Articles Posted in U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

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John Doe pled guilty to two drug trafficking charges in a plea bargain. Prior to the plea deal, he filed a motion to dismiss the indictment for breach of an immunity agreement and outrageous governmental conduct. The district court denied the motion. In the plea agreement, Doe did not negotiate a conditional plea in which he retained the right to appeal the court’s ruling, so he could not appeal unless he could establish a basis for the Tenth Circuit to ignore the appeal waiver. He attempted to do so in this appeal by contending: (1) the government cannot force the waiver of an immunity agreement on due process grounds; and (2) even if he could waive immunity, outrageous government conduct was an implied exception to any appeal waiver. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit found that Doe lacked a basis to bring the appeal and the facts of the case did not implicate the outrageous governmental conduct exception. Accordingly, the Court affirmed Doe's conviction, dismissed his appeal, and granted his motion to seal the briefs. View "United States v. Doe" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Mid-Continent Casualty Company ("Mid-Continent") brought a declaratory judgment action seeking determination of its coverage obligations related to construction defect litigation. Defendant-Appellee, The Village at Deer Creek Homeowners Association, Inc. (the "Association"), moved to dismiss, requesting that the district court not exercise jurisdiction over Mid-Continent's action. Weighing the five factors set forth in "State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Mhoon," (31 F.3d 979, 982–83 (10th Cir. 1994)), the district court declined jurisdiction in favor of resolution in Missouri state court and dismissed the action. Mid-Continent appealed, arguing the district court's application of the "Mhoon" factors amounted to an abuse of discretion. Upon review of the district court record, the Tenth Circuit affirmed its order granting the Association's motion to dismiss. View "Mid-Continent Casualty Co. v. Greater Midwest Builders, LTD" on Justia Law

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Pro se prisoner Plaintiff Stephen Burnett appealed a district court’s order dismissing his civil-rights complaint and denying his motion to add a defendant. Plaitiff's case arose from a six-week lockdown at the Cimmaron facility in which Plaitiff was incarcerated. "The linchpin of [Plaintiff's] suit was not whether prison officials had the authority to impose a lockdown, but instead whether the restrictions imposed during the lockdown so altered the conditions of his confinement as to violate his constitutional rights." The magistrate judge issued a report and recommendation which concluded that Plaintiff's claims against Warden Joseph Taylor were moot and should have been dismissed without prejudice. As to the director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections Justin Jones, the magistrate found that even if the claims against him were not moot, those claims should have been dismissed with prejudice because the complaint failed to state any claims upon which relief could be granted and would have been futile to amend. The magistrate also denied Plaintiff's motion to add Warden Robert Ezell as a defendant. The district court adopted the report and recommendation, effectively ending Plaintiff's case. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit partly affirmed, partly reversed the district court (and magistrate judge's) decision. Because the Court's conclusion that the claims against Mr. Jones were moot but for different reasons than the district court, it reversed the decision for dismissal without prejudice. The Court affirmed the district court in all other respects. View "Burnett v. Jones" on Justia Law

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The issue before the Tenth Circuit in this case centered on whether property damage caused by a subcontractor's faulty workmanship is an "ocurrence" for purposes of a commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy. The issue arose from the appeals of Plaintiffs-Appellants Greystone Construction, Inc., The Branan Company, and American Family Mutual Insurance Company (American) who all appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant National Fire & Marine Insurance Company (National). Greystone was the general contractor that employed multiple subcontractors to build a house in Colorado. As is common along Colorado’s front range, the house was built on soils containing expansive clays. Over time, soil expansion caused the foundation to shift, resulting in extensive damage to the home’s living areas. The homeowners sued Greystone for damages, alleging defective construction by the subcontractors who installed the foundation. Greystone was insured under CGL policies provided by two insurers. American provided policies for 2001 to 2003, and National provided policies for 2003 to 2006. The American and National policy periods did not overlap. Greystone tendered a claim to American and then National. National denied it owed Greystone any defense. In district court, the builders and American sought to recover a portion of their defense costs from National. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit concluded that damage arising from a poor workmanship may fall under a CGL policy’s initial grant of coverage, even though recovery may still be precluded by a business-risk exclusion or another provision of the policy. The case was remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "Greystone Construction v. National Fire & Marine" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Larry Snyder and Company appealed a district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendant-Appellee Clark Miller, which did business as American Underground Utilities. Snyder and Miller entered into a subcontract agreement under which Miller would install utility trenches underneath what would become a parking lot for an apartment complex. Miller performed the work, but once the asphalt for the lot was installed, the trenches settled and the parking lot was damaged. Snyder requested that Miller repair the entire parking lot, but Miller refused, arguing that the subcontract only required it to repair areas of the lot that actually settled. Upon review by the Tenth Circuit, the court affirmed the district court's order that held that the subcontract unambiguously governed the extent of the repair required by Miller. Accordingly, the Court held that no genuine issue of material fact existed regarding Miller's liability for repair work that exceeded the requirements of the subcontract. View "Larry Snyder and Co. v. Miller" on Justia Law