Justia Family Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
Ebersole v. Novo Nordisk, Inc., et al.
Plaintiff filed suit against her former employer, Novo, and former superivisor at Novo, alleging that Novo terminated her in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq. The court concluded that plaintiff could not establish that defendants acted with discriminatory animus against plaintiff for taking FMLA leave. Applying the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework, the court concluded that plaintiff could not demonstrate pretext; plaintiff did not adduce enough evidence to rebut Novo's legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for her termination; and, therefore, plaintiff has not produced sufficient probative evidence that her termination was the result of unlawful FMLA retaliation. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants. View "Ebersole v. Novo Nordisk, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Hemminghaus v. State of Missouri, et al.
Plaintiff filed suit against the State for violating section 102(a) of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2612(a), and against Judge Gaertner, under 42 U.S.C. 1983, for retaliating against her for exercising her First Amendment right to free speech. The court concluded that plaintiff was not an eligible employee covered by the FMLA because she was a member of the personal staff of the judge, who held a public elective office; although plaintiff's blog posts and other speech discussed her own case in detail, the district court correctly concluded that plaintiff's speech related to a matter of public concern; plaintiff's actions were sufficient evidence of disruption; plaintiff did not cite clearly established law putting the judge on notice that Pickering balancing in a situation such as this would fall in plaintiff's favor, nor did the court identify any such case law; and the district court correctly determined that the judge was entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's section 1983 claim where the judge did not have notice that his termination of an insubordinate employee who compromised the propriety and efficiency of his courtroom could violate her right to free speech. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Hemminghaus v. State of Missouri, et al." on Justia Law
Malloy v. United States Postal Service
Plaintiff filed suit against her employer, the Postal Service, alleging that the Postal Service violated her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq., after she was terminated for absenteeism. Plaintiff worked for the Postal Service under a series of appointments in a status known as a "casual" employee. The court concluded that plaintiff's case consisted of an unpersuasive argument of temporal proximity combined with a collection of challenges to agency practice and explanations that did not support an inference of impermissible motive. Accordingly, this was not a submissible case of discrimination and the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Malloy v. United States Postal Service" on Justia Law
Armstrong, et al. v. C.I.R.
Appellants, two couples, challenged the Tax Court's decisions disallowing their claims of dependency exemption deductions and child tax credits for a child of each husband's prior marriage. For each couple, the only tax year at issue, a year in which the ex-wife, the custodial parent, failed to sign a document stating that she "will not claim such child as a dependent" that year, even though she had agreed to provide that document if her ex-husband paid all required child support. The court reviewed the Tax Court's interpretation of the governing statute de novo and concluded that its decisions were consistent with the plain language of 26 U.S.C. 152(e)(2). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Armstrong, et al. v. C.I.R." on Justia Law
United States v. Zaic
Defendant pled guilty to one count of failure to pay legal child support obligations. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's award of restitution, arguing that the procedural requirements of the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996 (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3663A-3664, were not strictly followed. The court concluded, however, that a district court was not necessarily divested of the power to order restitution when the government or the court failed to perfectly comply with the MVRA's procedural provisions. In this instance, defendant was on notice that he would have to pay restitution, though the amount was subject to change. He also knew that his ex-wife was seeking restitution for out-of-pocket expenses. The prosecution and the probation officer may have neglected to inform the court in a timely manner that some losses remained unascertainable prior to sentencing, but public policy forbids that the public interests should be prejudiced by the negligence of the officers or agents to whose care they are confined. Therefore, the court found that the district court had authority to order restitution for medical expenses post-sentencing. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Zaic" on Justia Law
Wallace v. Wallace
Collateral to an ongoing divorce proceeding in Missouri state court, husband filed an identity theft tort claim in federal court under Mo. Rev. Stat. 570.223 against his wife. The district court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the domestic relations exception to federal jurisdiction. Because the remedies requested here effectively would nullify part of the divorce court's judgment based on the same conduct, the two cases were "inextricably intertwined" within the meaning of Kahn v. Kahn. Accordingly, the domestic relations exception precluded subject matter jurisdiction over the case and the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Wallace v. Wallace" on Justia Law
United States v. Bames, et al.
This case arose when the IRS gave Fred Bame an erroneous tax refund of over $500,000. After Fred died and the government was unable to collect from his estate, the government filed suit against his ex-wife and two corporations she owned to recover the money. On appeal, the ex-wife and the corporate defendants challenged the district court's award based on unjust enrichment to the government. The court concluded that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the government where there was a genuine issue of material fact as to the ex-wife's good faith defense. Further, there was a genuine issue of material fact as to the ex-wife's entitlement to the money Fred transferred to her. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Bames, et al." on Justia Law
Hernandez v. Dept. of Health & Human Serv.
Debtor appealed the bankruptcy court's order allowing a claim filed by the DHHS as a priority debt in the nature of a domestic support obligation. The court affirmed the judgment, concluding that the debt owed to DHHS was a debt in the nature of support of a child under 11 U.S.C. 101(14A)(B). The court concluded that debtor's remaining arguments lacked merit. View "Hernandez v. Dept. of Health & Human Serv." on Justia Law
Acosta v. Acosta, et al.
Petitioner, the father, sought the return of his children to Peru under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and its implementing legislation, the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA), 42 U.S.C. 11601 et seq. The district court found that petitioner's violent temper and inability to cope with the prospect of losing custody of the children would expose them to a grave risk of harm were they returned to Peru. On appeal, petitioner challenged the district court's determination and respondent, the mother, cross-appealed. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting an expert's testimony that several factors indicated that returning the children to Peru would expose them to a high risk of harm where the factual basis for the expert's testimony was sufficient. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to return the children to Peru where petitioner did not make a specific proposal for appropriate undertakings before the district court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment and dismissed the cross-appeal as moot. View "Acosta v. Acosta, et al." on Justia Law
Walker v. Trinity Marine Products, et al.
Plaintiff sued her former employer alleging violations of her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq. The employer believed that plaintiff suffered from a serious health condition and placed her on involuntary FMLA leave. After plaintiff submitted certifications of her fitness to return to work, the employer informed her that she had exhausted her FMLA leave and terminated her employment. The court affirmed the district court's grant of the employer's motion to dismiss where the statute entitled plaintiff to a certain amount of leave and her employer did not interfere with that entitlement. Further, the court concluded that plaintiff had no right to FMLA benefits where she admitted that she never suffered a serious health condition within the meaning of the Act. The court rejected defendant's claim of equitable estoppel where she did not establish a submissible case of detrimental reliance; and the employer's mistaken belief that plaintiff suffered a serious health condition could not entitle her to FMLA benefits. View "Walker v. Trinity Marine Products, et al." on Justia Law