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

Recent Property Law Decisions

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has done more than just uphold the lower district court's decision against one Chicago-area pro-Airbnb group's challenge to the city's recent anti-Airbnb ordinance; the appellate court has all but ordered the matter dismissed due to a standing problem.

As it turns out, none of the plaintiffs, nor the non-profit group Keep Chicago Livable, have standing to challenge the city of Chicago's Shared Housing Ordinance. The ordinance, among its many requirements, forces individuals who want to list their properties on Airbnb or similar sites to get a business license from the city, as well as comply with reasonable regulations like providing clean linens.

Tribes Sue State Over Property Taxes On Reservation Lands

Native American tribes sued Wisconsin officials for trying to tax their land, renewing a battle they thought had ended more than 150 years ago.

By treaty in 1854, the Chippewa tribes claim their land was forever exempt from property taxes. Until recently, that seemed to be true.

Now the tribes want a court to settle the dispute and an injunction in LAC Court Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin v. Walker.

A Hustler Hollywood store has lost its interlocutory appeal to Seventh Circuit of the denial of a preliminary injunction to allow the establishment to open right next door to a Chuck E. Cheese's in Indianapolis.

The primary issue boils down to a zoning rights fight which started in 2016 when the establishment believed it would be allowed to operate based on conversations it had with city officials. When Hustler Hollywood sought permits to put up signage, the city denied those permits citing zoning restrictions prohibiting adult stores. Unfortunately for the chain of adult stores, the courts have sided with the city zoning board in finding that it would be a violation of the city's zoning law to permit the store to operate next to the popular kids' restaurant, even if the store promised not to hold classes or other events.

In 2015, a new anti-puppy mill law took effect in Chicago that changed the landscape for pet stores. The law prohibits pet retailers from sourcing animals from anywhere except government run animal shelters, or animal control, or non-profit pet rescues, or pet shelters. Basically, pet stores are no longer able to source animals from pet breeders.

The law was not passed to put the squeeze on pet stores, but rather to protect consumers and save tax payers money as the city spends $500,000 annually to euthanize animals (some of which are adoptable). As one might expect, pet stores and breeders banded together to file a lawsuit to stop this new law. After losing at the district court level, the pet stores and breeders suffered another loss in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, after a rather long wait. The case was argued back in May 2016, but the decision just issued September 21, 2017.

Exasperated Judge Posner Kills Easement Dreams for Landowner

Judge Posner, clearly exasperated by the procedural muck that was made out of a relatively routine easement case, killed the landowner's dreams of establishing a prescriptive easement to a public road in the Seventh Circuit.

"The duration of this litigation," he vented, is inexplicable and inexcusable -- for it's a pretty simple case!"

Nude Dancing? Not in Our Town! 7th Cir. Denies Owner's Relief

When Alva and Sandra Butler purchased a restaurant in Angola, Indiana, they had big plans to convert the venue into a nude dancing bar. Curiously, within days of buying the place, the city amended its zoning laws such that nude dancing would violate use restrictions...

Rather than alleging any taking by the government, the couple opted to raise a First Amendment violation and various other violations under Indiana law. After having their first petition for injunction denied, the Circuit seems to have taken a "hands off" approach.

When Stephanie Miller proposed a condo development in the Madison suburb of Monona, Wisconsin, she soon discovered how quickly small town politics could get in her way. After a falling out with a former mayor over another development, her proposed condos suddenly faced a very rocky approval process. Miller found herself subject to a slew of roadblocks.

Eventually she went to court, alleging that she had been discriminated against as a "class-of-one." Miller alleged that she was being selectively prosecuted and that city officials had singled her out for unfavorable treatment, without a rational basis, when compared to similarly situated persons, such as the former major's son, whose developments had gone ahead without a hitch.

Insurance companies who lost billions after the September 11th terrorist attacks won't be able to recover that money from $6 million in seized terrorist accounts, the Seventh Circuit ruled last week. Though the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) authorizes the use of such assets to pay judgments against terrorists, these funds fall into one of the act's exceptions.

It's not all bad news for victims of terrorism, though. While the insurers won't be able to collect from these funds, the Seventh split with the Fifth and adopted a broad reading of TRIA's "notwithstanding any provision of law" clause, finding it allowed claimants to avoid innocent ownership requirements of civil forfeiture law.

When Elena Fridman authorized her mortgage payment online, she thought she'd met her obligations to pay on time. But her mortgage servicer, NYCB Mortgage Co., disagreed. Because it took NYCB two days to process her payment, they did not consider it received "on time" and charged Fridman a late fee. Fridman sued, and the Seventh Circuit recently ruled that her payment was valid on the day she authorized it.

Under the ruling, mortgage services must credit payments made on their websites at the time the borrower approves it, not at the point they actual electronic transfer of funds is completed.

In 1997, Hamas orchestrated a triple suicide bombing in Jerusalem that wounded 200 and killed five people. U.S. citizens who were wounded, suffered emotional distress, or lack of consortium sued Iran in federal court arguing that Iran was responsible for the bombings because Iran provided support and training to Hamas.

The plaintiffs were successful and won a $71.5 million judgment against Iran -- though in hindsight, that may have been the easiest part of this litigation.