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

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.

T.D. v.  Patton
— F.3d —, 2017 WL 3687935 (10th Cir. August 28, 2017)

The defendant social worker appealed from the district court’s denial of her motion for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity in this case involving a substantive due process claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.  The plaintiff asserted that claim under the “state-created danger” theory, on the basis the social worker had temporarily placed him with his biological father – a registered sex offender who sexually and physically assaulted him – as a dependent or neglected child while in his mother’s custody.  After providing a useful discussion of the state-created danger theory, the Tenth Circuit held the social worker’s conduct violated clearly established law, such that she was not entitled to qualified immunity.

United States v. Haymond
—F.3d—, 2017 WL 3752465 (August 31, 2017)

The district court revoked the defendant’s supervised release in part because it found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant had knowingly been in possession of child pornography. Under 18 U.S.C. § 3583, revocation of parole for possession of child pornography triggers a mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ re-incarceration. The 10th Circuit overturned the sentence, holding that § 3583 violates the Sixth Amendment because it punishes the defendant with re-incarceration for conduct of which he has not been found guilty by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

United States v. Thompson
866 F.3d 1149 (10th Cir. Aug. 8, 2017)

As a matter of first impression, the Tenth Circuit held obtaining historical cell-service location information under the Stored Communications Act did not require a warrant, because cell-phone users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in location data voluntarily conveyed to cell-service providers. 

City of Albuquerque v. Soto Enterprises
864 F.3d 1089 (July 25, 2017)

This was an appeal from a district court’s decision to remand a case after concluding that the defendant had waived its rights to remove. The 10th Circuit affirmed, holding that by filing a motion to dismiss in state court, even only an hour prior to filing a notice of removal, the Defendant had waived its rights to remove.

Punt v. Kelly Services
862 F.3d 1040 (July 6, 2017)

The plaintiff–employee appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants on her failure-to-accommodate claim under the American’s with Disabilities Act and her genetic information discrimination claim under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.  In evaluating the employee’s ADA claim, the Tenth Circuit held that a failure-to-accommodate claim does not require any evidence of discriminatory intent and, thus, is not properly characterized as a circumstantial evidence claim subject to the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework or a direct evidence claim.