Articles Posted in U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

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This case stemmed from litigation involving long grain rice producers' allegations that Bayer contaminated the United States rice supply. Plaintiff class representatives filed suit for unjust enrichment and quantum meruit against other plaintiff lawyers, alleging that these other lawyers benefited in their state court actions from litigation materials and work product generated in the MDL by the plaintiff class but refused to pay for it. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The court concluded, however, that each defendant voluntarily entered Missouri more than once to negotiate settlement of their state court cases, a settlement process which ultimately resulted in their receiving compensation as part of a settlement. Their voluntary entry into Missouri for financial benefit was both the transaction of business as that term is used in the Missouri long arm statute and constitutionally sufficient minimum contacts under the Due Process Clause. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Downing, et al. v. Goldman Phipps, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against law enforcement as well as the City of Barling, alleging violations of his rights under the First and Fourth Amendments. Plaintiff subsequently accepted defendants' offer of judgment under Rule 68. On appeal, plaintiff challenged, inter alia, the district court's denial of prejudgment interest on his tort claims under Arkansas law. The court held that a Rule 68 consent judgment for a sum certain must, absent indication otherwise be deemed to include prejudgment interest. In this case, the district court correctly concluded that plaintiff was not entitled to prejudgment interest. The court also concluded that Rule 54 does not require an evidentiary hearing when ruling on plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees. Finally, the district court's award of attorney's fees was reasonable where, inter alia, the district court did not abuse its discretion by relying on the prevailing market rate for civil rights litigation in the area. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Miller v. Dugan, et al." on Justia Law

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Sentis filed suit against Shell, alleging contract and fraud claims, and violations of Missouri franchise laws as well as the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 2801 et seq. The court agreed with the district court's conclusion that Sentis' failure to preserve evidence caused sufficient prejudice to defendants to serve as sanctionable spoliation. Dismissal with prejudice was the appropriate sanction given plaintiffs' cumulative pattern of conduct in this matter and given the nature of the missing evidence and its role in Sentis' and Shell's cases. The court affirmed the judgment. View "Sentis Group, et al. v. Shell Oil Co., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Wyeth, alleging that she developed breast cancer after using Wyeth's's hormone therapy medication, Prempro. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred the case to the the Eastern District of Arkansas as part of the ongoing In re Prempro Products Liability Litigation. After the district court subsequently dismissed plaintiff's case for failure to respond to discovery orders, her attorney filed a Rule 60(b)(1) motion to set aside the dismissal. Plaintiff's attorney had failed to register for the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM-ECF) system and, consequently, did not receive electronic notices of the filings in plaintiff's case. The court affirmed the district court's denial of the Rule 60(b)(1) motion because the district court did not abuse its discretion where, on more than one occasion, the district court instructed all attorneys to register for the CM-ECF system and warned that those who did not would not receive electronic filing notices or hard copies of orders. View "Freeman v. Wyeth, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of Minnesota's Family Child Care Providers Representation Act, Minn. Stat. 179A.06 and 179A.52. Plaintiffs, operators of child-care businesses in their homes, argued that the exclusive representation and the fair share fee provisions of the Act violate their First Amendment rights. The court dissolved the injunction pending appeal and affirmed the district court's dismissal because plaintiffs' claims are unripe for review where an election is not currently scheduled, no organization is trying to obtain certification through a card check program, no organization has filed a petition for an election, and plaintiffs have not shown any significant practical harm from awaiting a petition. View "Parrish, et al. v. Governor Mark Dayton, et al." on Justia Law

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Fastpath, an Iowa corporation, filed suit against Arbela, a California services and software corporation, for breach of a mutual confidentiality agreement. The court concluded that the district court correctly determined that it did not have personal jurisdiction over Arbela where the nature, quality, and quantity of Arbela's contacts with Iowa were not sufficient to demonstrate purposeful availment of the forum state. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal based on lack of personal jurisdiction. View "Fastpath, Inc. v. Arbela Technologies Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the EPA seeking to impose emission-control technology on NSP's Sherco power plant. NSP moved to intervene but the district court denied the motion. The court concluded that NSP has sufficient Article III standing to intervene. Moreover, NSP's interests are not adequately represented by the existing parties and, thus, NSP is entitled to intervene as a right under Rule 24(a). Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded with instructions to enter an order granting NSP's motion for leave to intervene as of right. View "National Parks Conservation, et al. v. Northern States Power Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Mellon, seeking to represent a class of Arkansas homeowners facing non-judicial foreclosures by Mellon. After plaintiff subsequently appealed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to remand to state court and then granted Mellon's motion to dismiss, the district court awarded Mellon costs despite Mellon's failure to file a verified affidavit substantiating the costs. The court concluded that 28 U.S.C. 1453(c)(1)'s one-year removal limitation is inapplicable in this case based on 28 U.S.C. 1453(b). Therefore, Mellon was not required to remove this class action within one year of plaintiff's original complaint. Because the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, the only named plaintiff was a citizen of Arkansas at the time of commencement and removal, and no defendant is a citizen of Arkansas, this class action falls within the federal courts' diversity jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. 1332(a). Plaintiff's challenge to the district court's dismissal of his complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) was foreclosed by the court's decision in Rivera v. JPMorgan Chase Bank. Finally, the district court legally erred in awarding costs to Mellon where Mellon provided no affidavit substantiating the costs. Accordingly, the court affirmed the denial of plaintiff's motion to remand and dismiss the case, but reversed the award of costs and remanded with instructions. View "Reece v. Bank of New York Mellon" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, alleging claims related to her candidacy as a legal writing instructor at the Iowa College of Law. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's denial of her motion for a new trial. The court held that where a court declares a mistrial and discharges the jury which then disperses from the confines of the courtroom, the jury can no longer render, reconsider, amend, or clarify a verdict on the mistrial counts. In this case, the court concluded that the magistrate judge erred in recalling the jury to question and re-poll them as to the mistried, or not, counts. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Wagner v. Jones, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed from the district court's denial of their motion to remand and its dismissal on the merits of their claims against Wells Fargo and Kozeny. The court concluded that, because plaintiffs did not allege that Kozeny owed a tort duty enumerated in the deed of trust, no reasonable basis in fact and law supported plaintiffs' negligence claim against Kozeny; because there was no reasonable basis in fact and law for either of plaintiffs' negligence and breach of fiduciary claims, it follows that Kozeny was fraudulently joined and that the district court properly denied plaintiffs' motion to remand; the court modified the district court's dismissal of the claims against Kozeny to be without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and because Kozeny - the only nondiverse defendant - was dismissed, the district court properly retained federal diversity jurisdiction over plaintiffs' remaining claims against Wells Fargo. Because plaintiffs failed to state a claim of wrongful foreclosure, fraudulent misrepresentation, violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. 407.020.1, negligence, or negligent misrepresentation, the district court properly granted Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss. View "Wivell, et al v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., et al." on Justia Law