Tuesday, September 21, 2010

State ex rel. Kansas City Power & Light Co. v. McBeth[1]

Opinion handed down September 21, 2010
Link to Mo. Sup. Ct. Opinion

Missouri imposes an ad valorem tax on electric utility facilities, requiring each company to “file a report with the county assessor describing its local property situated in the county and the ‘true value in money thereof.’”[2] Once the assessor receives that report, she certifies its accuracy, values the property, and sends her report to the state tax commission.[3] This case involved a dispute over the assessor’s valuation of Kansas City Power & Light Company’s two Platte County facilities.[4] A local school district and two of its school board members (collectively “West Platte”) brought suit against the Platte County assessor, arguing that she violated state law by undervaluing KCPL’s property, leading to a loss of revenue to the district.[5] After West Platte filed suit, KCPL intervened and filed motions to dismiss, which were denied by the Honorable Gerald McBeth of the Vernon County Circuit Court.[6] As a result, KCPL petitioned the Court of Appeals “to prohibit [Judge McBeth’s] purported exercise of jurisdiction over the lawsuit,” but the petition was denied.[7] The Supreme Court of Missouri reversed, instituting preliminary and permanent writs of prohibition and holding that “KCPL and the assessor’s motions to dismiss should have been granted” because West Platte lacked standing to challenge KCPL’s assessments and the assessor did not violate any statutory requirements.[8]

Monday, September 20, 2010

Westerfeld v. Independent Processing, LLC[1]

Opinion handed down September 20, 2010.
Link to Eighth Circuit Opinion

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals examined the meaning and applicability of the “local-controversy exception” to the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. In particular, the court said that, for the purposes of the “significant defendant” provision of the exception, a court must consider a class action suit as a whole, instead of separately examining significant defendant status for each count, as the district court did. Therefore, the Eighth Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment and remanded the case for further consideration.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In re Aurora Dairy Corp. Organic Milk Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation[1]

Opinion issued September 15, 2010
Link to Eighth Circuit Opinion

In a consolidated class action dispute regarding federal laws pertaining to certification of organically produced goods, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held that (1) state laws that interfere with the federal certification process are subject to conflict preemption and (2) if preemption defeats the purpose of the Federal law, the state law claims are not preempted.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

United States v. Miller[1]

Opinion handed down September 9, 2010
Link to Eighth Circuit Opinion

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed a conviction for felony possession of a firearm. The court found that the trial court had abused its discretion by allowing the prosecution to misstate the burden of proof needed to find the defendant guilty. The case was reversed and remanded.