Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's summary judgment orders in an action where creditors were attempting to collect on judgments against Vertical and Defendant Reuter by levying assets now belonging to Reuter's wife. Leaving aside the question whether creditors have made a sufficient showing to justify piercing the corporate veil, the court held that creditors' tenancy-by-the-entirety theory failed under Missouri law. In this case, no reasonable jury could conclude that there was clear, cogent and convincing evidence that Reuter and his wife participated in the tortfeasor partnership as a married couple, and thus summary judgment in their favor for the claims seeking to pierce the corporate veil and reach the assets that once belonged to them as a married couple was proper. In regard to plaintiff's alternative theory, the court held that the bankruptcy court correctly determined that Reuter did not own 50 percent of the Trust as a settlor, and thus creditors' allegation that he fraudulently transferred his share to his wife necessarily failed. View "Cutcliff v. Reuter" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against plaintiff in an action seeking funds from her husband's trust that was transferred from an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001-1461, plan. The husband had requested the "Accrued Benefit" amount from his ERISA employee-benefit plan be transferred to his trust days before he passed away. Applying an abuse of discretion standard to this case, the court held that the plan administrative committee reasonably explained its interpretation and relied on substantial evidence to deny plaintiff's claim. Therefore, the committee did not abuse its discretion when it determined that the relevant inquiry was not when funds were received by a participant, but rather when funds were transferred out of the plan. View "Wengert v. Rajendran" on Justia Law

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FCR filed suit against numerous defendants associated with the Life Investors Owners Participation Trust, alleging breaches of fiduciary duties and conversion. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants, holding that Trust section 11.9 authorized the Trustees to deduct funds from the Trust accounts to reimburse Life Investors for the money it advanced to pay for the defense in the Maryland litigation; the Trustees did indeed incur "cost" in the form of attorney's fees in defending the Maryland action unsuccessfully brought by Corrado and FCR; the Trustees did not breach their fiduciary duties; there was no material dispute as to the reasonableness of the attorney's fees because plaintiffs failed to challenge the fees; and the conversion claim failed because plaintiffs were unable to prove the first element of conversion, that their interests were subject to the terms of the Trust. View "Corrado v. Life Investors Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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PNC Bank appealed a jury verdict in favor of a special deputy receiver finding PNC liable for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty in violation of its duties as trustee of various preneed trusts created by NPS. The Eighth Circuit held that appellees' claims arose under trust law rather than tort law and appellees were thus entitled only to the damages afforded under trust law; damages to the Missouri trusts after Allegiant's trusteeship or outside of the Missouri trusts were not recoverable from PNC as Allegiant's successor; the trust beneficiaries were NPS, consumers in Missouri, and the funeral homes that were to provide services to those consumers pursuant to the consumers' preneed contract; PNC was not relieved of liability unless Allegiant ensured that Wulf was investing trust assets within the authority of a reasonably prudent trustee; appellees' trust-law claim should have been tried to the court under the general rule; and the court rejected appellees' cross-appeal. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Jo Ann Howard and Associates v. National City Bank" on Justia Law