Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging federal constitutional and tort claims against the city, the county, and several city and county employees after his son died of hypothermia. Plaintiff alleged that defendants, by prematurely declaring plaintiff's son dead and therefore cutting off possible aid, caused his death in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss with prejudice, holding that plaintiff failed to identify a clearly established right and defendants were entitled to qualified immunity where they did not intentionally deny emergency aid to someone they believe to be alive. The court noted that the medical guidelines were not followed here could possibly be the basis for a negligence suit, but it was not the basis for a constitutional one. View "Anderson v. City of Minneapolis" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff and her four children died from smoke inhalation as a result of a kitchen fire in their apartment, administrators of their estate filed suit against the JHA, the manufacturer of the smoke alarm, the City, the fire department, and others. Plaintiffs appealed the district court's judgment in favor of defendants. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the Housing Authority Defendants and BRK, because no reasonable factfinder could determine, absent speculation, that the fire alarm failed to sound, causing the tragic deaths of plaintiffs; the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the City Defendants, because there was lack of evidence showing that the firefighters' actions caused plaintiffs' deaths; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying a motion to strike the affidavit of a defense expert; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by requiring one of plaintiff's counsel to pay for part of defendants' costs. View "Beavers v. Arkansas Housing Authorities Property & Casualty Self-Insured Fund, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the City and Doc's Towing, alleging that defendants violated her rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments when her car was towed and stored without her consent or a warrant. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants, holding that plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence to establish defendants' liability. In this case, a reasonable jury could find that plaintiff's truck was towed and held under the City's unwritten but widespread and persistent policy of reporting vehicles as wanted for the purpose of detaining them without a warrant. Furthermore, plaintiff has adduced evidence from which a reasonable juror could find that Doc's Towing was acting under color of law when it refused to allow her access to her truck. View "Meier v. St. Louis" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of summary judgment to plaintiff in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, alleging that a highway patrol trooper used excessive force against her in violation of her Fourth Amendment rights. The court held that the trooper did not violate plaintiff's clearly established constitutional right when he threw or shoved her to the ground after she disobeyed his repeated instructions to return to his car, was uncooperative when he grabbed her and told her to turn around, and repeatedly tried to pull her arm away from his grasp. Furthermore, plaintiff had been drinking and driving erratically, and the dashcam video showed that their struggle took place on the shoulder of a dark highway, while several cars drove by. View "Murphy v. Engelhart" on Justia Law

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DLC filed a 42 U.SC. 1983 action against defendant, the Director of the South Dakota Division of Banking, alleging that license revocation without a pre-deprivation hearing deprived DLC of its procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's denial of absolute or qualified immunity and its decision that the quick action exception to a pre-deprivation hearing was not applicable. The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that defendant was entitled to qualified immunity because DLC failed to show a violation of a constitutional right that was clearly established. The court held that there was no procedural due process violation where DLC was on notice that the Division was investigating the lawfulness of its new loan product, DLC was afforded an opportunity to provide additional information addressing the Division's concerns, and the revocation order had no more of an effect on DLC's business than the simultaneously issued cease and desist order. View "Dollar Loan Center of South Dakota, LLC v. Afdahl" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit dismissed defendant's appeal of the district court's denial of his motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. In this case, plaintiff filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against defendant, a detective, alleging Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations committed in connection with an arrest. The court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that defendant's arguments all rest on his contention that the district court erred in its determination that a genuine dispute of material fact exists as to whether plaintiff was incapacitated when he tased plaintiff a second time. The court held that the district court's determination was not blatantly contradicted by the record, and analyzing the record to resolve the parties' dispute over the circumstances in which plaintiff was tased a second time was beyond the court's limited review. View "Graham v. Klipsch" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an inmate at the ADC, filed suit under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments, seeking injunctive relief against ADC officials for allegedly refusing to provide him with a daily serving of "halal" meat in accord with his personal religious beliefs. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of an injunction in favor of plaintiff, holding that he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the PLRA. In this case, plaintiff was required to exhaust ADC's proper grievance procedures regardless of the forms of relief potentially available under the Religious Diet Policy. Furthermore, the court rejected plaintiff's contention that the Religious Diet Policy was, in and of itself, a proper and complete grievance procedure. View "Muhammad v. Mayfield" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a deputy's motion for summary judgment in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action, alleging that the deputy used excessive force while arresting plaintiff. The court held that the deputy did not violate a clearly established right of plaintiff under the Fourth Amendment, and thus he was entitled to qualified immunity. In this case, it was not clearly established at the time that a deputy was forbidden to use a takedown maneuver to arrest a suspect who ignored the deputy's instruction to "get back here" and continued to walk away from the officer. View "Kelsay v. Ernst" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment upholding the constitutionality of an Arkansas zoning law that prevents adult-oriented businesses from opening within 1,000 feet of schools and other places frequented by children. The court held that Adam and Eve, an adult toy superstore, has not engaged in speech and therefore cannot state a claim under the First Amendment. In this case, Adam and Eve disavowed any express conduct; cited no authority that selling sexually-oriented devices was speech; and expressly and repeatedly rejected that it was an adult-oriented business similar to those found in prior precedent, each of which engaged in protected speech. The court also held that the zoning law was not unconstitutionally vague and does not violate equal protection. The court held that a plaintiff whose conduct is clearly proscribed cannot raise a successful vagueness claim under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment for lack of notice, and a substantial portion of Adam and Eve's business involves selling items the statute reaches. Finally, Adam and Eve failed to show that the Act treated it differently than similarly situated entities or lacked a rational basis. View "Adam and Eve Jonesboro, LLC v. Perrin" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit held that the district court erred in denying summary judgment based on qualified immunity to the officer who shot and killed the decedent during a police chase. The court held that the district court failed to meet it threshold duty to make a thorough determination of the officer's claim of qualified immunity, and thus the case must return to the district court for a second look. Therefore, the court vacated and remanded. The court also remanded for reconsideration of the officer's claim of official immunity. View "N.S. v. Thompson" on Justia Law