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

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Doe Run commenced a declaratory action seeking to enforce Lexington's contractual duty to defend Doe Run per its Commercial General Liability (CGL) policies in two underlying lawsuits (the Briley Lawsuit and the McSpadden Lawsuit). These underlying lawsuits sought damages arising out of Doe Run's operation of a five-hundred-acre waste pile (Leadwood Pile). The court concluded that the pollution exclusions in the CGL policies precluded a duty to defend Doe Run in the Briley Lawsuit. The court concluded, however, that the McSpadden Lawsuit included allegations and claims that were not unambiguously barred from coverage by the pollution exclusions in the policies. The McSpadden Lawsuit alleged that the distribution of toxic materials harmed plaintiffs, without specifying how that harm occurred. The McSpadden complaint also alleged that Doe Run caused bodily injury or property damage when it left the Leadwood Pile open and available for use by the public without posting warning signs. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Doe Run Resources Corp. v. Lexington Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Doe Run commenced a declaratory judgment action seeking to enforce Lexington's contractual duty to defend Doe Run per its Commercial General Liability (CGL) policies in an underlying lawsuit. The underlying lawsuit alleged environmental property damage resulting from Doe Run's mine and mill operations. The court affirmed the district court's conclusion that Lexington had no duty to defend because the policies' absolute pollution exclusions unambiguously barred coverage of all claims asserted in the underlying lawsuit. View "Doe Run Resources Corp. v. Lexington Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, on behalf of an asserted class, brought this action in state court against MFA, Casey's General Stores, and Quicktrip Corporation (the operators) under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. 407.020, alleging that defendants misrepresented the grade of gas pumped at their stations. Casey's General Stores removed the case to the federal district court asserting that plaintiff's claim was completely preempted by the Petroleum Practices Act (PMPA), 15 U.S.C. 2801 et seq., or alternatively, that there was diversity jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1711 et seq. The court concluded that the absence of a federal cause of action in Subchapter II meant that plaintiff's claim was not completely preempted and that there was no federal jurisdiction over that claim. Since the question of whether there was jurisdiction under CAFA would benefit from full development and adversarial briefing, the court remanded those issues in order for the district court to consider whether there was federal jurisdiction over this case under CAFA. Accordingly, the court reversed the ruling that plaintiff's state claim was completely preempted and remanded for further proceedings. View "Johnson v. MFA Petroleum Co., et al" on Justia Law

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Pattison Sand Company operated a sandstone mine in Iowa. After part of the mine roof collapsed near where a miner was working, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued an order under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act prohibiting any activity in much of the mine. Pattison challenged the order before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. An ALJ determined that the order was valid and that the Commission lacked authority to modify it. Pattison moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction preventing MSHA from enforcing parts of the order. The federal district court denied relief. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted in part and denied in part Pattison's petition for review and affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding (1) substantial evidence supported the ALJ's determination that the roof fall was an accident within the meaning of the Act; (2) the ALJ's determination that he lacked the authority to modify the order was in error; and (3) the district court's conclusion that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the company's request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction was not in error. View "Pattison Sand Co., LLC v. Fed. Mine Safety & Health Review Comm'n" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, successors in title to land located in Arkansas, brought a declaratory judgment action in Arkansas state court against AgriBank, FCB, seeking to quiet title to oil and gas rights that AgriBank held in Plaintiffs' land. AgriBank removed the case to federal district court. The district court granted AgriBank's motion to dismiss, identifying two bases on which to do so: (1) that a regulation promulgated by the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) specifically approved the sort of ownership interests held by AgriBank that Plaintiffs now attacked; and (2) that the challenge to AgriBank's oil and gas rights was based on a repealed act of Congress. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the district court correctly dismissed the case under its first rationale, as the reservations at issue enjoyed the FCA's approval. View "Nixon v. AgriBank, FCB" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from a dispute between Ghana and Balkan Energy Company where Balkan contracted with Ghana to refurbish and recommission a 125 megawatt power barge. Ghana filed an application for discovery pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1782, seeking documents exchanged in a separate lawsuit between the current defendants. The district court granted Ghana's application and ordered the Missouri companies (collectively ProEnergy) to produce documents. ProEnergy produced some documents and discovery materials from its lawsuit with Balkan, but it refused other documents related to the settlement of that lawsuit. Because ProEnergy had already produced most of the documents, depositions, and interrogatory answers from its lawsuit with Balkan, and because ProEnergy was not party to the foreign litigation, the court was not persuaded that any fundamental unfairness was caused by the district court declining to compel production of the settlement documents. Accordingly, the court affirmed the decision. View "Government of Ghana v. ProEnergy Services, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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This case involved the property rights to coal bed methane gas (CBM) produced from certain lands located in Sebastian County, Arkansas. The original holder of fee simple absolute title to the lands (Grantor) conveyed surface and coal rights in 1965 via an instrument the parties referred to as the Garland Deed. Coal Owner acquired those rights effective April 30, 2010. However, three years before the grant of the coal rights, in 1962, Grantor had conveyed an undivided one-half interest in all oil, gas, and other mineral rights except coal via an instrument known as the Wheeler Deed. In 1976, Grantor conveyed its second undivided one-half interest via an instrument known as the Texas & Pacific Deed. Gas Owners were the successors-in-interest to the rights Grantor conveyed in the Wheeler and Texas & Pacific Deeds. EnerVest entered into various oil and gas leases and contracts with Coal Owner and Gas Owners to produce CBM from the lands and initiated this interpleader action seeking a ruling as to whether Coal Owner or Gas Owners were entitled to the CBM royalties. The parties moved for summary judgment on a stipulated record that included the Wheeler, Garland, and Texas & Pacific Deeds. The court affirmed the district court's holding that Gas Owners were entitled to the CBM royalties where the plain language of the deeds broadly conveyed to Gas Owners all rights to oil, gas, and other mineral resources. View "EnerVest Operating, LLC, et al. v. Sebastian Mining, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this consolidated appeal, three sets of landowners asserted claims against Arrington for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and unjust enrichment relating to Arrington's failure to pay cash bonuses under oil and gas leases. The district court granted summary judgment to the landowners on the breach of contract claims and thereafter dismissed the landowners' other claims with prejudice on the landowners' motions. The court rejected the landowners' assertion that the lease agreements could be construed without considering the language of the bank drafts; the drafts' no-liability clause did not prevent enforcement of the lease agreements; Arrington entered into a binding contract with each respective landowner despite the drafts' no-liability clause; the lease approval language of the drafts was satisfied by Arrington's acceptance of the lease agreements in exchange for the signed bank drafts and as such, did not bar enforcement of the contracts; Arrington's admitted renunciation of the lease agreement for reasons unrelated to title precluded its defense to the enforceability of its contracts; Arrington's admission that it decided to dishonor all lease agreements in Phillips County for unrelated business reasons entitled the landowners to summary judgment; there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether Arrington disapproved of the landowner's titles in good faith. Accordingly, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on the breach of contract claims. View "Smith, et al. v. David H. Arrington Oil & Gas, Inc.; Foster, Jr., et al. v. Arrington Oil & Gas, Inc.; Hall, et al. v. Arrington Oil & Gas, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought suit seeking declaratory judgment and asserted claims for breach of contract and bad faith when its insurers asserted that certain sublimits in plaintiff's policy capped reimbursement for damages caused by flood and that those sublimits applied to both property damage and business interruption losses. Plaintiff claimed that the sublimits only applied to property damage. The court concluded that there was no factual dispute regarding whether an insurance brokerage employee shared the same understanding as the underwriters and whether that understanding bound plaintiff. Consequently, the interpretation of the contract did not depend "on the credibility of extrinsic evidence or on a choice among reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the extrinsic evidence," and thus the district court did not err when it granted insurers' judgment as a matter of law on the declaratory judgment and breach of contract claims. View "Penford Corp., et al. v. Natl. Union Fire Ins. Co., et al." on Justia Law

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KAAPA managed a facility that distilled corn into ethanol. KAAPA commenced a diversity action after Affiliated denied KAAPA's claim to recover the cost of extensive repairs and business interruption losses. A jury found that some losses were caused by "collapse" of storage tanks, awarded KAAPA property damage, but denied its claim for business interruption losses. Both sides appealed raising various issues. Applying Nebraska law, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Affiliated's motion for judgment as a matter of law. The court held, however, that the district court committed reversible error in instructing the jury on the meaning of the term "collapse" and remanded for a new trial. The court did not decide the loss-mitigation and other post-trial issues raised in KAAPA's cross-appeal. View "KAAPA Ethanol, LLC v. Affiliated FM Ins. Co." on Justia Law