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Widow's Suit Seeking FEGLIA Policy Proceeds, Plus Criminal, Government Contracts & Civil Rights Matters

By FindLaw Staff on September 16, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

US v. Damra, 08-4540, concerned a challenge to a defendant's conviction and sentence for evading corporate income tax in violation of 26 U.S.C. section 2701 and for conspiring to defraud the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371.   


The court affirmed in part, vacated in part and remanded where: 1) defendant cannot demonstrate that the government violated his Sixth Amendment rights as he cannot meet either the burden of demonstrating that the government acted in bad faith or the burden of demonstrating that a witness's testimony would have been material and favorable; 2) district court did not err in finding that co-defendant's statements to his tax return preparer were admissible at trial under Fed. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)(E) as the statements of a co-conspirator; 3) district court did not err in denying defendant's motions for a judgment of acquittal and for a new trial; 4) while the district court erred in appointing a criminal investigator to interpret for the tax return preparer, the district court did not commit plain error in doing so; 5) district court did commit plain error in issuing its instructions as to the charge of conspiring to defraud the United States, as the district court did not omit the willfulness element of section 371 conspiracy when it instructed the jury; 6) district court did not err in issuing a statute of limitations instructions as to the charge for evading corporate income tax; 7) defendant could appropriately be charged under section 371's "defraud" clause, and thus, the charge of conspiring to defraud the United States does not fail to allege an offense pursuant to 18 U.S.C. section 317; 8) defendant's sentence is vacated and remanded for resentencing as the district court committed procedural error by miscalculating defendant's sentence; and 9) on remand, the district court will have the opportunity to address defendant's arguments concerning the tax-loss calculation and to explain the basis of any decision it makes in response to those arguments.

US v. Bd. of Commissioners of Hamilton County, 10-3116, involved a county board of commissioner's suit against a city, seeking a declaratory judgment that the city could not unilaterally terminate a 1985 sewage treatment agreement.  In affirming the district court's grant of judgment on the pleading in favor of the county board of commissioners, the court held that the district court properly exercised subject-matter jurisdiction because the district court retains jurisdiction to police its consent decrees, the board of commissioners' complaint presents a federal question.  Further, the district court correctly found that an injunction was necessary because inequity would result if the city were permitted to enforce its now-stale claim to terminate the 1985 agreement as such termination would affect the implementation of the consent decrees.

Holzemer v. City of Memphis, 09-5086, involved plaintiffs' suit against a city, a police sergeant and various city officials under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 for alleged violations of First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.  In affirming the district court's denial of the sergeant's motion for qualified immunity from the plaintiffs' First Amendment retaliation claim, the court held that the plaintiff's request for help from a city councilman regarding difficulties that he was having operating his business constitutes a "petition" for the purposes of the First Amendment's Petition Clause, as there is no distinction between oral and written grievance when what was requested orally would constitute a petition if reduced to writing.  The court also held that plaintiffs produced evidence sufficient, if true, to support a claim of retaliation for exercising their right to petition.  Lastly, the sergeant is not entitled to qualified immunity as officers of reasonable competence in the sergeant's shoes would have known that her actions, if as alleged, were unlawful retaliation.

Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust v. Tucker, 09-5867, concerned a challenge to the bankruptcy court's judgment sustaining the debtor's claim that she need only cure the amount of default that is secured and that the fees and expenses in connection with her underlying mortgage should be treated as unsecured amounts, in Chapter 13 proceedings.  The court vacated the judgment and remanded the matter in concluding that the bank's fees and advances, which were allowed under the parties' agreement and applicable nonbankruptcy law, must be included in the cure amount.

Bonner v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 09-6085, concerned a widow's suit against an insurer seeking a declaratory judgment that she is entitled to the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Act (FEGLIA) policy proceeds.  In affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the insurer and the deceased's former girlfriend, the court held that, because the 1996 Designation Form was not signed, and thus, the proceeds of the life insurance policy are payable to the former girlfriend under the 1995 Designation.


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