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

Defendant Did Not Engage In Religious Discrimination Based on Plaintiff's Dreadlock-Hairstyle, Plus Criminal, Bankruptcy & Civil Procedure Matters

Xodus v. Wackenhut Corp., 09-3082, involved a plaintiff's suit against a security firm, claiming that it violated Title VII when it did not hire him as a security guard because plaintiff would not cut his dreadlocks.  In affirming the district court's judgment that defendant did not engage in religious discrimination when it refused to hire plaintiff on account of his dreadlocked hairstyle, the court held that the district court's decision to credit the interviewing manager's testimony that plaintiff never informed him that religious belief required him to wear dreadlocks is both plausible from the evidence and sufficiently explained in the opinion.  Also, plaintiff waived his claim that the district court erred by preventing him from testifying about his EEOC intake questionnaire.  Lastly, the court held that plaintiff's claims that the district court erred when it granted summary judgment to defendant on the issue of whether he mitigated his damages and whether he was entitled to punitive damages are moot.

 

US v. Ali, 06-3951, concerned a challenge to the district court's conviction of defendant, imposition of a 57-month sentence, and orders of $4.9 million in restitution and $2.56 million in forfeiture, for running a grocery store and a food stamp scam that defrauded the United States Department of Agriculture out of several million dollars.  The court affirmed the conviction as the record does not support defendant's claim that during the plea colloquy, the district court failed to ensure that he knew the elements of wire fraud.  Also, defendant has not shown that the government's statement about his sentence exposure affected any substantial right.  District court's conclusion that defendant had not accepted responsibility was not clear error.  District court's factual findings supporting the forfeiture award were not clearly erroneous.  However, district court's restitution order is remanded to correct the restitution award to reflect that the amount proven at the forfeiture proceeding was $4.29 million.  And lastly, defendant's motion seeking remand for evidentiary hearing is denied.

SKS & Assoc., Inc. v. Dart, 09-3461, concerned a challenge to the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's suit, in plaintiff-residential rental property owner's 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against a judge and a sheriff, claiming that the judge's general order directing the sheriff not to carry out residential evictions during particular winter weeks violated its federal constitutional rights.  In affirming the dismissal, the court held that based on the same principles of equity, comity, and federalism that are the foundation of Younger abstention, abstention is required in this case.  The court held that, to the extent that delays in state court processes adversely affect plaintiff, it can and must seek remedies through the state courts themselves.

Paloian v. Lasalle Bank, N.A., 09-2011, involved a debtor-hospital's trustee's action to recover, as fraudulent conveyances, some loan payments made during the last years before the hospital entered bankruptcy.  In vacating the judgment of the district court, the court remanded as, LaSalle Bank is an "initial transferee," because an entity that receives funds for use in paying down a loan, or passing money to investors in a pool, is an "initial transferee" even though the recipient is obliged by contract to apply the funds according to a formula.  Also, because the hospital was solvent in August 1997, the ensuing months' debt service cannot be recaptured as a fraudulent conveyance.  Lastly, on remand, the bankruptcy court is instructed to determine whether the transfer of the accounts receivable to MMA Funding was a true sale, such that MMA Funding served as the bankruptcy-proofing intermediary that the lenders desired.

Gross v. Town of Cicero, 06-4042, involved a plaintiff's suit under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 for violations of equal protection and free speech under the First and Fourteenth Amendments against a town and related individuals for what he claimed was an unconstitutional firing.  In affirming in part, the court held that the summary judgment was appropriate on plaintiff's equal protection, First Amendment, and civil rights conspiracy claims.  However, the court reversed in part as, the district court improperly granted summary judgment for defendant on its fiduciary duty claim as without some Illinois authority or any indication in the text, it cannot be concluded that the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners (BOFPC) statutes imposed a fiduciary duty on plaintiff.  Lastly, the court held that, because defendant's judgment on liability is reversed, the $302,437.79 damages award to defendant cannot stand.

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