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

March 2015 News

Prisoner Lawsuit Over Transparent Jumpsuit Can Proceed

The Seventh Circuit last week allowed a prisoner's lawsuit to proceed, overruling a district court that tossed the case on summary judgment.

Marshall King, a county jail prisoner in Illinois, was forced to wear a transparent jumpsuit "that exposed his genitals and buttocks" while being transferred to state prison. The requirement appeared to be unique to King's jail, as other prisoners being transferred weren't wearing such outfits. When King complained to guards about the jumpsuit, they laughed at him.

7th Cir. Overturns Conviction Based on Made-Up Evidence

It's a rare event, indeed, when a federal circuit court actually grants a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The federal habeas corpus standard is fairly unforgiving, granting great deference to lower courts and construing ambiguities in the law against the petitioner.

Owens v. Duncan, however, is a pretty clear-cut case of a defendant who was afforded very little of the process he was due. Judge Richard Posner showed little patience for a case based on "the combination of weak proof with a verdict based on groundless conjecture."

No 'Self-Critical Analysis Privilege,' Says Ill. Supreme Court

Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court declined to invent a new evidentiary privilege called the "self-critical analysis privilege," suggesting instead that if such a thing were to exist, it would be the state legislature's job to create it.

The case involves the death of a seven-month-old child while the child and her mother were in a state program for reuniting families.

When Elena Fridman authorized her mortgage payment online, she thought she'd met her obligations to pay on time. But her mortgage servicer, NYCB Mortgage Co., disagreed. Because it took NYCB two days to process her payment, they did not consider it received "on time" and charged Fridman a late fee. Fridman sued, and the Seventh Circuit recently ruled that her payment was valid on the day she authorized it.

Under the ruling, mortgage services must credit payments made on their websites at the time the borrower approves it, not at the point they actual electronic transfer of funds is completed.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday that it is sending the University of Notre Dame's lawsuit over contraception coverage back to the Seventh Circuit for reconsideration. The Catholic university had objected to the Affordable Care Act's "compromise" provisions for religious institutions, which allowed them to opt out of covering their employees' contraception directly.

According to Notre Dame, even the act of opting out was too much and substantially burdened their religious freedom. The Seventh Circuit, which had rejected the argument, must now reconsider it in light of the High Court's ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which found that tightly held corporations could be exempt from laws based on the religious objections of their owners.

Contact Lens Recall Plaintiff Didn't Prove Product Liability: Court

In December 2006, Steven Kallal started using CIBA-brand contact lenses that he received as a sample from his eye doctor. He bought some more and kept using them until May 2007, even though he experienced sharp pain in his eyes.

Unbeknownst to Kallal, CIBA found a flaw in the contact lenses in January 2007 that didn't let enough oxygen reach the cornea. They eventually recalled 11 million contact lenses.

This is a story about the limits of personal injury lawsuits.