could challenge defendants’ interpretation of §1557, and the district court properly granted plaintiffs permanent injunctive relief where they demonstrated that they were at risk of imminent irreparable harm from violation of their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

Judgment is affirmed.

The Religious Sisters of Mercy v. Becerra (MLW No. 79194/Case No. 21-1890 – 40 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Smith, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota.

 

Debit Card Merchant Fees

Durbin Amendment; Statute of Limitations

Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal of their action. Plaintiffs filed claims against the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System, arguing that fees for merchants in debit card transactions violated the Durbin Amendment. The district court dismissed the action, concluding that the suit was barred by the statute of limitations. On appeal, plaintiffs argued that the statute of limitations was renewed when the board published a clarification to the regulations.

Where the clarification was not a final agency action because it did not modify the regulations or create any new rights and obligations, and where the limitations period began when an administrative regulation was published, regardless of when a corporate plaintiff was formed, the district court correctly dismissed plaintiffs’ complaint under the statute of limitations.

Judgment is affirmed.

North Dakota Retail Association v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (MLW No. 79221/Case No. 22-1639 – 11 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Benton, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota.

 

 

Medicaid Benefits

Reduction or Termination of Benefits; New Assessment Tool

Defendants, various state officials from Arkansas, appealed the denial of their motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ complaint. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants’ decision to implement a new assessment tool, which resulted in the reduction or termination of plaintiffs’ Medicaid benefits, violated their due process rights.

Where plaintiffs had a clearly established right to adequate notice of the reduction or termination of their Medicaid benefits and had standing to sue as the conduct leading to the interruption of benefits was capable of repetition, defendants could not dismiss plaintiffs’ suit on grounds of sovereign immunity or qualified immunity.

Judgment is affirmed.

Elder v. Gillespie (MLW No. 79193/Case No. 21-1826 – 15 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Smith, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas.

 

Civil Practice

 

Adverse Summary Judgment

Civil Rights Case

Where appellant challenged an adverse grant of summary judgment in a civil rights action, the district court did not err in granting the judgment for the defendants.

Judgment is affirmed.

Villarreal v. Bigsby (MLW No. 79252/Case No. 22-2535 – 2 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska.

 

 

Clemency Application

Court Authority; 18 U.S.C. §3599

Where a death row inmate argued that the district court had authority under 18 U.S.C. §3599 to grant his requests related to clemency proceedings, §3599’s authorization for funding does not provide authority for federal courts to compel state officials to act in furtherance of clemency proceedings.

Vacated.

Tisius v. Vandergriff (MLW No. 79233/Case No. 22-3175 – 3 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Erickson, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri.

 

 

Standing

Motion To Substitute; Debt Collection

Where decedent’s wife had not been appointed as a fiduciary or personal representative of her husband’s estate in a dispute arising from debt collection efforts, her motion to substitute herself for decedent is denied, and the district court mistakenly vacated its amended judgment and should not have reinstated its original judgment dismissing the complaint with prejudice, so the matter is remanded with instructions to reinstate the amended judgment as to the wife’s claims and to return the case to the Missouri state court.

Remanded.

Stone v. J&M Securities, LLC (MLW No. 79231/Case No. 21-3422 – 4 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Colloton, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.

 

Civil Rights

 

§1983

Retaliatory Use of Force; Qualified/Sovereign Immunity

Defendants appealed the denial of their motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff filed suit, alleging that defendant Scott Boyher, a police officer, deployed pepper spray into her face during a protest as a retaliatory use of force, in violation of her First Amendment rights. The district court denied Boyher’s summary judgment motion based on qualified and official immunity, and reserved ruling on the city’s claim for sovereign immunity.

Where the district court based its denial of qualified immunity upon finding that plaintiff presented sufficient evidence that she was acting lawfully when Boyher deployed the pepper spray, the court was without jurisdiction to consider Boyher’s appeal, but the court remanded for the district court to consider whether the city was immune from suit.

Judgment is affirmed in part, vacated and remanded in part.

Dreith v. City of St. Louis (MLW No. 79224/Case No. 21-3514 – 7 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Wollman, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.

 

 

Prison Inmate

Denial of Class Certification; Petition for Permission to Appeal

Plaintiff filed an interlocutory appeal from the denial of his motion for class action certification.

Where plaintiff had failed to seek permission to appeal an interlocutory order, the court dismissed the appeal.

Appeal is dismissed.

Ruesga v. Boettger (MLW No. 79228/Case No. 22-2292 – 2 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa.

 

 

Wage Discrimination

Affirmative Defense; Sex Discrimination

Where a plaintiff in an employment discrimination case appealed the adverse grant of summary judgment on her claims of wage and sex discrimination, the district court properly found that the employer sustained its burden to prove an affirmative defense in that the difference between the plaintiff’s pay and that of two male colleagues was justified based on the prior work experience, and the court did not err in determining that the plaintiff failed to make a prima facie case of sex discrimination because she failed to present evidence that her discharge was more likely than not explained by an intent to discriminate against her on the basis of sex.

Judgment is affirmed.

Mayorga v. Marsden Building Maintenance LLC (MLW No. 79250/Case No. 22-1630 – 8 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Kelly, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa.

 

 

Excessive Force

Adverse Summary Judgment

Where appellant challenged an adverse grant of summary judgment on claims of excessive force, the appellate court declined to consider arguments that were raised for the first time on appeal.

Judgment is affirmed

Gebregziabher v. Slay (MLW No. 79249/Case No. 22-1077 – 2 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.

 

 

Criminal Law

 

Civil Commitment

Discharge; Return to Prior Facility

Defendant appealed the magistrate judge’s dismissal of defendant’s motion seeking discharge from civil commitment, or alternatively, transfer to a previous facility.

Where defendant failed to timely file a notice of appeal, the court lacked jurisdiction.

Appeal is dismissed.

U.S. v. Kerr (MLW No. 79198/Case No. 22-1694 – 2 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri.

 

 

Defective Indictment

Timeliness; Due Process

Where a defendant, who was found guilty in a drug conspiracy case, argued that the indictment was defective, the defendant’s motion was untimely since he should have raised the issue as a pre-trial motion, and the judgment is affirmed because the district court did not err in giving a juror an audio assistive device for trial after she expressed trouble hearing during voir dire, and the court did not violate the defendant’s due process rights when it revoked his supervised release without hearing additional evidence on his new violation.

U.S. v. Petty (MLW No. 79248/Case No. 21-3286 – 6 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.

 

 

Drug Conspiracy

Motion in Limine; Confidential Informant Testimony

Defendant appealed his conviction on drug conspiracy charges, arguing that the district court erred in denying his motion in limine and admitting certain testimony from a confidential informant. Defendant argued that the testimony was outside the scope of the indictment and that the last-minute disclosure of the testimony unfairly prejudiced him.

Where the testimony concerned events that reasonably fell within the timeframe of the allegations in the complaint and where the testimony was relevant to establish how the CI knew defendant, the district court did not err in admitting the testimony where the government put defendant on notice that it would offer evidence regarding the events the CI testified to.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Heredia (MLW No. 79223/Case No. 21-3513 – 9 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Shepherd, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota.

 

 

Drug Offenses

Firearms Offenses; Substantive Reasonableness of Sentence

Defendant appealed the sentence imposed following his guilty plea to drug and firearms offenses, challenging the substantive reasonableness of the sentence.

Where the district court imposed a below-Guidelines sentence and did not appear to have improperly considered a sentencing factor, the court affirmed the judgment of sentence.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Stewart (MLW No. 79229/Case No. 22-2596 – 2 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa.

 

 

 

Possession of Ammunition by Felon

Motion to Suppress Evidence; Attenuation Doctrine

Defendant, who entered a conditional guilty plea to being a felon in possession of ammunition, appealed the denial of his motion to suppress evidence. After identifying defendant as matching the description of a reported shooter of a dog, police requested defendant’s consent to search his vehicle after an eyewitness saw the shooter throw something into the vehicle. Defendant also provided consent to search his residence, where police found several boxes of ammunition. On appeal, defendant argued that he was unlawfully arrested in his home.

Although defendant was unlawfully arrested in his home, his knowing and voluntary consent to the search of his residence meant that the search was sufficiently attenuated from the unlawful arrest where defendant was given time to consider his decision to give consent.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Harris (MLW No. 79195/Case No. 21-2039 – 8 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Kelly, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas.

 

 

Possession of Child Pornography

Motion to Suppress; Evidentiary Rulings

Defendant appealed his conviction for possession of child pornography, challenging the denial of his motion to suppress and the district court’s decision to admit defendant’s prior conviction for child pornography and his past admissions of molesting children.

Where the evidence was validly seized pursuant to a search warrant based on evidence that IP addresses connected to the residence were flagged for child pornography and both residents were registered sex offenders, the district court properly denied defendant’s suppression motion and also properly admitted prior bad acts evidence where it involved the same behavior as in the present case.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Schave (MLW No. 79230/Case No. 22-1305 – 11 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Grasz, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota.

 

 

Production of Child Pornography

Sexually Explicit Conduct; Sufficiency of Evidence

Defendant appealed his conviction for production of child pornography. Defendant’s conviction stemmed from his surreptitious recording of his 15-year-old niece as she took a shower at defendant’s home. On appeal, defendant argued that the video did not show “sexually explicit conduct.”

Where mere nudity was insufficient to convict under the charged statute, a depiction of a minor showering did not constitute a lascivious depiction that constituted child pornography.

Judgment is reversed.

U.S. v. McCoy (MLW No. 79225/Case No. 21-3895 – 6 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Grasz) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas.

 

Possession with Intent to Distribute

Sentencing Guidelines Calculation; Career Offender

Defendant appealed the sentence imposed following his guilty plea to possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute, arguing that the district court erred in applying the “career offender” provision of the Sentencing Guidelines when calculating his Guidelines range. Defendant contended that his prior marijuana conviction did not qualify as a predicate offense because Missouri and federal law had been amended to exclude hemp from the definition of marijuana.

Where the district court was not required to look to current law to determine whether defendant committed a prior predicate offense under the career offender provision, the district court properly relied upon defendant’s previous marijuana possession conviction.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Turman (MLW No. 79196/Case No. 21-3190 – 3 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.

 

Sentencing

Substantive Reasonableness

Where a defendant challenged the sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to drug offenses, the district court did not impose a substantively unreasonable sentence, so the judgment is affirmed.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Moron-Rivera (MLW No. 79251/Case No. 22-2086 – 2 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Western District of Arkansas.

 

 

Violation of Supervised Release

Revocation; Substantive Reasonableness of Sentence

Defendant appealed the sentence imposed following the revocation of his supervised release. The district court imposed an 18-month incarceration term followed by 10 years of supervised release. Defendant challenged the substantive reasonableness of his sentence.

Where the district court was entitled to consider relevant conduct in supervised release violations that were dismissed, the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing an above-Guidelines sentence after considering the mitigating factors asserted by defendant.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Berger (MLW No. 79227/Case No. 22-2231 – 5 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Western District of Arkansas.

 

 

Employer-Employee

 

Employee Benefit Funds

Employer Contributions; Collective Bargaining Agreement

Plaintiffs appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant. Defendant had entered a collective bargaining agreement that required it to contribute to plaintiffs’ employee benefit funds. Plaintiffs filed suit, arguing that the CBA required defendant to contribute for all hours worked by covered employees, regardless of the type of work. Defendant successfully moved for summary judgment, contending that the CBA unambiguously only required contributions for construction and highway work.

Where the CBA expressly required defendant to make contributions only for “building construction” and “highway/heavy” work, terms defined by the CBA, defendant did not need to make contributions for any other work not listed in those definitions.

Judgment is affirmed.

Greater St. Louis Construction Laborers Welfare Fund v. RoadSafe Traffic Systems, Inc. (MLW No. 79197/Case No. 22-1050 – 7 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Benton, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.

 

 

Race Discrimination

Gender Discrimination; Rescission of Settlement

Plaintiff appealed the summary judgment dismissal of her race and gender discrimination suit against defendant, her former employer. Plaintiff had successfully moved to rescind the parties’ settlement and reopen the action. The district court granted defendant’s summary judgment motion.

The court affirmed the grant of summary judgment for defendant for the reasons expressed in the district court’s order.

Judgment is affirmed.

Thomas v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (MLW No. 79222/Case No. 22-1747 – 2 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota.

 

 

Immigration

 

Denial Of Asylum

Persecution

Where a petitioner from Guatemala sought review of an order denying him asylum, substantial evidence supported the determination that the petitioner was not entitled to asylum because he did not establish past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution on account of a protected ground.

Petition denied.

Perez v. Garland (MLW No. 79232/Case No. 22-2517 – 3 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals.

 

 

 

Deportation

Deferral of Removal; Convention Against Torture

Petitioner appealed the order of the BIA upholding an IJ’s ruling that found petitioner removable and denied his application for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture. Petitioner, a native and citizen of Honduras, was alleged to be in the U.S. without being lawfully admitted. The record indicated that petitioner was brought to the U.S. by his mother when he was a young child. The IJ concluded that there was sufficient evidence to establish petitioner’s alienage, and held that petitioner had failed to prove that he would be subject to torture upon his return due to his mental health illnesses.

Where all the evidence submitted by DHS was probative to show petitioner’s alienage, there was no due process violation where the traditional rules of evidence did not apply to immigration proceedings, and petitioner was not entitled to relief where petitioner failed to show that the Honduran government specifically intended to torture petitioner or acquiesce to his torture, as the substandard conditions in Honduran mental health institutions was caused by lack of resources rather than malice.

Petition is denied.

Escobar v. Garland (MLW No. 79226/Case No. 22-1249 – 11 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Shepherd, J.) Petition for Review of an Order of the Board of Immigration Appeals.

 

Torts

 

Products Liability

Medical Device; Consistency of Jury Verdict

Defendant appealed the district court’s judgment. Plaintiff and her husband filed suit, alleging that plaintiff’s hip implant, manufactured by defendant, failed and caused damage to plaintiff’s hip joint and surrounding tissue. The jury awarded plaintiff $20 million and an additional $1 million in loss of consortium damages. On appeal, defendant argued that the jury’s verdict was inconsistent and that plaintiffs had failed to establish the requisite standard of care or prove a breach by defendant.

Where the strict liability jury instruction did not require the jury to find that plaintiff had proven a reasonably anticipated use and there were differing sets of proof, there was a sufficient evidentiary basis to find for defendant on the strict liability claim and for plaintiff on her negligence claim as the record contained evidence of defendant’s negligence in its design choices for the implant.

Judgment is affirmed.

Bayes v. Biomet, Inc. (MLW No. 79220/Case No. 21-2964 – 12 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Smith, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.


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