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

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Glisson was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. His larynx, part of his pharynx, portions of his mandible and 13 teeth were removed. He was fitted with a voice prosthesis, and received postoperative radiation treatment. Later, doctors inserted a gastrojejunostomy tube to help with nutrition and a cancerous lesion on his tongue was excised. Glisson also suffered memory issues, hypothyroidism, depression, smoking, and alcohol abuse. Glisson was sentenced to incarceration for giving a friend prescription painkillers. Prison medical personnel noted spikes in Glisson’s blood pressure, low pulse, low oxygen saturation level, confusion, and anger. His condition worsened, indicating acute renal failure. After a short hospital stay, Glisson died in prison. The district court rejected his mother’s suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 on summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit initially affirmed, rejecting a claim that failure to implement an Indiana Department of Corrections Health Care Service Directive, requiring a plan for management of chronic diseases, violated the Eighth Amendment. On rehearing, en banc, the court reversed. The Department’s healthcare contractor, Corizon, was not constitutionally required to adopt the Directives or any particular document, but was required to ensure that a well-recognized risk for a defined class of prisoners not be deliberately left to happenstance. Corizon had notice of the problems posed by lack of coordination, but did nothing to address that risk. Glisson was managing his difficult medical situation successfully until he fell into the hands of the Indiana prison system and Corizon. View "Glisson v. Indiana Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The Indianapolis Airport Authority sued Travelers Property Casualty over Travelers’ partial denial of a claim for coverage arising from an airport construction accident that occurred in 2007. On motions for summary judgment, the district court interpreted the insurance contract in favor of Travelers on several issues, narrowing the Authority’s case to a claim for unreimbursed inspection costs associated with the incident. Two weeks before trial was set to begin on that claim, the district court entered an evidentiary order that effectively precluded the Authority from proving that sole remaining claim by restricting the testimony of two “hybrid fact/expert” witnesses, leaving the Authority with no designated damages expert. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s summary judgment order, and vacated the evidentiary order. The court upheld the district court’s construction of the General Coverage Provision and agreed that the Authority has no compensable soft cost claim because of the deductible, but stated that, if the Authority can demonstrate with competent evidence that it incurred expenses to reduce soft costs for which Travelers otherwise would have been liable, it may recover those expenses under the “expenses to reduce the amount of loss” provision, subject to policy limits. View "Indianapolis Airport Authority v. Travelers Property Casualty Co." on Justia Law

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The property owners, participants in the “Section 8” federal rental assistance program (42 U.S.C. 1437f(a)), sued the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority for allegedly breaching the contracts that governed payments to the owners under the program, by failing to approve automatic rent increases for certain years, by requiring the owners to submit comparability studies in order to receive increases, and by arbitrarily reducing the increases for non-turnover units by one percent. Because Wisconsin Housing receives all of its Section 8 funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Authority filed a third-party breach of contract claim against HUD. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Wisconsin Housing and dismissed the claims against HUD as moot. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that the owners’ Section 8 contracts were renewed after the challenged requirements became part of the program. “The doctrine of disproportionate forfeiture simply does not apply,” and Wisconsin Housing did not breach any contracts by requiring rent comparability studies in certain circumstances or by applying a one percent reduction for non-turnover units. View "Evergreen Square of Cudahy v. Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority" on Justia Law

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Wright was arrested by Calumet City police, without a warrant, based on the murder of one individual and the shooting of others. Wright admitted to having a gun. At a minimum, he was to be charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, but the prosecutor instructed the officers to wait to charge Wright until lab results came back establishing whether his gun matched casings and bullets at the scene. After being in custody for 55 hours, Wright sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the city violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to provide him with a judicial determination of probable cause within 48 hours of his arrest. The next day, a judge made a probable cause finding. In the section 1983 action, Wright sought class certification, asserting that the city had a policy or practice authorizing officers to detain persons arrested without a warrant for up to 72 hours before permitting the arrestee to appear before a judge. The city made an offer of judgment. Despite accepting that Rule 68 offer, granting him relief as to "all claims brought under this lawsuit,” Wright appealed the denial of certification of a proposed class of “[a]ll persons who will in the future be detained.” He did not appeal with respect to persons who had been detained. The Seventh Circuit dismissed, finding that Wright is not an aggrieved person with a personal stake in the case as required under Article III of the Constitution. View "Wright v. Calumet City" on Justia Law

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In consolidated cases, the debtors obtained Federal Housing Administration-insured residential mortgage loans and subsequently defaulted due to financial hardship. The law firms represented the loan servicing agents in filing Illinois foreclosure complaints, using the statutory complaint template (Illinois’ Mortgage Foreclosure Law, 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/15-1504(a)), which includes the language: “Names of defendants claimed to be personally liable for deficiency, if any[,]” and, “[a] personal judgment for a deficiency, if sought.” The firms included both allegations, and identified debtors to be personally liable for any deficiency. The debtors filed suit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692, alleging that the FHA does not authorize deficiency judgments where borrowers suffered a financial hardship. They submitted a letter from the FHA responding to a Freedom of Information Act request, stating: There have been zero foreclosed FHA loans in Illinois in which the pursuit of a deficiency judgment was authorized. FHA is not currently pursuing deficiency judgments.” The district court dismissed. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Debtors did not identify any law, regulation, or FHA policy requiring a mortgagee to obtain authorization from the FHA prior to including the two allegations at issue in their state-foreclosure complaint. View "Zuniga v. Pierce & Associates" on Justia Law

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Five defendants were arrested as they were preparing to execute a planned robbery of a fictitious narcotics “stash house.” They had been recruited by an undercover agent, posing as a drug courier seeking to rob a Mexican drug cartel. Two of the defendants, Walker and Paxton, were arrested outside of a Chicago restaurant and placed into a police transport van that was clearly marked as a Chicago Police Department vehicle. Task force officers then drove the van to a warehouse, where the other three defendants had convened with the undercover agent for a final pre‐robbery meeting. The three were placed into the rear‐most compartment of the van along with Walker and Paxton. None were given Miranda warnings before being placed into the van. During the drive to the field office, the defendants conversed quietly. Unbeknownst to them, two recording devices had been hidden in the rear compartment of the van to capture their conversation. Although one defendant remarked that the van was “probably bugged,” the defendants continued to converse and make incriminating statements. The Seventh Circuit reversed the district court’s suppression of the recorded statements. The defendants lacked an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the van. View "United States v. Paxton" on Justia Law

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In 2013, Roake, an off-duty Forest Preserve District of Cook County police officer, took champagne to a department police station to celebrate the New Year, allegedly with permission from a sergeant. In January 2014, the department initiated disciplinary proceedings against Roake for his participation in the New Year’s Eve gathering. Roake alleges that hearing officers “upheld the charges” against him, and that he saw the “handwriting on the wall,” so he resigned his job. Roake claimed that his involvement in the party was a pretext for disciplining him because he had previously reported official misconduct within the department: an October 2013 incident involved racial profiling; the other, around February 6, 2014, involved a fellow officer whom Roake believed had been unjustly disciplined. Roake alleges that officials of the Forest Preserve department told certain prospective employers that he had consumed alcohol while on duty, damaging his professional reputation and making it difficult for him to find work. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of his retaliation action under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Roake did not show that he was disciplined for engaging in constitutionally protected speech, or that he was deprived of a constitutionally protected liberty or property interest without due process. View "Roake v. Forest Preserve District of Cook County" on Justia Law

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The Millers, from Lafayette, Indiana, shot and killed two police officers and one civilian in Las Vegas. They died in an ensuing shootout. Days later, Bradbury, a Lafayette resident, placed a message on Facebook, referring to “the town’s cop killing group run by ... myself,” to having sent the Millers to Las Vegas, and to a “larger plot … to kill cops … specifically to take out [named officers]…. We have gathered enough thermite and explosives … to destroy no less than 6 police cars, as well as the Tippecanoe County Courthouse.” A friend asked whether he was serious; Bradbury stated, “complete satire … a big mind game … [I]t’s made to get you to think.” (To think about committing mayhem!).” Bradbury deleted his post, but screenshots were sent to the police. A search, pursuant to warrants, of his bedroom in his parents’ home, revealed thermite. Bradbury was acquitted of “willfully mak[ing] any threat,” but convicted of “maliciously convey[ing] false information,” 18 U.S.C. 844(e), and sentenced to 41 months of imprisonment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, upholding a jury instruction that “maliciously” means “to act intentionally or with deliberate disregard of the likelihood that damage or injury will result.” The court rejected an argument that the post was a joke, so there was nothing malicious. Bradbury conducted an elaborate and malicious hoax, intending disruptive effects by diverting law enforcement resources. View "United States v. Bradbury" on Justia Law

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Lake, a prisoner at Illinois’ Hill Correctional Center, claimed, in his suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, that Dr. Jackson, the prison’s dentist had refused to send him to an outside dentist to extract a decayed tooth that was causing him pain. Lake claimed that Wexford, the contractor serving the prison, has policy of withholding medical care to save money. Although Dr. Jackson assured him that his mouth could be numbed successfully, Lake refused to let her pull the tooth and complained to Wexford that he was suffering needlessly because of its refusal to provide him with outside treatment. Lake later agreed to let a different prison dentist extract the tooth. A local anesthetic was used during the extraction, but Lake complained afterward that the procedure had been painful. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment, rejecting Lake’s claims, and agreeing that a jury would have to find that Dr. Jackson had been exercising professional judgment in predicting that administering a local anesthetic would enable her to extract the decayed tooth without inflicting significant pain. View "Lake v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2006, Peterson was convicted of distributing crack cocaine, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1). He served eight years in prison. Within two weeks after the start of his term of supervised release, Peterson was arrested for drunk driving while outside the judicial district without permission. His probation officer did not seek revocation at that time. About two years later, Peterson encountered an adversary at a bar. A surveillance video shows Peterson pursuing his adversary, armed with a pistol lent him by a friend. On the street, his adversary attacked Peterson with a knife, seriously wounding him. Peterson didn’t attempt to use the gun but hid it under a garbage can after fleeing police officers who saw the attack. Peterson pleaded guilty as a felon in possession of a gun, 18 U.S.C. 922(g), and was sentenced to 48 months’ imprisonment, nine months below the guidelines range. The judge revoked Peterson’s supervised release, replacing it with a six‐month term of imprisonment to run consecutively to the 48‐month term. Peterson filed notices of appeal, but his appointed counsel sought to withdraw. Peterson neither wanted his guilty plea set aside nor wished to contest the revocation of supervised release. Counsel concluded that any challenge to the length of the terms or the decision to make them consecutive would be frivolous. The Seventh Circuit agreed, dismissing the appeals. View "United States v. Peterson" on Justia Law
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