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Decisions in Criminal and Civil Matters Including Issue of Forum Non Conveniens

By FindLaw Staff on March 26, 2010 3:18 PM

In US v. Barnhart, No. 07-2729, the Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to a conviction for wire fraud involving a fraud of a former employer and a fraudulent scheme to obtain $500,000 from a bank.  In affirming the conviction, the court held that although the district judge's questioning of the witnesses during defendant's trial went too far, it did not prejudice defendant's substantial rights given the overwhelming evidence of defendant's guilt.  The court also held that defendant's "parading" argument regarding his prior conviction is meritless with regard to his claim that the district court improperly calculated the amount of loss.  However, the case was remanded for the limited purpose as the district court should not have ordered the restitution based on relevant conduct.

Chang v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., No. 09-2280, involved the district court's dismissal of Taiwanese-plaintiffs' suit against a manufacturer of clotting factors on the ground of untimeliness of some claims and forum non conveniens on others.  The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims as untimely and its alternative ruling that a California court would apply the Taiwanese 20-year statute of repose because the plaintiffs' tort claims arose under Taiwanese law.  Furthermore, district court's dismissal on forum nonconveniens ground is affirmed including a plaintiff's product liability  claim as convenience favors Taiwan and the statute of limitations applicable to this claim will be the same whether the case is tried in California or Taiwan.

In Al's Serv. Ctr. v. BP Prod. N. Am., Inc., No. 09-3006, the court dealt with district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to amend in granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a suit under the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act, where the plaintiff claimed that the defendant drove his small gas station out of business.  However, in affirming the judgment, the court held that defendant was entitled to terminate the franchise or not renew the franchise based on government's condemnation of the property, no matter how small, as it significantly degraded the marketing premises.  Furthermore, the evidence shows that defendant complied with the district court's order of injunction and the franchise relationship ended only when the plaintiff abandoned its business.

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