Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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After Mark A. Sveen designated his then-wife, Kaye L. Melin, as the primary beneficiary of his life insurance policy, and his children as contingent beneficiaries, Minnesota extended its revocation-upon-divorce statute to life insurance policies. When Mark died in 2011, his children and Melin cross-claimed for the proceeds. The district court granted summary judgment to the children. The court concluded that a contested beneficiary like Melin has standing; this court has held in Whirlpool Corp. v. Ritterthat a revocation-upon-divorce statute like the one here violates the Contract Clause when applied retroactively; and thus the court's previous opinion forecloses any conclusion other than that the statute here was unconstitutional when applied retroactively. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Melin v. Sveen" on Justia Law

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Semmie John Guenther, Jr., filed an administrative charge with the EEOC, alleging that his former employer, Griffin Construction, discriminated against him on the basis of his disability, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq. When Guenther passed away while his charge was pending, the special administrator of his estate filed suit on his behalf when he received the EEOC right-to-sue letter. The district court dismissed the action based on Ark. Code Ann. 16-62-101(a)(1) and found the claim had abated. The court held that federal common law does not incorporate state law to determine whether an ADA claim for compensatory damages survives or abates upon the death of the aggrieved party. The court joined its sister circuits that have allowed the individual’s estate to bring and maintain a suit for compensatory damages under the ADA in place of the aggrieved party. Therefore, Guenther’s ADA claim for compensatory damages survived his death and Griffin Construction is not entitled to judgment on the pleadings. The court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Guenther v. Griffin Construction Co." on Justia Law

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The Trusts filed suits in federal and state court over the course of two-and-a-half decades, claiming rights as the beneficiaries, successors, or assigns of the owners of coal mining royalty interests in Kentucky. In this case, the Trusts sued their former attorneys, alleging legal malpractice based on the adverse outcome of one of these cases. The district court dismissed the complaint. The court rejected the Trusts' assertion that the attorneys committed malpractice by failing to raise preclusion arguments based on the outcome of a prior case. The court agreed with the district court that the proffered argument would not have changed the outcome in Willits II. The court concluded that the Trusts have not stated a malpractice claim based on failure to press this preclusion theory in Willits II. The court also rejected the Trusts' assertion that the attorneys committed malpractice by failing to raise certain constitutional arguments at an earlier phase. The court agreed with the district court that the constitutional arguments lack merit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "The PPW Royalty Trust v. Barton" on Justia Law

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WEB2B filed for bankruptcy and turned over its balances to the Chapter 7 trustee. RAC filed suit claiming the balances of an express trust, resulting trust, or constructive trust. WEB2B provided automated clearinghouse and electronic-check conversion services to RAC. The bankruptcy court dismissed RAC's claims and granted summary judgment to the trustee. The court affirmed the district court's affirmance of the bankruptcy court's decision, concluding that the parties' processing agreement had no requirement to segregate RAC funds, nor a definite, unequivocal, explicit declaration of trust. Therefore, there was no express trust in this case. The district court did not err in concluding that the undisputed facts here do not show with reasonable certainty or beyond a reasonable doubt that a resulting trust exists. Finally, the district court properly concluded that RAC had identified no clear and convincing evidence of conversion sufficient to justify imposing a constructive trust on the remaining funds. View "Rent-A-Center East, Inc. v. Leonard" on Justia Law

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Debtor appealed the bankruptcy court's order overruling her objection to the chapter 7 trustee's final report and denying her motion to compel the chapter 7 trustee to abandon $16,893.44 he had received from the Ruth E. Thompson Revocable Trust. The court agreed with the bankruptcy court that pursuant to paragraph 5.3.4 of the trust agreement, debtor's interest in the Trust was fully alienable by her on the petition date, and her interest in the Trust was not excluded from the bankruptcy estate under 11 U.S.C. 541(c)(2). Accordingly, the court affirmed the bankruptcy court's order. View "Thompson-Rossbach v. Doeling" on Justia Law