U.S. Seventh Circuit - FindLaw

U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


A Mongolian business man will get a second chance at asylum after the Seventh Circuit found that his credibility was inappropriately denied based on poorly conducted airport interviews. Gonchigsharav Nadmid had arrived in the United States in 2009, seeking asylum from alleged corruption and abuse by Mongolian politicians.

An immigration judge found Nadmid to lack credibility, however, based largely on airport interviews conducted on his arrival -- and in Russian. Since those interviews revealed a significant language barrier, the Seventh Circuit held, the immigration judge was wrong to rely on them to discount Nadmid's credibility.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson's suit challenging Obamacare's changes to congressional health plans was dismissed by the Seventh Circuit for lack of standing on Tuesday. Johnson and his legislative counsel had sued after the Affordable Care Act resulted in changes to their healthcare options, including federal subsidies for their health care plans. Johnson, however, had purchased his own private healthcare instead of participating in the federal program.

The two couldn't show an injury, needed to provide standing to sue, a unanimous Seventh Circuit ruled. The government had simply provided them a benefit which they refused.

Remember the days before unlimited text messaging plans? Text messages seemed to cost an obscene amount of money. If you actually calculated the data cost, at 20 cents per text, it averaged out to over $1,300 per megabyte.

The current litigation in the Seventh Circuit is now over four years old. It's a class action brought by text messaging customers claiming wireless providers conspired to drive up text message prices in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. After all that time, a district court granted summary judgment for the wireless carriers and dismissed the case. Last week, in an opinion by Judge Richard Posner, the Seventh Circuit affirmed.

Insurance companies who lost billions after the September 11th terrorist attacks won't be able to recover that money from $6 million in seized terrorist accounts, the Seventh Circuit ruled last week. Though the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) authorizes the use of such assets to pay judgments against terrorists, these funds fall into one of the act's exceptions.

It's not all bad news for victims of terrorism, though. While the insurers won't be able to collect from these funds, the Seventh split with the Fifth and adopted a broad reading of TRIA's "notwithstanding any provision of law" clause, finding it allowed claimants to avoid innocent ownership requirements of civil forfeiture law.

Are window washers exempt from overtime? They very well could be, the Seventh Circuit said in an opinion issued on April 1 (which is no joke, by the way).

Judge Richard Posner wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel in affirming a grant of summary judgment to window-cleaning company CCS against several current and former employees who claimed window washers didn't fall outside one of the exceptions to overtime in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Indiana has been in the news for the last week, and not for a good reason. Last week, Indiana Governor Mike Pence quietly signed into law the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which in many ways mirrors similar statutes enacted in 19 other states.

Gay rights advocates pointed out, however, that the Indiana law differs significantly from other laws in that it may allow "religious freedom" as a defense to discrimination even in civil causes of action, and even allows corporations to discriminate, with the ability to assert religion as a defense.

The Seventh Circuit last week allowed a prisoner's lawsuit to proceed, overruling a district court that tossed the case on summary judgment.

Marshall King, a county jail prisoner in Illinois, was forced to wear a transparent jumpsuit "that exposed his genitals and buttocks" while being transferred to state prison. The requirement appeared to be unique to King's jail, as other prisoners being transferred weren't wearing such outfits. When King complained to guards about the jumpsuit, they laughed at him.

It's a rare event, indeed, when a federal circuit court actually grants a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The federal habeas corpus standard is fairly unforgiving, granting great deference to lower courts and construing ambiguities in the law against the petitioner.

Owens v. Duncan, however, is a pretty clear-cut case of a defendant who was afforded very little of the process he was due. Judge Richard Posner showed little patience for a case based on "the combination of weak proof with a verdict based on groundless conjecture."

Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court declined to invent a new evidentiary privilege called the "self-critical analysis privilege," suggesting instead that if such a thing were to exist, it would be the state legislature's job to create it.

The case involves the death of a seven-month-old child while the child and her mother were in a state program for reuniting families.

When Elena Fridman authorized her mortgage payment online, she thought she'd met her obligations to pay on time. But her mortgage servicer, NYCB Mortgage Co., disagreed. Because it took NYCB two days to process her payment, they did not consider it received "on time" and charged Fridman a late fee. Fridman sued, and the Seventh Circuit recently ruled that her payment was valid on the day she authorized it.

Under the ruling, mortgage services must credit payments made on their websites at the time the borrower approves it, not at the point they actual electronic transfer of funds is completed.