U.S. Sixth Circuit - The FindLaw 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

February 2013 Archives

Debt Collectors' Unfair Robo-Signing Settlement Nixed by 6th Cir.

Encore Capital Group, a major debt-collection company, will head back to the settlement table after the Sixth Circuit scuttled the prior arrangement. Calling the relief given to the unnamed plaintiffs ($17.38 per claimant) and the one year injunction prohibiting illegal practices “perfunctory at best,” the Sixth Circuit found that the lower court abused its discretion in approving the $5.2 million settlement.

The case stemmed from Encore’s Midland Funding LLC subdivision’s shady debt-collection practices, which included using robo-signed affidavits to collect debt from more than a million individuals. According to the plaintiffs, the workers would process 300 to 400 affidavits per day, produced by the computer, all with no personal knowledge of the case.

Zoning Lawsuit Not Getting Any 'Younger'

Abdalla Nimer and his wife, Cathy Fobes, own land where they operate their meat snack business. (Think beef jerky.) They began constructing buildings on their land because they wanted to expand the business to include butchering. Their land, however, was zoned for residential use and the Nimers didn’t get zoning certificates before starting construction.

The Litchfield Township Board of Trustees sued the Nimers in the Medina County Court of Common Pleas seeking injunctive relief. The county court enjoined the Nimers from putting the buildings to any other use — aside from keeping and feeding animals — until they could get the necessary zoning certificates.

That lawsuit — and the subsequent litigation — gives us a chance to discuss everyone’s procedural abstention precedent: Younger v. Harris.

Wrong Address Leads Cops to Stumble Upon Cocaine

The cops arrived on Hendricks Avenue in Memphis to serve an arrest warrant on Phyllis Brown, who resided at 3171 Hendricks. When the arrived, however, they were surprised to find that there was no 3171. There were, however, two 3070s.

If you are the officers in this situation, what do you do? The Sixth Circuit's Judge Sutton, in a light-hearted opinion, suggested using Google Maps -- sorry, but there's no street view for either address -- or checking to see which side of the street had odd-numbered houses.

6th Cir. Affirms Judge Steven Terry's Honest Services Conviction

Jesse Unruh, the legendary former Speaker of the California General Assembly, said, "If you can't eat their[lobbyists'] food, drink their booze, ... take their money and then vote against them, you've got no business being [in politics]." Sixth Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton counters that federal anti-corruption statutes — one of which prohibits an official from accepting things of value "in return for" official acts — should be a politician's guide.

Since the courts get the final say on whether a politician goes to jail for corruption, maybe people should listen to Judge Sutton (if not Jesse Unruh).

Steven Perry, a former judge for an Ohio Court of Common Pleas, might have been better off heeding such advice.

Ambush With Undisclosed Evidence OK if Inculpatory, Not Exculpatory?

The facts of Rodrigo Macias-Farias’ case read like a comedy of errors. Agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency stopped a semi-trailer full of 1,600 pounds of marijuana and surveilled it as it was dropped off. Despite continuing surveillance, the drugs were somehow smuggled off of the truck anyway.

Later, the DEA pressured one of Macias-Farias’ alleged accomplices, Sean Lacefield, who then flipped and helped set up a drug buy at a Louisville Rite Aid. Unfortunately, the DEA agents got lost and missed that transaction as well. Lacefield provided information on one of the cars involved however, which was later apprehended with 100 pounds of marijuana in the trunk.

13-Year-Old Boy Can Appeal His Spot on Tenn. Child Abuse Registry

What exactly does a 13-year-old boy have to do to be considered a child abuser? In one case out of Tennessee, a teenager earned that undesirable designation after he pushed another kid’s penis and stuck his finger in the other kid’s butt.

That’s certainly impolite behavior (and battery), but it’s not what comes to mind when we think of child abuse.

If the aggressor, D.W., simply had a juvenile offense on his record, it wouldn’t follow him past age 18. But here, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services added him to the state’s child abuse registry. And that could follow D.W. for life.

Court Must Estimate Loss for Sentencing in Tire Trade Secret Theft

Ever see a bulldozer's tires? They're big. You can't score those at Wal-Mart. In fact, only three companies in the United States make those behemoths: Goodyear, Michelin, and Bridgestone. Why the lack of competition? Making steel-reinforced tires is a major pain, apparently.

A Chinese state-owned company wanted to get in on the action. (Some of their fellow countrymen already beat them to it, apparently.) Wyko is an American company that provides parts for tire-manufacturing machines to Goodyear and others. Goodyear had their own secretive process for making the big tires.