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

August 2015 News

Another Seventh Circuit judge is in hot water these days, and no, it's not for forgetting a case for a few years this time. Judge Posner, perhaps one of the highest profile judges in the federal courts, minus only those on SCOTUS, came under fire after he did his own Internet research on a case -- and citing Wikipedia in the process.

The case involved a prisoner suing pro se after prison officials took away his medication. His suit was originally tossed out, only to be revived in part because Judge Posner did his own research to show that a genuine factual dispute existed, relying on information that wasn't submitted by the parties or present during trial. As Judge David Hamilton noted in his dissent, that goes beyond the "permissible boundaries" of an appellate court.

The Seventh Circuit simply forgot about a case, for over five years. In a surprising ruling issued by Judges Easterbrook and Kanne last Thursday, the court admitted that it had misplaced court filings, then forgotten about them for more than five years. The case was lost for so long that one of the three judges originally on the panel, Judge Terence Evans, passed away before it was rediscovered.

The case, involving investment adviser's fees, was on remand from the Supreme Court when it vanished among the clutter. It's rare to see a case languish for so long, but ridiculous delays and oversights in the justice system aren't unheard of, whether they're Seventh Circuit cases, decade's long failures to arrest convicts, or jailing individuals for years without charges.

Customers who have seen their personal information stolen due to corporate data breaches have suffered recognizable injuries and have standing to sue, the Seventh Circuit ruled in late July. The court's holding revived a consumer class action against Neiman Marcus. Customers had sued after a data breach exposed their personal information and credit card numbers.

The ruling could be a boon for consumer advocates and class action lawyers, helping to reduce a major roadblock to litigation. For corporations who are victims to hacking, it could greatly increase their potential liabilities.