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

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A common-benefit trust fund was established to compensate attorneys leading the MDL concerning Bayer’s LibertyLink LL601 genetically modified rice. On appeal, Bayer and Riceland challenge the district court's order requiring Bayer to cause the deposit of a portion of a settlement between Bayer and Riceland into the fund. Bayer and Riceland argue that because their settlement was the product of negotiations following a state-court judgment, the district court lacked jurisdiction to order Bayer to cause a percentage of the settlement to be deposited into the fund. The court concluded that the district court properly ordered Bayer to hold back a portion of the Bayer-Riceland settlement. In this case, application of the Common Benefit Order was a comparable collateral matter that the district court had jurisdiction to resolve in light of the settlement; the district court properly applied the Common Benefit Order to the settlement and required a percentage of the entire settlement to be redirected to the common-benefit fund; and the district court did not plainly err in assigning to Bayer the duty of causing a deposit of the funds due under the Common Benefit Order. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Riceland Foods v. Bayer Cropscience US" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the USDA and others, claiming that defendants violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C. 1691 et seq., because they denied his debt settlement offers on the basis of his race and in retaliation for his being a member of the Pigford class-action litigation. Plaintiff also alleged that defendants engaged in a conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. 1985(3) to interfere with his civil rights, and that they violated his rights under the Fifth and Thirteenth Amendments. The district court granted defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's claims. The court held that a final agency decision by the USDA resolving a complaint under 7 C.F.R. Pt. 15d using the administrative procedures currently in effect does not result in claim preclusion. In this case, the complaint does not contain sufficient allegations to state a plausible claim that Thomas Brown and M. Terry Johnson, both of whom are employed with the USDA’s National Appeals Division, are creditors for ECOA purposes. Accordingly, the court affirmed the dismissal of the ECOA claims with respect to Thomas Brown and M. Terry Johnson, and reversed the dismissal of these claims with respect to the remaining defendants. The court also concluded that plaintiff's conspiracy claims under 42 U.S.C. 1985(3) were properly dismissed pursuant to the intracorporate conspiracy doctrine. Finally, the court reversed the dismissal of the Bivens claims because, when a remedial scheme is created entirely by regulation, it does not preclude a Bivens claim. View "Johnson v. USDA" on Justia Law

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Compart, a producer of breeding swine, filed a negligence suit against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2671 et seq. Compart intended to export over three hundred pigs to China but China suspended all imports from Compart after it was notified by the United States government that the test results from a small set of the blood samples were "inconclusive" for Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus (PRRSv). The district court dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction. The court affirmed, concluding that the discretionary function exemption precludes jurisdiction over Compart's negligence claims because the testing and reporting of Compart's swine was governed by discretionary governmental procedures and susceptible to policy analysis. View "Compart's Boar Store, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs challenged the USDA's determination that a portion of their farmland is a wetland within the meaning of the pertinent federal statutes and regulations. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the USDA, concluding that the agency's final decision was not arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to the law. In this case, the USDA did not err in determining that Site 1 had the requisite hydrology to quaify as a wetland, and the USDA properly determined that Site 1 would support a prevalence of hydrophytic vegetation under normal circumstances. View "Foster v. Vilsack" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a class action against Riceland, requesting the district court compel Riceland to contribute a portion of its recoveries in various cases to the common benefit fund established by the district court to compensate plaintiffs for their legal work. The district court dismissed Riceland's counterclaims of breach of contract and tortious interference and certified the dismissal as a final judgment under FRCP 54(b). The court agreed with its sister circuits and held that a res judicata effect can properly be considered as a “miscellaneous factor” under the Hayden factor analysis. In this case, the district court did not err in considering the res judicata ramification in the Arkansas state court case. The district court found that plaintiffs and the district court itself would suffer injustice if entry of final judgment was delayed. On the merits, the court concluded that the claims regarding genetically-modified rice were released by the Settlement Agreement and Release, but the Release does not govern plaintiffs’ unjust enrichment and quantum meruit claims against Riceland for its failure to contribute to the fund. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Riceland Foods v. Downing" on Justia Law