Decisions
This section of the Web Site contains opinions selected by individual Judges for posting and is not intended to constitute a complete set of opinions for the district or any Judge. The decisions are organized by categories listed on the lower left portion of this page. If you would like to do a word search of the entire database or individual categories you may do so by clicking on the search button below.


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Gosch v. Sergeant Bluff-Luton Cmty. Sch. Dist. (action by parents of disabled child against teacher, principal, and school district asserting civil rights, disability discrimination, and tort claims: Plaintiff’s motion for new trial on unconstitutional seizure and negligence claims against teacher: challenge to sufficiency of the evidence denied, because, although the evidence was very close such that a verdict for either side would have been reasonable for a jury to reach, viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the verdict was not against the greater weight of the evidence; challenged remarks by defense counsel were either not improper or, if improper, were no more than minor aberrations made in passing that did not distort the weight of the evidence enough to deprive the plaintiffs of a fair trial; defense claims or contentions that were allegedly first raised at trial were not surprises amounting to a major variance in the defendants’ defense warranting a new trial)11/29/2017Mark W. Bennett
Henderson v. Crimmins, et al. (Motion for attorneys fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 pursuant to § 1988 fee-shifting statute: Attorney seeks recovery for over 60 hours before alerting defense counsel or defendants of the incoming lawsuit, where a resolution was achieved two days after the attorney contacted defense counsel; a high hourly rate is reasonable for someone with extensive experience, partially because it is expected that experienced attorneys will be more efficient with the use of their time, so, a percentage reduction is warranted where a request for an amount of hours is disproportionate to level of expertise, represented by the attorney’s hourly rate; a percentage reduction is warranted where an attorney repeatedly requests awards for unreasonably excessive and unnecessary work performed)12/01/2015Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Randy Feauto (Opinion on resentencing of defendant pursuant to Amendment 782, the “All Drugs Minus Two” amendment to the Sentencing Guidelines: whether policy statement U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(c), which implements Amendment 782, exceeds the Sentencing Commission’s authority and/or violates the non-delegation doctrine under the separation-of-powers principle by nullifying mandatory minimum sentences on resentencing, producing pernicious consequences, including different sentences on original sentencing and resentencing of a defendant who faced a mandatory minimum, but received a substantial assistance motion pursuant to § 3553(e))11/23/2015Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Bruce Jeffers (Sentencing opinion concerning defendant who pleaded guilty to separate counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and being a felon in possession of ammunition; upward variance based on insufficiency of the advisory guidelines sentence, where the defendant had five different prison terms for crimes—including voluntary manslaughter, assault with a deadly weapon, arson of an inhabited structure, evading a police officer and disregarding safety, being a felon and addict in possession of a firearm, and burglary of a home—in three different states and nine jail terms for other crimes, but could not be sentenced as an Armed Career Criminal after Johnson v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), and most of his prior convictions were too old to count in the computation of his criminal history category)09/30/2015Mark W. Bennett
United States v. Thirty-Two Thousand Eight Hundred Twenty Dollars and Fifty-Six Cents ($32,820.56) in United States Currency -- Order on claimants' motion for attorney fees, costs and interest. Court found claimants were not entitled to attorney fees because claimants did not substantially prevail under CAFRA. Court concluded a voluntary dismissal without prejudice did not entitle claimants to prevailing party status, as there was no material alteration of the parties' legal relationship. Nor were the claimants entitled to reconsideration of the order to dismiss. Court found that the claimants were entitlted to certain court costs pursuant to the court's inherent authority to assess such costs under Section 1920. Claimants' motion was denied in part and granted in part. 05/22/2015Leonard T. Strand
U.S. v. Mark Weller (Sentencing opinion concerning defendant who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and distribution of methamphetamine; defendant’s objection to counting a prior conviction for contributing to the delinquency of a minor (contributing to a curfew violation) in the determination of his criminal history pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4A1.2(c): application of the “multi-factor test” in Amendment 709 and Application Note 12)05/05/2015Mark W. Bennett
Starbuck v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al (Smoker brought product liability and fraud claims against tobacco companies for damages from lung cancer, as an individual claim in the wake of decertification of a class in Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc., 945 So.2d (Fla. 2006), cert. denied, 552 U.S. 941 (2007); smoker’s motion for new trial: whether jury foreperson’s consultation of dictionary definitions of “addiction” tainted the verdict; whether the jury’s threshold determination that he was not addicted to cigarettes containing nicotine was against the great weight of the evidence; and whether a jury instruction imposing a temporal limitation on when the smoker was addicted was confusing and prejudicial)05/04/2015Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Quality Egg, LLC, et al (Memorandum opinion and order on defendants’ pre-sentencing motions; defendants pleaded guilty to violating 21 U.S.C. § 331(a) by shipping and selling shell eggs that contained Salmonella Enteritidis across state lines as responsible corporate officers; defendants subsequently filed motions alleging that a term of imprisonment for their offenses would be unconstitutional under the Eighth and Fifth Amendments and that a finding by the Court that defendants had relevant knowledge of the conduct underlying their strict liability offenses would be unconstitutional under the Sixth Amendment; the Court rejected defendants’ motions, finding defendants had relevant knowledge and imposed a three-month term of imprisonment.)04/14/2015Mark W. Bennett
Scott v. City of Sioux City, Iowa & Paul Eckert (Action by a long-time city employee asserting claims, pursuant to Title VII and ICRA that, over a period of almost nine years, she was retaliated against by the city and the former city manager for her 2004 complaint that the city manager sexually harassed her from 2000 to 2004; ruling on unsealing the ruling on the parties’ motions in limine.)04/06/2015Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Anthony Bartleson (Bartlesonpleaded guilty to embezzling from an employee benefit plan in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 664. This memorandum opinion and order confronts two of the key fighting issues at his sentencing hearing on February 6, 2015: (1) whether Bartleson abused a position of private trust under U.S.S.G. § 3B1.3; and (2) whether his criminal restitution order, pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3663A, was to include the thirteen employees’ lost investment earnings and tax liabilities incurred in 2007, in addition to the $41,878.22 already paid to the government by Bartleson. In applying the three-factor test for determining whether Bartleson abused a position of private trust, the Court held that Bartleson occupied a position of private trust; his position facilitated the commission and concealment of his embezzlement; and the sentencing enhancement is not included in the base offense level or specific offense characteristic. Bolstering its finding that the abuse-of-trust enhancement applied, the Court analyzed the applicability of Note 5 of the Commentary under U.S.S.G. § 3B1.3. In addition, in considering the full amount of the victims’ losses for restitution purposes, the Court made a conservative estimate by using the S&P 500 to calculate lost investment earnings and the lowest tax rate for 2007 to calculate tax liabilities for that year. In doing so, the Court ordered Bartleson to pay an additional $20,838.99 (i.e., $19,640.57 for lost investments and $1,198.42 for tax liabilities) in restitution to the victims. Finally, Bartleson’s candor and genuine and sincere remorse during his sentencing allocution in part influenced the Court’s decision that a sentence of probation for two years was appropriate).02/10/2015Mark W. Bennett
Garcia De Alvarez v. U.S. (Motion for relief from sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 by a federal prisoner asserting ineffective assistance of counsel; petitioner’s claims denied without hearing as to trial counsel’s failure to seek a bill or particulars, explain alternatives to trial in “laymen’s” terms, and failure to challenge drug quantity and purity; evidentiary hearing granted on petitioner’s claim that trial counsel failed to interview and present potential witnesses that the petitioner had identified)02/06/2015Mark W. Bennett
Catipovic v. Turley (A former Iowa resident sued to recover damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment from an Irish citizen arising from the failure of an alleged partnership to develop ethanol production facilities in Eastern Europe, and the jury found no contract, but awarded $2 million for unjust enrichment; parties’ motions post-trial motions: defendant’s renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law and alternative motion for remittitur of damages or new trial; plaintiff’s motion to amend complaint post-trial to add a fraud claim purportedly tried by implied consent)01/29/2015Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Jamal & Levon Dean (Post-trial motions for judgment of acquittal and new trial, concluding: taken in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the evidence at trial was sufficient to support the finding of a single conspiracy; the prosecution presented sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that defendants knew that the object of the conspiracy was to rob drug dealers; the prosecution also established a jurisdictional nexus between interstate commerce and defendants’ robberies of both victims; the evidence at trial was sufficient to establish that defendant possessed a 22 rifle in furtherance of the robberies, either personally or under an aiding and abetting theory; and there was sufficient evidence to establish that defendant intended to cause death or serious bodily injury during the carjacking of victim’s car.)12/23/2014Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Shirley Weimer (Shirley Weimer pleaded guilty to Count 1 of her Indictment, Conspiracy to Use Fire to Commit Wire Fraud, 18 U.S.C. § 1343, pursuant to a binding Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement. In this memorandum opinion and order that followed Weimer’s sentencing on November 25, 2014, the Court explains that it had the statutory authority to order restitution based on the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3663A. The Court sets forth the two-step standard to apply to determine whether to award restitution. In doing so, the Court finds that State Farm is a “victim” as defined under 18 U.S.C. § 3663A(a)(2), and the “full amount” of State Farm’s loss was not represented by $78,593.25, or the lost insurance company’s premiums, as that figure did not include pre- and postjudgment interest. The Court’s summary of the relevant case law bolsters the Court’s decision to apply pre- and postjudgment interest. Lastly, the Court articulates how it calculated the interest Weimer owes based on the dates State Farm paid four separate checks to Weimer and the Treasury Bill rate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1961.)11/25/2014Mark W. Bennett
Halstead v. McKinney -- Report and Recommendation on respondent James McKinney's motion to dismiss petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2254. Court concluded petitioner did not exhaust the grounds in his petition in the Iowa state courts prior to filing his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Court further concluded petitioner's grounds are now procedurally defaulted. Therefore, petitioner lacks a cognizable legal theory in his petition for writ of habeas corpous. Court recommended respondent's motion to dismiss be granted. 11/12/2014Leonard T. Strand
Smith v. McKinney -- Report and Recommendation on petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2254. Court found the Iowa Courts identified Strickland as the correct governing law and reasonably applied Strickland to petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim for failure to advise petitioner if he pled guilty, he would be sentenced to a mandatory lifetime term of parole. Court concluded the Iowa Courts' finding that counsel's failure was deficient, however, petitioner, failed to show prejudice was reasonable. Court recommended the petition be denied. 11/12/2014Leonard T. Strand
Stults v. International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. & Bush Boake Allen, Inc. (products liability action, seeking damages for a lung injury to a consumer of microwave popcorn allegedly caused by diacetyl in the popcorn’s butter flavoring; post-trial motions after defense verdict: motion for new trial based on allowing jurors to hear two defense experts’ testimony before their testimony was excluded in whole or in part, and admission of another expert’s testimony over Daubert objections; motion for judgment as a matter of law based on the defendants’ specific defenses and on certain elements or parts of elements of the plaintiffs’ “breach of implied warranty” claim)10/23/2014Mark W. Bennett
Security National Bank v. Abbott Laboratories (Order sanctioning lawyer for obstructive disposition practices; Court discusses the impropriety of “form” objections, witness coaching, and excessive interruptions during depositions.)07/28/2014Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Michael Clayton (Post-trial motions for judgment of acquittal and new trial, concluding: that defendant’s due process rights were not violated by the police’s interview technique with two witnesses because the police’s conduct was not an attempt to “spoon feed” the witnesses facts but an effort by the police to convince the witnesses to abandon their efforts at minimization and deception, and to be truthful, and defendant was not unfairly prejudiced by the police’s interview technique since the jury was fully aware of witnesses prior inconsistent statements and was free to take them into account in assessing the witnesses’ credibility; and that the evidence supporting the jury’s verdict did not lead to the conclusion that a serious miscarriage of justice may have occurred.)07/22/2014Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Darran Lohse (Motion to dismiss, order granting in part and denying in part motion. Finding that the four possession counts are not multiplicitous because each count of possession required the jury to determine that the defendant possessed a video containing child pornography on a separate device. Therefore, this portion of the motion was denied. Additionally, finding that, as to possession count 3, the defendant was convicted of receiving the same images that he was also found to have possessed, and a double jeopardy violation would occur if he was sentenced for both convictions. Therefore, the defendant’s motion was granted as to Count 3. However, possession counts 4, 5, and 6 were supported by separate conduct from the defendant’s receipt of child pornography underlying Count 2, and the defendant’s motion was denied as to possession counts 4, 5, and 6.)06/30/2014Mark W. Bennett
Hagen v. Siouxland Obstetrics & Gynecology, PC, et al. (Post-trial order denying defendants’ motion for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial, and denying plaintiff’s motion for an additur, but granting plaintiff’s motion for pre- and post-judgment interest; issues include what activities are “protected activities” supporting the tort of wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, sufficiency of evidence, evidentiary rulings, additur, and judgment interest) 05/30/2014Mark W. Bennett
Hanzl v. Collier -- Report and Recommendation on plaintiff's motion for entry of a preliminary deficiency judgment against defendants. Court found plaintiff was entitled to deduct attorney's fees from the sale price of the West Street property, but that the total amount of attorney's fees should be reduced based on the scope of services and hourly rate. Court recommended a preliminary deficiency judgment be entered pursuant to the order enforcing the parties' settlement agreement, but that entry of final judgment be deferred until it was determined whether the amount should be adjusted to reflect any income tax liability from the sale of the property.01/31/2014Leonard T. Strand
Koons v. United States of America (Motion for relief from sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 by a federal prisoner asserting ineffective assistance of counsel; respondent’s motion to dismiss as untimely converted to petitioner’s motion for summary judgment on equitable tolling of the statute of limitations: whether counsel hired to file § 2255 Motion engaged in misconduct sufficient to constitute “extraordinary circumstances” that prevented the petitioner from timely filing her § 2255 Motion, and whether the petitioner acted “diligently” before and after the deadline for filing her § 2255 Motion before filing the Motion pro se three months after the deadline)01/31/2014Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Darran Lohse (Motion by defendant for a judgment of acquittal and a new trial; issue involves whether nine photographs produced by defendant depicted “lascivious exhibition of genitals”; ruling denying defendant’s motions)01/21/2014Mark W. Bennett
Hagen v. Siouxland Obstetrics, et al. (Post-trial order certifying questions to the Iowa Supreme Court in a wrongful discharge in violation of Iowa public policy case; three questions certified: (1) whether Iowa’s public policy protects a doctor from being fired for (a) reporting nurses’ malpractice to a hospital, (b) disclosing malpractice to a patient’s family, or (c) consulting with an attorney about whether to report another doctor’s malpractice to the board of medicine; (2) whether contractual employees can sue for wrongful discharge in violation of Iowa public policy; and (3) whether an employer’s lack of an “overriding business justification” for firing an employee an independent element of a wrongful discharge claim)08/29/2013Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Douglas Young (Sentencing memorandum for defendant who pled guilty to drug charges pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 851: Although the defendant was safety-valve eligible, so that he had no mandatory minimum sentence to double, he remained subject to the doubling of his maximum; examination of data from the US Sentencing Commission’s 2011 Report To Congress, the only assembly of data concerning § 851 application, demonstrating shocking intra-state, intra-Circuit, regional, and national disparities in the application of § 851 enhancements, at least prior to the Holder 2013 Memo; discussion of continuing concerns with tracking and transparency in § 851 applications after Holder 2013 Memo)08/16/2013Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Angel Amaya (Criminal law, sentencing opinion and statement of reasons pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(c) on sentencing of defendant convicted of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of pure methamphetamine or a mixture or substance containing 500 grams of methamphetamine, 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, and marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), 841(b)(1)(C), and 846, and conspiring to commit money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(1)(A)(i), 1956(a)(1)(B)(i), 1956(a)(1)(B)(ii), and 1956(h). Facing a possible life sentence, defendant moved for a downward variance from his advisory guideline sentence based on what he characterized as the prosecution’s “double jeopardy violation” as well as the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparity among defendants. Applying the § 3553(a) factors, the court granted a downward variance because a sentence within the advisory guideline sentence range was “greater than necessary” to accomplish the goals of sentencing, in light of all of the pertinent factors, and imposed a sentence of 180 months imprisonment followed by 120 months of supervised release.)06/11/2013Mark W. Bennett
Rogers v. U.S. : (federal prisoner’s pro se motion to set aside sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, on guilty plea to bank fraud via a check cashing scheme: ruling without evidentiary hearing: granting a new sentencing on the basis of ineffective assistance of trial counsel by failing to object to a two-level enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1(b)(10), for use of an “access device” because the bad checks used to perpetrate the bank fraud scheme in this case did not constitute an “access device,” and ineffective assistance of trial counsel by failing to investigate adequately the petitioner’s mental health as an explanation of his prior violent conduct for which his sentence had been enhanced) 06/11/2013Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Willie Hayes (Criminal law, sentencing opinion and statement of reasons pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(c) on sentencing of defendant convicted of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 35 grams or more of methamphetamine actual, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(b)(1)(B). The court granted defendant’s objection to the career offender enhancement, in part. Based on a policy disagreement with the methamphetamine Guidelines, the court found that the methamphetamine Guidelines are not based on empirical data and national experience and they yield an excessive sentence, when individualized consideration is given to the 18 U.S.C. §3553(a) factors. After considering these factors, the court varied downward by one third to the sentencing range of 100 to 124 months. The court further granted the prosecution’s motion for substantial assistance, reduced defendant’s sentence by 25%, and imposed a sentence of 75 months.)06/07/2013Mark W. Bennett
Plymouth County v. MERSCORP, Inc. (Putative class action by one Iowa county on behalf of all Iowa counties against corporations that operate a national registry that tracks ownership interests and servicing rights associated with residential mortgage loans, and against various member mortgage companies that use those services; ruling granting plaintiff’s contested motion for certification pursuant to Rule 54(b) that there is no just reason for delay of the entry of judgment, on orders dismissing all claims and denying leave to amend as futile, as to all but one bankrupt defendant, and directing entry of final judgment as to the dismissed defendants)06/05/2013Mark W. Bennett
Guillermo Escobedo v. Mark Lund (Action for federal habeas relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by a state prisoner challenging his conviction for first-degree murder on the ground that his trial counsel failed to seek an “automatic” mistrial when the trial judge excused a juror for bias after deliberations had started and replaced the excused juror with an alternate contrary to Iowa law, which required a mistrial or the defendant’s agreement to continue deliberations with the eleven remaining jurors)06/03/2013Mark W. Bennett
Boss v. Ludwick (Action for federal habeas relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by a state prisoner challenging his conviction for the first-degree murder of his foster son on the ground that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance (1) by revealing the location of the child’s body and (2) by failing to advise and consult with the petitioner adequately before convincing the petitioner to reveal the location of the child’s body; parties’ objections to report and recommendation by magistrate judge finding “prejudice” from trial counsel’s performance, but denying federal habeas relief; stating standards for review by the district court of a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation; construing the nature of the petitioner’s underlying constitutional claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and his claims for federal habeas relief pursuant to § 2254(d); considering whether the federal court is required to review de novo both prongs under Strickland, if the state court stated the wrong standard of review for one prong; considering whether denial of relief by the state courts on the basis of failure to find “deficient performance” under Strickland were “contrary to” or “unreasonable applications of” federal law or “unreasonable determinations” of the facts in light of the evidence before the state courts pursuant to § 2254(d)(1) and (2); and declining to consider the “prejudice” prong under Strickland, where the lack of deficiency in the state court decisions concerning “deficient performance” was fully dispositive of the petitioner’s claims)05/03/2013Mark W. Bennett
Boss v. Ludwick -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2254. Petitioner claimed ineffective assistance of counsel based on his attorney's advice to disclose the location of the deceased's body and allegedly-inadequate consultation by his attorney prior to Boss giving consent. In recommending the petition be denied, the court found the petitioner failed to show that the Iowa Court of Appeals unreasonably applied Strickland v. Washington in concluding counsel's representation did not amount to deficient performance.02/19/2013Leonard T. Strand
U.S. v. Lori Newhouse (Criminal law, sentencing opinion and statement of reasons pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(c) on sentencing of defendant convicted of manufacturing or attempting to manufacture 5 grams or more of pure methamphetamine, or a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), and 841(b)(1)(C). Based on quasi-categorical policy disagreements with the Career Offender guideline, the court rejected because the defendant was a low-level, non-violent drug addict engaged in the drug trade to obtain drugs to feed her addiction. Alternatively, the court found that application of the Career Offender guideline yielded an excessive sentence, when individualized consideration is given to the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors. After considering these factors, the court varied downward from the advisory Career Offender guideline sentencing range of 262 to 327 months to the mandatory minimum of 120 months. The court further granted the prosecution’s motions for substantial assistance, reduced defendant’s sentence by 20%, and imposed a sentence of 96 months imprisonment followed by 96 months of supervised release.)01/30/2013Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Jaime Almazan (Criminal law, sentencing memorandum opinion and order regarding sentencing of defendant convicted of producing child pornography. After considering the totality of the circumstances in light of the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors, the court found that no downward variance was warranted and imposed a sentence at the statutory maximum of 360 months imprisonment, followed supervised release for life.) 12/03/2012Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Britt Lander (considering whether motion for substantial assistance pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e) and U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1 may be based in part on substantial assistance of a third party; granting prosecution’s motion for substantial assistance based in part on the substantial assistance rendered by defendant’s spouse) 10/23/2012Mark W. Bennett
Plymouth County, Iowa v. Merscorp, et al. (Putative class action by one Iowa county on behalf of all Iowa counties against corporations that operate a national registry that tracks ownership interests and servicing rights associated with residential mortgage loans, and against various member mortgage companies that use those services; county’s post-dismissal motion: request, pursuant to Rule 59(e), to consider the conditional request to amend overlooked in the court’s ruling on the defendants’ motion to dismiss; post-dismissal request to amend to assert a new legal theory for an “unjust enrichment” claim; clarification of standards applicable to conditional and post-dismissal motions to amend)10/16/2012Mark W. Bennett
Gilster v. Primebank & Joseph Strub (Considering parties’ post-trial motions following jury verdict in favor of plaintiff on sexual harassment and retaliation claims under Title VII and Iowa Civil Rights Act: defendants’ motion for judgment as a matter of law, new trial, or remittitur; plaintiff’s motion for front pay and equitable relief; plaintiff’s motion for attorney fees and costs)08/14/2012Mark W. Bennett
The Prudential Insurance Company of America, et al. v. Inlay (Action by insurance company against former agent seeking FINRA arbitration action to address claims of breach of confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements, misappropriate of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of duty of loyalty, intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantages, and conversion; insurance company’s motion to confirm arbitration award: standards for confirmation of an arbitration award pursuant to 9 U.S.C. § 9)04/11/2012Mark W. Bennett
McFarland v. McFarland, et al. (Diversity action for slander, libel, and defamation; Joint Bill of Costs; analysis of whether defendants entitled to reimbursement for certain litigation expenses pursuant to Rule 54(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and 28 U.S.C. § 1920, specifically the costs of: depositions, a transcript in a divorce proceeding, transferring depositions from a floppy disc to a CD, copies of medical records, the cost of photocopies for summary judgment documents, and the rental of a conference room center used for taking depositions.)11/15/2011Mark W. Bennett
In Re: Iowa Ready-Mix Concrete Antitrust Litigation (Motion for attorneys’ fees, reimbursement of costs, and class representative incentive awards following settlement of consolidated antitrust class action case; awarding $6,666,666.67 in attorneys’ fees, $911,445.92 in costs, and $10,000.00 to each named plaintiff, to be paid from the common settlement fund.)11/09/2011Mark W. Bennett
The State of Arizona & Angela Aguilar v. ASARCO, LLC (Action by Arizona state civil rights agency and an individual plaintiff, a laborer at a mine operated by the defendant, alleged claims of hostile work environment sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment in violation of state and federal law; individual plaintiff’s post-trial motion for attorney fees; analysis of whether plaintiff’s fee request should be reduced by twenty percent to take into account the fact that the individual plaintiff was only partially successful on her claims; examination of the reasonableness of the individual plaintiff’s counsel’s hourly rate as well as the reasonableness of numerous time entries.)09/29/2011Mark W. Bennett
State of Arizona Dep't of Law, Civil Rights Division & Angela Aguilar v. ASARCO, LLC (action by Arizona state civil rights agency and an individual plaintiff, a laborer at a mine operated by the defendant, alleged claims of hostile work environment sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment in violation of state and federal law; defendant’s post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law, challenging submissibility of the sexual harassment claim and punitive damages and the amount of the punitive damages award as unconstitutionally excessive; defendant’s alternative motion for new trial, challenging the court’s answer to a question from the jury as misleading and the court’s admission of “me too” evidence; the plaintiffs’ post-trial motion for equitable and injunctive relief to compel the defendant to create or modify and implement an adequate policy against sexual harassment and to require certain training of managers, supervisors, and other employees, concerning sexual harassment)07/13/2011Mark W. Bennett
Mathison v. U.S. (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, asserting as grounds that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in failing to withdraw when a per se conflict of interest between counsel and petitioner was created, in failing to raise a sentencing challenge pursuant to Gall, and for failing to request a change of venue. Petitioner also argues respondent committed prosecutorial misconduct by using the unreliable testimony of witness during his trial. In addition, petitioner contends newly discovered evidence, the unreliability of a witness’s testimony, entitles him to a new trial. Motion denied in its entirety: first, petitioner could not demonstrate his counsel’s conduct fell below the wide range of reasonable professional assistance in failing to withdraw, in failing to raise a sentencing challenge pursuant to Gall, and for failing to request a change of venue. Petitioner also not entitled to relief on his claim of prosecutorial misconduct because he did not establish that witness’s statement was perjurious and, further, did not establish that the prosecution knew or should have known that the statements constituted perjury. In addition, petitioner did not establish that witness’s alleged perjurious statement regarding a defendant in a separate case constituted newly discovered evidence entitling him to a new trial.)07/05/2011Mark W. Bennett
Kitterman v. Coventry Health Care of Iowa, Inc. (action for judicial review of denial of health insurance benefits pursuant to ERISA: determination of whether any issues remain to be resolved after remand from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals: whether the court must now decide questions that it did not address in its original decision on the merits, which are whether the Schedule of Benefits is a summary plan description (SPD) or “faulty” SPD, which turn on the question of whether the terms of the purported SPD or “faulty” SPD conflict with the terms of the plan, as construed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals)06/06/2011Mark W. Bennett
Powell v. Fayram : (state prisoner’s petition for habeas relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254: prisoner’s objections to report and recommendation of magistrate judge to deny the petition in its entirety: whether state courts made unreasonable factual determinations or unreasonably applied United States Supreme Court law to the prisoner’s claim that his trial counsel was ineffective in not giving him correct advice during plea negotiations about the time that he would have to serve in prison on a mandatory minimum sentence if he were convicted on a state charge of attempted murder)04/21/2011Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Billy Williams, Sr. (sentencing of a defendant on four crack cocaine offenses after the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act and amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines reduced the crack-to-powder ratio from 100:1 to 18:1: consideration of whether to reject the “new” ratio in the Guidelines, on categorical, policy grounds, as the court had previously rejected the 100:1 crack-to-powder ratio; adoption of a methodology for imposing sentence using an initial guidelines calculation with an 18:1 ratio and an alternative guidelines calculation using a 1:1 ratio, both recognizing new guidelines enhancements for aggravating circumstances, and ultimate determination of the appropriate sentence in light of the sentencing factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a))04/07/2011Mark W. Bennett
Rattray v. Woodbury County, Iowa (In this civil rights “strip search” case, the court was asked to decide what to make of an initial verdict that was clearly at odds with the jury instructions, and the jurors attempt to cure this inconsistency in a second verdict after the court ordered further deliberations. The court concluded that because there was no legally plausible explanation for the dramatic increase in emotional distress damages awarded by the jury between the two verdicts, a new trial was imperative to prevent a miscarriage of justice.)03/07/2011Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Kent Robert Stewart (Criminal law, sentencing memorandum opinion and order regarding joint sentencing of two defendants convicted of anitrust violations of the Sherman Act. For one defendant, after considering the totality of the circumstances in light of the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors, the court found that a upward variance from the advisory guidelines sentencing range was warranted and imposed a sentence of 48 months imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release during which defendant will be required to complete 500 hours of community service, at a rate of not less than 25 hours per month. The court further found that an upward variance from the advisory guidelines fine range was warranted for the defendant and imposed a fine of $829,715.85, and a special assessment of $100. The court, alternatively, imposed sentences of 27 months imprisonment on each Count; with all 27 months of the sentence on Count 3, 15 months of the sentence on Count 1, and 6 months of the sentence on Count 2 running consecutively; for a total sentence of 48 months imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release. With respect to the second defendant, the court found that the prosecution did not breach its plea agreement with the defendant and, as a result, the court could proceed with his sentencing. The court denied his requests for downward departure under U.S.S.G. §§ 5K1.1, 5K2.0, 5K2.11, and 5K2.12. The court further found that a variance from the advisory guidelines sentencing range was unwarranted for the defendant and imposed a sentence of 12 months and a day of imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release during which the defendant will be required to complete 100 hours of community service, at a rate of not less than 20 hours per month. The court also imposed a fine on the defendant in the amount of $83,427.09. In addition, the defendant was ordered to pay restitution to Tri-Zack Contractor in the sum of $25,981.80.)02/08/2011Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Villagomez: (criminal prosecution for conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, theft from a program receiving federal funds, and bribery; ruling after evidentiary hearing settling the record, pursuant to Rule 10(e) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, concerning closure of the courtroom to members of the public during jury selection) 11/24/2010Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Miell (sentencing of landlord convicted of 18 counts of mail fraud, 2 counts of perjury, and 2 counts of filing of false tax returns arising from insurance fraud and damage deposit fraud schemes: restitution for fraud schemes pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3663A, and “restitution” for tax offenses in the conditions for supervised release pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d))10/04/2010Mark W. Bennett
Dorr v. Weber, et al. (Plaintiff Paul Dorr is a prevailing party within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1988 and, therefore, is entitled to an award of some reasonable amount in attorneys’ fees. After a line-by-line review of the fee application, the court decided that the fees claimed should be reduced for time not reasonably expended, further reduced by ten percent for “block billing,” and an additional ten percent “penalty” reduction for a wildly over-inflated fee request. Therefore, the court awarded attorneys’ fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988 to Paul Dorr in the amount of $51,744.26, and additional costs and expenses to Paul in the amount of $2,430.60.)09/30/2010Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Miell : (sentencing of landlord convicted of 18 counts of mail fraud, 2 counts of perjury, and 2 counts of filing of false tax returns arising from insurance fraud and damage deposit fraud schemes: applicability of upward adjustments for amount of loss, number of victims, sophisticated means, substantial interference with administration of justice, abuse of a position of trust, and obstruction of justice; applicability of downward adjustment for acceptance of responsibility; determination of whether and to what extent to vary upward from the advisory sentencing guidelines range in light of the damage deposit fraud scheme, which preyed on people too economically vulnerable or unsophisticated to contest the landlord’s claims for relatively little gain in individual cases, but amounting to over a million dollars in losses in aggregate)09/27/2010Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Villagomez, et al.(criminal prosecution for conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, theft from a program receiving federal funds, and bribery; reconsideration of denial of defendants’ motion pursuant to Rule 10(e) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure to settle the record concerning whether members of the public were entirely excluded from jury selection) 09/07/2010Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Villagomez, et al (criminal prosecution for conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, theft from a program receiving federal funds, and bribery; defendants’ motion pursuant to Rule 10(e) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure to settle the record concerning whether members of the public were entirely excluded from jury selection) 08/06/2010Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Miell (Motion to withdraw guilty pleas pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11; after pleading guilty to the charged mail fraud and perjury offenses, defendant sought to withdraw guilty pleas on the ground that his guilty pleas were invalid because the court failed to advise him of the maximum possible sentence he faced and the court’s authority to order restitution; defendant also asserted that his counsel’s ineffective assistance constituted a fair and just reason to permit him to withdraw his guilty pleas; examination of whether the court informed defendant of the maximum penalties he was facing for each of the mail fraud and perjury counts; analysis of whether Rule 11 requires a court to specifically advise the defendant of the possibility of consecutive sentencing; assessment of whether the court’s error in failing to inform defendant of the possibility of restitution affected his substantial rights; analysis of whether defendant should be permitted to withdraw his guilty pleas because he was provided with ineffective assistance of counsel; assessment of other Rule 11 factors of defendant’s innocence, the timing of his motion, and whether the prosecution will be prejudiced by defendant’s withdrawal of guilty pleas)05/10/2010Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Villagomez, et al (08cr20) : (criminal prosecution for conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, theft from a program receiving federal funds, and bribery; defendants’ joint renewed motion pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3143(b) for release from custody while their convictions are on appeal, heard as a visiting judge to the District of the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan): whether the defendants asserted a “fairly debatable” claim of violation of their Sixth Amendment right to a public trial, arising from the trial judge’s refusal to release unoccupied reserved seats to members of the general public) 04/22/2010Mark W. Bennett
Transamerica Life Insurance Company, et al v. Lincoln National Life Insurance Company : (Action by one insurance company seeking declaration of non-infringement of another insurance company’s business method patent for a “method and apparatus for providing retirement income benefits” and the other insurance company’s counterclaims for infringement: motions, after jury verdict finding infringement and court’s entry of permanent injunction, concerning infringer’s compliance with permanent injunction: infringer’s motion to modify permanent injunction, pursuant to Rule 60(b)(5) (last clause), based on three purported “design arounds” and for refund of royalties paid based on the first “design around”; patent holder’s motion, pursuant to paragraph 4 of the permanent injunction, for a further accounting and payment of a further royalty at a further enhanced rate based on assertion that “design arounds” still infringe the patent-in-suit)03/08/2010Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Tony Golden (Sentencing on charges of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, possession with intent to distribute crack, and distributing crack within 1,000 feet of a public playground or school in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841, and 860; reiteration of categorical rejection in Gully of 100:1 crack-to-powder ratio in Sentencing Guidelines and selection of 1:1 ratio as the reasoned alternative in this and all crack cases, demonstrating appropriateness of applying 1:1 ratio in all cases, then varying (upward, in this case), if necessary, based on case-specific factors, including this defendant’s prior conviction for attempted murder, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a))01/12/2010Mark W. Bennett
Vanbogart v. Astrue -- Order denying motion for EAJA fees as untimely.11/17/2009Paul A. Zoss
Wensel v. Astrue -- Order on motion of plaintiff's counsel for attorney's fees pursuant to 42 USC 406(b). Court found fee equal to 25% of past-due benefits was excessive under the Gisbrecht factors, and reduced the fee award to approximately 18.6% of the past-due benefits.09/11/2009Paul A. Zoss
U.S. v. Earl Foy, Jr. (criminal prosecution on charges of sending threatening communications in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 876(b) and (c): upward variance from 262 to 480 months of imprisonment, achieved by running the two longest statutory maximum sentences consecutively, with other sentences to run concurrently, based primarily on the § 3553(a)(1) and (a)(2) factors, including the defendant’s substantial history of violence and violence toward women) 08/24/2009Mark W. Bennett
In re Robert K. Miell (appeal by Chapter 11 debtor, facing sentencing on federal criminal charges and tax litigation, from the bankruptcy court’s denial of his motion to hire attorneys and to pay them from the estate: whether 11 U.S.C. § 105(a) can be used to provide a mechanism for payment of a debtor’s attorneys from the bankruptcy estate in a Chapter 11 case in the same way that 11 U.S.C. § 330(a)(4)(B) might provide for payment of attorneys from the bankruptcy estate in Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 cases.) 08/19/2009Mark W. Bennett
Transamerica Life Insurance Co. et al v. Lincoln Natinal Life Insurance Co. (Bill of Costs, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54 and 28 U.S.C. § 1920; the court decides whether the prevailing party should have deposition and document discovery costs apportioned, due to the risk of impermissible double recovery resulting from the anticipated use of the same depositions and document discovery in the other trial; the court also determines whether third party technology vendor consultant’s fees, travel, lodging, and food expenses are properly considered “exemplification” costs under § 1920; the court holds that (1) deposition and document discovery costs should not be apportioned due to a second pending trial but that such costs incurred before the commencement of the suit are not compensable, and (2) third party technology vendor consulting fees are properly considered “exemplification” costs under § 1920 and were necessarily incurred due to the complexity of the case but that the consultant’s travel, lodging, and food expenses are not compensable)08/17/2009Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Jacob : (criminal prosecution on charges of using the Internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity prohibited by state law, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2242(b), and interstate transportation of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(1); sentencing memorandum: the merits of the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines for defendants convicted of child pornography offenses, U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2, and child exploitation offenses, 18 U.S.C. § 2G2.1, including the impact of congressional mandates rather than the United States Sentencing Commission’s exercise of its institutional expertise and empirical analysis; rejection of both guidelines on categorical policy grounds and on individualized application of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors) 06/26/2009Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Gully: (Sentencing on charges of distributing crack cocaine and distributing crack within 1,000 of a public playground or school, after a prior felony drug conviction in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 851, and 860; rejection on categorical policy grounds of 100:1 crack-to-powder ratio is Sentencing Guidelines and selection of 1:1 ratio as the reasoned alternative in this and all crack cases; methodology for imposing sentence using 1:1 crack-to-powder ratio and to enhance sentences, where appropriate, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) for violence, chronic offenders, weapon possession, and other aggravating factors) 05/18/2009Mark W. Bennett
Heimlicher v. Steele, et al -- Memorandum Opinion and Order on defendants' post-trial motions in action for damages arising from stillbirth of plaintiffs' child. Jury awarded $1.7 million in damages against doctor and hospital for common law negligence and violation of federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), 42 USC section 1395dd. Defendants moved, on numerous grounds, for judgment as a matter of law, for new trial, and to amend the judgment. Court found remittitur was appropriate because the amounts the jury deducted for past and future expense of raising the child were unreasonably low. Court therefore conditionally granted motions for new trial, and denied all other motions. 05/14/2009Paul A. Zoss
U.S. v. Ingram : (Sentencing for on charge of conspiring to distribute crack cocaine after a prior felony drug conviction in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 851; appropriateness sua sponte review of remand from appellate court for second chance for prosecution to prove prior conviction; sufficiency of proof of defendant’s prior conviction on second chance, including applicability of Federal Rules of Evidence to proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” of a prior conviction pursuant to § 851)05/11/2009Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Gary Visser (Sentencing on “felon in possession of a firearm” charge: applicability of the reduction to the defendant’s base offense level under the “sporting and collecting” exception in U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(b)(2), where he had pawned several of the firearms in his collection) 04/15/2009Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Beiermann : (criminal prosecution on charges of possessing, receiving, transporting, and shipping child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A; sentencing memorandum: the merits of the advisory United States Sentencing Guideline for defendants convicted of child pornography offenses, U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2, including the impact of congressional mandates rather than the United States Sentencing Commission’s exercise of its institutional expertise and empirical analysis; rejection of the guideline on both an individualized application of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors and categorically on policy grounds) 02/24/2009Mark W. Bennett
USA v. Gregg -- Report and Recommendation on petition to revoke the defendant's term of supervised release.02/04/2009Paul A. Zoss
U.S. v. Kenneth Siepker : (federal prisoner’s pro se motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255: ruling without evidentiary hearing: alleged ineffective assistance of counsel on the following grounds: failure to move for severance of drug and gun counts, failure to request an “Old Chief instruction,” failure to file a motion in limine to preclude non-coconspirator hearsay evidence, failure to object to count charging commission of offense while on pre-trial release as an illegal Bill of Attainder, failure to request a buyer-seller instruction, failure to object to hearsay, stipulation that firearms were possessed “in or affecting commerce,” failure to object to a constructive amendment of the indictment on the gun charges, and failure to assert an “Apprendi claim” based on court determination of drug quantity; constitutional claims based on admission of hearsay evidence in violation of the Sixth Amendment confrontation clause, and insufficient evidence on the drug conspiracy count of an illegal agreement; denial of a certificate of appealability)12/18/2008Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Kelly Jacob (Cases of three defendants charged with child pornography and sexual offenses involving minors; sentencing; prosecution’s request for access to court’s expert, appointed pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3552(c), beyond the report of the expert’s psychosexual analysis of each defendant) 10/31/2008Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Beiermann (Cases of three defendants charged with child pornography and sexual offenses involving minors; sentencing; prosecution’s request for access to court’s expert, appointed pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3552(c), beyond the report of the expert’s psychosexual analysis of each defendant) 10/31/2008Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Matthew Kashas (Cases of three defendants charged with child pornography and sexual offenses involving minors; sentencing; prosecution’s request for access to court’s expert, appointed pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3552(c), beyond the report of the expert’s psychosexual analysis of each defendant) 10/21/2008Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. David Dicus: (sentencing of criminal defendant: sentence reduction as a sanction for prosecution’s serious misconduct consisting of breach of a plea agreement) 09/24/2008Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Brett & Cory Kamerud: (Petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255; petitioners claim that guilty verdict for conspiracy to (1) “distribute methamphetamine,” (2) “possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine,” and (3) “possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine to one or more persons under twenty-one years of age should be set aside; the court decided whether the petitioners were provided with ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution by analyzing an extensive list of possible grounds for petitioners’ claim.)09/16/2008Mark W. Bennett
Jones v. Wilder-Tomlinson (Petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254; petitioner claims that her Sixth Amendment rights were violated when neither of her two attorneys filed a timely motion to suppress evidence obtained due to her warrantless arrest; the court decided: whether there had been an adjudication on the merits of the probable cause to arrest claim, whether the petitioner had properly exhausted available state remedies, and whether one or both of petitioner’s attorneys had been ineffective in violation of the Sixth Amendment.)09/04/2008Mark W. Bennett
In Re Knudsen (Cross-appeals by family farmer debtors and the IRS of the bankruptcy court’s denial of family farmer debtors’ amended plan of reorganization in a Chapter 12 case: whether family farmers, who liquidated their slaughter hogs to convert their farming operation from a farrow-to-finish hog operation to a custom hog-raising operation, can obtain the benefits of 11 U.S.C. § 1222(a)(2)(A), as amended by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (“BAPCPA”), that would allow the taxes generated by the sale of their slaughter hogs to be treated as an unsecured claim against their bankruptcy estate subject to discharge; whether the determination of taxes receiving the beneficial treatment of § 1222(a)(2)(A) should be allocated according to the IRS’s “proration method” or the debtors’ “marginal method”; whether § 1222(a)(2)(A) is applicable to post-petition transactions; and whether post-petition taxes may be treated as administrative expenses of the estate in a Chapter 12 case)06/12/2008Mark W. Bennett
The O.N. Equity Sales Company v. Pals, et al. (Action by securities broker-dealer to enjoin NASD arbitration action by investor; broker-dealer’s motion to set aside judgment compelling arbitration and denying preliminary injunction pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure based on “newly discovered evidence” and “fraud”) 05/05/2008Mark W. Bennett
Closson v. Astrue (Claimant sought judicial review of Commissioner's denial of Title II and Title XVI benefits; Commissioner objected to Magistrate Judge's recommendation that testimony of vocational expert conflicted with the information in the dictionary of occupational titles; analyzes Social Security Ruling SSR 00-4p) 02/21/2008Mark W. Bennett
McGowan v. Soy Basics (order for judgment--attorney fees)02/06/2008Jon Stuart Scoles
U.S. v. $138,186.28 (civil forfeiture action; companion case to No. 07cr3001-MWB; ruling on government’s motion for summary judgment; standards for civil forfeiture; whether defendant property is traceable to the interstate transportation of stolen property) 10/24/2007Mark W. Bennett
Tomlinson v. Burt (State prisoner’s petition for habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254: ruling on motion to dismiss: “substantive” and “procedural” claims of “actual innocence,” procedural default of “due process” and “ineffective assistance of counsel” claims) 09/21/2007Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Hernandez (federal prisoner’s pro se motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255: ruling after evidentiary hearing: alleged ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to file notice of appeal after prisoner’s request that counsel do so) 08/29/2007Mark W. Bennett
Tomlinson v. Burt -- Report and Recommendation on respondent's motion to dismiss petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 USC 2254. Court found all issues raised by petitioner to be unexhausted and procedurally defaulted. Court further found petitioner failed to meet his burden to identify new evidence sufficient to satisfy "actual innocence" standard. 08/23/2007Paul A. Zoss
Northeast Iowa Citizens for Clean Water v. AgriProcessors, Inc.; United States of America and Northeast Iowa Citizens for Clean Water v. AgriProcessors; order re application for attorneys fees and costs 06/06/2007Linda R. Reade
Doctor John's, Inc. v. City of Sioux C ity, et al. : (Merchant’s action challenging city ordinances regulating sex shops; court’s sua sponte consideration of sanctions against the city for destruction of records relevant to the litigation after settlement of the case)05/17/2007Mark W. Bennett
Pamela R. Reed vs. Cedar County and Cedar County Scheriff, Daniel Hannes M. Leanne Tyler, Claimant (attorney lien)05/07/2007Jon Stuart Scoles
United States v. Honken : (appeal by defendant convicted of capital offenses and sentenced to death; defendant’s request for discovery of government’s records and recollections of four unrecorded conferences to prepare the defendant’s statement pursuant to Rule 10(c) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure concerning unrecorded portions of the record for appeal)02/28/2007Mark W. Bennett
Torgeson v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America (Motion for Attorney's Fees and Expenses)02/05/2007Mark W. Bennett
Richmond v. Burt (Federal prisoner’s petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254; case initially referred to Magistrate Judge Paul A. Zoss, who recommended the petition be dismissed on procedural grounds; petitioner filed objections to Judge Zoss’s Report and Recommendation, essentially contending his constitutional claims were not procedurally barred; upon conducting de novo review of petitioner’s claims, court overrules petitioner’s objections and accepts Judge Zoss’s Report and Recommendation; petitioner did not fairly present his constitutional claims to the Iowa courts and even if he had, petitioner’s claims are without merit; petition is dismissed and no certificate of appealability shall be issued.) 01/04/2007Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Arturo Ruiz-Ahumada (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting relief on two grounds; specifically, the defendant asserted (1) an error based on United States v. Booker, 125 S. Ct. 738 (2005), on the grounds that he was sentenced under the mandatory Guidelines regime, which impermissibly allowed a judge, as opposed to the jury, to adjust the sentencing range based on a preponderance of the evidence, and (2) that his plea was the product of coercion and therefore, not entered into voluntarily; motion denied in its entirety; first, defendant’s case was not pending when Booker was decided, and thus Booker’s holdings are an inapplicable basis to attack his sentence; second, the defendant’s own statements during the plea hearing demonstrate he pled guilty knowingly and voluntarily; defendant also filed separately a pro se Motion to Amend and a pro se Motion to Supplement; both motions are denied as untimely, as they do not relate back to his original § 2255 petition.)10/24/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Perez-Sanchez (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting relief on the following grounds: (1) a “Booker error,” based on the defendant’s contention that a jury, not the sentencing judge, should have determined the amount of drug quantity attributed to him for sentencing purposes; (2) ineffective assistance of trial counsel in failing to challenge the constitutionality of 21 U.S.C. § 841 to the extent that those provisions permitted the court to make drug quantity and role determinations in violation of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000); and (3) failure of appellate counsel to argue that the defendant’s rights under the Vienna Convention were violated during his plea hearing on appeal; motion denied in its entirety; first, defendant’s case was not pending when Booker was decided, and thus Booker’s holdings are an inapplicable basis to attack his sentence; second, neither trial counsel’s nor appellate counsel’s performance was not deficient on the grounds alleged by the defendant. )10/17/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Alfredo Luna (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, asserting as grounds the ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel for the following reasons: (1) that his trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to fully impeach government witnesses; (2) that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the edition of the federal guidelines used at the time of sentencing; (3) that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the criminal history for defendant that was set out in his presentence investigation report; (4) that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the standard utilized by the court in determining the applicability of a two-level weapons enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b); (5) that his appellate counsel was ineffective in failing to raise the issue of trial counsel’s ineffectiveness in failing to fully impeach government witnesses; (6) that appellate counsel was ineffective in failing to raise the issue of the edition of the federal guidelines used at the time of sentencing; and, (7) that his appellate counsel was ineffective in failing to raise on appeal the issue of the court’s calculation of defendant’s criminal history. Defendant also challenged his sentence in light of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Booker, 125 S. Ct. 738 (2005), arguing that the Booker decision must be given retroactive effect; motion denied in its entirety, first, the Booker decision does not apply retroactively to cases on collateral review, second, defendant had not established that his trial or appellate counsel were ineffective in representing defendant, specifically, defendant did not demonstrated that he was prejudiced by his counsel’s cross-examination of government witnesses at trial; defendant did not demonstrate that he was prejudiced by the use of the 2000 edition of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines because the punishment under the 2000 and 1998 Sentencing Guidelines remained the same, because defendant’s criminal history was not manifestly less serious than that of defendants typically labeled category II, defendant did not demonstrated that he was prejudiced by his counsel’s failure to seek a downward departure on the grounds that his assessed criminal history category overstated the seriousness of his criminal history; defendant’s counsel could not be faulted for not challenging the court’s application of § 2D1.1(b)’s two-level weapons enhancement to defendant where trial testimony showed that during the course of the drug conspiracy defendant possessed several firearms, including several pistols and an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle and threatened to use his AR-15 rifle on a possible informant and pointed a pistol at an individual during several drug transactions)10/03/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Juan Carlos Vazquez-Munoz (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting three allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel; specifically, the defendant asserted his counsel was ineffective in (1) failing to file an appeal after being expressly directed to do so by the defendant; (2) failing to file an appeal without obtaining the defendant’s consent; and (3) failing to object to the PSIR regarding the defendant’s role in the offense; motion denied in its entirety; defendant did not expressly direct his attorney to file an appeal and he could neither prove breach of duty nor prejudice on either of his remaining claims.)09/28/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Hernandez (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting relief on two grounds; specifically, the defendant asserted (1) an error based on United States v. Booker, 125 S. Ct. 738 (2005), on the grounds that he was sentenced under the mandatory Guidelines regime, which impermissibly allowed a judge, as opposed to the jury, to adjust the sentencing range based on a preponderance of the evidence, and (2) a somewhat related claim of ineffective assistance of counsel due to counsel’s failure to anticipate Booker, in light of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), which had been decided at the time of the defendant’s sentencing; motion denied in its entirety; first, defendant’s case was not pending when Booker was decided, and thus Booker’s holdings are an inapplicable basis to attack his sentence; second, counsel’s performance was not deficient on the grounds alleged by the defendant. )09/25/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Renee Carlson (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255; specifically, the defendant asserted that (1) her plea was the product of coercion, (2) she was forced to incriminate herself, presumably by admitting to her involvement in the conspiracy during her plea hearing, (3) the government failed to disclose the evidence against her because she never personally viewed the evidence; additionally, the defendant contends her counsel was ineffective in (1) preparing her for her guilty plea, (2) failing to ensure she was read her Miranda rights, and (3) failing to inform her of her right to appeal; motion denied in its entirety; defendant was not entitled to relief on any of the alleged grounds.)09/11/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Hernandez : (federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255: alleged “Booker error,” and allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel before, during, and after trial, including (1) failure to assert “Apprendi claim”; (2) failure to investigate the facts of the case, including facts that would have provided the basis to challenge the credibility of the government’s witnesses and the falsehoods in their trial testimony; (3) failure to challenge, at trial and on appeal, sentencing enhancements for obstruction of justice, possession of a firearm, and drug quantity, and (4) failure to assert that the evidence showed multiple conspiracies instead of the single conspiracy with which Hernandez was charged, supplemented at evidentiary hearing to include (5) failure of trial counsel to advise him adequately of the law applicable to his consideration of whether to go to trial, plead guilty; determination of whether resentencing was appropriate relief on the last claim)08/30/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Jeffrey Determan (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting relief on one ground: that he received an illegal sentence based on United States v. Booker, 125 S. Ct. 738 (2005); motion denied in its entirety; first, defendant’s case was not pending when Booker was decided, and thus Booker’s holdings are an inapplicable basis to attack his sentence.) 08/18/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Roberto Alvarez-Delgadillo (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting relief on two grounds; specifically, the defendant asserted (1) an error based on United States v. Booker, 125 S. Ct. 738 (2005), on the grounds that a jury, not the sentencing judge, should have determined the amount of drug quantity attributed to him for sentencing purposes, and (2) a somewhat related claim of ineffective assistance of counsel due to counsel’s failure to challenge the constitutionality of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)(A) and (B) to the extent that those provisions permitted the court to make drug quantity determinations in violation of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000); motion denied in its entirety; first, defendant’s case was not pending when Booker was decided, and thus Booker’s holdings are an inapplicable basis to attack his sentence; second, counsel’s performance was not deficient on the grounds alleged by the defendant.)08/14/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Pinkerton (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting two allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel; specifically, the defendant asserted her counsel was ineffective in (1) preparing her for her guilty plea and (2) in representing to the prosecutor that the defendant was dishonest in her debriefings; motion denied in its entirety; defendant could neither prove breach of duty or prejudice on either claim.)08/11/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Robert Lee Kriens (federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255: allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel before and during sentencing pursuant to a plea agreement, including challenge to voluntariness of guilty plea and allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel on appeal, including failure to investigate and present evidence that would purportedly prove that the defendant’s prior conviction for attempted burglary under Iowa law was not a “violent felony” for purposes of the armed career criminal enhanced mandatory minimum sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)).07/25/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Lori Clare Kavitz : (federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255: ten allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel before and during sentencing pursuant to a plea agreement, including challenge to voluntariness of guilty plea and request to reopen Apprendi claim, which had been dismissed on initial review, in light of Blakely).07/17/2006Mark W. Bennett
Goss International Corporation v. Tokyo Kikai Seisakusho, Ltd. and TKS, Inc.; Order denying TKS's motion to stay judgment06/15/2006Linda R. Reade
U.S. v. Homero Bustos Flores (federal defendant’s post-conviction motion to vacate sentence on a drug-trafficking charge pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 2255 based on (1) ineffective assistance of trial counsel, consisting of (a) denial of his right to testify; (b) failure to challenge the drug quantity calculation; (c) failure to raise a challenge pursuant to Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), at sentencing; and (d) failure to make a timely objection to omission of safety-valve eligibility in the PSIR; (2) ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, who was the same as his trial counsel, consisting of failure to raise issues (1)(b), (1)(c), and (1)(d); and (3) imposition by the trial court of a sentence in violation of the defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights as established by Apprendi, consisting of judicial fact-finding regarding drug quantity and enhancement of his sentence based upon such improper fact-finding)06/13/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Angela Johnson (297 page opinion denying defendant's request for post-trial relief)12/16/2005Mark W. Bennett
Edward Branstad & Monroe Branstad v. Veneman ((Action for judicial review of USDA action under the “Swampbuster” Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3821-24; renewed motion for attorney fees and expenses pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. § 2412, after favorable result on remand to agency: plaintiff’s “prevailing party” status, “substantial justification” for the USDA’s position or lack thereof, presence or absence of “special circumstances” warranting denial of fees, and appropriateness of amount of fees based on enhanced hourly rate)09/21/2004Mark W. Bennett
Edward Branstad & Monroe Branstad v. Veneman (Action for judicial review of USDA action under the “Swampbuster” Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3821-24; renewed motion for attorney fees and expenses pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. § 2412, after favorable result on remand to agency: plaintiff’s “prevailing party” status, “substantial justification” for the USDA’s position or lack thereof, presence or absence of “special circumstances” warranting denial of fees, and appropriateness of amount of fees based on enhanced hourly rate)09/21/2004Mark W. Bennett
Engineered Products Co. v. Donaldson Co. Inc. ((Patent infringement action based on patent for air filter restriction indicator; ruling on defendant’s motion to alter or amend judgment: double recovery and improper enhancement; plaintiff’s motion for attorney fees and expenses pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 285 and expert witness fees pursuant to the court’s inherent power: “willfulness” of infringement as basis for finding an “exceptional case,” appropriateness of awarding fees, reasonableness of hours and application of Minneapolis-St. Paul rates instead of local rates, and standards for awarding expert witness fees as a sanction)09/21/2004Mark W. Bennett
Engineered Products, Inc. v. Donaldson, Co. (Patent infringement action based on patent for air filter restriction indicator; ruling on equitable defenses tried to court and post-trial motions following jury verdict for plaintiff: (1) defense of obviousness-type double patenting; (2) defenses of laches and estoppel; (3) post-trial motions: (a) erroneous claim construction; (b) infringement; (c) “lost profits” damages; (d) “willfulness” of infringement; (e) errors in instructions and verdict form; (f) juror confusion over ability to find both “literal” infringement and “doctrine of equivalents” infringement; (g) court’s comments to defendant’s damages expert; (h) use during jury selection of a videotape providing an introduction to patent law; (i) enhanced damages; and (j) pre- and post-judgment interest)08/12/2004Mark W. Bennett
Sherman, et al. v. Kasotakis d/b/a The Horizsons Family Restaurant (Race discrimination in a public accommodation case under § 1981, § 2000a, and Iowa Code § 217.6; jury verdict for each of the four individual plaintiffs in the amount of $1.00 in nominal damages and $12,500.00 in punitive damages; defendant’s motion for partial judgment as a matter of law, partial new trial or remittitur as to punitive damages award; plaintiffs’ motion to amend the judgment to include injunctive relief and application for attorney’s fees; failure to renew motion for judgment as a matter of law at the close of all the evidence or object in any way to jury instructions constituted waiver; under plain error analysis evidence supported holding employer liable for offending actions of employee where offending employee’s actions were ratified or approved of by supervising night manager; under plain error analysis jury instructions on punitive damages conformed to the law and adequately conveyed the rights and burdens of the respective parties; partial motion for judgment as a matter of law denied; partial motion for new trial on the issue of the constitutionality of the punitive damages award; application of the factors enumerated in BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559, 116 S. Ct. 1589, 134 L. Ed. 2d 908 (1996) and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408, 123 S. Ct. 1513, 155 L. Ed. 2d 585 (2003); conduct in the upper echelon of reprehensibility; ratio not as important in civil rights cases where only nominal and punitive damages are awarded—reducing ratio to single digit multiplier in this instance would eviscerate the intent behind punitive damages; predictably, no similar civil penalties—which is precisely the reason for the creation of federal civil rights law; punitive damages award under the particular facts and circumstances was reasonable; motion for partial new trial denied; remittitur not warranted as the differential between nominal and punitive damages was neither monstrous nor shocking to the conscience; plaintiffs’ motion to amend judgment granted; equitable relief ordered included two-year injunction, posting of notice, dissemination of anti-discrimination in a public accommodation policy, and maintenance of records; application for attorney’s fees granted with some modification to the claimed rates and reasonable hours; attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $19,692.46.04/19/2004Mark W. Bennett
Butler v. Smithway Motor Express, Inc. (Employment discrimination case dismissed as sanction for failure to respond to order compelling discovery; Rule 60(b) motion for relief from judgment: “excusable neglect”)03/22/2004Mark W. Bennett
Knutson v. AG Processing (Judgment of this court on ordered reinstatement, back pay, attorney’s fees and damages to plaintiff; on appeal to Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals; plaintiff moved to compel reinstatement or in the alternative front pay; defendant subsequently moved to stay execution of judgment; monetary judgment stayed pending posting of supersedeas bond in amount agreed to by the parties; reinstatement of plaintiff to former position did not result in irreparable harm to defendant; balancing of equities favored denying motion to stay execution of the order of reinstatement; even when matter is on appeal the court retains authority to enforce its original judgment; plaintiff’s motion for reinstatement granted; interim pay from the time of original judgment until the earlier of the plaintiff’s reinstatement or decision by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered, but stayed pending posting of an additional supersedeas bond by defendant; as front pay was a key issue on appeal, court likely without jurisdiction to alter its original ruling denying front pay; defendant subject to civil contempt proceedings if it fails to obtain a stay from Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals of this court’s order of reinstatement and does not reinstate plaintiff.) 02/13/2004Mark W. Bennett
Dethmers Manufacturing Co., Inc. v. Automatic Equipment Mfg. Co. : (patent infringement action; defendant’s motion to reconsider summary judgment of invalidity of plaintiff’s “reissue patent,” after district court’s ruling and appellate review: “reconsideration” based on purported “new authority,” the Supreme Court’s decision in Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co., Ltd., 535 U.S. 722 (2002), including the impact of the “law of the case” doctrine and “mandate rule” in the circumstances presented, and the extent to which the Festo decision, concerning prosecution history estoppel for infringement under the doctrine of equivalents, was “new” and applicable to the “recapture rule” for the validity of a reissue patent)01/14/2004Mark W. Bennett
Zeigler v. Fisher-Price (Order on defendant's post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law and motion for new trial. Rulings include the following: (1) because defendant did not raise, in its Rule 50(a) motion at the close of plaintiff's evidence, any grounds for judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff's design defect claim, defendant could not raise the issue in its post-trial Rule 50(b) motion; (2) court has authority to grant judgment as a matter of law sua sponte, even when no proper Rule 50(a) motion has been made; (3) Iowa law limits design defect cases involving only economic loss to warranty theories, but permits personal injury plaintiffs to assert both tort and warranty theories; (4) court denied motion for judgment as a matter of law on grounds raised by defendant, but entered judgment as a matter of law sua sponte on design defect claim; (5) under Iowa law, punitive damages are not warranted absent showing of willful or wanton conduct, and in absence of same, court granted motion for judgment as matter of law on punitive damages claim; (6) parties have a duty to comply with Final Pretrial Order, which is not a Local Rule or simply a matter of form and carries the same weight as any other court order; (7) Consumer Product Safety Commission press release announcing recall of toy was properly admitted into evidence as an admission under Fed. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)(A), (B), & (C); (8) court conditionally denied motion for new trial in accordance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(c).01/08/2004Paul A. Zoss
United States v. Yahnke (Prosecution for “maintaining a drug establishment” in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856; sentencing upon plea of guilty: upward departure pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4A1.3 on the ground that the defendant’s criminal history category did not adequately reflect either “the seriousness of the defendant’s past criminal conduct or the likelihood that the defendant will commit other crimes,” in light of the defendant’s prior conviction for second-degree murder, parole violations not resulting in criminal charges or convictions, and other uncharged criminal conduct to which the defendant admitted)12/24/2003Mark W. Bennett
Bartleson v. Winnebago Industries (Class action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Iowa Wage Payment Collection Act (IWPCA) for overtime pay pursuant to the FLSA; plaintiff’s motion for certification of class on IWPCA claim and defendant’s objections to magistrate judge’s order granting leave to amend to add the IWPCA claim; the court considered, first, the defendant’s objections regarding “futility” of the proffered amendment and limitations on supplemental jurisdiction over the IWPCA class claim; second, the court considered the impact of its ruling with regard to supplemental jurisdiction on the plaintiff’s motion for certification pursuant to Rule 23 of a class on the IWPCA claim)12/24/2003Mark W. Bennett
Iowa Protection and Advocacy Services, Inc. v. Gerard Treatment Programs, L.L.C. (Action by advocacy agency for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill against treatment institution regarding access by the advocacy agency to patients, facilities, and records of the treatment institution; advocacy agency’s motion for contempt of court’s "final order" for failure of treatment facility to disclose of the names of residents and the names and addresses of legal guardians: standards for civil contempt; determination of whether either terms of the "final order" or governing statutes and regulations incorporated into the "final order" required the disclosures demanded by the advocacy agency) 08/04/2003Mark W. Bennett
Sanft, et al. v. Winnebago Industries, Inc. et al. (Declaratory judgment action for determination of benefits due under an employee welfare benefit plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq.; Motion for Amendment of Order Denying Class Certification in which plaintiffs request that the court reconsider its decision to deny class certification in this case and grant class certification to the proposed class, and Motion To Strike Affidavit; analysis of whether statements in affidavit from putative class members constitute "mental impressions" that are an exception to the hearsay rule pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 803(3); analysis of whether the fact that some potential class members remain employed by defendant supports a finding that the numerosity requirement has been satisfied and is sufficient to require the court to reverse its previous decision that plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that the proposed class meets the numerosity requirement of Federal Rule of Evidence 23(a)(1).07/28/2003Mark W. Bennett
Baker v. John Morrell & Co. (After jury in Title VII sexual harassment and retaliation case returned 1.52 million dollar verdict in favor of plaintiff, plaintiff moved to amend her complaint to add parallel state-law claims. Court denied amendment on March 17, 2003, and plaintiff moved to reconsider. Motion to reconsider granted, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8, 15(b), and 54(c). Accordingly, Title VII’s statutory damages cap did not limit plaintiff’s recovery to $300,000. Court then considered defendant’s motion to amend judgment because, post-trial, defendant sought remittal of the emotional distress damages and punitive damages --- arguments the court did not address in its previous ruling because of the damages cap. Evidence was sufficient to support jury’s awards of compensatory and punitive damages and awards were not grossly excessive. Punitive damages reduced in accordance with statutory damages cap.) 06/11/2003Mark W. Bennett
Baker v. John Morrell & Co. (Post-trial motion to amend judgment and motion for attorney’s fees in employment discrimination case; plaintiff prevailed at trial in sexual discrimination Title VII suit; plaintiff seeks front pay; consideration of mitigation of damages for quitting job for personal reasons and whether plaintiff’s decision to change career fields would make an award of front pay equivalent to a subsidy of her decision to change careers; determination of "reasonable fee"; considering reductions for duplicative efforts and time not reasonably compensable, partial success) 05/21/2003Mark W. Bennett
McGuire v. Davidson Manufacturing (Order on post-trial motions in products liability case. Plaintiff fell and was injured when a ladder on which he was standing broke. Jury found no design defect; found manufacturing defect, but also found ladder was manufactured in accordance with state of the art; and found for plaintiff on general negligence/res ipsa loquitur theory. In post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law, defendants argued general negligence was inapplicable on these facts. Among other things, defendants argued that because jury found the ladder met state of the art, the defendants could not have failed to use ordinary care, and therefore the jury's verdict was inconsistent. In denying the motion on all grounds, court found general negligence theory to be particularly applicable on the facts of this case, and found no inconsistency in the jury's verdict.)04/18/2003Paul A. Zoss
United States v. Nguyen (§ 2255 motion, ineffective assistance of counsel; claims his counsel failed to investigate and raise the fact that there can be no indictable conspiracy involving only the defendant and government agents and informers; claims his counsel failed to raise an entrapment defense at trial.)04/03/2003Mark W. Bennett
Baker v. John Morrell & Co. (After jury in Title VII sex discrimination case returned 1.52 million dollar verdict in favor of plaintiff, defendant moved for judgment as a matter of law or, in alternative, new trial. Defendant also moved to amend judgment, seeking remittal of the emotional damages and punitive damages. Defendant argued there was insufficient evidence to support jury’s verdict and argued that several evidentiary rulings warranted a new trial. The court overruled these arguments and denied the defendant’s motion. Plaintiff moved under Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(b) to amend complaint to add parallel state-law claims under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. Court found plaintiff did not intend to try state law claims and, therefore, that amendment was not permitted under Rule 15(b). Because court denied motion to amend, plaintiff could not allocate portion of damages to state-law claim and was, therefore, bound by Title VII $300,000 statutory damages cap. Court found that evidence supported award of $300,000 in emotional distress damages. Because of damages cap, court did not reach issue of whether punitive damages were excessive, although noting that they were supported by the evidence. Court remitted emotional damages award to $300,000, exclusive of backpay and post-judgment interest, as provided by federal law.)03/17/2003Mark W. Bennett
United States v. Mansker (Renewed motion for sanctions and post-trial motion for judgment of acquittal and post-trial motion for new trial. Defendant convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine; government failed to turn over exculpatory materials and court excluded three witnesses at trial as a sanction; on renewed motion, court affirmed its ruling that government committed a Brady and discovery rule violation, but declined defendant’s request for dismissal with prejudice as sanction, finding that exclusion of witnesses was adequate sanction; denial of motion for judgment of acquittal because testimony of government’s cooperating witnesses sufficient to convict, especially in conjunction with defendant’s own testimony, in which he testified to sharing methamphetamine with friends; and denial of motion for new trial, finding that case presented close call because sole evidence against defendant government presented was testimony of government’s 6 cooperating witnesses.)01/20/2003Mark W. Bennett
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