Articles Posted in U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

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The Robert L. Kroenlein Trust owned and operated J&B Liquors. In 2005, a salesman for one of J&B's beer distributors, Gary Kirchhefer, began stealing beer from J&B's account and reselling the stolen beer to other bars and liquor stores in Wyoming, including those owned by the defendants. One of the owners of J&B discovered Kirchhefer's theft in 2007, and Kirchhefer was eventually prosecuted and convicted of the crime. Seeking recovery of its losses, Kroenlein filed suit in 2011 against Kirchhefer, two of the bars to which he sold the stolen beer, and the owners of the bars. The suit asserted several claims alleging that the defendants had violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute. The defendants moved for summary judgment on several grounds, including that Kroenlein's RICO claims were barred by RICO's four-year statute of limitations. The district court granted summary judgment on the grounds that all of Kroenlein's RICO claims were time-barred. In the alternative, the district court also found that the undisputed evidence could not support Kroenlein's RICO claims. The Tenth Circuit agreed that Kroenlein's RICO claims were time-barred and affirmed the district court's dismissal of its claims. View "Robert L. Kroenlein Trust, et al v. Kirchhefer, et al" on Justia Law

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A group of employees filed class and collective actions against Tyson Foods, Inc., seeking unpaid wages for time spent on pre- and post-shift activities. After the employees obtained a sizeable verdict and fee award, Tyson unsuccessfully moved for judgment as a matter of law. On appeal, Tyson: (1) challenged the judgment and denial of the motion for judgment as a matter of law; and (2) argued the fee award was excessive. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded, after review, that plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence of undercompensation and the district court acted within its discretion in setting the fee award. View "Garcia, et al v. Tyson Foods, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Richard Salzer received medical care at an SSM Healthcare of Oklahoma (SSM) facility for injuries he sustained in an accident. At the time of his treatment, he had a health insurance plan (the "Plan"). Salzer entered into a contract with SSM to receive its services (the "Hospital Services Agreement"), under which he "authorized disclosure of [his] medical information for billing purposes and authorized [his] health insurance company to pay." SSM had an existing contract with Salzer's health insurance company (the "Provider Agreement") which required SSM to submit covered medical charges to Salzer's insurance company and accept discounted payment from the insurer. Although the Provider Agreement prohibited SSM from seeking payment for a covered charge from Salzer, SSM sought the non-discounted amount directly from him. Salzer sued SSM alleging breach of contract and other state law claims based on SSM's attempt to collect payment for medical care from Salzer instead of his health insurance company. SSM removed the case to federal district court. Salzer challenged the district court's denial of his motion to remand based on its determination that his claims were completely preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court. View "Salzer v. SSM Health Care of Oklahoma" on Justia Law

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Ernest McKenzie’s Canadian birth certificate listed the wrong birth date. Because he used that birth certificate to become a naturalized United States citizen, his United States Certificate of Naturalization also listed the wrong birth date. After he was naturalized, he got his birth certificate corrected; he tried to amend his naturalization certificate so that his paperwork listed the correct date. Relying on 8 C.F.R. 334.16(b) (2011) to establish the district court’s jurisdiction, he filed suit requesting that the district court order United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to issue a naturalization certificate with his correct date of birth. "The request seems fair and simple enough," but the Tenth Circuit could not help: "With limited exceptions not applicable here, Congress has withdrawn jurisdiction over naturalizations from the district courts. In addition, the district court lacked jurisdiction because Dr. McKenzie’s invocation of 334.16(b) is not a colorable claim." The Court affirmed the district court's dismissal of this action under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). View "McKenzie v. US Citizenship & Immigration" on Justia Law

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Amber Shaw coached Plaintiff Tori Varnell in several sports while she was a student in the Dora Consolidated School District. According to Plaintiff, Shaw sexually abused her for more than a year, ending while she was in the ninth grade, (sometime in late 2006 or early 2007). When Plaintiff was 20, she sued Shaw, Dora Schools, and Dora Schools Superintendent Steve Barron under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. On Defendants' motion, the district court granted summary judgment on the federal claims as untimely, denied a proposed amendment to the complaint as futile, and dismissed the state tort claims without prejudice. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Varnell v. Dora, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant JetAway Aviation, LLC sued Defendants-Appellees Board of County Commissioners of the County of Montrose, Colorado and the Montrose County Building Authority, and nongovernmental defendants Jet Center Partners, LLC, Black Canyon Jet Center, LLC, Kevin Egan, and James Rumble, alleging, inter alia, violations of the Sherman Act. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants on JetAway’s antitrust claims on multiple bases, including that JetAway did not have antitrust standing to bring its claims. JetAway appealed that decision, and the Governmental Defendants cross-appealed the district court’s denial of summary judgment on state-action immunity grounds. Acting as a quorum, Judges Tymkovich and Holmes joined this opinion and affirmed the district court's judgment, specifically, because JetAway failed to establish an antitrust injury and, consequently, lacked antitrust standing to bring this action. However, the judges employed different reasoning in reaching this conclusion. Because the Tenth Circuit fully denied JetAway relief at the threshold on the basis of its failure to establish an antitrust injury, it did not reach the Governmental Defendants' cross-appeal regarding state-action immunity and dismissed the cross-appeal as moot. In addition, the Court addressed two pending procedural matters: a motion to seal and a motion to strike. JetAway filed an unopposed motion to seal numerous documents that were under seal in the district court. The Tenth Circuit's clerk's office provisionally granted that request pending the merits panel's final determination. The Court then denied the motion, finding that JetAway did not provide any basis for sealing the documents; instead, it merely stated that the documents were filed under seal. "[A] generalized allusion to confidential information is woefully inadequate to meet JetAway's 'heavy burden.'" View "JetAway v. Board of County Commissioners, et al" on Justia Law

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A Kansas jury convicted David Fuller of willfully failing to pay more than $50,000 of past-due child support. Both after the government's case-in-chief and at the close of all evidence, Fuller moved for acquittal. The district court reserved ruling on the motions and then, several weeks after the verdict, issued a single order denying both. On appeal, argued the district court erred in denying his first motion: (1) that the court erred by relying on an unconstitutional statutory presumption of his "ability to pay" child support, and (2) that without the presumption the government's evidence was insufficient to prove that he “willfully” failed to pay. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit found that the district court did not rely on the presumption and that the government presented sufficient evidence that Fuller had willfully failed to pay his child-support obligation. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court. View "United States v. Fuller" on Justia Law

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Rockwood Select Asset Fund XI (6)-1, LLC (a Utah company), received a loan application. In considering the request, Rockwood required the borrower to obtain an opinion letter from its New Hampshire law firm, Devine, Millimet & Branch. Devine provided the letter, which was picked up by someone and forwarded to Rockwood’s owner in Utah. Rockwood concluded that the opinion letter contained falsehoods and sued Devine in Utah federal court. The district court dismissed the suit based on lack of personal jurisdiction. Rockwood appealed. The issue before the Tenth Circuit centered on whether Devine had sufficient contacts with Utah to permit the exercise of personal jurisdiction. The Court concluded that Devine’s contacts with Utah were insufficient, and thus affirmed the district court's decision. View "Rockwood Select Asset Fund v. Devine, Millimet & Branch" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from the Clean Air Act, which requires states to adopt programs that will reduce emission of air pollutants that affect visibility. The State of Utah submitted a revised plan to the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency partially rejected the plan, and the State and one of the affected companies (PacifiCorp) filed petitions for review. Though all parties agree that the Tenth Circuit had jurisdiction over this case, the Court disagreed and dismissed their petitions. View "Utah v. Environmental Protection Agency" on Justia Law

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Sixteen years ago Carolyn Bayless began to suffer from a mysterious illness. As her condition deteriorated, she sought to learn what caused (and how to treat) her illness. In 2008, convinced that she was the victim of exposure to nerve gas emitted by an Army testing facility, she filed a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act. When this lawsuit followed in 2009, the Army responded that she knew of her claim by at least 2005 and had waited too long to assert it. The district court agreed and granted summary judgment dismissing the case. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit concluded that under the "unusual circumstances presented here," the period of limitation did not accrue until February 2007. Therefore, the Court reversed. View "Bayless v. United States, et al" on Justia Law