Utah Appellate Highlights, Utah Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, July 2017

Jones v. Needham
856 F.3d 1284 (10th Cir. May 12, 2017)

In this discrimination case, the employer argued that employee failed to exhaust administrative remedies because the complaint contained a quid pro quo harassment claim that was absent from the charge of discrimination.  The Tenth Circuit held that the discrimination charge satisfied the exhaustion requirement where it placed the employer on notice of a claim based on sex-based remarks and discrimination, even though it did not specifically mention a quid pro quo harassment.

United States v. Pauler
857 F.3d 1073 (10th Cir. May 23, 2017)

The defendant was convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9) by possessing a firearm after having previously been convicted of a misdemeanor crime for domestic violence.  The Tenth Circuit held that a misdemeanor violation of a municipal ordinance did not qualify as a “misdemeanor under… State… law” for the purposes of applying the statute, and accordingly reversed and instructed the district court to vacate the defendant’s conviction and sentence and to dismiss the indictment. 

Pioneer Centres Holding Co. Employee Stock Ownership Plan & Trust v. Alerus Fin., N.A.
858 F.3d 1324, 1327 (10th Cir. June 5, 2017)

The Tenth Circuit held that the plaintiffs have the burden to prove losses to a retirement plan resulting from an alleged breach of fiduciary duties under ERISA, and rejected the argument that a burden-shifting framework should be applied.  Accordingly, the court affirmed summary judgment granted to the defendants because plaintiffs failed to present non-speculative evidence of losses to the plan. 

Safe Streets v. Alternative Holistic
859 F.3d 865 (10th Cir. June 7, 2017)

In resolving two separate actions involving challenges to Amendment 64 of the Colorado Constitution (which legalized recreational use of marijuana), the 10th Circuit did not reach the question of whether Amendment 64 was preempted by the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), stating that private landowners had no viable cause of action to privately enforce the CSA’s alleged preemption.

Ghailani v. Sessions
859 F.3d 1295 (10th Cir. June 21, 2017)

The plaintiff prisoner was forbidden from participating in group prayer with other inmates due to prior terrorist activity. The Tenth Circuit held that the Government cannot rely on Special Administrative Measures to demonstrate the state’s compelling interest required by RFRA, because the furtherance of a compelling governmental interest is an affirmative defense and the burden is placed on the government to demonstrate the interest.

Marlow v. The New Food Guy, Inc.
2017 WL 2818874, — F.3d —- (10th Cir. June 30, 2017)

The plaintiff, who was paid above minimum wage, argued that her employer was required to turn over to her a share of all tips collected paid by catering customers.  In support of this argument, she relied on a Department of Labor regulation purporting to interpret the tip-credit provision of the FLSA.  The Tenth Circuit held that the DOL lacked authority to promulgate the regulation because there was no “gap” in the statute to fill.   

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.