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

September 2012 News

Prisoner Can Sue for Cockroaches, But He Can't Sue the State

Calvin Thomas filed a civil rights claim against the State of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Correction, alleging that he had been subjected to cruel and unusual conditions in his prison cell.

What was so cruel and unusual about Thomas’ digs? Try cockroaches. And mice. And a missing window pane that let the rain in. (Is there anything worse than damp clothes?)

This week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of Thomas’ case. While the appellate court found it unacceptable that Thomas literally lived in a rat hole, they also found it unacceptable that Thomas sued the state instead of individuals at the prison.

Seventh Circuit Hears Wisconsin Act 10 Appeal

Monday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Wisconsin Education Association v. Scott Walker, a case challenging the constitutionality of the Wisconsin Act 10 limits on collective bargaining among public employees.

The clauses at the center of the lawsuit halt automatic withdrawal of union dues from public paychecks and require that unions hold elections annually to reconfirm their official status, The Associated Press reports. In March, District Judge William Conley held that both provisions were illegal.

Seventh Circuit Rides Circuit to Notre Dame Oct. 1

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is heading back to law school.

Appellate judges occasionally like to descend from their lofty lairs to mingle with commoners and law students. In that spirit, a three-judge panel will hear oral arguments at Notre Dame Law School on October 1. The appellate court will consider three cases in this special session:

Posner: Woman's 'Vitriolic' Suit Against Ex Might Have Merit

Robin West told police that her husband, Dean West, raped and beat her in 2008. Then she recanted that claim, withdrew the charges, and resumed living with Dean. After the couple divorced, Robin sued Dean for battery and related torts.

A district judge tossed Robin's lawsuit, ruling that it was malicious, and that he refused to be pulled into a "vitriolic tug-of-war."

This week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, noting that vitriol, alone, is not cause for dismissal.

Chicago Protest Ordinance is Facially Invalid

When the Chicago Teachers Union strike started Monday, teachers no longer had to worry about getting arrested for lingering in areas where "disorderly conduct" was occurring.

That’s because the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had just enjoined a Chicago ordinance which criminalized a person's refusal to leave a scene of disorderly conduct when asked by a police officer.

No Actual Knowledge: Court Dismisses Deliberate Indifference Claim

A parent would understandably be upset if she found that her child had a romantic or sexual relationship with his or her teacher, but can the parent (or child) bring a deliberate indifference suit against the school under Title IX for failing to prevent the abuse?

The answer, according to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, depends on how much school officials actually knew.

Employers Must Appoint Disabled Employees to Vacant Positions

In March, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Humiston-Keeling still controlled reasonable accommodation claims, but it indicated that it might reconsider the impact of the Supreme Court's 2002 US Airways, Inc. v. Barnett decision on Humiston-Keeling.

That day of reconsideration has come.

Friday, the appellate court announced that Humiston-Keeling did not survive Barnett, and that “the ADA does indeed mandate that an employer appoint employees with disabilities to vacant positions for which they are qualified, provided that such accommodations would be ordinarily reasonable and would not present an undue hardship to that employer.”