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

Recent Court News Decisions

No Disability for Psychological Electromagnetic Distress

A federal appeals court summarily dispatched a lawsuit for psychological distress caused by electromagnetic voltage.

In a three-page opinion -- including one page for the caption -- the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a dismissal against a Travelodge employee in Hirmiz v. New Harrison Hotel Corp. George D. Hirmiz had sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act, claiming he suffered from exposure to electromagnetic voltage at the hotel.

Civil Rights Law Includes LGBT Job Bias

In a historic decision, a federal appeals court ruled that civil rights laws protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace.

It is the first time in the United States that a court has extended the 1964 Civil Rights Act to workers who identify with the LGBT community. Other courts traditionally have said that sexual orientation was not protected because it was not defined in the Civil Rights Act.

"For many years, the courts of appeals of this country understood the prohibition against sex discrimination to exclude discrimination on the basis of a person's sexual orientation," Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote for the en banc majority. "We conclude today that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination."

Home Depot Faces Trial in Worker's Murder

A federal appeals court said that Home Depot must face trial for a supervisor's off-duty murder of a company employee.

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said employers are responsible for workers who tortiously abuse their supervisory authority -- even when it occurs away from work. The appellate panel said it is the same as when a worker drives a company car.

"Both entrustment with a chattel and entrustment with supervisory authority set employees apart from the general public," Judge David Hamilton wrote in Anicich v. Home Depot. "In both situations, employers have the ability and incentive to consider and monitor the employees whom they are trusting and how that trust is used."

Throwing Rocks at Armed Israeli Soldiers Deemed a Terrorist Act

A Palestinian man lost his petition to immigrate to the United States because he threw rocks at Israel soldiers when he was 13 years old, a federal appeals court said.

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said the man's childhood act was "admittedly minor, when compared with the worst terrorists acts," but also said its hands were effectively tied. The appellate panel said that it had limited authority to review the consular's discretionary decision in Hazama v. Tillerson.

"This was a discretionary call, and it would not have been outside the consular officer's discretion to consider this as an act of juvenile rebellion rather than an act of terrorism," Judge Diane Wood wrote for the court.

Judge Posner isn't just one of the judiciary's most influential jurists, he's also a noted cat fancier. His puss, an eight-year-old Maine Coon named Pixie, is one of the most famous legal pets around. Both "beautiful and very intelligent," according to Posner, Pixie is also the first cat "actually to like me."

Posner's love of cats, and perhaps his frustration with their pickiness, made its way into a recent decision in an eye-drop class action suit. Posner vacated class certification and ended the suit, but not until he'd gone on a lengthy tangent about pedigree cats, their fancy kibble and their taste for fine water fountains, a digression that took up about 20 percent of the brief opinion.

Prison Starvation Case to Go Forward

Nicholas Glisson made the mistake of selling a prescription pill to his confidant, who turned out to be an informant.

The Wayne County judge made the mistake of sending Glisson to prison, disregarding doctors' recommendations for house arrest because of his poor health.

The Indiana Department of Corrections made the mistake of not treating his condition, and Glisson died of starvation and acute renal failure 37 days later.

"'I'm sorry to tell you your son passed," Alma Glisson recalled of a phone call from the prison. "I said, 'Oh my God, you killed my son!'"

7th Circuit Snuffs Out Indiana's Vaping Law

To say that Indiana's vaping law was overreaching would be an understatement.

In snuffing out portions of the state's law, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said that it could not find a single case in 200 years of precedent to support Indiana's legislation as it affected business in the state and beyond. The court said the law basically put everybody out of business except one company.

"These circumstances raise obvious concerns about protectionist purposes and what looks very much like a legislative grant of monopoly," Judge David Hamilton wrote for the unanimous court.

The Indiana legislature enacted the law in 2015, requiring vaping businesses that manufacture e-liquids to contract with a security company in order to obtain a state permit. The law was so restrictive, a dozen Indiana vaping companies soon closed their shops. Only one company -- Mulhaupt's Inc., located in Lafayette -- survived.

Court: Cable Company Not Liable for Keeping Customer's Personal Data

A federal appeals court has rejected a consumer's suit against Time Warner Cable for retaining personal information he gave the company when he subscribed to its services.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal said the plaintiff did not have any damages or standing to sue the cable company. The plaintiff claimed the company violated the Cable Communications Policy Act, which provides that a cable operator "shall destroy personally identifiable information if the information is no longer necessary."

The appellate court said the act also imposes a duty on cable operators to retain rather than destroy subscriber information for specified reasons. Affirming a dismissal of the case for lack of standing, the justices said the plaintiff had not shown any plausible risk of harm.

7th Circuit Shoots Down Firing Range Laws

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals shot down key provisions of Chicago's embattled gun laws, striking down a 500-foot zoning restriction for shooting ranges and a ban on children from entering them.

The decision marked another defeat for Chicago in its fight over gun use since the U.S. Supreme Court threw out its ban on handguns in 2010. The city responded by outlawing shooting ranges, but the Seventh Circuit invalidated that law.

"Range training is not categorically outside the Second Amendment," the court said. "To the contrary, it lies close to the core of the individual right of armed defense."

If you've ever run into the so-called 'sovereign citizen' theory of the law, you know that it is, well, complete BS. The sovereign citizen movement is based on a strange interpretation of common law, the Uniform Commercial Code, and maritime law, which followers believe allows them to avoid taxes and pretty much all legal authorities. It's a movement based out of conspiracy, confusion, and a paranoid view of reality. It's just nuts.

But Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner is taking some heat from his colleagues for saying as much in court. Faced with a pro se sovereign citizen defendant in 2015, Posner showed little patience for the man's arguments, calling them "complete bullshit." Now his colleagues are considering whether Posner's frustration denied the man a fair trial.