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

November 2009 News

Musch v. Domtar Indus., Inc., No. 08-4305

In plaintiff's suit on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, seeking compensation for the time spent changing clothes and showering at the end of each work shift at defendant's paper mill, summary judgment in favor of defendant is affirmed where: 1) plaintiffs' daily post-shift activities are done under normal conditions and are merely postliminary non-compensable activities; and 2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's motion to reconsider in concluding that plaintiff merely rehashed the arguments he had made at summary judgment and failed to present evidence of extraordinary and exceptional circumstances under Rule 60(b)(6).     

Read Musch v. Domtar Indus., Inc., No. 08-4305

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

Decided November 25, 2009

Judges

Before:  Bauer, Kanne and Evans,  Circuit Judges

Opinion by Bauer, Judge

US v. Harris, No. 07-4017

District court's conviction of defendant for being a felon in possession of a firearm and of possessing a mixture containing crack cocaine with the intent to distribute is affirmed as the court did not err in admitting: 1) testimony concerning defendant's prior drug sales as it was relevant to show that he intended to distribute the drugs he held; 2) testimony from defendant's girlfriend concerning a statement he made to her about having guns, the admission of which was harmless in light of his admission to the officers that he had stored two guns in her apartment that very morning; and 3) testimony from a police sergeant, even though it might have suggested defendant's membership in a gang, as the testimony helped establish that defendant had possessed the firearms.     

Read US v. Harris, No. 07-4017

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

Decided November 25, 2009

Judges

Before:  Easterbrook, Chief Judge, and Williams and Sykes, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Easterbrook, Chief Judge

Ford v. Minteq Shapes & Serv., Inc., No. 09-2140

In plaintiff's Title VII case against his employer for racial harassment, discriminatory wage, and retaliation, district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer is affirmed where: 1) there is no genuine issues of fact with respect to the existence of racial harassment; 2) plaintiff has failed to satisfy the fourth element regarding disparate wage treatment because he adduced no evidence that higher paid workers were similarly situated; and 3) plaintiff has failed to present evidence that he suffered an adverse employment action because he engaged in an activity protected by Title VII.   

Read Ford v. Minteq Shapes & Serv., Inc., No. 09-2140

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division

Decided November 24, 2009

Judges

Before:  Bauer and Wood, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Bauer, Judge

Little Co. of Mary Hosp. v. Sebelius, No. 09-1665

Judgment of the district court affirming Provider Reimbursement Board's (Board) dismissal of plaintiff's request that their assigned Medicare financial intermediary reopen and reconsider several issues in the hospital's cost report from 1998 is affirmed where: 1) the evidence in the record supports the Board's dismissal of plaintiff's challenge to the Supplemental Security Income Fraction; and 2) district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's two discovery motions.   

Read Little Co. of Mary Hosp. v. Sebelius, No. 09-1665

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

Decided November 24, 2009

Judges

Before:  Posner, Flaum, and Rovner, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Flaum,  Circuit Judge

Sherwood v. Marquette Transp. Co., LLC, No. 09-2045

In plaintiff's suit against his employer under the Jones Act and general maritime law for injuries he suffered while working as a deckhand, defendant-employer's appeal of a district court's denial of its motion to stay the suit in favor of arbitration is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction under 9 U.S.C. section 16(a)(1)(A) as: 1) section 16 is part of the Federal Arbitration Act, and as such, under the language of section 1, does not apply to any employment contract involving a seaman; and 2) section also is inapplicable, and defendant's motion for a stay did not rely on it. 

Read Sherwood v. Marquette Transp. Co., LLC, No. 09-2045

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois

Decided November 23, 2009

Judges

Before:  Easterbrook, Chief Judge, and  Evans, and Williams, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Easterbrook, Chief Judge

Hukic v. Aurora Loan Serv., No. 07-3826

In plaintiff's suit against defendants claiming breach of contract, tortious interference, and violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, arising from a six-figure mortgage he obtained at an interest rate of 10.65% where he was to make monthly payments as well as taxes, insurance premiums and other charges and fees, summary judgment in defendants' favor and dismissal of plaintiff's claims for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress is affirmed because plaintiff did not comply with the terms of his agreement that required him to submit proof of payment.   

Hukic v. Aurora Loan Serv., No. 07-3826

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

Decided November 20, 2009

Judges

Before:  Bauer, Evans, and Williams, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Williams, Circuit Judge

Curia v. Nelson, No. 07-2766

In parties' dispute over the terms of a stock purchase agreement entered into in 1989 and several modification of the agreement over the next decade involving a small number of shares in two automobile dealerships and whether the contract also gave plaintiff option to purchase remaining shares, summary judgment in plaintiff's favor is reversed as extrinsic evidence is required to clarify what the parties meant because the contract as modified is reasonably susceptible to both parties' interpretation and is therefore ambiguous regarding the survival of the options.     

Curia v. Nelson, No. 07-2766

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Western Division

Decided November 20, 2009

Judges

Before:  Williams, and Kanne and Sykes, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Circuit Judge Sykes

Scruggs v. Garst Seed Co., No. 07-2266

In an action raising claims of retaliation and a hostile work environment, summary judgment in favor of plaintiff's former employer is affirmed where: 1) the company did not retaliate against plaintiff for filing the discrimination charge when it eliminated her position as it was eliminated by a company-wide restructuring; 2) although plaintiff claims that the company also retaliated against her when it did not hire her for one of the open positions after the restructuring, it hired the person who had previously held the position; and 3) the relatively isolated gender-based comments and remarks plaintiff's supervisor directed toward her were not sufficiently severe or pervasive to rise to the level of a hostile work environment.     

Scruggs v. Garst Seed Co., No. 07-2266

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division

Decided November 20, 2009

Judges

Before:  Bauer, Wood, and Williams, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Williams, Circuit Judge

US v. Miller, No. 09-2256

District court's order to destroy 34 firearms and for the defendant to collect just compensation from the government arising from his conviction of aiding and abetting the possession of firearms by a felon, is vacated and remanded as, because the government did not commence a timely forfeiture proceeding, defendant's property interest in the firearms continues even though his possessory interest has been curtailed, and as such, if the government does not want to sell the firearms for his account, then it must offer defendant some other lawful option, such as having a trustee sell or hold the guns, or giving them to someone who can be relied on to treat them as his own.   

Read US v. Miller, No. 09-2256

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division

Decided November 19, 2009

Judges

Before:  Easterbrook, Chief Judge, and Kanne and Tinder, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Easterbrook, Chief Judge

Boyer v. Crown Stock Distrib., Inc. , No. 09-1699

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings, district court's judgment in favor of the trustee, who had filed an adversary action against the defendants claiming fraudulent conveyance under the section 4(a)(2) of the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, is affirmed in part and reversed in part where: 1) bankruptcy court did not commit clear error in finding that statutory condition for a fraudulent conveyance was satisfied; and 2) district court's ruling with respect to the dividend is reversed as the trustee is entitled to the dividend because it was an integral part of the leveraged buy-out.   

Read Boyer v. Crown Stock Distrib., Inc. , No. 09-1699

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

Decided November 18, 2009

Judges

Before:  Posner, Rovner, and Williams, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Posner, Circuit Judge

Bandak v. Eli Lilly, No. 09-1620

District court's judgment in favor of plaintiff in his ERISA suit against his former employer's retirement plan is affirmed as defendant's rejection of plaintiff's claim was not substantially justified in reducing his benefits under the 1997 amendment after he transferred from the United Kingdom to the US affiliate.   

Read Bandak v. Eli Lilly, No. 09-1620

 

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division

Decided November 18, 2009

Judges

Before:  Posner, Rovner, and Williams, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Posner, Circuit Judge

US v. Skoien, No. 08-3770

Conviction of defendant for possessing a firearm after having been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 922(g)(9) is vacated and remanded where: 1) on the facts of the case, the intermediate scrutiny applies; and 2) the government has done almost nothing to discharge the burden of establishing a reasonable fit between the statute's means and its end.   

Read US v. Skoien, No. 08-3770

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

Decided November 18, 2009

Judges

Before:   Bauer, Sykes, and Tinder, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Sykes, Circuit Judge

US v. Rogers, No. 08-1516

In a prosecution of defendant for attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity and for using the Internet to attempt to transfer obscene material to a minor, district court's exclusion of prosecution's Rule 413 evidence of two prior instances of similar conduct, is reversed and remanded as the record causes doubt whether the district court fully appreciated the legal relation between Rules 413 and 403. 

Read US v. Rogers, No. 08-1516

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

Decided November 10, 2009

Judges

Before: Cudhay, Flaum, and Wood, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Wood, Circuit Judge

O'Neal v. City of Chicago, No. 09-1716

In plaintiff's second employment discrimination suit against the Chicago Police Department (CPD) claiming retaliation and sex discrimination, summary judgment in favor of CPD is affirmed where: 1) plaintiff provided insufficient evidence that she suffered an adverse employment action because she engaged in statutorily protected activity by direct method of proof that either of her two actionable transfers occurred because of her prior lawsuit or her 2006 grievance; 2) plaintiff did not provide sufficient evidence to establish a causal connection under the indirect method of proof; and 3) plaintiff failed on her sex discrimination claim for the same reason as her retaliation claim, as she failed to adduce any evidence indicating that her actionable transfers were because of her sex.     

Read O'Neal v. City of Chicago, No. 09-1716

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

Decided November 17, 2009

Judges

Before:   Bauer, Wood, and Williams, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Bauer, Circuit Judge

US v. Ye, No. 08-1333

Defendant's conviction for concealing, harboring, or shielding from detection illegal aliens and hiring illegal aliens is affirmed where: 1) the district court's supplemental jury instruction on the meaning of "shielding" was not erroneous; and 2) the evidence was sufficient to prove defendant intended to prevent government authorities from detecting the presence of the illegal aliens. 

Read US v. Ye, No. 08-1333

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois

Decided November 17, 2009

Judges

Before:  BauerManion, and Sykes, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Manion, Circuit Judge

Bloch v. Frischholz, No. 06-3376

In plaintiffs' Fair Housing Act (FHA) suit against their condo association for being required to remove a mezuzah from their doorpost under a new rule requiring that common hallways and outside of the doors be kept free of any objects, district court's grant of summary judgment in favor the condo association and its president is reversed for the most part where: 1) the judgment of the district court with respect to plaintiffs' claims under sections 3604(b), 3617 and 1982 is reversed as a trier of fact could conclude that the condo association's  reinterpretation of the hallway rule and clearing of all objects from doorposts was intended to target only group of residents for which the prohibited practice was religiously required; 2) plaintiffs can therefore proceed on an intentional discrimination theory under sections 3604(b), 3617 and 1982; and 3) district court's judgment granting summary judgment against the plaintiffs on their section 3604(a) claim is affirmed.   

Read Bloch v. Frischholz, No. 06-3376

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

Decided November 13, 2009

Judges

Before:  Easterbrook, Chief Judge, and Bauer, Kanne, Wood, Evans, Sykes, Tinder and Posner, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Tinder, Circuit Judge

US v. Robinson, No. 08-4251

District court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress a statement he gave to law enforcement agents implicating himself in criminal firearms trafficking is affirmed as, district court did not commit clear error in finding that defendant initiated conversation with law enforcement, and thus, the law enforcement agents did not interrogate defendant in violation of his Fifth Amendment right to counsel, and the court properly denied defendant's motion to suppress his incriminating statements.   

Read US v. Robinson, No. 08-4251

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

Decided November 10, 2009

Judges

Before:  Posner, Manion, and Evans, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Manion, Circuit Judge

Wetzler v. Illinois CPA Soc'y & Found., No. 08-2923

In plaintiff's ERISA suit against the Illinois CPA Society & Foundation Retirement Income Plan (Plan) for denying his request for a lump-sum distribution, district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants is affirmed where: 1) the district court applied the correct standard of review to both the administrator's interpretation of the terms of the Plan and the legal determination of whether the plan violated the anti-cutback provisions of ERISA; 2) administrator's interpretation of the plan such that a lump-sum benefits was not available to plaintiff prior to Amendment One is well-reasoned and not arbitrary and capricious; 3) Amendment One did not eliminate an "optional form of benefit" and does not violate ERISA's anti-cutback provision because the plan participants were not entitled, under the Plan, to a lump-sum distribution; and 4) administrator's decision to deny a lump-sum distribution to plaintiff was not arbitrary and capricious as it would have put the Plan in deficit and would have violated the Internal Revenue Code, thus risking the tax status of the plan for all of its participants.     

Read Wetzler v. Illinois CPA Soc'y & Found., No. 08-2923

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois

Decided November 10, 2009

Judges

Before:  Kanne and Manion, Circuit Judges, and Kendall, District Judge

Opinion by Manion, Circuit Judge

Bond v. Utreras, No. 07-2651

An independent journalist's petition for permission to intervene to challenge a protective order that prohibited public disclosure of confidential voluminous materials relating to citizen complaints against the officers  after a plaintiff's settlement against the city of Chicago and several members of its police department, district court's order simultaneously granting the journalist's request to intervene and lifting the order in its entirety is vacated because the petition to intervene should have been dismissed for lack of standing where: 1) the controversy originally supporting the court's jurisdiction no longer existed at the time the court acted on the petition; 2) the parties had settled; 3) the case was dismissed with prejudice; and 4) neither plaintiff nor the city asked the court to revisit and modify the terms of the protective order postjudgment.  Furthermore, the district court lacked any alternative jurisdictional basis to revisit and revoke the protective order sua sponte as there is no presumption of public access emanating from Rule 26(c)'s good cause requirement for discovery that is not party of the court file.     

Read Bond v. Utreras, No. 07-2651

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

Decided November 10, 2009

Judges

Before:  Kanne, Sykes, and Tinder, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Sykes, Circuit Judge

US v. Christianson, No. 09-1526

Convictions and sentences of defendants, members of the Earth Liberation Front which has been identified by the FBI as domestic eco-terrorist group, for destroying government property is affirmed where: 1) the district court did not err in holding that defendants' conduct caused the Forest Service to suffer a loss in its loss-amount calculation; and 2) defendant's argument that he's not the sort of person who should be labeled a terrorist and that the terrorism enhancement does not apply unless his crime transcended national boundaries is without merit.     

Read US v. Christianson, No. 09-1526

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

Decided November 9, 2009

Judges

Before:  Posner, Manion, and Tinder, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Manion, Circuit Judge

US v. Owens, No. 09-1279

District court's imposition of an enhancement under U.S.S.G. section 2G2.2(b)(3)(B) on a defendant convicted of transportation and possession of child pornography is affirmed where, although defendant did not have an explicit agreement or precise bargain with the woman, the content of his conversations lead to the conclusion that he reasonably anticipated or believed that his exchange of child pornography would result in a sexual encounter with the woman and her children.     

Read US v. Owens, No. 09-1279

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Bend Division

Decided November 6, 2009

Judges

Before:  Ripple, Kanne, and Sykes, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Kanne, Circuit Judge

Lake v. Neal, No. 08-3765

In plaintiff's class action lawsuit against the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners (Board) alleging violation of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), dismissal of the complaint is affirmed as, since a voter registration form filled out at the DMV is not a motor vehicle record under the DPPA, the Board could not have violated the DPPA by disclosing plaintiff's personal information to the extent that it did. 

Read Lake v. Neal, No. 08-3765

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

Decided November 6, 2009

Judges

Before: Easterbrook, Chief Judge, and Evans and Bauer, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Evans, Circuit Judge

US v. Schultz, No. 09-1192

District court's conviction of defendant for being a felon in possession of a firearm is affirmed where: 1) the 18 U.S.C. section 921(a)(20)(A) exclusion does not apply to defendant's predicate conviction; 2) section 921(a)(20)(A) is not impermissibly vague, as an ordinary individual would have notice that the exception applies only if he or she committed an enumerated or similar offense related to the regulation of business practices; 3) the district court did not clearly err in denying defendant's request to conduct a Franks hearing; and 4) defendant's claim that district court erred in denying his motion to suppress the statements that he made when his home was searched is without merit.  

Read US v. Schultz, No. 09-1192

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division

Decided November 5, 2009

Judges

Before:  Bauer, Rovner, and Williams, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Bauer, Circuit Judge

Schrock v. Learning Curve Int'l, Inc., No. 08-1296

In plaintiff's copyright infringement action against defendant who had hired him to take photos of the "Thomas & Friends" toy train characters for use in promotions, district court's dismissal of his complaint is reversed where: 1) the photos qualify for the limited derivative-work copyright provided by section 103(b) as plaintiff's artistic and technical choices combine to create a two-dimensional image that is subtly but nonetheless sufficiently his own; and 2) district court erred in concluding that plaintiff needed defendant's permission to copyright the photos, as there is nothing in the Copyright Act requiring the author of a derivative work to obtain permission to copyright his work from the owner of the copyright in the underlying work.     

Read Schrock v. Learning Curve Int'l, Inc., No. 08-1296

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Eastern Division

Decided November 5, 2009

Judges

Before:  Flaum, Sykes, and Williams, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Sykes, Circuit Judge

US v. Bell, No. 07-3806

Denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence of crack cocaine and firearm found during search of his home is reversed as the warrant was not supported by probable cause because an affidavit failed to establish the reliability of the informants, and law enforcement officers did not sufficiently corroborate the informants' reports.     

Read US v. Bell, No. 07-3806

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois

Decided November 5, 2009

Judges

Before:  Manion, Wood, and Williams, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Wiliams, Circuit Judge

US v. Hampton, No. 07-3134

Defendant's conviction for possession of a firearm by a felon is affirmed where: 1) officers had reasonable suspicion to stop the SUV in which defendant was riding; and 2) there was sufficient evidence to show that the defendant constructively or actually possessed the gun. However, the sentence of 387 months' imprisonment is vacated and remanded where, although the district court was correct that a conviction for residential entry in Indiana qualifies as a "violent felony" for the purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act, defendant's conviction for criminal recklessness in Indiana does not qualify. 

Read US v. Hampton, No. 07-3134

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division

Decided November 4, 2009

Judges

Before:  Easterbrook, Chief Judge, and Posner and Williams, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Wiliams, Circuit Judge

US v. Vaughn, No. 08-4169

District court's conviction of defendant for drug related crimes is affirmed where: 1) evidence was sufficient to prove that defendant possessed the rifle in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and 2) defendant's admissions regarding the amount of drugs were sufficient to support the district court's relevant conduct findings.    

Read US v. Vaughn, No. 08-4169

Appellate Information

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division

Decided November 3, 2009

Judges

Before:  Kanne, Wood, and  Rovner, Circuit Judges

Opinion by Rovner, Circuit Judge