Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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Defendant-appellant Christopher Klick was seriously injured after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning while aboard a friend’s fishing boat. An exhaust pipe had broken off at the spot where it connected with the engine. As a result, the engine had been expelling carbon monoxide gas into the engine compartment rather than through the exhaust pipe and out behind the boat. When the engine compartment hatch from within the wheelhouse was opened, carbon monoxide flowed up into the wheelhouse. Klick quickly lost consciousness and fell into the engine compartment. He awoke there several hours later, severely burned from lying on the engine. He also suffered brain damage from the carbon monoxide. The gas killed the boat’s two other occupants, but Klick survived. Klick sued the boat dealer in state court. The dealer had an insurance policy from Travelers Property Casualty Company of America that required Travelers to pay for liabilities resulting from bodily injury. The policy, however, had a pollution exclusion providing that the policy did not cover liability for injuries arising out of the release, dispersal, or migration of certain pollutants. Travelers sued in federal court, seeking a declaration that the policy did not cover liability for Klick’s injuries. The district court granted summary judgment for Travelers. We conclude that the pollution exclusion applies, and we therefore affirm. View "Travelers Property Casualty v. Klick" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Constitution, seeking compensation for harms arising from his alleged wrongful removal to Mexico. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the action and dismissal of the complaint. The court held that 8 U.S.C. 1252(g) precludes the exercise of jurisdiction because plaintiff challenged the execution of a removal order. View "Lopez Silva v. United States" on Justia Law

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The family of the deceased and administrator of his estate filed suit against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)(1), after a radiologist with the VA failed to identify a cancerous mass. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the United States, holding that although the VA failed to deliver the standard of care that the deceased deserved, the evidence presented was insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the VA's negligence proximately caused plaintiffs' damages. Because the medical malpractice claims failed, so too must the wrongful-death claims. View "Day v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Lenny and Tracy Chapman filed suit against Hiland after an explosion seriously injured Lenny, alleging negligence and loss of consortium. Hiland then filed a third-party complaint against Missouri Basin and B&B, seeking indemnification. In this appeal, Missouri Basin challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiffs and the district court's ruling on post-judgment motions. The Eighth Circuit held that honoring the Oklahoma choice-of-law provision in the Hiland Master Service Contract did not violate a fundamental public policy of North Dakota because it was not a motor carrier transportation contract under North Dakota law. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by granting plaintiffs' Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) motion where the district court clarified that by using the language "all amounts that have been paid or will be paid," Missouri Basin intended that it indemnify plaintiffs for the full amount of the settlement, including those amounts paid by Hiland's insurers. Furthermore, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Missouri Basin's Rule 59(e) motion. View "Chapman v. Missouri Basin Well Service" on Justia Law

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Alex Lindholm's parents filed suit against BMW after Alex died when a jack supplied by his car's manufacturer fell and killed him. Alex and his father used the jack to raise the car off the ground so that they could make repairs, the jack fell on Alex when he was lying underneath the car. The Eighth Circuit held, under South Dakota law, that Alex's misuse of the jack was not foreseeable as a matter of law, given the warnings that accompanied the jack about lying under the vehicle. Therefore, BMW was entitled to summary judgment as to the strict liability claim. In regard to the negligence and negligent-design claims, Alex's misuse of the jack also constituted contributory negligence, which barred plaintiffs from recovering. The court affirmed summary judgment as to these claims. Finally, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment on the implied-warranties claim and the wrongful-death claim. View "Lindholm v. BMW of North America, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Inter-State, seeking damages from injuries that he sustained when an Inter-State vehicle hit his pickup truck and trailer in Missouri. A jury awarded plaintiff $4.5 damages. The Eighth Circuit affirmed and held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction because the parties were completely diverse. The court upheld the award and denied remittitur because, with both economic and non-economic damages included in the general award, the total was not monstrous, shocking, or grossly excessive. View "Eckerberg v. Inter-State Studio, etc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's application of a tort-reform act, the Nebraska Hospital Medical Liability Act, to reduce the verdict by 90% in a case where a jury awarded $17 million to a child born with severe brain damage. The court held that notice was not a requirement for qualification under the Act, but rather a requirement imposed on those already qualified; Bellevue did not lose the Act's protections even if it failed to properly post notice; and Nebraska's cap did not violate the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial nor the Fifth Amendment; the child failed to show a denial of access to the courts; the Act did not violate the child's right to equal protection of the laws; and the district court did not err in rejecting the child's substantive due process challenge. The court affirmed the district court's denial of Bellevue's motion for a new trial and rejected Bellevue's challenges to the district court's jury instructions and verdict. View "S.S. v. Bellevue Medical Center" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of an accident that killed three people and injured others. Family members of the deceased and the driver filed suit against Toyota alleging various claims. The jury found that the driver was 40 percent at fault and Toyota was 60 percent at fault for the collision. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of a limited number of substantially similar incidents; the district court did not abuse its broad discretion by allowing plaintiff's expert's opinion under FRE 702; the district court did not err by denying Toyota's motion for judgment as a matter of law where plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence from which a jury could find that the 1996 Camry contained a design defect; the district court erred in awarding prejudgment interest and vacated the award of prejudgment interest to Plaintiff Trice; and Trice's award should not be reduced by the amount that Plaintiff Devyn previously recovered from the driver and the driver's insurers. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Adams v. Toyota Motor Corp." on Justia Law