April 23, 2014

Tenth Circuit: Employer Not Liable for Underinsured Motorist Benefits Because Utah Workers’ Compensation Act Provides Exclusive Remedy

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Christofferson v. United Parcel Service, Inc. on Wednesday, April 2, 2014.

Mr. Alan Christoffersen drove a truck for United Parcel Service (UPS) until he was struck and killed by an underinsured motorist. After the accident, Mr. Christoffersen’s heirs sued UPS and its automobile insurer (Liberty Mutual Insurance Group), asserting claims for underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits. All parties moved for summary judgment. The district court granted UPS’s motion on the ground that Utah’s Worker’s Compensation Act provided the exclusive remedy. On the claim against Liberty Mutual, the court granted judgment to the heirs for $10,000. Through this judgment, the court effectively awarded partial summary judgment to both sides, holding that: (1) UPS did not validly reject UIM coverage under its 2008 policy, (2) the policy was a “new” policy for purposes of determining UIM coverage, and (3) the heirs were entitled to recover UIM benefits in the amount of $10,000. The heirs and Liberty Mutual appealed.

The Tenth Circuit concluded that Liberty Mutual did not incur liability because UPS validly rejected UIM coverage; thus, on the claim against Liberty Mutual, the judgment of $10,000 for the heirs was reversed and the claim was remanded with instructions to grant summary judgment to Liberty Mutual on the entire claim.The award of summary judgment to UPS was affirmed because UPS was not considered a “self insurer” for purposes of Utah’s UIM statute.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 4/3/2014

On Thursday, April 3, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and one unpublished opinion.

Reyna v. Brown

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Tenth Circuit: Barring Retrial as Habeas Remedy in Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Case Requires Powerful Justification

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in United States v. Bergman on Friday, March 28, 2014.

Gwen Bergman was convicted of hiring a person she thought was a hit man to kill her husband. After her trial, she eventually learned the man who represented her at trial was not an actual lawyer. She pursued a habeas motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 alleging a violation of her Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel at trial. The district court vacated her conviction and discharged her from supervised release. Assuming the court’s decision to vacate the conviction it won at Bergman’s first trial was without prejudice to a new trial with a (real) defense lawyer, the government asked the court to set a date. But the district court refused, stating that its discharge order “implicitly” forbade any effort to secure a valid conviction at a second trial. The government appealed that ruling.

First, the Tenth Circuit had to determine if it had jurisdiction to hear the appeal. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3731, the court may hear an appeal by the government from any “decision, judgment, or order of a district court dismissing an indictment.” The district court denied the government’s new trial request and entered an order saying so in both the civil habeas and the underlying criminal case but did not dismiss the indictment. The Tenth Circuit held that district court actions and orders having the practical effect of dismissing an indictment are subject to appeal under § 3731 even if they do not formally “dismiss” an indictment or happen to be labeled that way.

Bergman argued that the Double Jeopardy Clause prohibited further prosecution of her so the court could not hear the appeal. The court disagreed because, as in this case, “the Supreme Court has long held that the Double Jeopardy Clause does not prohibit the government from seeking a new trial when the defendant’s conviction is reversed because of a trial error unrelated to the question of guilt or innocence.”

The court rejected the government’s argument that it had an absolute right to retry a defendant absent a double jeopardy bar as other reasons may violate the legal rights of the defendant. However, it agreed that a § 2255 remedy must be tailored to the injury suffered from the Sixth Amendment violation and prohibiting a new trial in this case was not sufficiently tailored. The presumptively appropriate remedy for ineffective assistance is a new trail with an effective lawyer, barring problems that would render effective representation impossible. No evidence in the discharge order was sufficient to justify a discharge with prejudice. The court vacated the district court’s order and remanded. 

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 4/2/2014

On Wednesday, April 2, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and two unpublished opinions.

Turner v. National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc.

United States v. Tuakalau

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 4/1/2014

On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and one unpublished opinion.

Clark v. Oakley

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 3/31/2014

On Monday, March 31, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and two unpublished opinions.

Requena v. Roberts

Baser v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 3/28/2014

On Friday, March 28, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and eight unpublished opinions.

Tooley v. City of Konawa

United States v. Smart

United States v. Murphy

Amin v. Voigtsberger

Dority v. Farris

Lawrence v. School District No. 1

Summers v. State of Utah

United States v. Webb

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 3/27/2014

On Thursday, March 27, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and five unpublished opinions.

Fall v. Holder

Stout v. Gyrodata, Inc.

United States v. Castillo

United States v. Escobar

SEC v. Clark

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

 

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 3/26/2014

On Wednesday, March 26, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and five unpublished opinions.

Davis v. Kutak Rock

Lately v. Colvin

Willess v. United States

Mann v. Turner Brothers

The Wackenhut Corporation v. Hansen

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Tenth Circuit: Preliminary Injunction Enjoining Implementation of Legislation That Restricted Federal Funding to Two Kansas Planned Parenthood Facilities Vacated

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri v. Moser on Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

The federal government subsidizes the cost of family-planning services for low-income individuals through Title X of the Public Health Service Act, codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 300–300a-6. Although Title X  authorizes direct federal grants to service providers, most Title X funds flow initially to state and local  governmental agencies. Nonprofit organizations function as intermediaries that distribute the funds to subgrantees who administer the programs. Kansas is one such state.

If a grantee or subgrantee materially fails to comply with any term of an award, the awarding agency may temporarily withhold payments, disallow funding to cover the cost of the noncomplying activities, terminate the award, withhold further awards, or pursue other legally available remedies.

In May 2011, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed into law appropriations bill § 107(l) restricting the classes of entities eligible for Title X subgrants. It limited the recipients to public entities, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers (FQHC) that provide comprehensive primary and preventative healthcare services. This restriction disqualified two family-planning clinics operated by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (Planned Parenthood). These Planned Parenthood facilities performed abortions. Planned Parenthood sued Governor Brownback and Robert Moser, MD, in his capacity as the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) for declaratory and injunctive relief, challenging the legislation on the grounds that (1) it violated Title X and was unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause; (2) it violated Planned Parenthood’s First Amendment rights by penalizing it for associating with providers of abortion and for its advocacy of access to abortion services; and (3) it violated the Fourteenth Amendment by imposing an unconstitutional burden on the rights of women to choose abortion (a claim not raised on appeal).

Ruling that Planned Parenthood had established a likelihood of success on the merits of the first two claims and had otherwise satisfied the requirements for a preliminary injunction, the district court granted the preliminary injunction and enjoined KDHE from implementing the legislation. Accordingly, it enjoined any further enforcement or reliance on Section 107(l) and ordered Moser to allocate all Title X funding for State Fiscal Year 2012 without reference to Section 107(l).

Moser challenged the injunction in the Tenth Circuit on several grounds, most of which the Tenth Circuit did not address. As to the Supremacy Clause claim, the court held that Planned Parenthood could not  establish a likelihood of success on the merits because there was no private cause of action for injunctive relief for the alleged violation of Title X under the Supremacy Clause. The court held that when actual or threatened state action is allegedly contrary to a federal statute, the Supremacy Clause does not necessarily authorize an injunction against the state action when four conditions are all satisfied: (1) the statute does not specifically authorize injunctive relief, (2) the statute does not create an individual right (which may be enforceable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983), (3) the statute is enacted under the Constitution’s Spending Clause, and (4) the state action is not an enforcement action in adversary legal proceedings to impose sanctions on conduct prohibited by law.  The Tenth Circuit concluded that Planned Parenthood had no cause of action under Title X to enjoin the application of § 107(l). The court held Title X simply did not contemplate enforcement through private suits for injunctive relief.

The court noted that § 107(l) does not prohibit Planned Parenthood from doing anything. It does not say that all health-care providers must offer comprehensive care. It does not even prohibit those who do not offer comprehensive care from providing family-planning services. Planned Parenthood can continue to do so. The statute says only that the State will not subsidize family-planning services provided by those who do not offer comprehensive care.

As to the First Amendment claim, the court stated that the challenge would be rejected unless retaliation against the protected conduct was a substantial or motivating factor for taking the action and the official would not have taken the same action in the absence of the protected conduct. The court held that neither of these contexts was present in this case. The first was absent because nothing in § 107(l) prohibited Planned Parenthood from advocating abortion rights or associating with abortion providers. Second, the Tenth Circuit expressed reluctance to invalidate a law because of the process by which it was enacted. Planned Parenthood could not establish a likelihood of success because the legislation did not restrict the rights of speech or association of Planned Parenthood and the motives of individual lawmakers in enacting § 107(l) were irrelevant.

The court VACATED the preliminary injunction, REVERSED and REMANDED for further proceedings.

 

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 3/25/2014

On Tuesday, March 25, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and six unpublished opinions.

United States v. Braimah

United States v. Juarez-Sanchez

Drum v. Northrup Grumman Systems

Gray v. Farris

United States v. Pettigrew

Crawford v. Colvin

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 3/24/2014

On Monday, March 24, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinions and seven unpublished opinions.

Sanders v. Farris

Marshall v. Lombardi

Stine v. Berkebile

State of Kansas v. Price

Holt v. Newton-Embry

United States v. Mitchell

United States v. Newkirk

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.