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Vicarious Liability Claims Against Finance Company Based on Auto Accident Barred, and Criminal Matters

By FindLaw Staff on July 13, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Carton v. Gen'l. Motors Acceptance Corp., No. 09-2906, involved an action against defendant arising out of injuries plaintiffs sustained when they were struck by a leased vehicle on which defendant held the lease.  The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of the action on the grounds that 1) because Iowa law applied to plaintiffs' claims, and Iowa law did not impose a $50,000 damages cap on plaintiffs' claim, diversity jurisdiction existed; 2) absent any direct negligence or criminal wrongdoing by defendant, the Graves Amendment protected defendant from owner liability during the period of the lease; and 3) the driver's financial irresponsibility and failure to obtain insurance did not pose an unreasonable risk of physical harm to others.

In Theus v. US, No. 09-1015, the court of appeals vacated defendant's sentence for conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing cocaine, on the ground that defendant suffered prejudice as a result of his counsel's failure to raise either in the district court or on direct appeal the district court's error in imposing a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence for a quantity of cocaine that required only a five-year minimum sentence.

In US v. Bertling, No. 09-1027, the Eighth Circuit vacated defendants' sentences for endeavoring to influence, obstruct, or impede the due administration of justice by murdering or otherwise intimidating witnesses, holding that the district court's findings contradicted the jury's verdict and contravened the court's prior decision.

In US v. Forrest, No. 09-3279, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 922(g)(1), on the grounds that 1) the elements of the Colorado felony menacing offense "in the ordinary case" easily satisfy the requirement of violent force; 2) defendant's prior robbery offense constituted a violent felony conviction; and 3) defendant's 2004 Kansas conviction for attempted burglary was a violent felony conviction.

In US v. Sweeney, No. 09-1759, the Eighth Circuit affirmed defendants' convictions and sentences for manufacturing and distributing cable descramblers intended for unauthorized interception of cable signals and conspiracy to do so, on the grounds that 1) the government's evidence was sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that defendants intended that the descramblers and authorization control devices defendants manufactured and sold be used for the unauthorized interception of cable signals and that defendants therefore violated 47 U.S.C. section 553; 2) there was sufficient evidence for a jury to conclude that defendants entered a conspiratorial agreement with the illegal purpose of assisting in the unauthorized interception of cable signals; and 3) it was perfectly reasonable to infer that the majority of defendants' descramblers were in fact used to steal cable programming.

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