U.S. Seventh Circuit - FindLaw

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


Arguably, it was a simple reporting mistake. But that simple mistake could cost legal tabloid-blog Above The Law as much as $50 million.

Meanith Huon, 44, is a Chicago attorney. He was once accused of and charged with rape. A jury, however, made short work of the charges and acquitted him. An ATL blogger, while the case was pending, mistook past news reports about the same incident as prior accusations of rape, falsely branding Huon as a serial rapist with a few careless keystrokes.

Huon responded by branding the reporting mistake as defamation. And earlier this month, a district court judge allowed his claim against ATL to move forward.

In a pair of cases in March, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously struck down the state's eavesdropping law. Illinois was a two-party consent state, meaning both parties had to consent to the recording. As interpreted by the court, however, the law's fatal flaw was that it also applied to speech made even in a place where people had no privacy expectation -- like out in public.

Apparently not one to say "no," both houses of Illinois' legislature passed a new version of the law that critics say suffers from the same constitutional defects as the old one.

Motorola makes phones. It makes nearly all of those phones in Asia. It buys its components from Asian suppliers. So, for all you 1Ls out there, here is the question: can a U.S. company sue on behalf of its Asian subsidiaries over price fixing that occurred in commerce that was exclusively carried out in Asia?

It is, after all, a U.S. parent company. But the subsidiary companies are Asian and the suppliers are Asian. The answer to this law school hypothetical (and Seventh Circuit case) is a resounding no.

As we give thanks this year, we wondered, what is there to be thankful for in the Seventh Circuit?

Partly it's that we never stop to consider the court beyond its opinions (and partly it's a slow news week in the Seventh). When we crunched the numbers, we found out there was a lot of great stuff happening in the court of appeals that covers Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. Here are just five of them.

Judge Richard Posner is known for his way with words, especially his ability to criticize deserving parties in a caustic, humorous, and legally sound manner. So on first glance, it may seem strange that he'd criticize a district court judge for his "tone of derision that pervades his opinion" before reassigning the case on remand.

Except there is one big difference: Posner's opinions stand on solid ground. U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur's opinion, and his handling of an employment discrimination case, seem to have been far less stable, reports the ABA Journal. While Posner hesitated to call out Shadur by name in his opinion (hat tip to the ABA for digging up the district court opinion), his treatment of Shadur's work was otherwise classic, unrestrained Posner.

For some reason, criminals think there is magic in the phrase: "You gotta tell me if you're a cop." Except there isn't and really, police don't. This lead to Leslie Mayfield's predicament. Mayfield was set up by undercover government agents to rob a fake drug "stash" house. Mayfield tried to invoke the "entrapment" defense, but predictably, the court said no. Mayfield was convicted and sentenced to a "whopping" 322 months in prison (that's almost 27 years).

In this opinion from an en banc rehearing, the Seventh Circuit took a long, concerted look at entrapment, concluding that, because it's a fact-based defense, it should have at least been submitted to the jury for consideration. The opinion attempts to settle some confusion within the circuit about the appropriate standard for entrapment.

Illinois of course prohibits people under 21 from drinking alcohol. Except that it's permitted "in the performance of a religious ceremony or service." Students attending ostensibly religious functions (a.k.a. "parties") at the Tannenbaum Chabad house at Northwestern University did indeed consume alcohol there -- so much, in fact, that one student had to be hospitalized for excessive consumption.

A discrimination suit against the university arose after Chabad's advisor, Rabbi Klein, failed to make any changes to the house, resulting in the university "disaffiliating" itself from Chabad and barring Klein from contracting with a food company called Sodexo to provide rabbinic supervision over its kosher food.

A federal district court dismissed the case, and so too did the Seventh Circuit.

Robin Meade was an adjunct professor at Moraine Valley Community College in the Chicago suburbs. While we recently blogged about why lawyers might want to be adjuncts, Meade was none too pleased with the way the college treated her and other adjuncts. She said so in a letter to the college, signed by her in her capacity as president of the Moraine Valley Adjunct Faculty Organization (MVAFO).

Two days later, Meade was fired. The college made it clear that she was fired for the letter she wrote. She sued -- which you'd do, right? Seems like the college retaliated for exercising her First Amendment rights. Incredibly, though, the district court dismissed her complaint for failure to state a claim.

Believe it or not, federal law prohibits disclosing a person's videotape rental records. Congress passed the Video Privacy Protection Act after Judge Robert Bork's video rental history was leaked during his failed nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. (The author of a widely read article on "The Bork Tapes," Michael Dolan, said that the leak was a response to Bork's assertions that only statutes, and not the Constitution, could protect the right to privacy.)

Kevin Sterk and Jiah Jung live in the year 2014. They're users of the DVD-rental service Redbox, and they sued under the video rental history law, claiming that Redbox violated the law by forwarding customer information to a company called Stream.

Debra Kauffman worked as a hairdresser at a nursing home. Part of her duties involved regular hairdresser-type stuff, but two days a week, she had to wheel residents who were in wheelchairs to and from their appointments in the nursing home's beauty shop. The trip from residential room to beauty shop took her 500 feet, at most, and over some ramps. Residents ranged in weight from 75 to 400 pounds, with an average of about 120 pounds.

Kauffman underwent surgery in 2010, requiring her not to push or lift anything during the recovery period. Her doctor wrote a letter to her employer saying so, but the employer said it couldn't accommodate her disability, so Kauffman quit and filed an ADA claim.