Justia Professional Malpractice & Ethics Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
Dunbar, et al v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., et al
Homeowners challenged the validity of the foreclosure of their home mortgages. The district court dismissed the suit under Rule 12(b)(6). The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the law firm as fraudulently joined and concluded that the court had subject matter jurisdiction over the appeal because the doctrine of prior exclusive jurisdiction was inapplicable. The court concluded that Homeowners' pleadings mirrored those in Karnatcheva v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and affirmed the district court's dismissal. Homeowners have failed to plead factual content that permitted the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct where the pleadings contained nothing but naked assertions that one or more of the named defendants suspected that Wells Fargo lacked legal title to the mortgages yet chose to publish statements to the contrary. The district court was well within its discretion to file sanctions. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Dunbar, et al v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., et al" on Justia Law
Hamilton v. Bangs, McCullen, Butler, Foye & Simmons, LLP
Plaintiff was the president and owner of Company. Plaintiff and Company were sued by an employee for sexual harassment, among other claims. Plaintiff retained Law Firm to represent him and Company. The district court entered judgment against Company. The court later granted Company's motion for a new trial, and the parties subsequently settled. Plaintiff was the personal guarantor on the loans and credit lines provided by lenders to Company. After the original jury verdict, banks and lenders refused to continue extending credit to Plaintiff. As a result, Plaintiff's real estate holdings crumbled, causing Plaintiff to lose dozens of commercial and residential properties. Plainiff then sued the attorney who acted as lead defense counsel and Law Firm (collectively, Appellees), contending that Appellees committed a series of negligent errors during their representation. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Appellees and dismissed Plaintiff's claims for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty, holding that Plaintiff failed to show that his loss of net worth was proximately caused by the actions of Appellees. View "Hamilton v. Bangs, McCullen, Butler, Foye & Simmons, LLP" on Justia Law
S & A Farms, Inc. v. Farms.com, Inc., et al.
S&A sued Farms.com alleging that Farms.com violated the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA), 7 U.S.C. 1 et seq., breached its fiduciary duty, committed negligence, and made misrepresentations. The district court granted Farms.com's motion for summary judgment and S&A appealed. The court found that S&A did not sufficiently plead a fraudulent-inducement claim under 7 U.S.C. 6, but only alleged that Farms.com engaged in a fraudulent scheme under 7 U.S.C. 6o(1)(B). The court concluded that the district court did not err by granting Farms.com's motion for summary judgment on S&A's fraud claim where S&A's complaint alleged only a fraudulent scheme, not that Farms.com's failure to register caused it damages. The court also concluded that the district court did not err in granting Farms.com's motion for summary judgment on S&A's breach of fiduciary duty claim where S&A presented no evidence describing a commodity-trading advisor's standard of care or how Farms.com breached that standard of care. View "S & A Farms, Inc. v. Farms.com, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Gallus, et al. v. Ameriprise Financial, Inc., et al.
Plaintiffs are shareholders of nine mutual funds that were registered investment companies under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (ICA), 15 U.S.C. 80(a)-35(b). The Funds were managed and distributed by affiliates of the defendants (collectively, Ameriprise). At issue was whether plaintiffs have set forth sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment on their claim that Ameriprise breached its fiduciary duty under section 36(b) of the ICA. In light of the United States Supreme Court's decision in Jones v. Harris Associates L.P., the court concluded that plaintiffs have not met their burden, and thus the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants. View "Gallus, et al. v. Ameriprise Financial, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Hargis v. Access Capital Funding, LLC, et al.
Plaintiff sued defendants in Missouri state court, on behalf of a putative class of similarly situated borrowers, alleging that defendants engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in violation of Mo. Rev. State 484.020 when they charged certain fees in the course of refinancing plaintiff's mortgage. Defendants moved the suit to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d) and plaintiff subsequently appealed the district court's judgment. The court held that plaintiff failed to show that she was charged any fees, directly or indirectly, for legal work performed by non-lawyers. Therefore, plaintiff had not shown injury and did not have standing to bring her claim. In light of plaintiff's lack of standing, the district court should have dismissed for lack of jurisdiction rather than reaching the merits of the summary judgment motion. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded with instructions that the action be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. View "Hargis v. Access Capital Funding, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Doe v. Young, et al.
Plaintiff sued Body Aesthetic and three of its surgeons, claiming that they invaded her privacy and breached the fiduciary duty of confidentiality they owed to her when they gave nude photographic images of her body to a newspaper, which published the images. A jury found in favor of plaintiff on her breach of fiduciary duty claim and awarded her compensatory damages. Plaintiff appealed and requested a new trial, claiming the magistrate judge abused the court's discretion by excluding certain critical evidence that would have likely increased the verdict amount. The court held that the district court abused its discretion in excluding testimony from the newspaper's writer and this abuse of discretion was substantially prejudicial to plaintiff's ability to show defendants' breach of fiduciary duty disregarded her privacy rights and adversely affected her claims for punitive damages. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's judgment on punitive damages and remanded for a new trial as to that issue. View "Doe v. Young, et al." on Justia Law
Perkins v. Astrue
Appellant appealed the denial of her application for Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits where the ALJ concluded that she retained the ability to perform her past relevant work and was therefore not disabled. The court held that the ALJ was not required to give controlling weight to the opinions of appellant's treating physician. The court also held that because there was substantial evidence in the record to support the ALJ's findings, the court declined to disturb the ALJ's decision on the ground that the ALJ failed to comply with the SSA Commissioner's policies in evaluating the severity of appellant's fibromyalgia and that the ALJ failed to give adequate weight to appellant's statements and the statements of her family and friends. The court further held that the ALJ's hypothetical to the vocational expert was proper and there was no evidence in this case to support a finding that bias impacted the ALJ's decision. Accordingly, the Commissioner's final decision to deny appellant's application for benefits was affirmed. View "Perkins v. Astrue" on Justia Law
Roudachevski v. All-American Care Centers, Inc
This case arose when appellant alleged claims of tortuous interference with contract or business expectancy and violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA), Ark. Code Ann. 4-88-101, et seq. Appellant subsequently sought a temporary retraining order and preliminary injunction after appellee terminated appellant's patient privileges at a residential nursing home. The court held that appellant did not meet the factors in the Dataphase Syst. Inc. v. C.L. Syst., which evaluated whether to issue an injunction. Consequently, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for a preliminary injunction and the judgment was affirmed. View "Roudachevski v. All-American Care Centers, Inc" on Justia Law
Moore v. United States
A jury found defendant, a licensed attorney, responsible for trust fund recovery penalties imposed by the IRS pursuant to 26 U.S.C. (I.R.C.) 6672 for unpaid employment taxes owed by Iowa Trade Bindery, Inc. (ITB). Defendant appealed the district court's judgment and "all adverse rulings and orders in this case." The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting defendant's signed Form 2751 and an IRS officer's testimony about the form, or by instructing the jury with respect to the form and its effect. The court also held that the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law where the jury's verdict was supported by substantial evidence. The court concluded that defendant's remaining claims were without merit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Moore v. United States" on Justia Law
Doe, et al. v. Dr. Al Tsai, M.D., et al.
This case arose when Pauline Thomas brought her daughter, Jane Doe and four of her grandchildren, including John Doe and R.N.T. to the Emergency Room at the Hennepin County Medical Center and reported her concerns that Jane Doe might have been sexually abused by R.N.T. Appellants brought suit against appellees claiming that the 72-hour hold placed on John Doe, the internal examination of Jane Doe, and the examination of John Doe violated the children's rights under the Fourth Amendment and that the seizure and search of both children violated the Fourteenth Amendment rights of all appellants. At issue was whether the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of appellees and denied appellants' motion for partial summary judgment on their claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The court rejected appellants' contention that appellees failed to move for summary judgment on all of appellants' claims; that the district court ignored questions of material fact; and that the district court at times used the wrong legal standards when analyzing the facts. The court also held that because it affirmed the district court's adverse grant of summary judgment against appellants, the court did not reach the denial of appellants' partial motion for summary judgment. View "Doe, et al. v. Dr. Al Tsai, M.D., et al." on Justia Law