Articles Posted in U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Claimant appealed the the magistrate judge's order directing forfeiture of $48,100 seized pursuant to a traffic stop. Claimant contended that the evidence did not support the magistrate judge's conclusion that the currency was substantially connected to an intended drug transaction. The court concluded that the government failed to carry its burden to prove it more likely than not that claimant intended to use the seized currency in a planned drug transaction. Accordingly, the court reversed the order and remanded with directions to dismiss the action. View "United States v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed from the district court's denial of their motion to remand and its dismissal on the merits of their claims against Wells Fargo and Kozeny. The court concluded that, because plaintiffs did not allege that Kozeny owed a tort duty enumerated in the deed of trust, no reasonable basis in fact and law supported plaintiffs' negligence claim against Kozeny; because there was no reasonable basis in fact and law for either of plaintiffs' negligence and breach of fiduciary claims, it follows that Kozeny was fraudulently joined and that the district court properly denied plaintiffs' motion to remand; the court modified the district court's dismissal of the claims against Kozeny to be without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and because Kozeny - the only nondiverse defendant - was dismissed, the district court properly retained federal diversity jurisdiction over plaintiffs' remaining claims against Wells Fargo. Because plaintiffs failed to state a claim of wrongful foreclosure, fraudulent misrepresentation, violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. 407.020.1, negligence, or negligent misrepresentation, the district court properly granted Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss. View "Wivell, et al v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., et al." on Justia Law

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The government filed a forfeiture complaint regarding the Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer, an Egyptian mummy cartonnage discovered in 1952 by an archaeologist working for the Egyptian government and registered as government property. The Museum purchased the Mask in 1998 and refused the Egyptian government's repeated requests to return the Mask. The government's notice of appeal included the district court's Order of Dismissal, but the Statement of the Issue section of the government's brief stated that the only issue on appeal is whether the district court abused its discretion in denying a post-dismissal motion for leave to file an amended complaint. The court concluded that the appeal of the Order of Dismissal has been waived, and the court need not be concerned about the truth of the pleaded facts. In this case, the government failed to request leave to amend in the eleven months between the Museum's motion to dismiss and the district court's Order of Dismissal, choosing instead to stand on and defend its original complaint. Therefore, the court concluded that the district court had no reason to question that litigation strategy. Although the government's motion for leave to amend cited both Rule 59(e) and Rule 60(b), the Rule 59(e) motion was untimely. Further, the proper recourse for the government was a direct appeal, not a Rule 60(b) motion. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the Rule 60(b) motion. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's procedural ruling. View "United States v. Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment quieting title to an interest in the Bakken formation that Phillip Armstrong purchased from Berco. Armstrong also filed suit against Encore for breaching a Letter Offer and for trespassing on, and converting the oil and gas attributable to, Armstrong's interest. Berco counterclaimed. The court affirmed the dismissal of Armstrong's quiet-title claim, based on the district court's conclusion that the Purchase Agreement and Assignment, taken together, conveyed to Armstrong a wellbore-only assignment; Armstrong's trespass claim was properly dismissed because Armstrong did not assert that Encore interfered with his use of the two wellbores; Armstrong's conversion claim was properly dismissed because Armstrong has an interest in only the Thompson and Yttredahl wellbores, the equipment associated with those wellbores, and the production through those two wellbores; the breach of contract claim was properly dismissed because Armstrong had no leasehold interest to transfer and thus could not comply with the Letter Offer; and the district court correctly ruled that Armstrong's unilateral alteration of Exhibit A before recording it rendered the recorded Assignment null and void. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Armstrong, et al. v. Berco Resources, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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The Government filed civil forfeiture actions against five properties alleging that they were used to manufacture illegal drugs or were purchased with proceeds from illegal drug sales. Claimants filed claims to the defendant properties. The district court necessarily had to construe both Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions G(4)(b)(i)-(ii) (the direct notice requirements) and Supplemental Rule G4(b)(v) (the actual notice exception) in order to determine what proper notice was required in this case. Therefore, the court reviewed de novo the district court's decision to strike the claims where that decision rested on an interpretation of the civil forfeiture notice provisions. The court concluded that claimants' verified claim was not untimely where the government did not comply with the notice regime laid out in Supplemental Rule G. The court also concluded that to impute actual notice on the basis of a communication to the government by an attorney (an email) who at the time did not represent them would work a serious injustice and raise troubling constitutional concerns. Accordingly, the court vacated the forfeiture judgments, reversed the district court's order striking two of claimants' claims as untimely, and remanded for a merits determination on the claims to the properties. View "United States v. Buczkowski, et al." on Justia Law

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Farm Credit had a security interest in corn delivered to Cargill and filed suit against Cargill in replevin for the corn. The district court concluded that Farm Credit's security interest under the Food Security Act (FSA) of 1985, 7 U.S.C. 1631(e), entitled it to proceeds from the corn delivered to Cargill. The court concluded that Cargill did not dispute that Farm Credit complied with the FSA. To the extent that the U.C.C. governs priority disputes as a foundation for the FSA, Cargill's argument failed because U.C.C. 9-404 does not apply in this case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Farm Credit. View "Farm Credit Serv. v. Cargill, Inc." on Justia Law

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After debtors filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, GMAC filed this adversary proceeding claiming that it was entitled to a first-priority lien on a home and surrounding twenty-two acres of land by operation of the Arkansas doctrine of equitable subrogation, or to reformation correcting the mutual mistake in its mortgage. The court concluded that, at the time Summit and Southern State made their new loans, knowledge that GMAC made a mistake by describing the wrong property on its earlier mortgage was not knowledge that GMAC had or even claimed to have a superior unrecorded interest, because GMAC had for many months made no attempt to correct the known error, or to reform its mortgage; the principle of Killam v. Tex. Oil & Gas Corp. did not apply to mortgage priority disputes; and the blame for the uncertainty regarding GMAC's lien position lies with GMAC. Had GMAC taken timely action, it would have held the senior recorded lien. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of relief for GMAC. View "Owcen Loan Servicing, LLC v. Summit Bank, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Wells Fargo and Freddie Mac, asserting several deficiencies with the foreclosure of his home and seeking to quiet title to the property in himself. The district court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court found that Wells Fargo was holder of the note and, thus, was entitled to appoint a successor trustee to the deed of trust; the court rejected plaintiff's argument that Missouri law required Wells Fargo to produce the original note at the time of the foreclosure proceeding; and plaintiff failed to provide clear and satisfactory evidence that the foreclosure sale was conducted improperly, more particularly that the statutory notice requirements were not met. Having determined that plaintiff's wrongful foreclosure action failed, plaintiff cannot show that he has superior title to the property, and therefore, could not succeed on his quiet title action. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment. View "Lackey, Jr. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the Bank seeking to void a mortgage foreclosure sale of their home. Plaintiffs alleged that the Bank represented orally that it would postpone the foreclosure sale, but then proceeded to foreclose anyway. The court concluded that plaintiffs' claim of negligent misrepresentation was barred by the Minnesota Credit Agreement Status, Minn. Stat. 513.33, where any party asserting the existence of a credit agreement must comply with the writing and signature requirements of section 513.33. The court concluded that the complaint alleged a claim of promissory estoppel, rather than equitable estoppel, and was barred by the Minnesota Credit Agreement Statute. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of the Bank's motion to dismiss. View "Bracewell, et al. v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Assoc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the cities, alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., federal civil rights laws, and state laws stemming from the cities' demolition of his properties after declaring them nuisances. On remand, the district court concluded that plaintiff failed to state a claim under federal law and that the statute of limitations barred his FHA claims. The court concluded that the district court did not err by ordering the parties to brief the issue of whether plaintiff's complaints stated a claim under federal law; the district court properly considered the relevant evidence and did not err by excluding evidence plaintiff submitted; the district court did not err in concluding that the two-year statute of limitations barred plaintiff's FHA claims; the district court did not err in concluding that plaintiff's complaint, alleging 42 U.S.C. 1981-83 claims, failed to state a claim under federal law; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying motions to alter or amend. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Smithrud v. City of St. Paul, et al." on Justia Law