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Recent Court News Decisions

7th Circuit Interprets Proximate Cause in Cat's Paw Case

If you don't know what the Cat's Paw theory of liability is, don't feel bad. It's a reference to an ancient Aesop story where a scheming monkey dupes a cat into harming his paw so that the monkey could reap the benefits of someone's labor and pain.

The 7th Circuit has offered its own interpretation on which defendants can rely without fear of being duped into a costly and headache inducing discrimination lawsuit.

U. of Wisconsin Wins Big Against Apple in Patent Litigation, Returns for More

The University of Wisconsin's Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) convinced a federal jury in the Seventh Circuit yesterday that Apple had infringed on one of its processor patents. The iPhone maker is said to have infringed upon the WARF patent in the A7, A8, and A8X processors that are used heavily in 2013-14 iPads and iPhones.

Now that it has been established that Apple infringed on U of W's patent, the only matter left to be determined are damages. So far, the number that is being bandied about the Internet is a cool $862.4 million. A mere bagatelle considering Apple's coffers.

It was a sad day in the Seventh Circuit last Tuesday, as Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Cudahy died of natural causes in his home. Judge Cudahy, a Carter appointee, joined the circuit in 1979 and served for a total of 36 years, with 15 years on active status. He was 89 years old.

Judge Cudahy was "unusually productive," his Seventh Circuit bio notes. And though he got his start in the U.S. Air Force and later ran a family meatpacking plant, he made his name as an influential jurist and a respected expert on environmental and energy law. He was a great example of "how to combine intellect with compassion," his former clerk Ralph Weber told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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.

2014 at the 7th Cir.: So Many Posner Benchslaps

As part of our ongoing year-in-review series across all of FindLaw's Legal Professional blogs, we decided to take a look back at the 10 most popular posts of the past year in the Seventh Circuit.

What posts were a hit with you, our dear readers? Posner. Posner benchslappings. And sanctions slapped down on unsuspecting parties.

The Seventh Circuit is known for delivering benchslaps, so much so that it's acquired the nickname "Benchslappy" (hat tip to Above the Law). Well, they're not the only slap happy bunch around, you can add us now. Let's call it a blogslap.

Why would we be handing out a blogslap? Because the Seventh Circuit website sucks leaves much to be desired, especially when compared with other circuit court websites.

We're only three months into 2014, and the "Benchslappy" Seventh Circuit (so dubbed by Above the Law) has already issued enough benchslaps to warrant a review. And we're not just talking Judge Posner, but Judge Easterbrook as well. Here's a little round up of some of the latest benchslaps coming out of the Windy City.

Judge Posner's Benchslaps During Oral Arguments

Earlier this month we posted on the Seventh Circuit's opinion, written by Judge Posner, affirming a district court's denial of Notre Dame's motion for a preliminary injunction in a contraception mandate case. Apparently, the court's opinion may be getting as much press as some of the interactions between the bench and Notre Dame's attorney Matthew Kairis during oral arguments.

We usually leave the marketing talk to the Strategist Blog writers, but we have a hunch that attorneys in the Seventh Circuit might need some help marketing too. While you're trying to get through the winter hunkered down under blankets (as we can only imagine here in sunny California), putting together a marketing plan may be just the thing you need to get the blood pumping.

Here are three easy things you can do to boost your firm's business, so next winter you can take that tropical vacation and leave those blankets behind.

Last week, Above the Law reported on a most interesting clerkship rejection letter they called "rejection via resignation." In the letter, Judge John Daniel Tinder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit softly let an applicant down, stating: "Your credentials are outstanding. However, I recently decided that I will be leaving the court in 2015 so I will not be hiring any additional clerks."

A testament to the applicant's resourcefulness, the "tipster" could not find any formal retirement announcements and let ATL know.