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

May 2010 News

Denial of Albanian Nationals' Application for Asylum Affirmed

Rama v. Holder, No. 09-2156, concerned a petition for review of BIA's affirmance of an IJ's denial of Albanian family's application for asylum and an order of removal. 

In denying the petition, the court held that the IJ's credibility determination is supported by reasonable, substantial, and probative evidence on the record considered as a whole.  Consequently, because the court determined that petitioner's asylum claim fails, the court also affirmed the denial of petitioner's claim for withholding of deportation.

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Habitat Educ. Ctr. v. U.S. Forest Serv., No. 09-278, concerned a nonprofit environmental organization's suit against the U.S. forest service to obtain judicial review of the service's decision to allow several thousand acres of a national forest in Wisconsin to be logged.  In affirming the district court's denial of plaintiff's request to rescind or modify the injunction bond order, the court held that plaintiff's argument that nonprofit entities should be exempt from having to post injunction bonds flies in the face of Rule 65(c).   

CE Design, Ltd. v. Prism Bus. Media, Inc., No. 09-3172, concerned a plaintiff's suit under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), against the defendant for sending a fax advertising a trade show to the plaintiff.  In affirming the district court's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment, the court held that the district court correctly determined that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the validity of the "established business relationship" (EBR) defense.  The court also held that the district court correctly determined that the EBR exemption applies in this case as the parties' publisher-subscriber relationships falls within the scope of business relationships the FCC intended the EBR defense to cover.   

Poer v. Astrue, No. 09-3473, concerned a Title VII suit brought by an employee of the Social Security Administration, alleging that the Administration failed to promote him because he had testified on behalf of two other employees.  In affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Administration, the court held that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action of not being promoted.   

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Wallace v. McGlothan, No. 07-4059, concerned a plaintiffs' medical malpractice suit against a doctor for permanent injury to plaintiff's eye as a result of negligently performed LASIK surgery.  In affirming the district court's denial of defendant's motions for judgment as a matter of law, the court held that the evidence was sufficient to show that the doctor's negligence was the proximate cause of the plaintiffs' injuries and the doctor has not shown any perjury or discovery violations by the plaintiffs that would warrant reversal.  

Leonard v. E. Illinois Univ., No. 09-2443, concerned a Title VII suit against a University brought by a Native American employee claiming that a promotion denial was motivated by anti-Native American bias.  In affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the University, the court held that the plaintiff lacks evidence that the University officials refused to promote him in retaliation for his civil rights complaint concerning University athletic shirts depicting an Indian Chief, or for any reason other than his relatively poor performance. 

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Criminal Cases Re Child Pornography and Falsifying Tax Returns

In US v. Allen, No. 09-2539, the Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to a conviction of defendant for advertising, transporting, and possessing child pornography, claiming that the district court erred in denying his for-cause challenge to a prospective juror and for admitting portion of his chat log where he claimed to have molested minors. In affirming the conviction, the court held that the district court was within its discretion in determining that the prospective juror's prior experience of a kidnapping attempt on her daughter would not impede her ability to decide the case fairly.  With respect to the chat log evidence, the court held that even if it was an error for the district court to admit potions of chat log into evidence, the error was harmless because the government presented plenty of other evidence cumulative of the proper purposes for which they otherwise may have been admitted.   

US v. Kruse, No. 09-4077, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for conspiracy to defraud the United States and for filing false income tax returns.  The court rejected defendant's claim that the government did not prove that his conduct was willful as the district court could have inferred that defendant acted willfully based on his own contradictions and personal withdrawals from the business that greatly exceeded his reported income.  Furthermore, the evidence at trial was sufficient to find defendant guilty of the charged offenses beyond a reasonable doubt, including his conviction for conspiracy with the tax preparer.   

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In Estate of Blanco v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., No.08-2074, the Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's affirmance of defendant-Prudential's motion for summary judgment in deceased plaintiff's ERISA suit, arising from a denial of his claim for long term disability (LTD) benefits following a heart attack.  In affirming the decision, the court held that  plaintiff was not eligible for LTD because his disability was due to a preexisting condition under the policy.     

Carmichael v. Village of Palatine, No. 09-1010, concerned plaintiffs' 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against police officers and their employer claiming unreasonable search and seizure, false arrest and excessive force, as well as other state law claims.  In reversing the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants for the most part, the court held that the district court erred in finding that probable cause supported the initial stop of plaintiffs.  The court also reversed district court's judgment with respect to plaintiff's claim that he was searched in a manner violative of his rights under the Fourth Amendment.  However, the district court correctly concluded that all of plaintiffs' pendent state law claims had been waived.     

US v. Ramirez, No. 09-1815, concerned a challenge to the district court's conviction of defendant for possessing more than two tons of marijuana with intent to distribute and imposition of a 300 month sentence as a career offender.  In affirming the conviction and the sentence, the court held that, on plain-error review, the burden of demonstrating both error and prejudice is on the defendant, and here, defendant not only has not demonstrated that the PSR's statements were incorrect but has not even argued that they could not be supported by allowable sources.     

Alvarez v. City of Chicago, No. 09-2020, concerned two lawsuits against the City of Chicago brought by paramedics, claiming that it willfully failed to properly compensate them for overtime.  In reversing the district court's grant of city's motion for summary judgment, the court held that the district court erred in dismissing the claims of the named plaintiffs as they have the right to proceed individually.  The district court is directed on remand, to consider whether a collective action might be the most efficient judicial resolution of this matter.   

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In Pella Corp. v. Saltzman, No. 09-8025, the Seventh Circuit dealt with defendant's Rule 23(f) appeal of the district court's certification of two classes of plaintiffs in their suit against defendant, a window manufacturer, alleging that defendant committed consumer fraud by not publicly declaring a design defect that caused wood casing the windows to rot.

In granting the defendant's petition and affirming the district court's class certification of two classes, one class being members whose windows have not yet manifested the alleged defect or whose windows have some rotting but have not yet been replaced and the other class consisting of only those members who have had a manifest defect and whose windows have been already replaced, the court held that, although consumer fraud class actions present challenges that a district court must carefully consider, certification is appropriate under the circumstance of this case.     

In Fed. Trade Comm'n v. Trudeau, No. 10-1383, the court faced a challenge to the district court's summary disposition, sentencing defendant to thirty days for direct criminal contempt of court for directing his fans to send emails on his behalf directly to the court during civil contempt proceedings (for violating the terms of a consent order barring him from misrepresenting the content of any of his books on TV).  In vacating the summary punishment, the court held that the district court's summary punishment was an abuse of discretion as defendant's conduct occurred outside the judge's presence as required under Rule 42.     

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Decisions in Civil, Bankruptcy, and Class Action Suits

In US v. Apria Healthcare Group Inc., No. 06-1619, the Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's qui tam action against a healthcare company for fraudulently billing the Medicare and Medicaid programs for medical devices and related services that were unnecessary or should have been recorded under less expensive reimbursement codes with prejudice based on two other similar qui tam actions pending against the same defendant.  In vacating the district court's dismissal, the court held that, although plaintiff's complaint falls within section 3730(b)(5), plaintiff is entitled to file a new qui tam complaint as section 3730(b)(5) applies only while the initial complaint is pending, and here, the two settled cases are no longer pending. 

In re S. Beach Sec., Inc., No.09-3079, concerned a challenge to the district court's affirmance of bankruptcy judge's refusal to confirm the debtor's reorganization plan and dismissal of the bankruptcy proceeding in Chapter 11 proceedings.  First, in affirming the judgment of the district court, the court rejected debtor's argument that the U.S. Trustee lacks standing because he is not a party in interest.  Next, the court held that the reorganization plan had not been proposed in good faith as the debtor's disclosure statement suggests no purpose other than to beat taxes.  Furthermore, the court held that the debtors and the lawyers that appeared for them in court are order to show cause why they should not be sanctioned for their conduct in their frivolous appeal. 

In re Burlington N. Santa Fe Ry. Co., No. 09-8023, concerned a challenge to the judgment of the district court remanding the case to state court following plaintiffs' amendment of the complaint to omit the class allegations in a suit against defendants alleging that their failure to inspect and maintain a railroad trestle caused the town to flood damaging their property.  However, because jurisdiction under CAFA is secure even though after removal the plaintiffs amended their complaint to eliminate the class allegations, and because the well-established general rule is that jurisdiction is determined at the time of removal, and nothing filed after removal affects jurisdiction, judgment of the district court is vacated and remanded. 

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In McClesky v. Astrue, No. 09-2723, the Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's affirmance of the Social Security Administration's denial of petitioner's claim,  for what the petitioner claims to be total disability caused by fibromyalgia and thoracic outlet syndrome (compression of blood vessels or nerves in the region between the collarbone and the highest rib).  In reversing the denial of petitioner's claim, the court reversed and remanded the matter in light of the inadequate analysis of credibility by the administrative law judge and her erroneous assumption that a job as a telemarketer would be consistent with claimant's limitations.     

Ogden v. Atterholt, No. 09-2953, concerned a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit brought by a former employee with the Indiana Department of Insurance claiming that a memo he wrote was protected speech and his forced resignation violated his rights under the First Amendment. 

In affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the court held that, plaintiff's First Amendment rights were not implicated because plaintiff was speaking as a governmental employee and not a citizen when he wrote the memo under Garcetti because his complaints about the Deputy Commissioner and his request for a departmental reorganization were made in the performance of his professional duties as manager of the Title Insurance Division. 

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Gatimi v. Holder, No. 08-3197, concerned a plaintiffs' suit for attorneys' fees and costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act, arising from a reversal of the BIA's denial of the Kenyan couple and their daughter's application for asylum and related relief.  In denying the request, the court held that the government's position was substantially justified as a whole, and the request for an award of costs was untimely.   

Pettitt v. Boeing Co., No. 09-3204, concerned plaintiffs' wrongful death suit arising out of an accident when a Boeing 737 aircraft crashed shortly after take-off in Cameroon, killing all 114 people on board.  In vacating the district court's order remanding the case, sua sponte, on the ground that removal had been defective, the court held that the district court lacked statutory power to enter a remand order, and even if the district court were correct that a defect in removal had occurred, this is merely a procedural defect which was waived.   

In US v. Maiden, No. 09-3747, the court faced a challenge to the district court's application of a two-level bodily injury enhancement to defendant's sentence, convicted of bank robbery and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence.  Here, the judge applied the enhancement based on the bank teller's testimony that they suffered injuries when defendant sprayed them pepper spray, and this is sufficient evidence to determine that defendant inflicted bodily injury during the commission of his crime and the court properly applied the two-point enhancement. 

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In Johnson v. US, No. 08-1777, the Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's denial of defendant's motion to vacate his life sentence for his conviction of possession with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of crack cocaine.  District court's decision is vacated and remanded as defendant established a genuine issue of material fact as to whether his trial counsel's performance was deficient in deciding not to pursue the Fourth Amendment challenge in a motion to suppress, which was based upon a misunderstanding of the applicable law and not based on a reasonable trial strategy. On remand, an evidentiary hearing is necessary to resolve the factual issues of whether defendant consented to a search of his vehicle.     

US v. Taylor, No. 09-2575, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for armed robbery and other related crimes and sentence to 444 months' imprisonment.  In affirming the conviction, the court held that the evidence of defendant's guilt was overwhelming and he cannot prevail by challenging the district court's decision to condition a pastor's testimony on the defendant's taking the stand himself, as the trial court did not abuse its discretion in making this evidentiary determination.     

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DirecTV, Inc. v. Barczewski, No. 06-2219, concerned a DirecTV's suit against two defendants for intercepting encrypted signals from DirecTV's satellite system without authorization and for furnishing devices to assist others to steal the signals.  Judgment of district court against the defendants is affirmed for the most part.  However, the award of damages against the defendant charged with intercepting DirecTV's signal, is vacated as, the portion of Rodgers v. Wood, 910 F.2d 444 (7th Cir. 1990), holding that award of the maximum damages specified in section 2520(c)(2) is mandatory is overruled as the district court has discretion not to award statutory damages under the statutory formula.     

In US v. Anderson, No. 09-1612, the court faced a challenge to the district court's imposition of a maximum sentence of 120 months upon a defendant convicted of possessing an unregistered sawed-off shotgun pursuant to a plea agreement.  Although the government concedes breach in failing to move for a reduction to defendant's offense level pursuant to sentencing guidelines section 3E1.1(b), the sentence is affirmed as defendant has not demonstrated that he was prejudiced by the violation and the court finds no miscarriage of justice in this case.  Furthermore, any procedural flaws in the sentencing hearing are harmless. 

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Summary Judgment For Employer in FMLA Case Reversed

In Goelzer v. Sheboygan County, No. 09-2283, the Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants in plaintiff's suit against her former county employer for her termination two weeks before she was scheduled to begin two months of leave under the  Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), claiming the employer interfered with her right to reinstatement under the Act and retaliated against her for taking FMLA leave. 

As the court wrote: "A jury might be swayed by comments [supervisor] made that could suggest frustration with [plaintiff's] use of FMLA leave.  In her 2002 performance evaluation, for instance, [the supervisor] explicitly contrasted [plaintiff's] use of FMLA leave with her past 'excellent' attendance." 

Thus, in reversing the district court's summary judgment against the plaintiff, the court held that plaintiff has put forth enough evidence for this case to reach a trier of fact, including comments suggesting her supervisor's dissatisfaction with her use of FMLA leave, her positive performance reviews, and the timing of her termination. 

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Dismissal Under Wilton/Brillhart Abstention Doctrine Upheld

Envision Healthcare, Inc. v. PreferredOne Ins. Co., No. 09-2019, concerned an insurance company's third-party suit for indemnification against a wholesale insurance broker in Minnesota state court, arising from a lawsuit brought by an insured for improperly rescinding an insurance policy, and the insurance broker's counterclaim suit against the insurance company in an Illinois federal court. 

The court held that because the third-party proceedings in Minnesota are parallel to the federal case and because it was not an abuse of discretion for the district court to abstain from hearing the declaratory action under the Wilton/Brillhart abstention doctrine, district court's dismissal of the insurance broker's suit against the insurance company in federal court was properly dismissed.       

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In Kodish v. Oakbrook Terrace Fire Prot. Dist., No. 08-1976, , the Seventh Circuit dealt with a former firefighter's suit alleging violation of his due process rights, his First Amendment rights by terminating him for engaging in pro-union speech, and wrongful termination and defamation under Illinois state law.  In reversing the district court's grant of summary judgment for the defendants, the court held that the Illinois Fire Protection Act grants a firefighter an entitlement to continued employment in the absence of cause for discharge after the firefighter has held the position for one year.  The court also held that the plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence that but for his protected pro-union speech, the members of the Board of Trustees of the District, influenced by the Chief, would not have voted to terminate his employment.    

Everroad v. Scott Truch Sys., Inc., No. 08-3311, concerned a plaintiff's suit against her former employer and the company's general manager for gender and age discrimination and retaliation.  First, the court concluded that any argument that the district court abused its discretion in refusing to consider the transcripts of recorded conversations is frivolous. 

Next, in affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants, the court held that the plaintiff is unable to make out a prima facie case of discrimination under the McDonnell Douglas analysis, and she has failed to present any evidence calling into question the sincerity of her employer's non-discriminatory reason for terminating her. Lastly, the court held that the district court properly granted summary judgment on the retaliation claim as she has failed to establish the requisite causal connection between the protected activity and her retaliation because a year is too long in the absence of any other evidence tying the protected activity to the adverse action.   

Fincher v. S. Bend Heritage Found., No. 09-1964, concerned a challenge to the district court's judgment granting summary judgment to the defendant in plaintiff's suit against the South Bend Heritage Foundation for denying his application for Section 8 housing in its building.  First, under Eidson v. Pierce, 745 F.2d 453 (7th. Cir. 1984), Section 8 housing applicants do not have a protected right that entitles them to some form of due process when they are rejected from a specific Section 8 housing unit.  Second, because Eidson was a well-reasoned opinion, and no significant changes in law have occurred between when that case was decided and now, plaintiff's argument that it should be overturned is rejected.  Finally, district court properly rejected plaintiff's claim that he is entitled to bring suit as a third-party beneficiary of a  contract entered into between defendant and its funding agencies, such as HUD.   

In US v. Collins, No. 09-2360, the court faced a challenge to a conviction of defendant for possessing crack cocaine with intent to distribute it and conspiring to distribute.  In affirming the conviction the court held that the district court did not commit clear error in its factual determination on denying defendant's motion to suppress.  Furthermore, the admission of firearm possession evidence against defendant was not so prejudicial as to constitute plain error and defendant has not shown plain error with respect to the admission of evidence of crack cocaine sales and Rule 404(b) did not apply.  The court also held that the district court properly denied defendant's motion for a mistrial.  However, with respect to defendant's sentence, because the district court believed that it could not take into account the disparity between the guidelines advisory ranges for powder and crack cocaine when determining defendant's sentence, the sentence is remanded for resentencing.    

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Wragg v. Village of Thornton, No. 08-3766, concerned a sixteen-year-old's 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against a village and individual defendants, alleging his substantive due process rights were violated by the defendants' deliberate retention of a fire chief, who molested him, despite knowledge of his prior improprieties with other minors.

The court stated that it looks to various factors in determining whether a certain individual or group has policymaking authority on any particular policy decision, and they are: 1) lack of "constraints by policies" made by others; 2) lack of "meaningful review"; and 3) a "grant of authority" to make the policy decision. 

Thus, in affirming the grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants, the court held that the village is not liable for retaining the fire chief because a quorum of the village's board of trustees had no knowledge of his prior sexual misconduct, and plaintiff presented insufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that the president knew that retaining the fire chief posed a substantial risk to plaintiff. 

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Nursing Home Civil Penalty, Plus Criminal and Property Matters

In US v. England, No. 09-2500, the Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's imposition of a 210-month sentence, in defendant's third appeal of his sentence from his conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm and obstruction crimes.  However, the sentence is reasonable and, although there was confusion in the second hearing about the district court's reliance on a finding that defendant would have attempted murder had he not been incarcerated, the district court cleared up that issue at the third sentencing hearing by explicitly stating that it was not relying on that finding. 

Am. Land Holdings of Indiana, LLC v. Jobe, concerned an action seeking a declaration that plaintiff has the right to strip mine coal on defendants' land, and specific performance of an option to purchase the land, claiming that a 1903 deed entitles it to do so.  However, district court's judgment in favor of defendants is affirmed as a conclusion that the deed is ambiguous and the infeasibility of strip mining at the time it was granted allows the ambiguity to resolved in favor of the surface owner is consistent with case law.  Furthermore, plaintiff's claim for specific performance of the option to purchase the defendants' land violates the rule against perpetuities.     

FAL-Meridian, Inc. v. US Dep't of Health & Human Serv., No.09-3485, concerned a nursing home's petition to set aside a final decision by the Department of Health and Human Services, that imposed a civil penalty of $7,100 for having violated a regulation under the Medicare and Medicaid provisions of the Social Security Act.  The nursing home was also facing a tort suit for wrongful death for the same event.  In denying the petition, the court held that the nursing home failed to tender evidence that would show that it had done everything possible to minimize the risk of an accident to the deceased resident. 

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In Berry v. Peterman, No. 09-3557, the Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants in an inmate's 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against a nurse, a doctor and jail administrator, claiming violation of his Eighth Amendment right for refusing to refer him to a dentist for a serious toothache. 

The court affirmed the district court's conclusion that plaintiff has raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether he exhausted his administrative remedies, and also the conclusion that  plaintiff suffered a serious medical condition and that the jail administrator is entitled to summary judgment because he was not deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's situation.  However, the court vacated the grant of summary judgment as plaintiff has offered sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could infer that the doctor and nurse acted with deliberate indifference toward his condition by persisting in an easy but ineffective course of treatment that subjected him to two months of serious but avoidable pain.     

Stuart v. Rech, No. 09-3857, involved a pro se defendant's pleading filed in the district court, captioned "replevin," seeking return of his property seized by an IRS agent during execution of a search warrant.  The district judge dismissed the pleading on the ground that it was "equivalent" to the Rule 41(g) motion previously denied by a magistrate judge. 

The court first noted that a magistrate judge does not have authority to rule finally on Rule 41(g) motions, but nonetheless affirmed the dismissal  but not on the ground decided by the district judge, as it was a bona fide civil complaint and not a Rule 41(g) motion, but it had no possible merit. 

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Sentences Upheld in Criminal Matters, Plus an Immigration Case

In US v. DeLeon, No. 07-3941, the Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's imposition of a within-Guidelines sentence of 104 months upon a defendant, convicted of counterfeiting pursuant to a blind plea.  The district court's application of the obstruction of justice enhancement in concluding that defendant willfully lied in his motion to withdraw his guilty plea was affirmed as, well as its denial of defendant's acceptance of responsibility reduction.

Welch v. US, No. 08-3108, concerned the district court's denial of defendant's motion under 28 U.S.C. section 2255 to vacate his sentence of 180-months for a conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm, arguing that his prior Illinois conviction was not a violent felony and that his prior juvenile adjudication cannot be used to enhance his sentence.  However, the sentence is affirmed because his prior conviction for the Illinois offense of aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer was properly treated as a "violent felony" under the ACCA, as was his prior juvenile adjudication. 

Lastly, in Kucana v. Holder, No.07-1002, on remand from the Supreme Court to determine on the merits, the court dealt with an Albanian citizen's petition for review BIA's refusal to reopen removal proceedings. The Seventh Circuit originally held that a decision by the BIA declining to reopen a removal proceeding may be reviewed only to determine whether the BIA misunderstood a regulation, a statute, or the Constitution.  The Court held that 8 U.S.C. section 1252(a)(2)(B) does not affect judicial review of situations in which immigration officials' discretion is specified by regulation rather than statute, and that a court of appeals also may set aside a decision in which the Board has abused its discretion in applying the law to the facts. 

Thus, in denying the petition for review, the court held that the Board's conclusion that the evidence did not show a material adverse change in country conditions between 2002 and 2006 did not constitute an abuse of discretion.    

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In Estrada v. Holder, No. 08-1226, the Seventh Circuit dealt with a petition for review, BIA's affirmance of IJ's refusal to examine a Mexican citizen's challenge to the validity of a 1996 recsission of his lawful-permanent-resident status by the INS.  In granting the petition, the court vacated the rescission order as petitioner's challenge to the sufficiency of the notice he received before the agency rescinded his permanent resident status was reviewable in his removal proceedings.  However, the district court's decision to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is affirmed as petitioner's complaint filed in the district court is equivalent to a challenge to an order of removal within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. section 1252(a)(5), which permits judicial review only via petition for review in the court of appeals. 

Goudy v. Basinger, No.08-3679, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of defendant's petition for habeas relief for his murder and attempted murder conviction, claiming that government's failure to disclose three eyewitness statements that implicated  on of its main witnessess, and ineffective assistance of counsel denied him a fair trial.  In reversing the denial, the court held that the Court of Appeals of Indianan unreaonably applied federal law when it determined that prior statements of identification by witnesses the government suppressed did not create a reasonable probability of a different result in the trial.  Furthermore, because the Brady error alone denied defendant a fair trial, the question of whethre he was also denied ineffective assistance of counsel need not be reached.

 Vince v. Rock County, No. 10-1659, involved a plaintiff's civil rights suit, arising from a beating he suffered by inmates at a county jail, claiming that he should not have been housed in the jail's general population as he was a longtime confidential informant for the county law enforcement agencies.  Plaintiff's appeal of the magistrate judge's grant of defendants' motion for summary judgment is timely as counsel's failure to electronically transmit plaintiff's notice of appeal with the proper code was an error of form. 

Thomas v. Cook County, No. 08-2232, involved plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against a county, county sheriff, and correctional officers, arising from her son's death of pneumococcal meningitis less than a week later follwing his detention at the county jail.  In affirming the district court's denial of the county's and the officers' motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial, the court held that the jury had sufficient evidence to impose liability against the officers for their deliberate indifference to the detainee's medical needs and evidence was sufficient for a reasonable jury to conclude that the county had a widespread policy of disregarding detainees' medical requests.  However, judgment denying the sheriff's motion is reversed as there is insufficient evidence to hold the sheriff liable as the causal connection between the sheriff's policies and practices and the death is tenuous in light of the jury's finding that individual correctional officers deliberately disregarded his medical needs. 

With respect to damages, the absence of sheriff's liability does not affect the jury's compensatory damage award as the parties are jointly and severally liable for the entire award and the $4 million-plus damage award is not excessive for the constitutional violations that resulted in plaintiff's son's death.  Lastly, defendants' remaining claims are rejected as none of their evidentiary challenges warrant a reversal. 

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