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Plaintiff David Speed filed a petition asserting a putative class action against defendant JMA Energy Company, LLC. He alleged that JMA had willfully violated an Oklahoma statute that required payment of interest on delayed payment of revenue from oil and gas production. He further asserted that JMA fraudulently concealed from mineral-interest owners that it owed interest due under the statute, intending to pay only those who requested interest. JMA removed the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, asserting that the district court had jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA - 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)). After conducting jurisdictional discovery, Speed filed an amended motion to remand the case to state court. The district court granted this motion, relying on an exception to CAFA that permitted a district court to decline to exercise jurisdiction over a class action meeting certain citizenship prerequisites “in the interests of justice and looking at the totality of the circumstances,” based on its consideration of six enumerated factors. On appeal JMA challenged the district court’s remand order. Because the district court properly considered the statutory factors and did not abuse its discretion by remanding to state court, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Speed v. JMA Energy Company" on Justia Law

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Eryetha Mayberry was abused by two certified nursing assistants while in the care of Quail Creek Nursing Home, operated by Westlake Nursing Home Limited Partnership and Westlake Management Company (collectively “Quail Creek” or “Westlake”). Plaintiffs, Mrs. Mayberry’s three daughters, filed suit against Westlake under Oklahoma law for negligence, negligence per se, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. After a trial, the jury found for plaintiffs and against Westlake on the claims of negligence and negligence per se, and made a special finding that Westlake had acted with reckless disregard for the rights of others. The jury awarded $1.2 million in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages. Westlake appealed, but finding no reversible error in the trial court’s decision, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Racher v. Westlake Nursing" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Earl Oldam raised chickens for O.K. Farms since 1995. In 2014, he and O.K. entered into the chicken-growing contract at issue in this case. The contract had a three-year duration, but O.K. retained the right to terminate the contract for certain specified reasons, including “[b]reach of any term or condition of this contract,” “[a]bandonment or neglect of a flock,” and “[f]ailure to care for or causing damage to [O.K.’s] equipment or property.” In 2016, Plaintiff discovered that one of his three chicken houses had flooded after an overnight rainstorm. Plaintiff contacted O.K. to inform them of the issue; some of the flock in the affected henhouse perished from the flood. Remaining chickens were collected by O.K. Plaintiff was paid for the work he had done in raising the surviving chickens to this point, reduced by various expenses such as the costs of catching and moving the chickens. Shortly thereafter, O.K. sent Plaintiff a letter providing him with a ninety-day notice of contract termination for breach of the terms of the contract. Plaintiff filed suit in state court, alleging that O.K. breached the contract by terminating the agreement without adequate cause. O.K. removed the action to federal court and filed a motion for summary judgment. The district court stated that it had looked at the undisputed material facts from the summary judgment pleadings and found “questions of fact galore” on all of the arguments raised by O.K. in its motion. “But,” the court continued, “all that doesn’t matter,” because Plaintiff “didn’t say come take away the chickens from the flooded henhouse. He said come take them all.” The court granted O.K.’s motion for summary judgment, reasoning that because there was “nothing in the evidentiary material showing [that the chickens in the other henhouses] were in danger at all, he abandoned them” by telling O.K. to come pick them all up. In reversing the district court’s judgment, the Tenth Circuit found plaintiff raised arguments that directly addressed the district court’s sua sponte reasoning and that he was not provided an opportunity to make at trial, and argued he was prejudiced by the district court’s entry of judgment on this basis without considering any of the contrary arguments he might have made given notice and a reasonable time to respond. The Court was persuaded that Plaintiff had shown prejudice from the trial court’s sua sponte summary judgment decision. View "Oldham v. O.K. Farms" on Justia Law

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In cases consolidated for review, the issue presented for the Tenth Circuit centered on whether the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acted beyond its statutory authority when it promulgated a regulation, 43 C.F.R. sec. 3162.3-3 (2015), governing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) on lands owned or held in trust by the United States. The district court invalidated this regulation as exceeding the BLM’s statutory authority. While these appeals were pending, a new President of the United States was elected, and shortly thereafter, at the President’s direction, the BLM began the process of rescinding the Fracking Regulation. Given these changed and changing circumstances, the Tenth Circuit concluded these appeals were unripe for review. As a result, the Court dismissed these appeals and remanded with directions to vacate the district court’s opinion and dismiss the action without prejudice. View "Wyoming v. Zinke" on Justia Law

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Michael Snyder moved for immediate release from federal custody on the basis that he has already served more than the maximum sentence allowed by law for his crimes. He argued the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), invalidated his sentence enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). The district court denied Snyder’s motion. The Tenth Circuit concluded Snyder timely asserted a Johnson claim and has established cause and prejudice to avoid procedural default, but his claim failed on the merits because, after examination of the record and the relevant background legal environment, the Court determined that he was not sentenced based on the ACCA’s residual clause that was invalidated in Johnson. View "United States v. Snyder" on Justia Law

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Cox Cable subscribers cannot access premium cable services unless they also rent a set-top box from Cox. A class of plaintiffs in Oklahoma City sued Cox under antitrust laws, alleging Cox had illegally tied cable services to set-top-box rentals in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act, which prohibits illegal restraints of trade. Though a jury found that Plaintiffs had proved the necessary elements to establish a tying arrangement, the district court disagreed. In granting Cox’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b) motion, the court determined that Plaintiffs had offered insufficient evidence for a jury to find that Cox’s tying arrangement "foreclosed a substantial volume of commerce in Oklahoma City to other sellers or potential sellers of set-top boxes in the market for set- top boxes." After careful consideration, the Tenth Circuit ultimately agreed with the district court and affirmed. View "Healy v. Cox Communications" on Justia Law

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This case presented a question of whether a large-scale excavation project constituted “mining” under the pertinent federal regulations that address mineral development on Indian land. When an entity engages in “mining” of minerals owned by the Osage Nation, a federally approved lease must be obtained from the tribe. The Osage Mineral Council (OMC), acting on behalf of the Osage Nation, appealed the award of summary judgment to Defendant Osage Wind, LLC (Osage Wind), arguing that Osage Wind engaged in “mining” without procuring a federally approved mineral lease. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has defined “mining” as the “science, technique, and business of mineral development[.]” The Tenth Circuit held the term “mineral development” had a broad meaning, including commercial mineral extractions and offsite relocations, but also encompass action upon the extracted minerals for the purpose of exploiting the minerals themselves on site. The Court held Osage Wind’s extraction, sorting, crushing, and use of minerals as part of its excavation work constituted “mineral development,” thereby requiring a federally approved lease which Osage Wind failed to obtain. Accordingly, the Court reversed the award of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Osage Wind" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-Appellants WildEarth Guardians and Sierra Club challenged the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) decision to approve four coal leases in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Plaintiffs brought an Administrative Procedure Act (APA) claim arguing that the BLM failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it concluded that issuing the leases would not result in higher national carbon dioxide emissions than would declining to issue them. The district court upheld the leases. The Tenth Circuit held the BLM’s Environmental Impact Studies and Records Of Decisions were arbitrary and capricious because they omitted data pertinent to its choice with respect to issuing the leases, and thereby informing the public of its rationale. The Tenth Circuit remanded with instructions to the BLM to revise its Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) and Records of Decision (RODs). The Court did not vacate the resulting leases. View "WildEarth Guardians v. Bureau of Land Management" on Justia Law

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Defendant-Appellant Manuel Sandoval-Enrique petitioned to withdraw his guilty plea to one count of unlawfully reentering the United States after a previous removal. Sandoval-Enrique pled guilty without the benefit of any plea agreement. In seeking to withdraw that plea, Sandoval-Enrique argued the district court abused its discretion in rejecting two previous plea agreements he reached with the Government and then improperly inserted itself into the plea negotiations. The Tenth Circuit found no error that would permit Sandoval-Enrique to withdraw his guilty plea, and affirmed his conviction. View "United States v. Sandoval-Enrique" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Liying Qiu, a native and citizen of the People’s Republic of China, sought asylum and withholding of removal based on her status as a Christian who did not agree with China’s state-sanctioned version of Christianity, and as a woman who violated China’s one-child policy by having three children. Her application was denied by the immigration court in 2011, and the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed that decision in March 2013. In December 2015, Petitioner filed a motion to reopen based on the significantly increased persecution of Christians in China in 2014 and 2015. The BIA denied her motion to reopen as untimely. Amongst the evidence submitted in support of her application, Petitioner submitted a portion of the 2015 annual report issued by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan U.S. government entity that monitored religious freedom violations globally and made policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. The BIA held that Petitioner had not submitted sufficient evidence to show a change in country conditions, and thus that her motion to reopen was untimely under 8 U.S.C. 1229a(c)(7)(C). The Tenth Circuit found the BIA abused its discretion in denying Petitioner's application: "surely Congress did not intend for 8 U.S.C. 1229a(c)(7)(C) to protect only petitioners who file frivolous asylum applications under no threat of persecution, while extending no help to petitioners who seek reopening after an existing pattern of persecution becomes dramatically worse. The BIA’s reasoning would lead to an absurd result, one we cannot condone." The Court held that a significant increase in the level of persecution constituted a material change in country conditions for purposes of 8 U.S.C. 1229a(c)(7)(C) and that the BIA abuses its discretion when it fails to assess and consider a petitioner’s evidence that the persecution of others in his protected category has substantially worsened since the initial application. The Court concluded the BIA provided no rational, factually supported reason for denying Petitioner’s motion to reopen, and accordingly remanded this case back to the BIA for further consideration. View "Qiu v. Sessions" on Justia Law