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Product Liability Suit for "Manganese-Induced Parkinsonism" Plus Criminal Cases

By FindLaw Staff on September 09, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

US v. Spencer, 09-1114, concerned a challenge to the district court's modification of defendant's 262-month sentence to 210 months on crack cocaine counts.  In affirming the sentence, the court held that courts cannot modify a sentence below the amended guideline range under 18 U.S.C. section 3582(c)(2) unless the sentencing court originally sentenced the defendant below the guideline range.


US v. Sliwo, 09-1136, concerned a challenge to a defendant's conviction for conspiracy to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, as well as aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.  In reversing, the court held that the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant knew the purpose of the conspiracy was the acquisition of marijuana.  The court also reversed defendant's conviction for aiding and abetting as government has failed to present sufficient evidence that defendant knew he was involved involved in a scheme to procure marijuana.

US v. Johnson, 09-5397, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence as the fruit of an illegal seizure, in defendant's prosecution for being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute.  In reversing, the court held that, because the totality of the circumstances did not provide a particularized and objective basis for suspecting defendant of criminal activity, and because the Fourth Amendment simply does not allow a detention based on an officer's gut feeling that a suspect is up to no good, the officers seized defendant without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

US v. Gunter, 08-1733, concerned a challenge to a defendant's conviction for drug related crimes and a 96-month sentence.  In affirming, the court held that the district court meaningfully considered defendant's case and mitigation arguments.  The court also found defendant's sentence to be substantively reasonable, and held that the record flatly contradicts defendant's claim that he did not voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently plead guilty.

Tamraz v. Lincoln Elec. Co., 08-4015, involved plaintiffs' suit against several manufacturers of welding supplies, claiming that the fumes from their products had caused plaintiff's parkinsonism and that labels on the products had failed to warn of the danger.  In reversing the jury's verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, the court held that the district court exceeded its discretion in admitting an expert's opinion that the manufacturers' products triggered "manganese-induced parkinsonism" in plaintiff, because the "knowledge" requirement of Rule 702 requires more than subjective belief or unsupported speculation.

Mitts v. Bagley, 05-4420, concerned a defendant's petition for habeas relief from his capital murder conviction.  In granting the petition, the court held that the holding of the Supreme Court of Ohio was contrary to clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States in Beck v. Alabama, because Beck compels that proper instructions must make clear that the jury does not have to complete its death deliberation before considering a life sentence, and thus, defendant's due process rights were violated.  However, the court affirmed the district court's conclusions as to ineffective assistance of counsel claims. 

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