Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

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This class action arises out of claims by commercial truck drivers who assert that they were not paid proper amounts while working for Werner Enterprises, Inc., and Drivers Management, LLC, (collectively Defendants) as part of Defendants’ Student Driver Program. In a previous appeal, we considered Defendants’ challenge to a jury verdict in favor of Philip Petrone and others (collectively, Plaintiffs) on some of Plaintiffs’ claims, concluding that the district court erred in amending the scheduling order to allow Plaintiffs to submit an expert report past the disclosure deadline without good cause.   Because the expert evidence was integral to the jury’s verdict, the Eighth Circuit determined that this error was not harmless, and vacated the judgment. The case returned to the court after the district court, on remand, entered judgment in favor of Defendants. The court then vacated the judgment. The court explained that read in its entirety, the decision left the door open for the district court to consider how to proceed in light of the Circuit Court’s ruling that the district court should not have granted the motion to amend the scheduling order. The court explained that its mandate thus did not direct the district court to affirmatively find in Defendants’ favor, and their suggestion to the contrary is without merit.   Finally, while the district court properly determined that Plaintiffs could not present evidence of damages through summary evidence pursuant to Rule 1006, it failed to conduct an analysis pursuant to Rule 37(c)(1) and failed to address Plaintiffs’ request for appointment of an expert pursuant to Rule 706. View "Philip Petrone v. Werner Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this complaint brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 42 U.S.C. 1985(3) relating to the custody of Plaintiffs' children, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this suit seeking damages for alleged violations of Plaintiffs' constitutional rights to familial integrity, free exercise of religion, and due process of law, holding that there was no error.Plaintiffs brought this action seeking money damages and equitable relief for actions Defendants took with respect to three of their daughters. On appeal, Plaintiffs challenged the dismissal of their claims for money damages regarding the custody of S.M. and D.M. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the judge properly dismissed as untimely all claims relating tot he custody of S.M.; and (2) as to the remaining claims, the trial judge properly concluded that the complaint failed to allege conduct plausibly exposing Defendants to liability and that other claims were foreclosed by absolute immunity. View "Milchtein v. Milwaukee County" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit reversed the order of the district court granting summary judgment and dismissing this complaint brought by Plaintiff after he was fired from his commissary job while incarcerated at Indiana State Prison, holding that the district court erred in finding that Plaintiff failed to comply with the Prison Litigation Reform Act's (PLRA) exhaustion requirement, 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a).Plaintiff was hired for a job in the commissary with the understanding that he would miss work on Fridays to attend the prison's weekly Jumu'ah Muslim prayer service. When Officer Julie Anton refused to allow Plaintiff to attend Jumu'ah and he went anyway, Anton fired Plaintiff based on a work evaluation accusing Plaintiff of theft. Plaintiff sued Anton under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging a violation of his First Amendment rights. The district court dismissed the complaint because Plaintiff did not file a formal grievance before bringing suit. The Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that the prison's grievance policy excepted Plaintiff's claim from the prison's administrative process. View "Miles v. Anton" on Justia Law

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In this action brought the estate of Jonah Marciniak and Marciniak's son pursuing both federal and state claims stemming from Marciniak's arrest and ensuing suicide, the Seventh District held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the Village of Shorewood and three of its officers who arrested Marciniak after his roommate fell from a fourth story window, holding that there was no error.After arresting Marciniak and placing him in a booking cell, Marciniak used his t-shirt to hang himself. Marciniak died six days later. Plaintiffs brought this action alleging that the three officers falsely arrested Marciniak without probable cause and failed to provide medical care and attention and to protect from self-harm. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendants had an absolute defense of probable cause to Plaintiffs' claims; and (2) even if the officers did not have probable cause to arrest for battery, they were still entitled to qualified immunity. View "Jump v. Village of Shorewood" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders entered by the Fourth and Eighteenth Judicial District Courts denying their requests for preliminary injunctions to enjoin the masking requirements of Defendants, school districts in Missoula and Gallatin Counties, that were adopted in response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, holding that the district courts did not err.Plaintiffs filed complaints and motions for preliminary injunctions shortly after Defendants' adoption of the masking policies for the 2021-2022 school year, seeking to enjoin the masking requirements based upon constitutional privacy, individual dignity, and parental rights. Both district courts denied the motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district courts did not manifestly abuse their discretion by denying the preliminary injunctions. View "Stand Up Montana v. Missoula County Public Schools" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit dismissed this appeal, in which Appellant sought to override an appeal waiver and to proceed with an appeal based on the alleged ineffective assistance of his counsel, holding that ineffective assistance of counsel claims not raised in the district court and not within an exception to United States v. Mala, 7 F.3d 1058 (1st Cir. 1993), are insufficient to overcome an appeal waiver.Defendant agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and to failure to appear in court pursuant to a plea agreement that contained a waiver-of-appeal provision. After sentencing, Defendant appealed, asserting for the first time that his counsel afforded him ineffective assistance both at the time he entered his plea and at sentencing. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal, holding that Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel allegations fell within the Mala rule and could not surmount his waiver of appeal. View "United States v. Staveley" on Justia Law

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The Sixth Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Powell, Ohio and dismissing Golf Village North LLC's claims brought under 28 U.S.C. 1983 for violating its procedural and substantive due process rights, holding that there was no error.Golf Village, a developer, sought to build a "residential hotel" on its property in Powell, Ohio but never filed the required zoning application. Instead, Golf Village requested that the City confirm the residential hotel was a permitted use of the property. The City directed Golf Village to file an appropriate application for "zoning Certificate approval" to receive an answer. Rather than reply, Golf Village sued the City. The district court granted summary judgment for the City. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that Golf Village's procedural due process and substantive due process rights were not violated in this case. View "Golf Village North, LLC v. City of Powell, Ohio" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency alleging religious discrimination and retaliation under Title VII. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal. The court explained that because the alleged discrimination and retaliation arose from Plaintiff’s failure to satisfy additional security requirements and would require the court to review the merits of the security-authorization decision, the court is bound by the decision in Department of the Navy v. Egan, 484 U.S. 518 (1988), to affirm the district court’s dismissal of this matter for lack of jurisdiction.   The court explained that it agrees that courts must exercise caution in expanding the reach of Egan. Nevertheless, the court declined to adopt the hardline position, urged by Plaintiff, that Egan’s rationale may only ever apply to determinations explicitly labeled “security clearances.” Rather, as in Foote and Sanchez, this case requires a more detailed analysis of whether the judgment at issue is of the type that Egan intended to shield from judicial review. Furhter, the court held that the CIA’s decision to stop Plaintiff’s assignee-security authorization processing is the kind of discretionary predictive judgment shielded from judicial review by Egan. View "Nathan Mowery v. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff claims that Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations discriminated against her based on her race by allowing a hostile work environment to pervade its manufacturing plant and by retaliating against her for accusing a co-worker of tampering with her machine. Bridgestone moved for summary judgment, and the district court granted summary judgment in Bridgestone’s favor on all claims.   On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court wrongly concluded that her hostile-work-environment claim was not supported by evidence of race-based harassment that was severe or pervasive enough. She also argues that her retaliation claim was based on a reasonable belief that the tampering with her machine was due to her race and that her transfer to KBN2 was causally related to her complaints.   The Fourth Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff presented no evidence that would allow a jury to conclude that any tampering that occurred in 2018 was based on her race. The court explained that the totality of Plaintiff’s these allegations, and the evidence put forward to support them, fails to create a genuine question of material fact that racial discrimination in Bridgestone’s MTS department was so severe or pervasive that it constituted a hostile work environment. View "Laverne McIver v. Bridgestone Americas, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Kelly Dansie sued Defendant Union Pacific Railroad Company for terminating his employment in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant on Plaintiff’s ADA claim but allowed the case to proceed to trial on Plaintiff’s FMLA claim. The jury then returned a verdict in Defendant’s favor. After review, the Tenth Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part, finding plaintiff presented sufficient evidence for a jury to find that defendant failed to engage in the ADA mandated good-faith communications with respect to reasonable accommodations of plaintiff's disability. Given that evidence, summary judgment for Defendant was reversed on plaintiff’s ADA claim, and the issue was remanded to the district court for a trial. But the Tenth Circuit affirmed the verdict for defendant on plaintiff’s FMLA claim. View "Dansie v. Union Pacific Railroad" on Justia Law