7th Circuit Injury & Tort Law News - U.S. Seventh Circuit
U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Recent Injury & Tort Law Decisions

Arguably, it was a simple reporting mistake. But that simple mistake could cost legal tabloid-blog Above The Law as much as $50 million.

Meanith Huon, 44, is a Chicago attorney. He was once accused of and charged with rape. A jury, however, made short work of the charges and acquitted him. An ATL blogger, while the case was pending, mistook past news reports about the same incident as prior accusations of rape, falsely branding Huon as a serial rapist with a few careless keystrokes.

Huon responded by branding the reporting mistake as defamation. And earlier this month, a district court judge allowed his claim against ATL to move forward.

Motorola makes phones. It makes nearly all of those phones in Asia. It buys its components from Asian suppliers. So, for all you 1Ls out there, here is the question: can a U.S. company sue on behalf of its Asian subsidiaries over price fixing that occurred in commerce that was exclusively carried out in Asia?

It is, after all, a U.S. parent company. But the subsidiary companies are Asian and the suppliers are Asian. The answer to this law school hypothetical (and Seventh Circuit case) is a resounding no.

Armslist is a website that provides a place for private gun owners to sell guns to each other. It has several disclaimers excepting it from liability because it "does not certify, investigate, or in any way guarantee the legal capacity of any party to transact."

Demetry Smirnov met Jitka Vesel online (though not on Armslist). Vesel rejected Smirnov, and in response, Smirnov illegally purchased a gun through Armslist (illegal because, under federal law, a gun can't be transferred directly to someone from a different state; the seller was from Washington and Smirnov lived in Chicago).

Smirnov followed Jitka to a parking lot and killed her with the handgun he bought through Armslist. The Seventh Circuit ruled Tuesday that Armslist has no liability.

The Sixth Circuit is not alone in consolidating appeals of same sex marriage cases within the circuit: last week, the Seventh Circuit consolidated two same sex marriage cases.

The Seventh Circuit also recently decided a case affecting all of the states surrounding the Great Lakes, and is going to hear a case about an Indiana law regulating the sale of cold beer. Finally, our favorite benchslapper speaks out.

Read on for details on all of these stories.

Has anyone ever time-lined Judge Posner's benchslaps? I wonder what the longest time frame sans benchslap has been. Probably not very long, and on Monday, he made the latest benchslap to a judge, attorney and plaintiff -- no one was safe.

Obviously, the parties didn't read our post on how to avoid a benchslap, or about that attorney who faked an illness because this case is the most deserving -- that we've read -- that called for benchslaps all around.

Shell Oil enjoyed a significant victory in the Seventh Circuit on Friday, with the Court finding no dangerous link between benzene in the groundwater and the class action claims against Shell.

Around 150 residents of the small Illinois town of Roxana had sued Shell in 2012 for "polluting its groundwater and soil with benzene levels as much as 26,000 times greater than allowed by state law," reports Courthouse News Service. But now they'll have to refocus their claims at the district court level even though their groundwater is most certainly toxic.

How did the Seventh Circuit come to back the polluters?

The Seventh Circuit reviewed an Administrative Law Judge's denial of an applicant's request for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") due to physical and mental impairments. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded on the issue of the determination and effect of her mental impairments.

Background

Carol Bates was in a car accident in 2004, and from that time she suffered from radiating neck pain. In the years after the accident, she had to care for her six adopted children alone, while withstanding the losses of her fiancé and mother. In 2007, Bates filed an application for SSI. In her initial application, she only mentioned the physical pain she experienced, which according to her, impaired her ability to work in, and out of, the home. She began going to therapy in 2006, and saw a psychiatrist in 2009, who diagnosed her with Bipolar Type 2 disorder.

It's amazing how Judge Posner can take a simple issue, and use it as an excuse to go on, and on. In this case, the issue before the Seventh Circuit was "whether the defendant was served with process" -- but Judge Posner characterized it as one that "could be the basis for a novel of international intrigue."

No matter what you say, this is no case for 007, we just see it as a case of stereotyping, and over-simplification.

In a mere-five page decision, Judge Easterbrook told a brother and sister that their case of sibling rivalry over parenting was simply not a federal case (pun completely intended, you're welcome).

No, this case doesn't provide us with ground-breaking legal precedent. But, when Judge Easterbrook reprimands everyone in the courtroom it makes for very entertaining reading.

Some things are just not done. For example, demonstrative exhibits not admitted into evidence are just not sent into the jury room to assist the jury with deliberations. Yet somehow, that's precisely what happened here.

The Seventh Circuit reversed a judgment and remanded for a new trial because of a district court's error. Here's the latest case that had us scratching our head and thinking, "Did that really just happen?"