Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
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Plaintiff worked as a security officer at the Center for Behavioral Medicine (CBM). Plaintiff sued CBM, alleging a racially hostile environment, disparate treatment based on race, retaliation, and constructive discharge in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The district court granted summary judgment to CBM.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that while Plaintiff argued that his retaliation claims are like or related to the substance of his EEOC charge, he doesn’t address how they are related, thus the court considered the argument waived. Further, the court wrote that Plaintiff’s argument fails on the merits too. Plaintiff testified to three occasions he considered retaliation by HR, all of which occurred in mid-to-late 2019. But the charge’s only references to HR’s actions were about the finding that Plaintiff’s August 2018 grievance was unsubstantiated and HR’s failure to provide a grievance or complaint form when Plaintiff asked for one. Plaintiff never claimed that either action was retaliatory.   Further, the court found that Plaintiff has not exhausted his constructive discharge claim either. Here, Plaintiff’s charge gave no indication that he was about to be constructively discharged, and Plaintiff did not resign from CBM until approximately five months after he filed his charge. View "Anthony Slayden v. Center for Behavioral Medicine" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued St. Luke’s pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. Section 1981. Plaintiff alleged that St. Luke’s: discriminated against him on the basis of his disability, gender, and race; failed to accommodate him; and retaliated against him. St. Luke’s sought summary judgment on all issues, and the district court granted St. Luke’s motion. Plaintiff appealed the district court’s ruling regarding only his claims of disability discrimination under the MHRA and failure to accommodate under the ADA and the MHRA.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the record demonstrates several steps that St. Luke’s took in response to Plaintiff’s request for accommodation. Thus, because there is no triable issue as to whether St. Luke’s acted in good faith, the court wrote it need not reach the final step of the analysis, which is whether St. Luke’s could have reasonably accommodated Plaintiff. Accordingly, the court affirmed summary judgment on Plaintiff's failure-to-accommodate claim. Likewise, in opposing St. Luke’s motion for summary judgment before the district court, Plaintiff failed to argue his constructive discharge claim. View "Joseph Mobley v. St. Luke's Health System, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff attended protests in downtown St. Louis. While she was leaving, an armored St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (“SLMPD”) vehicle fired tear gas in her direction. Plaintiff sued the City of St. Louis, 12 police officers who were members of the SWAT team on duty that night, and several SLMPD officials for constitutional and state law violations. The district court denied a motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity for four Defendant officers specifically alleged to have been in the armored vehicle at the time of the incident. As to eight Defendant officers not specifically alleged to have been in the vehicle, the district court denied the motion to dismiss on the grounds that additional discovery was needed.   The Eighth Circuit reversed the denial of qualified immunity as to the eight Defendant officers for whom specific allegations were not made. The court affirmed as to the four defendant officers for whom specific allegations were made. The court explained that Plaintiff’s allegation, and the district court’s finding, that Plaintiff was not committing a crime when she was tear-gassed is enough to plausibly allege the tear-gassing was in retaliation for the First Amendment activity.  Further, the complaint did not plausibly allege that the eight officers were personally involved in the violation of clearly established constitutional rights. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court’s denial of the Officers’ motion to dismiss. View "Megan Green v. Cliff Sommer" on Justia Law

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The St. Louis County Police Department (“SLCPD”) in Missouri utilizes what it calls a “Wanteds System.” This system allows officers to issue electronic notices (“Wanteds”) authorizing any other officer to seize a person and take him into custody for questioning without any review by a neutral magistrate before issuance. The Wanteds may pend for days, months, or, in some cases, indefinitely.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of qualified immunity to Officers and its dismissal of the municipal liability claim and Count Three. The court reversed the district court’s grant of qualified immunity to the Detective. The court explained that the Wanteds System is broad enough to encompass situations that do not violate the Constitution, including those involving an arrest immediately after an officer has entered a wanted. The court wrote that Plaintiffs’ facial challenge to the Wanteds System fails. Further, the court explained that the SLCPD Wanteds System, although fraught with the risk of violating the Constitution in certain circumstances and/or the danger of evidence being suppressed due to an invalid arrest, is not facially unconstitutional. The burden is then on Plaintiffs to show a persistent pattern of unconstitutional misconduct. The court concluded that the evidence in the record does not show a persistent pattern of unconstitutional arrests so pervasive that it can be said to constitute custom or usage with the force of law. Nor do the proposed classes describe a group of individuals who demonstrate that such a custom or practice exists. The district court did not err in dismissing the Plaintiffs’ municipal liability claim. View "Dwayne Furlow v. Jon Belmar" on Justia Law

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An officer initiated a traffic stop of Plaintiff. Plaintiff felt the stop was pretextual, and fled. The officer initiated a PIT maneuver to end the pursuit, causing Plaintiff crashed his vehicle into a light pole and was injured. Plaintiff filed various civil rights claims against the police department. The district court granted summary judgment for the police department.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, finding that the police department guidelines and policies concerning use of a PIT maneuver did not create rights that give rise to a Section 1983 action, and an officer's knowing violation of the guidelines and policies does not transform his actions into unconstitutional behavior. View "Dean Christiansen v. Christopher Eral" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed the district court’s denial of his motion to dismiss the Government’s petition for civil commitment under 18 U.S.C. Section 4246. Defendant argued that the Middle District of Tennessee violated the time restrictions in Section 4241(d), depriving the Western District of Missouri of subject matter jurisdiction to civilly commit him under Section 4246 because the timing violation he was no longer lawfully “committed to the custody of the Attorney General pursuant to section 4241(d).”   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Defendant did not object to the alleged Section 4241(d) timing violations in the Middle District of Tennessee. Although did he complain to the Middle District of Tennessee in status updates about the delays on the grounds that they violated his rights to a speedy trial and due process. But he never formally requested release, filed an appeal in the Sixth Circuit, or requested a writ of mandamus from the Sixth Circuit. Thus, Defendant waived his right to challenge the alleged Section 4241(d) timing violations. Because the alleged Section 4241(d) timing violations are the basis of Defendant’s Section 4246 challenge, his Section 4246 challenge fails. View "United States v. Andrew Ryan" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued police officer under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 after the police officer deployed pepper spray in Plaintiff’s face. The district court concluded that Plaintiff was engaged in protest activity protected by the First Amendment, and that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that the police officer used force against Plaintiff because she exercised her constitutional right to freedom of speech. Defendant appealed, and argued that he is entitled to qualified immunity from suit.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed finding that there is no reversible error. The court explained that the district court’s determination that a reasonable jury could find that the police officer acted with retaliatory motive is a matter of evidence sufficiency that is not appealable at this juncture. The court further held that the police officer’s argument based on “arguable probable cause” fails for other reasons as well. Probable cause is a constitutional standard under the Fourth does not argue that this case involves a search or seizure, and he does not explain why the asserted existence of “arguable probable cause” would be dispositive as a matter of law on a claim alleging retaliatory use of force in violation of the First Amendment. View "Essence Welch v. Daniel Dempsey" on Justia Law

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Appellants distribute food to homeless people in the City of St. Louis and wish to continue doing so as part of their charitable and religious practice a St. Louis police officer observed Appellants distributing bologna sandwiches and issued each a citation for violating a city ordinance requiring a permit for the distribution of “potentially dangerous food.”Appellants filed this suit, claiming that the City’s enforcement of the ordinance violated their federal and state constitutional rights and Missouri statutes. The district court granted the City’s motion for summary judgment and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state claims.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the provisions ensure that health inspectors have an opportunity to determine whether the temporary food establishment is complying with the Ordinance. When operating a temporary food establishment, Appellants would also have to ensure: that they take steps to prevent contamination of any ice served to consumers; that tableware provided to consumers is only in single-service and single-use articles; that any equipment is located and installed in a way that avoids food contamination and to facilitate cleaning; that food-contact surfaces are protected from consumer contamination; and that they have water available for cleaning utensils and equipment and to make convenient handwashing facilities available for any employees. Without these provisions regarding the distribution of potentially hazardous food to the public, the City’s goal of preventing foodborne illness would be achieved less effectively. Moreover, the court noted that nothing about the City’s enforcement of the Ordinance against Appellants prevents them from conveying their religious message in other ways. View "Raymond Redlich v. City of St. Louis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a transgender youth, their parents, and two healthcare professionals, sought to enjoin Arkansas Act 626, which prohibits healthcare professionals from providing gender transition procedures to any individual under the age of 18 or from referring any such individual to any healthcare professional for gender transition procedures. The district court enjoined the Act, and the State appealed.The Eighth Circuit held that because a minor's sex at birth determines whether or not the minor can receive certain types of medical care under the law, Act 626 discriminates on the basis of sex. Thus, to be valid, the Act must be supported by an exceedingly persuasive justification. The Eighth Circuit determined that the Act prohibits medical treatment that conforms with the recognized standard of care for adolescent gender dysphoria and that the purpose of the Act is not to ban a treatment but to ban an outcome the State deems undesirable. Thus, the district court did not err in granting an injunction. View "Dylan Brandt v. Leslie Rutledge" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff resigned from his employment as a surgeon with Mayo Clinic (“Mayo”) after an internal committee recommended his termination following an investigation into allegations of his misconduct. Plaintiff sued Mayo and his supervisor, alleging discrimination and reprisal. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Mayo and the supervisor.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling. The court explained that Plaintiff argues Mayo’s recommendation to terminate his employment was based on his race, religion, and national origin. Because Said does not offer direct evidence of discrimination, Plaintiff must create a sufficient inference of discrimination under the McDonnell Douglas framework to survive summary judgment.   Here, Plaintiff claims another similarly situated former employee, who also received complaints, from Mayo received preferential treatment. The court concluded that even if Plaintiff was similarly situated to the other employee, the court concluded that Plaintiff does not present sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude he received disparate treatment from the other employee. The court further explained that the record overwhelmingly demonstrates that Mayo believed Plaintiff was guilty of making unwelcomed advances toward female coworkers and of other misconduct. Said fails to “create a real issue as to the genuineness of” Mayo’s perceptions. Finally, regarding Mayo’s reporting of Plaintiff’s resignation to the State Board, as already discussed, the record demonstrates Mayo believed it was required to report Plaintiff’s termination to the State Board because Plaintiff resigned during an open investigation into his misconduct. Thus, Plaintiff fails to present sufficient evidence showing this was a pretext for retaliatory intent. View "Sameh Said v. Mayo Clinic" on Justia Law