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8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Digest: Sept. 27, 2023

Minnesota Lawyer//September 28, 2023//

The seal for the United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Digest: Sept. 27, 2023

Minnesota Lawyer//September 28, 2023//

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Federal Crop Insurance

False Claims Act; Qui Tam Action

Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal of their qui tam action. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants knowingly submitted false federal crop insurance claims. The government declined to intervene, so plaintiffs proceeded as relators. Following a bench trial, the district court found that, although defendants submitted materially false claims, plaintiffs failed to prove they knowingly defrauded the government. However, the district court subsequently granted the government’s motion to vacate the judgment on grounds that plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue a common law unjust enrichment claim on behalf of the U.S.

Where the evidence showed that defendants may have made false statements on insurance applications and the record reflected that benefits claims passed audit, plaintiffs could not make out a viable FCA claim as they could not show defendants filed false benefits claims.

Colloton, J., concurring: “I do not join the majority’s discussion of whether the evidence was sufficient to show that the defendants made a false statement that was “material” to a false claim. The appellees did not raise this point in support of the judgment. The complex issue has not been briefed or argued in this court. The appellants had no opportunity to address the question.”

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. ex rel. Kraemer v. United Dairies, L.L.P. (MLW No. 80534/Case No. 22-3306 – 18 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Loken, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, Frank, J.



Civil Rights


Expulsion from School

Title IX Sex Discrimination; Failure to Follow Administrative Requirements

Plaintiff appealed the district court’s order granting defendant’s motion to dismiss. Plaintiff was a student at defendant’s private school. School officials overheard a lewd conversation between plaintiff and a classmate regarding a teacher; officials believed that plaintiff stated that he would have sex with the teacher, which would constitute sexual misconduct. After officials pressured plaintiff into admitting the statement, defendant expelled plaintiff. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that defendant discriminated against him and breached the school handbook by failing to conduct an “adequate and impartial investigation.” The district court dismissed the Title IX claim, finding that plaintiff had failed to allege that his sex played any role in his expulsion.

Where there was no evidence plausibly demonstrating that school officials prejudged the outcome of the investigation due to plaintiff’s sex, he could not demonstrate the causal connection necessary to support his Title IX claim.

Judgment is affirmed.

Wells v. Creighton Preparatory School (MLW No. 80535/Case No. 22-2340 – 9 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Stras, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska, Rossiter, J.



Criminal Law


Felon in Possession of Firearm

Armed Career Criminal; Finding of Predicate Offenses

Defendant appealed the sentence imposed following his guilty plea to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Defendant challenged his armed career criminal designation, arguing that his predicate offenses were not committed on different occasions and that the Sixth Amendment required a jury to find that he committed those predicate offenses on different occasions.

Where the record reflected that defendant’s battery offenses occurred on different days, the fact that defendant was arrested and convicted on the same date could not support a finding that those predicate offenses did not occur on different “occasions,” such that any Sixth Amendment violation from the failure to hold a jury trial on that issue was harmless error.

Erickson, J., dissenting: “The majority views this as an easy case with a foregone conclusion dictated by the PSR and charging documents — which on their face merely show a three-day gap between the battery offenses and identify two different victims — but reasonable factfinders employing the “multi-factored” balancing test laid out by the Wooden Court could reach a different conclusion when all the facts are before the sentencing court.”

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Stowell (MLW No. 80536/Case No. 21-2234 – 9 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Kobes, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Western District of Arkansas, Holmes, J.



Return of Property

Ongoing Criminal Investigation; First/Fourth Amendment Violations

Plaintiff appealed the denial of his motion for a preliminary injunction to obtain the return of his cell phone seized by federal agents as part of an investigation into the publishing of forensic images of election management system servers. Plaintiff argued that the criminal investigation violated his First Amendment rights while the search warrant for his phone violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of general warrants.

Where plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction appeared to be an attempt to delay or frustrate a criminal investigation, the district court correctly denied injunctive relief as courts of equity normally did not restrain criminal investigation. However, the government was not entitled to indefinitely retain plaintiff’s phone where there were alternative methods of authenticating the data copied from the phone.

Colloton, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part: “I concur in the court’s decision affirming the district court’s order of November 3, 2022, which denied appellant Lindell’s motion of September 30, 2022, seeking a preliminary injunction… I dissent from the portion of the court’s opinion that purports to “reverse” in part the decision of the district court. The stated reason for reversal is that the district court did not “balance” the interests of the parties to determine ‘whether the government can reasonably justify its continued refusal to return Lindell’s cell phone, which at this point was seized nearly a year ago.’ This discussion concerns a ruling that was never made on a motion that was never filed.”

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

Lindell v. U.S. (MLW No. 80537/Case No. 22-3510 – 13 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Erickson, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, Tostrud, J.



Sex Offenses

Substantive Reasonableness of Sentence; Below-Guidelines Sentence

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

Where the district court properly considered the statutory sentencing factors, the below-Guidelines sentence was presumptively reasonable.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Speidel (MLW No. 80538/Case Nos. 23-1458 & 23-1459 – 3 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa, Ebinger, J.

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