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

March 2013 News

Generalizations Aren't Enough: Asylum Applicants Need Specifics

Xing Zheng, a native of Fuzhou City in the Fujian Province of China, arrived in the U.S. in 1991 and filed an asylum application in 1992. The application was denied. In 1998, the Immigration and Naturalization Service charged him with removal.

Zheng has managed to remain in the U.S. for more than two decades while asserting various grounds for asylum, all of which were rejected. His most recent motion to reopen, filed in 2011, focused on the argument that he would be persecuted in China for his Christian beliefs. (This was a new argument based on his 2010 conversion while in immigration detention).

Cuckolded Defendant Can't Get New Trial for 'Outrageous Conduct'

Guy Westmoreland may be one of "the bad guys," but he got a pretty rough deal from the government.

First he moved for a new murder trial after learning that an Illinois State Police agent had an affair with his wife while the state was building a case against Westmoreland. Then, the district court waited eight years to deny his motion.

Though the cops and the district court weren't very cool about the case, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals declined to offer relief.

I'll See Your $11,000 Demand, and Raise You a $2.2 Billion Claim

Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner’s civil procedure opinions often read like the textbook you wish you had in law school. Judge Posner has a knack for explaining procedure in a step-by-step process, noting why the court disposes of particular arguments.

Wednesday, Judge Posner explained in one of his textbook-style federal jurisdiction opinions why an allegation that the amount in controversy is $2 billion does not mean that the amount is $2 billion.

Madigan v. Levin: SCOTUS to Resolve Discrimination Circuit Split

Age discrimination is heading back to the Supreme Court in the 2013 Term, and the challenge in question matriculated from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to consider “whether state and local government employees may avoid the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act’s comprehensive remedial regime by bringing age discrimination claims directly under the Equal Protection Clause and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.”

The case, which the Seventh Circuit decided in August 2012, is Madigan v. Levin.

Federal Tort Claims Act: Court Rejects $45 Million Fender Bender

David Furry and Diane Nye claim that Ronald Williams — a substitute USPS letter carrier — hit their station wagon with his postal truck, causing “substantial injuries.”

Williams claims that he doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about, and that the contact between the two vehicles can only be explained as “mystical.”

Turns out that’s a valid defense under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Not really, but kind of.

Sloppy Reporting Not Evidence of Unlawful Discrimination

Toy Collins says her American Red Cross co-workers discriminated against her and harassed her. She filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2006. Red Cross employees say that Collins stirred tensions among her co-workers and was paranoid that people were out to get her. The charity fired Collins in 2007.

In the she-says, they-say battle surrounding Collins' unlawful retaliation claim, they win because she failed to demonstrate a causal connection between her complaint and her subsequent termination.

Beverly Stayart's Plan to Sue the Internet for Privacy Backfires

Beverly Stayart is annoyed that online search returns for her name abbreviated name -- "bev stayart" -- may lead to a search assist for "bev stayart levitra." Which could then take the searcher to a website for erectile dysfunction drugs. In fact, Bev -- a Wisconsin resident -- is so upset about her name being connected with ED meds that she sued the Internet (well, technically, a few search engines) for misappropriating her name. Several times. She has yet to win.

Stayart's problem in her latest appeal -- according to the Seventh Circuit -- is that she hasn't "articulated a set of facts that can plausibly lead to relief under Wisconsin's misappropriation laws" because the use of her name falls within the public interest and incidental use exceptions to the law. The bigger issue for Stayart is that the more she demands respect for her privacy rights, the more her name is associated ED drugs. That's just how the Internet works.

In Settlement, Overstatement Is Better than Understatement

Juana Sanchez sued Prudential Pizza for sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The parties avoided a trial when Sanchez accepted Prudential Pizza's offer of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 68.

Prudential Pizza's offer said that it included "all of Plaintiff's claims for relief," but it didn't specifically refer to costs or attorney fees. The district court concluded that the offer was unambiguous and included attorney fees. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, however, reversed that decision.