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8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Digest: July 25, 2022

Staff Report//July 25, 2022//

8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Digest: July 25, 2022

Staff Report//July 25, 2022//

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Civil Rights

Wrongful Arrest

False Statements by Federally Deputized Police Officer

Acting Under Color of State Law

Plaintiff appealed from the grant of summary judgment to defendant. Defendant, a St. Louis police officer who was also deputized for a federal sex trafficking investigation, falsely represented that plaintiff had attempted to intimidate a witness in the federal investigation, when the witness had thrown the first blow while brandishing a weapon, which resulted in plaintiff’s arrest.

Where defendant’s false statements were made solely in connection with her work as a special deputy marshal in a federal investigation, defendant was not acting under color of state law during the events giving rise to plaintiff’s claim.

Judgment is affirmed.

Yassin v. Weyker (MLW No. 78595/Case No. 20-3299 – 10 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Stras, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, Ericken, J. (Joshua Newville, of Minneapolis, MN for appellant; Zane Umsted, of Minneapolis, MN on brief) (Edward Himmelfarb, of Washington, D.C. for appellee; Glenn S. Greene, of Washington, D.C.; David G. Cutler, of Washington, D.C.; Paul C. Quast, of Washington, D.C.; Barbara L. Herwig, Washington, D.C. on brief)

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/203299P.pdf

 

Constitutional Law

American Rescue Plan Act

Appropriated Funds to States

Offset Restriction

Plaintiff appealed from the district court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s suit challenging the constitutionality of defendant’s interpretation of the “offset restriction” provision in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The district court found that plaintiff lacked standing and that its claims were not ripe for adjudication.

Where defendant expressly denied adopting or endorsing the alleged interpretation and plaintiff had not alleged that it intended to engage in conduct prohibited by ARPA, the district court correctly determined that plaintiff lacked standing.

Judgment is affirmed.

Missouri v. Yellen (MLW No. 78598/Case No. 21-2118 – 10 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Kelly, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Autrey, J. (Michael E. Talent, Deputy Solicitor General, of Jefferson City, MO for appellant; Dean John Sauer, Solicitor General, of Jefferson City, MO on brief)

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/212118P.pdf

 

Contracts

Split of Legal Fees

Quantum Meruit

Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Defendant appealed from the grant of judgment to plaintiff. Defendant initially represented a client who had a wrongful death claim; however, the client ultimately retained plaintiff to litigate the action. Plaintiff never responded to defendant’s requests for a co-counsel arrangement and filed suit for a declaration that it did not owe any fees to defendant. Defendant argued that the district court denied his motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and under the abstention doctrine.

Where the record supported finding complete diversity, the district court properly denied defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and did not err in granting judgment for plaintiff and denying defendant relief from judgment after he abandoned his quantum meruit claim.

Judgment is affirmed.

Wagstaff & Cartmell, LLP v. Lewis (MLW No. 78602/Case No. 21-2266 – 17 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Smith, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, Fenner, J. (Thomas Michael Ward, of St. Louis, MO; Kirk Rahm of Warrensburg, MO for appellant) (John Patrick O’Connor, of Kansas City, MO; Todd Peterson Graves, of Kansas City, MO; Jonathan P. Kieffer, of Kansas City, MO; Adam S. Davis, of Kansas City, MO; Jack Thomas Hyde, of Kansas City, MO; Dane Christian Martin of Kansas City, MO for appellee)

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/212266P.pdf

 

Criminal Law

Conspiracy to Distribute Drugs

Felon in Possession of Firearm

Substantive Reasonableness of Sentence

Defendant appealed from his guilty plea conviction to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Defendant challenged the substantive reasonableness of his sentence.

Where the district court sufficiently considered the statutory sentencing factors and did not rely on an improper or irrelevant factor, the court affirmed the judgment of sentence.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. McNulty-Snodgrass (MLW No. 78604/Case No. 22-1067 – 2 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa, Jarvey, J.

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/221067U.pdf

 

 

Drug Offenses

Motion to Suppress Evidence

Procedural Sentencing Error

Defendant appealed from his conviction on drug offenses, entered following the denial of his motion to suppress evidence from two traffic stops. Defendant challenged the denial of his motion, the sufficiency of the evidence, and the jury instructions. The government cross-appealed from defendant’s sentence, arguing that the district court relied on clearly erroneous facts.

Where officers had reasonable suspicion that defendant was armed, the pat down was permissible, as was the subsequent inventory search of defendant’s vehicle pursuant to department policy, and defendant was not entitled to an instruction for a heightened showing for constructive possession.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Williams (MLW No. 78586/Case No. 20-3635 & 21-1069 – 17 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Shepherd, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, Baker, J. (Geoffrey Davis Kearney, of Pine Bluff, AR for appellant/cross-appellee) (Anne E. Gardner, of Little Rock, AR appellee/cross-appellant)

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/203635P.pdf

 

 

Drug Trafficking

Motion to Suppress Evidence of Employment

Substantive Reasonableness of Sentence

Defendant appealed from his conviction and sentence for conspiracy to commit drug trafficking, arguing that the district court erred in admitting certain evidence and imposed an unreasonable sentence.

Where judicial officers were required to consider an arrestee’s employment in deciding whether to detain or release the defendant pending trial, collection of employment information did not require a Miranda warning in drug trafficking cases even though legitimate employment would be a relevant fact in such cases, and the district court also did not err in admitting other probative evidence to show the existence of the conspiracy.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Armstrong (MLW No. 78587/Case No. 21-1299 – 8 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Colloton, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota, Hovland, J. (Patrick L. Cotter, of South Saint Paul, MN for appellant) (Dawn M Deitz, AUSA, of Fargo, ND for appellee)

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/211299P.pdf

 

 

Felon in Possession of Firearm

Calculation of Base Offense Level

Prior Controlled Substances Conviction

Defendant appealed from his guilty plea conviction to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The district court calculated defendant’s base offense level due to a prior conviction for a “controlled substance offense.” Defendant argued that his Iowa conviction for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver was not a “controlled substance offense” under the Sentencing Guidelines.

Where case law had already rejected defendant’s contention that Iowa’s marijuana offense was not a “controlled substance offense” because it more broadly included hemp, the court affirmed defendant’s sentence.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Rivers (MLW No. 78589/Case No. 21-2382 – 3 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa, Rose, J.

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/212382U.pdf

 

 

Felon in Possession of Firearm

Upward Variance

Reasonableness of Sentence

Defendant appealed from the judgment of sentence imposed after he pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Defendant argued that the district court erred in imposing an upward departure.

Where the district court conducted an individualized assessment of the sentencing factors, citing defendant’s extensive criminal history, the district court did not abuse its discretion in choosing to impose an upward departure from the sentencing guidelines.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Sliekers (MLW No. 78591/Case No. 21-2772 – 6 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa, Williams, J.

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/212772U.pdf

 

 

Felon in Possession of Firearm

Upward Variance

Substantive Reasonableness of Sentence

Defendant appealed from the judgment of sentence imposed after he pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Defendant challenged the substantive reasonableness of his sentence after the district court varied upward from the Guidelines range.

Where the district court found that defendant’s criminal history score did not reflect the severity of his prior conviction and found a greater need for deterrence after defendant admitted to regularly shooting firearms at a range, the district court did not abuse its discretion in varying upward in sentencing.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Harper (MLW No. 78597/Case No. 21-1594 – 3 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, Sachs, J.

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/211594U.pdf

 

 

Firearm Offense

Calculation of Guidelines Range

Substantive Reasonableness of Sentence

Defendant appealed from the judgment of sentence imposed after he pled guilty to a firearms offense. Defendant challenged the district court’s calculation of the Guidelines range and argued that the district court had imposed a substantively unreasonable sentence.

Where the district court properly found that defendant possessed a firearm in connection with another felony offense and considered the relevant statutory sentencing factors, it did not err in calculating defendant’s Guidelines range or imposing sentence.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Smith (MLW No. 78592/Case No. 21-3533 – 4 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Clark, J.

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/213533U.pdf

 

 

Firearm Offense

Motion to Suppress Evidence

Inventory Search

Defendant appealed from his guilty plea conviction to possession to a firearm offense, challenging the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence recovered during a search of his backpack.

Where officers merely conducted a valid inventory search of the backpack after defendant had abandoned it, the district court properly denied the motion to dismiss.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Ussery (MLW No. 78594/Case No. 22-1189 – 2 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Sippel, J.

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/221189U.pdf

 

 

Motion for Sentence Reduction

First Step Act

Compassionate Release

Defendant appealed from the district court’s denial of his motion for a sentence reduction and “compassionate release” under the First Step Act. Defendant had argued that the COVID-19 constituted an extraordinary circumstance warranting a reduction. The probation office recommended against granting defendant’s motion as he would be subject to deportation upon release.

Where defendant did not show that he was more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 while incarcerated than if he were released and removed to his home country of Mexico, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s motion for reduction in sentence.

Kelly, J., dissenting: ” The order does not weigh any of the § 3553(a) factors, the possible risks to Avalos Banderas’s health, or the potential public interests. At minimum, I would remand for further consideration by the district court.”

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Banderas (MLW No. 78588/Case No. 21-1591 – 6 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Colloton, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska, Kopf, J. (Richard Haile McWilliams, AFPD, of

Omaha, NE for appellant) (Sara Elizabeth Fullerton, AUSA, of Lincoln, NE for appellee)

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/211591P.pdf

 

 

 

Motion to Vacate Sentence

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Failure to Appeal

Petitioner appealed from the district court’s denial of his motion to vacate his sentence due to ineffective assistance of counsel. Petitioner claimed that he told counsel he wanted to maintain his right to appeal after pleading guilty and assumed counsel had filed a notice of appeal. The district court found that counsel had credibly testified that petitioner never instructed him to file an appeal.

Where petitioner’s allegations in support of his claim were not alleged in his motion to vacate sentence, the district court did not err in making an adverse credibility determination against petitioner.

Judgment is affirmed.

Britt v. U.S. (MLW No. 78603/Case No. 21-3254 – 4 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska, Buescher, J.

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/213254U.pdf

 

 

Possession with Intent to Distribute

Violation of Supervised Release

Reasonableness of Revocation Sentence

Defendant appealed from the revocation sentence imposed after he violated the terms of his supervised release for a conviction of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Where defendant had already been released from prison, his challenge to the reasonableness of his sentence was moot.

Appeal is dismissed.

U.S. v. Alexander (MLW No. 78590/Case No. 21-2730 – 2 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, Bough, J.

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/212730U.pdf

 

 

Sexual Abuse of Incapacitated Individual

Motion to Suppress Statements

Sufficiency of Evidence

Defendant appealed from his conviction for sexual abuse of an incapacitated individual, arguing that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress statements defendant had made to law enforcement and challenging the sufficiency of the evidence.

Where, under the totality of the circumstances, defendant was not in custody during his interviews, the district court properly declined to suppress defendant’s statements due to the lack of Miranda warnings, and the victim’s testimony also provided sufficient evidence to support defendant’s conviction.

Judgment is affirmed.

U.S. v. Johnson (MLW No. 78593/Case No. 21-3656 – 9 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Gruender, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota, Welte, J. (Christopher P. Bellmore, AFPD, of

Fargo, ND for appellant) (Dawn M. Deitz, AUSA, of Fargo, ND for appellee)

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/213565P.pdf

 

Employer-Employee

Disability Discrimination

Failure to Accommodate

Retaliation

Plaintiff appealed from the grant of summary judgment to defendant in plaintiff’s suit alleging disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, and retaliation for requesting accommodation. Plaintiff, who suffered from vestibular dysfunction, was denied his requested accommodation of exclusively working day shifts, after administrators concluded that the accommodation would cause gaps in staff coverage and violate the CBA. Plaintiff was instead assigned to another position. Plaintiff’s application for another day-shift only position was also rejected in favor of another candidate.

Where defendant was not required to accommodate plaintiff’s requested accommodation due to the undue hardship on defendant and where reassigning plaintiff to another position that could provide him with alternative accommodation did not constitute an adverse employment decision, the district court properly granted summary judgment for defendant.

Judgment is affirmed.

LeBlanc v. McDonough (MLW No. 78600/Case No. 21-2965 – 11 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Kobes, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, Nelson, J. (Taylor Brandt Cunningham, of Minneapolis, MN for appellant) (Ana H. Voss, AUSA, of Minneapolis, MN for appellee)

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/212965P.pdf

 

 

Discrimination

Motion for Appointed Council

Dismissal with Prejudice

Plaintiff appealed from the dismissal of her employment discrimination claim with prejudice.

The district court did not abuse its discretion when it dismissed plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice due to her willful disobedience of court orders and demonstrated pattern of intentional delay.

Judgment is affirmed.

Kent v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1 (MLW No. 78601/Case No. 22-1088 – 2 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Pitlyk, J.

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/221088U.pdf

 

 

Fair Labor Standards Act

Medical Transport Drivers

Worker Classification

Defendant appealed from the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff, who sued defendant for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Plaintiff alleged that defendant had improperly classified its drivers as independent contractors.

Where the evidence could allow a factfinder to conclude that “control,” “profits and losses,” and “integral to business” elements of the worker classification test weighed in favor of finding defendant’s drivers to be independent contractors, the district court erred in granting plaintiff summary judgment.

Judgment is reversed and remanded.

Walsh v. Alpha & Omega USA, Inc. (MLW No. 78599/Case No. 21-2961 – 11 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Grasz, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, Doty, J. (Michael John Minenko, of Bloomington, MN for appellant) (Laura M. Moskowitz, of Washington, D.C. for appellee)

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/212961P.pdf

 

 

 

Wrongful Termination

Civil RICO

Pressure to Participate in Supervisor’s Illegal Acts

Plaintiff appealed from the dismissal of his civil RICO lawsuit arising from his termination. Plaintiff alleged that his supervisor ran an illegal loansharking and prostitution operation out of the workplace, and that his supervisor and others engineered plaintiff’s termination after he refused to become a customer.

Where plaintiff’s injury – his suspension without pay and subsequent termination – were not caused by the alleged illegal loansharking and prostitution, plaintiff could not allege a RICO injury to maintain standing.

Judgment is affirmed.

Grice v. Leflore (MLW No. 78596/Case No. 21-1547 & 21-1638 – 4 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, per curiam) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, Rudofsky, J.

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/211547U.pdf

 

Insurance

Homeowners’ Policy

“Other Structure” Exclusion

Building Used for Business

Plaintiffs appealed from the grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant, which found that defendant was not obligated to provide homeowners’ insurance coverage for the failure of a radiant heating system in a pole barn on plaintiffs’ residential property.

Where there was substantial evidence that the pole barn was being used, at least in part, for business purposes, the district court correctly ruled that plaintiffs were not entitled to coverage under the “business use” portion of the other structure exclusion in their homeowners’ policy.

Judgment is affirmed.

Wobig v. Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois (MLW No. 78611/Case No. 21-2757 – 8 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Erickson, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, Tunheim, J. (Robert A. Gust, of Bloomington, MN for appellant) (Daniel Wallace Berglund, of Minneapolis, MN for appellee)

https://ecf.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/22/07/212757P.pdf

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