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Civil Rights, Criminal and ERISA Matters

By FindLaw Staff on March 10, 2010 2:46 PM

In US v. Wilder, No. 08-3056, the court of appeals affirmed defendants' drug conspiracy convictions and sentences, on the grounds that 1) the district court did not err in excluding a document as hearsay because a witness was unable to verify that the proffered document was a public record created by the police department; 2) the government established that defendant knowingly and intentionally joined an agreement to distribute controlled substances; 3) the court was not convinced that the trial record presented an obvious case of a defendant with no predisposition to distribute crack cocaine, such that the district court plainly erred by failing to instruct the jury on entrapment; and 4) the district court explained that it had considered all of the 18 U.S.C. section 3553(a) factors, including the nature and circumstances of the offense and defendant's history and characteristics.

Darvell v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., No. 09-1058, involved an ERISA action regarding defendant-insurer's denial of long-term disability benefits to plaintiff.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendants, holding that 1) it was not an abuse of an ERISA plan administrator's discretion to ignore an opinion when the physician did not provide reliable objective evidence of testing or other proof to support a finding of long term disability; and 2) the plan administrator did not abuse its discretion by using the DOT description of plaintiff's occupation, rather than a description of his actual job duties.

Clos v. Corrections Corp. of Am., No. 09-1816, involved an action by a prisoner claiming that he suffered disability discrimination related to his severe hearing loss.  The Eighth Circuit dismissed plaintiff's appeal from partial summary judgment for defendants, holding that the district court's conclusory order provided no basis for a finding that plaintiff would face hardship or injustice by waiting to appeal until his remaining claim against defendants was fully resolved.

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