Utah Appellate Highlights, Utah Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, March 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.

Old Republic Ins. Co. v. Cont’l Motors, Inc.,
877 F.3d 895 (10 Cir. Dec. 15, 2017)

In this appeal from the district court’s dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction, the Tenth Circuit provides a thorough overview of specific personal jurisdiction jurisprudence, including the three means by which a plaintiff may establish the requisite “personal direction” by the defendant. The case involved claims against the manufacturer of an aircraft’s engine parts following a crash on a flight from Colorado to Idaho. The defendant-manufacturer is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Alabama. The case was brought in Colorado. The defendant-appellant’s website allowed fixed-base operators (FBOs) to obtain unlimited access to its online service manuals in exchange for an annual fee. A Colorado-based FBO who participated in the program serviced the aircraft involved in the crash. The Tenth Circuit held the defendant-appellant’s website, its online service manuals, and the service company’s participation in the FBO program were insufficient to establish specific personal jurisdiction under any of the three “purposeful direction” tests – continuing relationships, market exploration, or harmful effects.

Farrell v. Montoya,
878 F.3d 933 (10th Cir. Dec. 27, 2017)

Farrell argued that Officer Montoya had violated her Fourth Amendment Rights by firing three shots at her minivan as she drove away from a traffic stop. The Tenth Circuit held that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity against a claim of excessive force. Under the Fourth Amendment, a claim for excessive force requires a seizure of the suspect. A seizure can only occur if the suspect submits to police authority, and it must be more than a temporary halt. Because the minivan was fleeing when Montoya fired the shots, no seizure occurred, and a claim for excessive force could not succeed.

United States v. Saulsberry,
878 F.3d 946 (10th Cir. Dec. 28, 2017)

The defendant conditionally pled guilty to possession of unauthorized credit cards with intent to defraud. Reversing the denial of the motion to suppress, the Tenth Circuit held that an officer unreasonably expanded the scope of an otherwise permissible traffic stop when the officer took credit cards out of the defendant’s bag and examined them without probable cause to support a credit-card offense.