Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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Plaintiff filed the underlying action against BNSF after he was injured when the backrest of his locomotive seat broke, and alleged that the seat did not comply with the federal standards in the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA). BNSF settled a Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) claim with plaintiff. BNSF then filed suit against Seats to recover the costs of settlement. The Eighth Circuit reversed and held that the district court erred in determining that the LIA preempted BNSF's claims for products liability and breach of contract. Because the district court did not address defendant's other grounds for dismissal of the two claims, the court remanded for further proceedings on those alternative arguments. View "BNSF Railway Co. v. Seats, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against defendants in an action alleging claims under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. 2721-25. The court held that the district court properly dismissed plaintiff's claims against Defendant Kopp as untimely under the applicable statute of limitations; plaintiff failed to state a claim for direct municipal liability against Duluth because she failed to plead sufficient facts supporting an inference that the City knowingly allowed Kopp to access the database for any reason other than her official duties; and plaintiff failed to preserve any vicarious liability claim. View "Loeffler v. City of Duluth" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former MLB player, filed suit alleging violations of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. 2721-25, after an audit revealed that officers from over thirty departments had accessed his information more than 125 times. After the issuance of the Eighth Circuit's opinions in McDonough v. Anoka County, 799 F.3d 931 (2015), and Tichich v. City of Bloomington, 835 F.3d 856 (2016), plaintiff conceded that only his claims against the City of Bloomington and the City of Shakopee were timely and plausible. With respect to these claims, the court affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss because plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts to show an impermissible purpose by defendants. View "Berenguer v. Anoka County" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a former MLB player, filed suit alleging violations of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. 2721-25, after an audit revealed that officers from over thirty departments had accessed his information more than 125 times. After the issuance of the Eighth Circuit's opinions in McDonough v. Anoka County, 799 F.3d 931 (2015), and Tichich v. City of Bloomington, 835 F.3d 856 (2016), plaintiff conceded that only his claims against the City of Bloomington and the City of Shakopee were timely and plausible. With respect to these claims, the court affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss because plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts to show an impermissible purpose by defendants. View "Berenguer v. Anoka County" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit dismissed petitioners' challenge to the FMCSA's final rule entitled "Medical Examiner’s Certification Integration." Petitioners are the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and an OOIDA member. Petitioners alleged that the new administrative rule means that OOIDA members were being subjected to more onerous sleep apnea tests, which in turn has led to delays, or worse, denials of medical certification to drive commercial motor vehicles. The court held that petitioners have not provided any evidence to support the second element of standing: causation. The court found that the two affidavits submitted by petitioners to prove that they have standing either contained generalized allegations or were not fairly traceable to the final rule. View "Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assoc. v. U.S. Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and her husband filed suit against numerous defendants, alleging that police officers had improperly accessed their private information in the State's driver's license database. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the former Grand Rapids assistant chief of police and Grand Rapids. The court held that plaintiff had Article III standing to bring her Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. 2721, claim; the doctrine of equitable estoppel did not apply in this case because any delay by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety was not attributable to Grand Rapids or the assistant chief; plaintiff did not make a "mistake" in the ordinary sense of the word when she intentionally sued "John Doe" while knowing that he was not the proper defendant; and thus the amended complaint did not relate back as substituting the assistant chief for John Doe as defendant under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c). View "Heglund v. City of Grand Rapids" on Justia Law

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Clyde Carter, Jr. injured his shoulder and neck while working as a carman at BNSF Railway Company’s yard in Kansas City, Kansas. Carter immediately reported the injury to BNSF. The following year, he filed a Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) damage action, alleging that BNSF’s negligence caused his injury. BNSF’s discovery in defending the FELA lawsuit included a July 2009 deposition of Carter. In January 2012, as trial approached, a BNSF manager reviewed discovery materials provided by BNSF’s attorneys. He discovered discrepancies between Carter’s deposition testimony and information provided on his employment application and medical questionnaire submitted to BNSF in 2005. Thompson initiated a disciplinary investigation into potentially dishonest statements. Later, BNSF opened a second disciplinary investigation to determine if Carter signed a false statement that he arrived at work on time on February 5, 2012. The investigations culminated in two "on-property" evidentiary hearings, the conclusions of which found Carter committed dishonesty violations and recommended discipline in accordance with BNSF’s Policy for Employee Performance Accountability (PEPA). It was recommended Carter be terminated for dishonesty, a "stand alone" violation that could result in dismissal without regard to an employee's prior disciplinary history. Following termination, Carter filed an FRSA complaint with the Department of Labor, alleging that BNSF initiated the investigations leading to his dismissal in retaliation for Carter reporting the August 2007 work-related injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration dismissed Carter’s complaint, finding he committed the violations, and BNSF proved by clear and convincing evidence that "other employees who had not engaged in protected activity have been dismissed from service for dishonesty." Carter filed objections. After an evidentiary hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that BNSF violated 49 U.S.C. 20109(a)(4) and awarded reinstatement, back pay, attorneys’ fees, and $50,000 punitive damages. BNSF filed an administrative appeal. The Secretary’s Administrative Review Board (ARB) affirmed the ALJ. BNSF appealed. The Eighth Circuit found the ALJ's reasoning was based on a flawed interpretation of the FRSA; though the Administrative Review Board did not rely on the ALJ's chain-of-events causation theory, it affirmed based on findings which were either non-existent or insufficient to support the Board's contributing factor and affirmative defense rulings. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded with instructions. View "BNSF Railway Co. v. LABR" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against BNSF, alleging retaliation claims under the Federal Railroad Safety Act, 49 U.S.C. 20109(a)(1)(C). The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of certain claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and conclusion that claims that were properly exhausted failed on the merits. The court held that the district court properly concluded that claims asserting additional adverse actions were unrelated to the claims in plaintiffs' OSHA complaint and unexhausted, and plaintiffs failed to exhaust their claims asserting retaliation for alleged protected activity in their statements to a claims representative. In regard to properly exhausted claims, the court held that, assuming that providing information about an injury caused by the carrier's negligence could give rise to liability, plaintiffs first alleged protected activity -- handwritten statements to the trainmaster -- fell short of satisfying section 20109(a)(1). Furthermore, plaintiffs' testimony at the investigative hearing could not have contributed to earlier adverse actions, and plaintiffs failed to prove that the discipline imposed by the company for rule violations was made with retaliatory motive. View "Foster v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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Paris Limousine filed suit against Executive Coach, alleging that limousines it purchased from Executive Coach were in breach of warranty. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that Paris Limousine brought its express warranty claim under Missouri law, which authorizes private enforcement actions for breaches of express warranties. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 (Safety Act), 15 U.S.C. 1381 et seq., and the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards did not affect Executive Coach’s potential liability under Missouri law for breach of its express warranty. The court also held that Executive Coach had not met its burden to demonstrate that conflict preemption applied, and that Paris Limousine had alleged legally cognizable damages. View "Paris Limousine of OK, LLC v. Executive Coach Builders, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against BNSF, alleging a retaliation claim under the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) and a negligence claim under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the FRSA claim, holding that the evidence did not raise a genuine dispute that retaliatory motive prompted by protected activity contributed to plaintiff's dismissal and thus plaintiff failed to make a prima facie case. The court also held that the RRTA was unambiguous and did not include damages for lost wages within the definition of "compensation." Therefore, the regulations providing to the contrary received no deference under Chevron and the court affirmed the district court's decision on this alternate basis. The court need not consider whether it was correct that 26 U.S.C. 104(a)(2) applied to the RRTA. Accordingly, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment as to this issue. View "Loos v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law