Utah Appellate Highlights, Utah Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, April 2018

Case summaries for Appellate Highlights are authored by members of Snow Christensen & Martineau’s Appellate Practice Group.  For more information, visit our Appellate Highlights page.

United States v. Knox
883 F.3d 1262 (10th Cir. Feb. 27, 2018) 

In this appeal from a denial of a motion to suppress, the Tenth Circuit joined the Seventh and Ninth Circuits and held that a district court’s assessment of an officer’s good-faith reliance on a warrant under United States v. Leon should be limited to the four-corners of the warrant affidavit, actual information submitted under oath to the issuing judge, and information related to the warrant application process.  

United States v. Lynch 
881 F.3d 812 (10th Cir. Feb. 5, 2018) 

A jury found the defendant guilty of in-flight assault or intimidation of a flight attendant.  In an interesting analysis of the differences between general and specific intent statutes, the Tenth Circuit rejected the defendant’s argument that Elonis v. United States, — U.S. —, 135 S. Ct. 2001 (2015), required specific intent for in-flight intimidation and held a general intent mens rea requirement was consistent with the plain language and purpose of the statute.   

Hasan v. Chase Bank USA, N.A. 
880 F.3d 1217 (10th Cir. Jan. 26, 2018) 

The plaintiff ordered from a wine vendor with Chase Bank credit cards.  He then paid off the balance on the credit cards.  While delivery was pending, the wine vendor filed for bankruptcy and failed to deliver almost $1 million worth of goods.  The plaintiff filed suit against Chase Bank, arguing that under the Fair Credit Billing Act, it was required to refund the money he had paid toward the purchase.  The complaint was dismissed, and the plaintiff appealed.  On appeal, the Tenth Circuit interpreted the plain language of the Act as limiting recovery to those amounts outstanding at the time the claim is filed.  Because the plaintiff had paid off the balance prior to asserting a claim, he was not entitled to recover the money he had already paid. 

Jackson v. Los Lunas Cmty. Program 
880 F.3d 1176 (10th Cir. Jan. 23, 2018)

In this civil rights appeal, the Tenth Circuit clarified the standard that applies to a motion to set aside a consent decree under the equity prong of Rule 60(b)(5) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  The Tenth Circuit held the district court erred by focusing on the narrow issue of a party’s past compliance without broader consideration of whether there was an ongoing violation of federal law, and it remanded for additional findings.  

Obduskey v. Wells Fargo
879 F.3d 1216 (10th Cir. Jan. 19, 2018)

The Tenth Circuit held, as a matter of first impression, that entities engaged in non-judicial foreclosures are not considered “debt collectors” and are not governed by the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. 

Rocky Mountain Wild, Inc. v. United States Forest Serv.
878 F.3d 1258 (10th Cir. Jan. 5, 2018) 

This case arose out of an advocacy group’s request for documents relating to a land exchange proposal under the Freedom of Information Act.  On appeal, the Tenth Circuit held that the district court correctly denied the records request under FOIA, because (a) a private contractor created the materials, (b) the Forest Service never obtained the materials, and (c) the materials should not be classified as agency records merely because the private contractor maintained the materials pursuant an agreement with the Forest Service.