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

October 2010 News

US v. Black, 07-4080

Convictions of senior executives under the theory of honest-services fraud reversed

US v. Black, 07-4080, concerned a challenge to the convictions of a senior executive of Hollinger International for mail and wire fraud and obstruction of justice, under theories of a scheme of fraudulent appropriation of money to which the company was legally entitled, and of a scheme to deprive the company of "intangible right of honest services," on remand from the Supreme Court.

Fletcher v. Menard Corr. Ctr., 08-3871

Dismissal of inmate's request to proceed in forma pauperis in his civil rights suit against prison employees

Fletcher v. Menard Corr. Ctr., 08-3871, involved an inmate's civil rights suit against prison employees, claiming that defendants violated his federal constitutional rights by using excessive force to restrain him and by recklessly disregarding his need for medical attention.

 

Smart Mktg Group Inc. v. Publ'n Int'l Ltd., 09-2646

$5.6 million jury award in damages to a marketing firm's breach of contract suit vacated

Smart Mktg Group Inc. v. Publ'n Int'l Ltd., 09-2646, concerned a challenge to a jury's award of $5.6 million in damages in finding in favor of a plaintiff, in a marketing firm's breach of contract suit against an online company, involving an agreement to develop programs that would deliver location-specific, brand specific, internet sales leads to auto dealers.

 

Parkey v. Sample, 09-3966

Section 1983 suit against a state trooper for alleged Fourth Amendment violation

Parkey v. Sample, 09-3966, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of a state trooper's motion for summary, in plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against the state trooper, claiming that the trooper violated plaintiff's rights under the Fourth Amendment by searching his home and seizing his property without probable cause.

 

US v. Johnson, 09-3558

Conviction for distribution of cocaine base and a sentence of 300-months' imprisonment affirmed

US v. Johnson, 09-3558, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for distribution of cocaine base and imposition of a 300-month sentence.  In affirming both the conviction and the sentence, the court held that, because any error in admitting defendant's prior conviction was harmless, the question of whether Rule 404(b) permitted it need not be addressed.  Similarly, it need not be decided whether the admission of prior drug sales evidence was error.  The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the recordings of telephone calls defendant made while in jail awaiting trial, and the brief mention of defendant's booking photograph cannot be reversible under the plain error standard.  Lastly, the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing a sentence of 300 months' imprisonment.

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US v. Adams, 08-4205

Challenge to a conviction for drug related crimes arising from a reverse sting operation

US v. Adams, 08-4205, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for possessing more than 100 kilograms of marijuana with intent to distribute, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and attempting to escape from custody, arising from a reverse sting operation.

US v. Williams, 10-1608

Denial of motion to suppress in conviction of defendant for drug possession affirmed

US v. Williams, 10-1608, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of a defendant's motion to suppress, in a prosecution of the defendant for possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine and sentenced to 60 months' imprisonment.  In affirming, the court held that the DEA task force had enough information to support a finding of probable cause to search the vehicle and that information can be imputed to the officers who conducted the stop and search under the collective knowledge doctrine.

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Herzog Transit Serv. Inc. v. United States R.R. Ret. Bd., 09-3945

Railroad Retirement Board's determination that contractor operator of commuter railroads is a covered employer affirmed

Herzog Transit Serv. Inc. v. United States R.R. Ret. Bd., 09-3945, Petition for review of an order of the Railroad Retirement Board (Board), determining that a contract operator of commuter railroads is a covered employer under the Railroad Retirement Act (RRA) and the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, but only with respect to certain dispatching operations, is denied as the Board correctly determined that petitioner was, insofar as it performed the dispatching function for interstate trains using the tracks of the owner of the rail line in question, a covered employer.

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Jones v. Astrue, 09-3282

Denial of petitioner's application for disability benefits affirmed

Jones v. Astrue, 09-3282, concerned a challenge to the district court's affirmance of an ALJ's denial of petitioner's application for disability benefits.  In affirming, the court held that, given the consistent objective medical opinion from both petitioner's treating physicians and the agency physicians that her condition was benign, it cannot be said that the ALJ's determination that petitioner exaggerated her allegations of disabling pain was patently wrong.

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Pawlowska v. Holder, 09-3790

Petition for review a BIA's affirmance of IJ's denial of a Polish citizen's requests for continuance and voluntary departure denied for lack of jurisdiction

Pawlowska v. Holder, 09-3790, concerned a Polish citizen's petition for review a BIA's affirmance of an IJ's denial of her requests for a continuance and voluntary departure, on the ground that she participated in a sting operation conducted by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the FBI, and the Social Security Administration to fraudulently obtain permanent resident status.

Reynolds v. CB Sports Bar, Inc., 09-3753

Reynolds v. CB Sports Bar, Inc., 09-3753, In plaintiff's suit against a sports bar and two individual defendants for negligence and punitive damages, claiming that the two individuals induced plaintiff to become intoxicated in the bar and attempted to take her back to their apartment for "sexual exploitation" and that the sports bar (through its bartenders) knew of the defendants' plans but negligently failed to protect her from the attack.

Redmond v. Fifth Third Bank, 08-4288

Bankruptcy court's denial of debtor's motion to reopen his case in a bank's foreclosure suit affirmed

Redmond v. Fifth Third Bank, 08-4288, concerned a challenge to the district court's affirmance of a bankruptcy court's denial of a debtor's motion to reopen his bankruptcy case, claiming that a bank's foreclosure suit was in violation of the bankruptcy court's orders.

US v. Bell, 09-3908

Conviction and sentence of defendant for distributing cocaine base affirmed

US v. Bell, 09-3908, concerned a challenge to the district court's imposition of a 292-month sentence, revocation of defendant's previous term of supervised release and imposition of an additional 60-month sentence for violating the conditions of his supervised release for committing another crime, in a prosecution of a defendant for distributing more than five grams of cocaine base.

Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 09-2455

Dismissal of homeowners' suit against a bank under the Truth in Lending Act affirmed

Bonte v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 09-2455, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of a defendant bank's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, in plaintiffs' suit against the bank under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) seeking mortgage rescission.  In affirming the dismissal, the court held that the plaintiffs' failure to respond to defendant's arguments leads to the conclusion that they have waived any argument that the allegedly erroneous TILA disclosures are in fact material.

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Costello v. Grundon, 08-3961

Litigation trustee's suit against a bankrupt company's former high level employees to enforce certain promissory notes

Costello v. Grundon, 08-3961, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of trustee's motion for summary judgment, in a litigation trustee's suit against former high-level employees of a bankrupt company ("borrowers") to enforce certain promissory notes.

George v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 09-3667

Prior decision in a class action lawsuit against NCAA and Ticketmaster vacated for certification to the Indiana Supreme Court

George v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 09-3667, involved plaintiffs' class action lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Ticketmaster, claiming that defendants' combined ticket-distribution scheme constituted a lottery in violation of Indiana law.

Johnson v. Thurmer, 07-2628

Defendant's conviction for armed robbery affirmed but the Wisconsin rulings of default are not an adequate state ground barring federal habeas review

Johnson v. Thurmer, 07-2628, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of defendant's request for habeas relief from his conviction for armed robbery and a sentence of 68-years imprisonment.

Sherman v. Koch, 09-1455

Student's constitutional challenge to a state's Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act

Sherman v. Koch, 09-1455, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, in a student's suit against an Illinois school superintendent and the school district, claiming that Section 1 of the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act, which makes it mandatory a period of silence in public schools, is unconstitutional.

 

US v. Cornelius. 09-2584

Conviction of defendant for crack cocaine related crimes is vacated and remanded to hold an evidentiary hearing on the issue of double jeopardy violation

US v. Cornelius. 09-2584, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of defendant's motion to dismiss his indictment on constitutional speedy trial and double jeopardy grounds, while granting his motion under the Speedy Trial Act, in a prosecution of defendant for possession with intent to distribute more than five grams of crack cocaine.

 

Taylor v. Watkins, 10-2353

Denial of Inmate's Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Taylor v. Watkins, 10-2353, involved a prisoner's 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against several officers and employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections, claiming that defendants violated his civil rights by contaminating his food, tampering with his mail, depriving him of his sleep, and assaulting him.  The court affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) on the ground that he has previously incurred three "strikes" in dismissing the case,  and denied plaintiff's request to proceed IFP on appeal as plaintiff has not shown that he was in imminent danger.

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Turley v. Gaetz, 09-3847

Denial of Inmate's Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis Reversed

Turley v. Gaetz, 09-3847, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of an inmate's motion to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) in dismissing the complaint, in the inmate's pro se lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. section 1983,claiming that a warden, guards and other employees at a correctional center retaliated against him for litigation previously filed regarding his conditions of confinement.

 

Lumbermens Mut. Cas. Co. v. Broadspire Mgmt Serv. Inc., 09-4051

Issue of whether necessary preconditions to arbitration have been satisfied is for the arbitrator to decide

Lumbermens Mut. Cas. Co. v. Broadspire Mgmt Serv. Inc., 09-4051, involved the parties' dispute over the arbitrability of four purchase price disputes in connection with a sale of an insurance administration business pursuant to a written Purchase Agreement.  In affirming the district court's conclusion that the question of whether the necessary preconditions to arbitration have been satisfied was for the arbitrator, the court held that the issue of whether the plaintiff has adequately disputed defendant's price reports is a procedural question about a condition precedent to arbitration.

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US v. Aviles-Solarzano, 09-3992

Defendant's sentence for illegal reentry into the US based on prior conviction for aggravated battery affirmed

US v. Aviles-Solarzano, 09-3992, concerned a challenge to the district court's imposition of a 70-month sentence based on defendant's prior conviction for aggravated battery in a prosecution of defendant for reentering the United States after having been removed as an illegal alien.  In affirming, the court held that the district court did not err in relying on a summary of the indictment in a presentence investigation report, because the defendant's lawyer did not question the accuracy of the summary in the report and the judge could reasonably assume that the defendant's lawyer was satisfied that the summary was accurate.

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US v. Saenz, 09-3647

Conviction for conspiracy to distribute cocaine affirmed but sentence vacated and remanded

US v. Saenz, 09-3647, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, and imposition of a 293-month sentence.  In affirming in part, the court held that defendant's Sixth Amendment right to speedy trial was not violated as the length of the delay was not extreme for a complex multi-defendant conspiracy case.  The court also afformed where there was no error in the district court's decision to impose an obstruction of justice enhancement as defendant willfully lied at trial about his knowledge of the money's nature.  However, the court vacated and remanded defendant's sentence for the district court to determine whether the defendant should receive a minor participant reduction in light of the fact that the record supports that his involvement in the conspiracy was only on a single occasion.

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Read the Seventh Circuit's Full Decision in US v. Saenz, 09-3647

US v. Fife, 09-2310

Defendant's Sentence Reversed as Prior Convictions Satisfy the Requirements of the ACCA

US v. Fife, 09-2310, concerned the government's challenge to the district court's determination that defendant's prior convictions did not satisfy the requirements of the Armed Career Criminal Act and therefore that he was not subject to the increased sentence under that Act, in a prosecution of the defendant for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.  In reversing and remanding, the court held that the Illinois armed violent conviction is a violent offense under the ACCA, and combined with the two other violent offenses in his criminal history, the armed violence conviction renders defendant an armed career criminal under the ACCA.

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US v. Shamah, 09-2767

Conviction of Police Officer for RICO Violation Affirmed

US v. Shamah, 09-2767, concerned a challenge to a conviction of a former police officer for conspiracy in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and other offenses and a 232-month sentence.  In affirming the RICO conviction, the court held that the evidence was more than sufficient to show that defendant played a daily role in directing the affairs of the police department and the conspiracy between him and his co-conspirator was to rob drug dealers.  In affirming the sentence, the court held that the district court properly applied the sentencing guidelines and enhancements, and the disparity in sentencing was not substantively unreasonable.

Related Link:

Read the Seventh Circuit's Full Decision in US v. Shamah, 09-2767

US v. State of New York, 09-3344

Finding of Liability Against Owners of Coal-Fired Electric Power Plants Reversed

US v. State of New York, 09-3344, concerned a challenge to the jury's finding of liability against the defendants in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) suit against affiliated owners of a number of coal-fired electric power plants in the Midwest, claiming that defendants violated section 165(a) of the Clean Air Act by modifying a number of the plants without first obtaining from the agency a permit that the agency claims was required by a regulation, 40 C.F.R. section 52.21(a)(2)(iii), because the modifications were "major" and would produce increases in emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide.

 

Toure v. Holder, 08-3478

Toure v. Holder, 08-3478, concerned a petition for review brought by a citizen of the Republic of the Congo of the BIA's affirmance of an IJ's denial of her application for asylum and related relief, as well as a denial of a motion to reopen, is denied as substantial evidence supported the BIA's findings and the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying the petitioner's motion to reopen.

 

US v. Albiola, 08-3306

US v. Albiola, 08-3306, concerned a challenge to the convictions of defendant for attempting to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and for knowingly and intentionally using a communication facility in the commission of a controlled substance offense.

 

Palka v. Shelton, 08-4245

Dismissal of a Former Deputy Sheriff's Section 1983 Suit Against the City, County, & Others Affirmed

Palka v. Shelton, 08-4245, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss with prejudice In a former deputy sheriff's section 1983 suit against Cook County, the City of Chicago, a sheriff, and other individuals, claiming that defendants violated his procedural and substantive due process rights prior to his suspension and resignation, and deprived him of his interest in "occupational liberty."

 

US v. Reyes-Hernandez, 09-1249

Defendants' Sentences Vacated and Remanded for Consideration of the Absence of a Fast-track Program

US v. Reyes-Hernandez, 09-1249, involved challenges to the convictions of defendants for illegally re-entering the United States after being removed following their convictions for aggravated felony crimes, in a consolidated appeal.

 

Cogswell v. CitiFinancial Mortgage Co., Inc., 08-2153

Contract Case Involving an Assigned Mortgage and Foreclosure Gone Awry

Cogswell v. CitiFinancial Mortgage Co., Inc., 08-2153, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment, in plaintiff's breach of contract suit against defendant-CitiFinancial, after an unsuccessful appeal of the trial court's dismissal of plaintiff's action to foreclose on a mortgage assigned to it by defendant.

Wilson v. Price, 09-2904

Wilson v. Price, 09-2904, concerned a challenge to the district court's dismissal of a complaint, in plaintiffs' suit against a city and an alderman raising claims under 42 U.S.C. sections 1983 and 1985, as well as state law claims for loss of consortium and battery.  In affirming the dismissal, the court held that, although the alderman's actions were reprehensible, they were not made under color of state law, and thus, cannot serve as the basis for section 1983 liability.

 

US v. Suggs, 09-2700, concerned a challenge to the district court's application at sentencing of a 4-level increase under U.S.S.G. section 2K2.1(b)(6) for using or possessing the firearm in connection with another felony offense, in a conviction of defendant for being a felon in possession of a firearm.  In affirming, the court held that possession alone is sufficient to bring a felony in which the firearm was involved within the meaning of section 2K2.1(b)(6) as long as the handgun had some purpose or effect in, or facilitated, the related felony.  The court also held that the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant's possession of the firearm while resisting officers under section 35-44-3-3 amounted to a felony under Indiana law.