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

October 2014 News

Redbox Isn't Violating 1980s Video-Rental Privacy Law: 7th Cir.

Believe it or not, federal law prohibits disclosing a person's videotape rental records. Congress passed the Video Privacy Protection Act after Judge Robert Bork's video rental history was leaked during his failed nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. (The author of a widely read article on "The Bork Tapes," Michael Dolan, said that the leak was a response to Bork's assertions that only statutes, and not the Constitution, could protect the right to privacy.)

Kevin Sterk and Jiah Jung live in the year 2014. They're users of the DVD-rental service Redbox, and they sued under the video rental history law, claiming that Redbox violated the law by forwarding customer information to a company called Stream.

7th Cir. Revives Nursing Home Hairdresser's ADA Claim

Debra Kauffman worked as a hairdresser at a nursing home. Part of her duties involved regular hairdresser-type stuff, but two days a week, she had to wheel residents who were in wheelchairs to and from their appointments in the nursing home's beauty shop. The trip from residential room to beauty shop took her 500 feet, at most, and over some ramps. Residents ranged in weight from 75 to 400 pounds, with an average of about 120 pounds.

Kauffman underwent surgery in 2010, requiring her not to push or lift anything during the recovery period. Her doctor wrote a letter to her employer saying so, but the employer said it couldn't accommodate her disability, so Kauffman quit and filed an ADA claim.

Posner Plays With Pro Se Litigant Before Dismissing His Appeal

What do you do with a questionable appeal of a questionable case from a formerly pro se plaintiff -- one who has hired and fired two lawyers, not counting his third lawyer, who now represents him on appeal?

Many courts would dismiss his claims in a cursory unpublished opinion, one that would be lost in a stack of unread, non-precedential judgments. Fortunately, Judge Richard Posner wanted to make a point in this opinion, albeit a minor one that has very little to do with the pro se plaintiff.

But legal points can wait -- let's first take a minute to review this entertaining example of the problem with pro se plaintiffs:

Judge Posner's Sharp, Uncompromising Rebuke of Wis. Voter ID Law

Let's step back a second and take a look at where Wisconsin's voter ID law is. On September 12, a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit heard oral arguments on the validity of Wisconsin's voter ID law. Almost immediately afterward, the panel stayed the district court's injunction, allowing Wisconsin to enforce the law. Several groups requested a rehearing on the stay, which the court denied, along with a sua sponte request by one of the Seventh Circuit judges to rehear the motion en banc. On October 6, the panel issued its opinion finding the law constitutional.

Then on October 9, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a short order -- with a dissent from Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas -- vacating the September 12 order, preventing Wisconsin from enforcing the law for this election. A day later, the Seventh Circuit denied Judge Richard Posner's sua sponte request to rehear the case en banc.

7th Cir. SCOTUS Grants: Anna Nicole Smith's Ghost, EEOC Reviewability

Anna Nicole Smith. Long has she been gone, but never will she be forgotten, especially not to those of us who have to deal with her legal legacy: Stern v. Marshall. The Supreme Court held that non-Article III bankruptcy courts could not enter final judgment on unresolved state law counterclaims. Now, the Court will decide whether these Stern claims can be waived, implicitly or explicitly.

And if non-Article III courts' jurisdiction doesn't interest you, we'd bet that the jurisdiction of an Article III court to review the sufficiency of a government agency's statutorily mandated duty sure will! The EEOC claims that its mandated settlement efforts are beyond the scrutiny of the courts, and the Seventh Circuit agreed. Will SCOTUS?

Wis. Voter ID Law: No Rehearing on Stay of District Court's Order

So here's where we are in the saga of Wisconsin's voter ID law. Last month, a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit heard oral arguments on the legality of the state law requiring, like many states' laws these days, state-issued photo IDs in order to vote. Hours after the oral arguments, the panel issued an order staying enforcement of the district court's order -- meaning the state can enforce the law pending outcome of the appeal.

The ACLU sought an emergency motion to reconsider the stay. Yesterday, the court issued its opinion on this motion: The panel denied the motion, along with a sua sponte request to rehear the motion en banc (because the request for an en banc rehearing was a 5-5 split, the en banc rehearing was denied) in a contentious opinion that saw a dissent by the five judges in favor of rehearing.