Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Ritchie Capital Management v. JP Morgan Chase & Co.
The Ritchie entities filed suit seeking to recover millions of dollars they loaned Tom Petters, a convicted fraudster, and two of his companies. The Ritchie entities alleged that defendants helped conceal the fraud so that they could recover millions they had tied up with Petters' companies. The district court dismissed the claims as time-barred. The Eighth Circuit first held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction under the Edge Act, and the court need not decide whether the district court also had subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1334(b). Furthermore, the district court was correct to apply New York choice-of-law principles to determine that Illinois law applied to the question of whether the action was time-barred. The court also held that the district court erred in concluding that Illinois's statute of limitations applied to three of the plaintiffs because the pleadings do not definitively establish their claims accrued in Illinois. The district court did not err in finding that the remaining claims were untimely under Illinois law and that the doctrines of discovery rule, equitable estoppel, and equitable tolling did not apply. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by failing to grant the Ritchie entities leave to amend their complaint yet again because the Ritchie entities failed to submit a motion to amend or indicate what a proposed amended pleading would have stated. Finally, the court reversed the dismissal of the Ritchie Cayman entities' claims against JP Morgan Europe in order for the district court to permit jurisdictional discovery if it deems necessary to determine whether it has personal jurisdiction over JP Morgan Europe. View "Ritchie Capital Management v. JP Morgan Chase & Co." on Justia Law
Swinton v. Starke
After movant filed a putative class action against SquareTrade, plaintiff filed a similar suit. Movant moved to intervene in plaintiff's suit, plaintiff and SquareTrade then reached a proposed class settlement, and the district court in plaintiff's case denied the motion to intervene. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that, although movant is situated so that disposing of plaintiff's action may impair his interests, movant is adequately represented by plaintiff, who seeks the same relief for the same claims as movant. Furthermore, there was insufficient evidence that the plaintiff settlement constituted a reverse auction. Therefore, the motion to intervene was properly denied. Finally, the court lacked jurisdiction to review the denial of the motion for stay under the first-to-file rule based on lack of pendent jurisdiction. View "Swinton v. Starke" on Justia Law
Franklin v. Franklin County, Arkansas
After Cody Franklin died in police custody, his father, as administrator of his estate, sued the police officers who struggled with Franklin the night he died, and against the municipalities who employed them. The elder Franklin asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for excessive force, and claims under state law for battery and wrongful death. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the municipalities and all but two of the officers. Those officers filed an interlocutory appeal, arguing they were entitled to qualified immunity on all claims. After review, the Eighth Circuit agreed with the officers with respect to the federal claims, and remanded. With respect to the state claims, the Court remanded for further proceedings, including a determination whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over those claims. View "Franklin v. Franklin County, Arkansas" on Justia Law
Carter v. Pulaski CO Special School Dist
Marion Carter sued the Pulaski County Special School District for race discrimination under Arkansas state and federal laws. Carter taught at the Joe T. Robinson High School in the School District. She also coached the cheer and dance teams. In 2017, the school's principal recommended to the District Superintendent that Carter's cheer and dance duties not be renewed for the 2017-2018 school year, and that she be offered a teaching contract only. The principal cited: (1) lack of student participation in cheer and dance in the previous two years; (2) inappropriate cheer routines at sporting events; and (2) inappropriate behavior of cheerleaders during out-of-town travel. After a hearing, the District's School Board accepted the recommendation not to renew Carter's cheer and dance contract. The District filled the cheer position with an African-American woman, and eliminated all dance teams district-wide. The Eighth Circuit concurred with the district court's grant of summary judgment to the District on all claims. The Court found Carter's allegations were insufficient to defeat summary judgment. View "Carter v. Pulaski CO Special School Dist" on Justia Law
Granite Re, Inc. v. Nat’l Credit Union Adm. Board
The National Credit Union Administration Board ("NCUAB"), the self-appointed conservator of Citizens Community Credit Union ("Citizens"), repudiated a letter of credit Citizens issued to Granite Re, Inc. Granite filed a complaint for damages against the NCUAB, claiming wrongful repudiation and wrongful dishonor of a letter of credit. The NCUAB moved to dismiss with prejudice, arguing 12 U.S.C. 1787(c) authorized it to repudiate the letter of credit with no liability for damages, and section 1787(c) preempted conflicting North Dakota Law. The district court agreed and dismissed the complaint. The Eighth Circuit determined that were it to adopt the NCUAB's construction of section 1787(c), the NCUAB could "quietly appoint itself conservator and repudiate letters of credit with no liability to the injured beneficiary. Absent the ability to predict an impending conservatorship, a clean letter-of-credit beneficiary like Granite is subject to repudiation with no recourse." The Court determined NCUAB's construction was inconsistent with the language of the statue, which provided a limited remedy for damages determinable at the point of conservatorship, but did not negate recovery entirely. The Court also determined it was premature to declare section 1787(c) preempted North Dakota law. The Court reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Granite Re, Inc. v. Nat'l Credit Union Adm. Board" on Justia Law
Pederson v. Frost
Plaintiff filed suit against several out-of-state defendants in Minnesota state court, alleging that defendants participated in a fraudulent scheme. After defendants removed to federal district court, the case was dismissed based on lack of personal jurisdiction. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal, holding that plaintiff was the only connection between Minnesota and the underlying dispute. In this case, requiring defendants to litigate this action in Minnesota would offend due process because defendants' contacts were insufficient to confer specific jurisdiction. View "Pederson v. Frost" on Justia Law
Mensah v. Owners Insurance Co.
This case arose when plaintiff fell from the trunk of the car that her friend was driving and sustained serious injuries. In a related case, the district court held a bench trial to apportion the fault between the friends involved in the accident. In this case, plaintiff filed suit to recover the portion of the judgment allocated to one of the friends, seeking underinsured motorist benefits for the friend's portion of the judgment. The district court granted Owners' motion for summary judgment. The Eighth Circuit held that removal was not proper under diversity jurisdiction where the parties conceded that the amount in controversy was statutorily insufficient. The court also held that there was no supplemental jurisdiction because this case was a separate action and not another claim in an underlying action over which the federal courts have jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded to the district court with instructions to remand the case to state court. View "Mensah v. Owners Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Russell v. Liberty Insurance Underwriters, Inc.
Russell, Daniel, and Carson co-owned a business. Under a succession plan, the company was to purchase life insurance. If a shareholder died, the company would use the proceeds to buy the deceased shareholder’s stock. Daniel died. The company received insurance proceeds and kept the money. Elizabeth, Daniel’s widow, sued Russell and Carson for conversion and breach of fiduciary duty. A Kansas court issued a judgment against Russell for $822,900.77. Russell and Carson had expected Liberty to defend and indemnify them under their Directors, Officers and Company Liability Coverage and Fiduciary Liability Coverage. Liberty cited a “Personal Profit Exclusion” for claims based upon "gaining ... any profit, remuneration or financial advantage” to which they are “not legally entitled” and a “Contract Exclusion” regarding claims "attributable to any actual or alleged liability under or breach of any contract.” Russell and Carson sued Liberty in Missouri state court for bad-faith. Elizabeth joined the suit. Liberty, a corporate citizen of Massachusetts and Illinois, removed the case to federal court. Russell and Carson sought remand, arguing that in “direct action[s]” against insurers, the insurer takes the citizenship of those it insures, 28 U.S.C. 1332(c)(1); if the Trust’s equitable garnishment claim was a direct action, Liberty shared Russell’s Missouri citizenship. The district court held that the equitable garnishment claim required Russell as a defendant, but Russell’s bad-faith claim required him as a plaintiff. The court severed the suit: Russell and Carson could sue for bad-faith failure to defend and indemnify; the Trust could separately sue Liberty and Russell. The Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment on the bad faith claim. Because the Missouri statutory claim is not a direct action, complete diversity exists. The district court had jurisdiction over the bad-faith claim. The policy exclusions applied. View "Russell v. Liberty Insurance Underwriters, Inc." on Justia Law
Henry Law Firm v. Atalla
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motions for dismissal and for summary judgment, granting summary judgment to the law firm. The court applied a five-factor test to determine the sufficiency of defendant's contacts and held that, when all of the circumstances are viewed in the aggregate, defendant had fair warning that he could be subject to jurisdiction in Arkansas. In this case, defendant's contacts with Arkansas involved more than just his guaranty; the language of the contract provided for Cuker to perform its obligations in the Western District of Arkansas; and, as personal guarantor of Cuker's performance, it was reasonable and foreseeable for defendant to anticipate being haled into that same court if Cuker failed to perform. The court rejected defendant's claim that his personal guaranty is unenforceable as a matter of law because his obligations are not adequately specified. The court held that the express terms of the legal services agreement evidence an intent to hold defendant liable to the same extent as Cuker's liability. Finally, the court applied state, not federal elements of estoppel in diversity cases, and held that the district's reasoning and the record supported equitable estoppel. View "Henry Law Firm v. Atalla" on Justia Law
United States v. Bala
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a successive petition for a certificate of innocence, holding that the petition was barred by the doctrine of res judicata and that the district court did not err in finding that defendant's petition was barred. In a previous case, the court reversed federal gambling and money laundering convictions of RSI and its president, defendant, because the government failed to prove any of the offenses charged. RSI and defendant then petitioned for a certificate of innocence, the statutory prerequisite to an action in the Court of Federal Claims seeking damages from the government for wrongful imprisonment. The court affirmed the denial of the district court's petition, because RSI and defendant were not truly innocent of a state criminal gaming law violation. View "United States v. Bala" on Justia Law