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

Recent Injury & Tort Law Decisions

Dog Treat Class Action Hiccup

Dog people can be a little crazy about their dogs (Exhibit A: My dog's Instagram). However, when a group of dog owners discovered that a popular treat they'd been giving their furry little friends was the cause of serious medical problems for their pups, the gloves came off and a class action lawsuit got filed.

Unfortunately for the dog owners, the district court in Illinois recently rejected their motion for class certification, but it didn't completely close the door. The court found that the individual dog owners with claims that their dogs were harmed could still proceed.

Last year, a jury returned a sizable verdict against GlaxoSmithKline, for the widow of a BigLaw partner that took his own life while on anti-depressant medication.

The case alleged that the maker of the anti-depressant Paxil failed to adequately warn adult users of the risk of suicide. The drug maker argued that it was the stress of BigLaw that drove him to it. But, despite the fact that a jury found the drug maker liable, on appeal, as it turned out, the jury shouldn't have even had the chance. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the $3 million jury verdict and remanded with instructions to dismiss.

The death of Derek Boogaard is sad. He overdosed on prescription painkillers while under the NHL's care for pain pill addiction. After his death, many disturbing facts came to light.

Despite specific requirements of his drug treatment program stating that he not be given certain types of pills, team doctors prescribed the exact pills he was not supposed to have. Despite him failing drug tests, consequences specifically designed to encourage compliance with drug treatment programs did not follow those failures. And as a result of the systemic failures, Boogaard's family sued for wrongful death.

But, due to procedural failings, the NHL prevailed in the recent appeal over wrongful death lawsuit.

Jury Awards $3M for AndroGel Heart Attack

When you win more than $3 million in a case, it should be cause for celebration.

For the plaintiff in his case against a drug company, however, it was a big let down. Jesse Mitchell had won $150 million against the company three months earlier, but the judge threw out the verdict and ordered a new trial.

The latest decision wasn't exactly good news for the defendant either. AbbVie, which is facing more than 4,000 similar lawsuits, plans to appeal.

Sadly for the parents of a child in Illinois that lost his middle finger due to an injury at a Starbucks, the Seventh Circuit unanimously refused to overturn the lower district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing the claim over the child's lost finger.

The court found that Starbucks could not be held liable due to the fact that the child was being supervised by his parents at the time of the injury. Despite the danger inherent in the structure at the Starbucks that contributed or caused the injury, the appellate court agree that it was the parent's, and not Starbuck's, fault. The appellate opinion explains the seemingly harsh result:

Apple Faces Coast-to-Coast Class Actions Over 'Throttling' Old Phones

Company bumbles. Consumers complain. Lawyers sue.

That's a quick reference to the latest class actions filed against Apple after the iPhone maker admitted that it purposely slowed own older phones with software updates. Before the company could get a handle on the bad press from the "throttling scandal," lawyers filed class actions from coast to coast.

Who knows how it will all end, but here's a possible preview: Case dismissed. Appeal. Settlement -- not necessarily in that order.

Subway Gets a Refund in Footlong Settlement

In a rare twist, Subway is going to get some bread back.

After a class action challenged the length of its footlong sandwich, Subway settled by promising to measure up and pay $520,000 to the plaintiffs' attorneys. An appeals court reversed in Subway Footlong Sandwich Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, however, because the settlement did nothing meaningful for consumers.

"The settlement acknowledges as much when it says that uniformity in bread length is impossible due to the natural variability of the bread-baking process," said the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, calling the settlement "worthless."

And with that twist of the knife, the court sliced off the attorneys' dough.

Meanith Huon's battle with blogs will continue after the Seventh Circuit revived his lawsuit against Jezebel this week. Huon, an Illinois attorney, began his battle with Jezebel, once part of the Gawker network, and the legal blog Above the Law over their coverage of a rape accusation against him. Huon sued the blogs for defamation based on their portrayal of him as a serial rapist.

Huon's suit against Jezebel was originally dismissed in district court but was given new life on Monday, when the Seventh Circuit ruled that Huon's accusations regarding the blog's comments were strong enough to withstand summary judgement, particularly given Huon's claims that user comments were created and developed with the help of Jezebel's staff.

7th Cir. Limits Class Action Attorneys' Fees

The Seventh Circuit stepped in to reduce some rather handsome lawyer fees sought by class action attorneys, and the move could make class action litigation that much less enticing to practicing attorneys. The issue gets to the heart of whether or not attorney fees should be based off a percentage of the final pot, or based on the amount actually collected by those plaintiffs who opted-in.

It's bad news for class action lawyers who are looking for their pot of gold at the end of the class action rainbow, as many lawyers see this cinching of the belt as a new trend.

P.F. Chang's Data Hack Case Revived by 7th Circuit

A class action suit against ersatz-Chinese food chain P.F. Chang's is allowed to proceed, said the Seventh Circuit, because two separate plaintiffs had alleged "enough" to meet the Twombly standards of standing in this breach of data case.

The circuit's ruling upholds the 2014 finding that a breach and increased risk of identity theft is "injury" enough for justiciability.