Justia U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that defendants jointly employed as a supervisor, Brian Cooper, a man with a known history of sexually harassing, verbally abusing, and physically intimidating his female subordinates. Plaintiff also alleged that the joint employers failed to take reasonable steps in response to female employees' complaints and to misbehavior that more senior managers observed. For five years, Cooper verbally abused and controlled one subordinate, Alisha Bromfield. Cooper used his supervisory authority to require Alisha to come on a personal trip with him by threatening to fire her or cut her hours if she refused. During the trip, Cooper strangled Alisha to death and then raped her corpse. Alisha was seven months pregnant at the time. The court explained that Illinois law permits recovery from employers whose negligent hiring, supervision, or retention of their employees causes injury. The court concluded that the unusually detailed complaint plausibly stated such claims and that the Illinois courts would apply this general principle to the claims arising from Alisha's murder. View "Anicich v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc." on Justia Law
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Lynn was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, in 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), 846 and 18 U.S.C. 2; and conspiracy to possess pseudoephedrine, 21 U.S.C. 841(c)(2), 846 and 18 U.S.C. 2. The court imposed a below‐guidelines sentence of 192 months’ imprisonment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the district court erred in admitting National Precursor Exchange System (NPLEX) logs concerning pharmacy purchases of products containing pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in methamphetamine; and a video of a chemist demonstrating a particular method for producing methamphetamine, called “shake‐and‐bake,” and that Lynn should not have been sentenced as a career offender because his two predicate offenses for aggravated battery under Illinois las did not qualify as violent felonies under U.S.S.G. 4B1.2(a)(1). The NPLEX logs were nontestimonial; although the “shake‐and‐bake” video showed a different, and perhaps more sophisticated, means of production, the video’s presentation did not prejudice Lynn. View "United States v. Lynn" on Justia Law
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After a sting operation, Hilliard was charged with 10 counts relating to several controlled sales of heroin, a heroin‐for‐guns trade, and a gun and heroin found during the execution of a search warrant at his home. Hilliard asserted an entrapment defense. The jury found Hilliard guilty on nine counts. The Seventh Circuit affirmed his conviction, rejecting an argument that the testimony of an agent placed that agent in the position of both a factual and an expert witness, in violation of Hilliard's due process rights.. The trial court properly provided the definition of pre‐disposition and the factors to be considered in evaluating Hilliard’s defense. View "United States v. Hilliard" on Justia Law
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The Yusevs, who overstayed their non-immigrant visas and have lived in the U.S. since 2005, asserted that they had been members of the United Macedonian Organization Ilinden, a banned party devoted to the rights of ethnic Macedonians. They testified about two occasions on which the police assaulted them and that the police came looking for them at their home in 2006 and were still looking in 2007. They submitted reports detailing Bulgaria’s poor treatment of Macedonians. An immigration judge denied relief, finding that they had missed the one-year deadline for filing an asylum application, 8 U.S.C. 1158(a)(2)(B), and that their tardiness was not excused by changed circumstances in Bulgaria or extraordinary circumstances. The judge denied their request for withholding and Convention Against Torture protection on the merits, finding that their experiences did not meet the test for past persecution, nor did they support a finding of likely persecution in the future. The BIA affirmed. Represented by new counsel, they moved to reopen the proceedings based on their first lawyer’s ineffectiveness. The Board found the motion untimely and rejected the argument that counsel’s ineffectiveness excused the delay. The Seventh Circuit rejected petitions for review, noting the Yusevs’ lack of diligence. View "Yusev v. Sessions" on Justia Law
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Delgado, a citizen of Mexico, entered the U.S. without inspection three times, most recently in May 1999. In December 2009, he was convicted in Illinois state court of felony possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. In 2015, DHS initiated removal proceedings. More than seven years and three petitios later, the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed an IJ’s denial of withholding of emoval, 8 U.S.C. 1231(b)(3), and relief under the Convention Against Torture, 8 C.F.R. 1208.16(c). Delgado challenged aspects of the expedited removal process under 8 U.S.C. 1228(b) and a corresponding regulation and claimed that the Board committed various legal errors. The Seventh Circuit dismissed Delgado’s petition for review in part for lack of jurisdiction. Asylum is a form of discretionary relief in which “there is no liberty interest at stake.” The court denied the remainder of his arguments. The Board engaged in impermissible fact-finding, but the error was harmless. View "Delgado-Arteaga v. Sessions" on Justia Law
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After pleading guilty to three federal drug and money‐laundering offenses, Jimenes was sentenced to 151 months’ imprisonment and five years’ supervised release. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting Jimenes’s argument that his constitutional rights were violated by the use, for Sentencing Guidelines purposes, of a state misdemeanor conviction for driving with a suspended license that was obtained without the use of a Spanish interpreter. The district court reviewed the record of the conviction and was satisfied that enough informal translation took place to support a conclusion that his guilty plea was knowing. The court noted that the district court was not an appropriate forum for collateral attack of that conviction. View "United States v. Jimenes" on Justia Law
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On June 30, 2015, Dutcher announced on Facebook that he planned to assassinate President Obama. He then drove to La Crosse, Wisconsin, where the President was scheduled to speak on July 2. Once in La Crosse, Dutcher repeated his plan to a security guard, the police, the Secret Service, a nurse, a doctor, and the Secret Service together. Dutcher was convicted of two counts of threatening the President, 18 U.S.C. 871(a) and sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence and to jury instructionsthat it could find willfulness if the government proved Dutcher “either actually intended his statement to be a true threat, or that he knew that other people reasonably would view his statement as a true threat but he made the statement anyway.” View "United States v. Dutcher" on Justia Law
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In 1999, the Dribbens purchased a home from the Favres on 42 acres in a four‐parcel development near Saint Louis, Missouri. Davidson represented the Favres in that purchase. Davidson was also one of the developers and owned one parcel. The development has a 30‐acre artificial lake; the dam creating that lake is located on the Dribbens parcel. In a 2006 lawsuit, the Dribbens alleged that Davidson failed to disclose that the original owners/developers had never obtained a permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which amounted to fraudulent concealment and consumer fraud. Davidson tendered the suit to Diamond State, which had issued her professional liability errors and omissions policy. In 2011, the Dribbens filed a second suit, alleging a pattern of harassment, intimidation, and interference with the Dribbens’ property rights by the Davidsons. Davidson tendered the 2011 lawsuit to Madison Mutual, which had provided her homeowner’s insurance and umbrella coverage. Diamond State refused to supply a defense to the 2011 litigation. Madison Mutual sought a declaratory judgment that Diamond State has breached its duty to defend in the 2011 suit and had a duty to reimburse Madison Mutual. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Diamond State. The 2011 suit does not potentially assert a claim that is plausibly within the Diamond State professional liability coverage. View "Madison Mutual Insurance Co. v. Diamond State Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Under the Illinois Public Relations Act, 5 ILCS 315, a union representing public employees collects dues from its members, but only “fair share” fees (a proportionate share of the costs of collective bargaining and contract administration) from non-member employees on whose behalf the union also negotiates. A 2015 suit sought to preclude such fees, arguing that the statute violated the First Amendment by compelling employees who disapprove of the union to contribute money. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal, noting that one of the plaintiffs has previously challenged the “fair share” provision in state court and that his claim is barred by claim preclusion. The court also noted the Supreme Court’s 1977 decision, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, upholding, against a First Amendment challenge, a Michigan law that allowed a public employer, whose employees (public-school teachers) were represented by a union, to require those of its employees who did not join the union nevertheless to pay fees to it because they benefited from the union’s collective bargaining agreement with the employer. View "Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees" on Justia Law

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Simic received a ticket for driving while texting on her cell phone, in violation of a Chicago ordinance. Simic failed to pay the $100 ticket and the city took steps to collect a fine. Simic then sued, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and monetary damages greater than one million dollars. She alleged that Chicago’s cell phone ordinance violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause, plus several state-law claims, and sought class certification. The city non-suited its case against her. The district court denied Simic’s motion for an injunction. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, reasoning that Simic did not face any threat of irreparable harm and that it appears that Simic lacks Article III standing for the relief she seeks. The court directed the district court to consider dismissing Simic’s lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction. View "Simic v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law