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Decisions in Criminal, Corporate, Employment, Debt Collection, & IP Matters

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By FindLaw Staff on July 27, 2010 5:39 PM

US v. Alaka, 09-3423, concerned a challenge to the district court's determination finding defendant responsible for the entire loss caused by the operation at his sentencing hearing, in his prosecution for participating in a conspiracy to steal identifying information from customers of Washington Mutual bank and use it to make fraudulent transfers from their accounts.  In affirming , the court held that the district court's determination that defendant, through the conspiracy, was responsible for $267,000 in loss is not clearly erroneous, and any error with respect to loss from a certain individual's account is harmless.

Prime Eagle Group Ltd. v. Steel Dynamics, Inc., 09-1663, concerned a steel mill company's assignee's suit against a defendant, who had contracted with the company to help develop running a steel mini-mill located in Thailand and to lend assistance in raising capital, claiming that it chose fraud as its means of exit and must pay damages in tort.  In affirming the district court's entry of judgment for defendant in concluding the suit untimely under the six-year statute of limitations in Indiana, the court held that the company's president's knowledge is imputed to the company and thus, the company knew in fall 1998 that defendant's assertions were false, or at least questionable enough to justify an investigation.  Therefore, the company's injury began no later than July 1999 when its investors withdrew their support, left the plant idle, and threw the firm into insolvency.

Marion County Coroner's Office v. Equal Employment Opportunity Comm'n, 09-3595, concerned a coroner's office's petition for review of a finding by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) administrative law judge's (ALJ) finding that the coroner's office took action against a white chief deputy coroner, based on his race and in retaliation for an internal complaint that he filed against a coroner, an African-American male.  The court denied the petition in part, and granted in part, and vacated the compensatory damages award.  The court held there was substantial evidence of race discrimination.  However, the evidence in this case does not come close to supporting the $200,000 award for compensatory damages, as based on review of the evidence and comparable cases, a remittitur to $20,000 would keep the award within rational limits.

Gburek v. Litton Loan Servicing LP, 08-3776, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of defendant's motion to dismiss in a homeowner's suit against her mortgage service provider, claiming that it had engaged in illegal debt-collection practices in violation of the Fair Debt Collection practices Act (FDCPA).  In reversing the dismissal, the court held that, generally, a communication from a debt collector to a debtor is not covered by the FDCPA unless it is made in connection with the collection of any debt, and here, plaintiff's mortgage was in default, and the text of the letters indicate they were sent to induce her to settle her mortgage-loan debt in order to avoid foreclosure.  Therefore, the complaint sufficiently alleges communications that were sent in connection with an attempt to collect a debt, and in violation of the FDCPA.

Bd. of Tr. of the Univ. of Illinois v. Organon Teknika Corp. LLC., 09-3375, concerned a university's suit against a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck & Co., and its licensee of some intellectual property rights needed to make a certain cancer drug, seeking to compel the subsidiary to resume arbitration concerning reopening the royalty rate.  In vacating the district court's dismissal of the suit on the ground that there was no dispute to resolve because the arbitrator had not made a final award, the court remanded with instructions to enter a judgment dismissing the suit with prejudice as defendant is entitled to a decision on the merits as Rule 60(c)(1) gives the parties one year to present newly discovered evidence in support of a motion under Rule 60(b)(2), and here, the parties bargained for a final and conclusive decision, not for perpetual arbitration.

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