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Debtors sought sanctions against Kreisler, alleging that the law firm violated the automatic stay arising from their bankruptcy petition by filing a lien against Lorraine’s home. The couple had voluntarily dismissed a prior bankruptcy petition just a few months earlier, so the bankruptcy judge denied their motion based on 11 U.S.C. 362(c)(3), which lifts the automatic stay after 30 days in the case of a successive petition. Bankruptcy courts are divided over the proper interpretation of section 362(c)(3), so the judge certified her order for direct appeal but the Debtors never filed a petition for permission to appeal as required by Rule 8006(g) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. The Seventh Circuit dismissed the appeal. Rule 8006(g) is a mandatory claim-processing rule, and if properly invoked, it must be enforced. Because Kreisler properly objected, the appeal must be dismissed. View "Wade v. Kreisler Law, P.C." on Justia Law

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Freeman, an African-American, began as an "at will" probationary treatment plant operator, collecting and transporting water samples across the mile-long plant. Although operators typically transport these samples in District-owned vehicles, the job description does not require a driver’s license. Three months after Freeman was hired, he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, His license was suspended for six months. Freeman began seeing a substance-abuse counselor. As required by his contract, he told the District about the license suspension and his counseling. He bought a bike and a cooler to transport samples and asked whether he could use a go-cart, which does not require a driver’s license on private property. The District refused to approve a state-approved occupational driving permit that would permit him to drive a company vehicle while working. The District fired Freeman, asserting “unsatisfactory performance.” Freeman alleges that the real reason for his firing was his race and because the District regarded him as an alcoholic. Each of four court-recruited attorneys moved to withdraw. The court dismissed his claims of race and disability discrimination and of retaliation, 42 U.S.C. 1981, 1983; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2; and under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12112. The Seventh Circuit vacated in part. Freeman adequately pleaded his discrimination claims. The court affirmed with respect to Freeman’s Monell contention that the District fired him pursuant to an unlawful policy. View "Freeman v. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago" on Justia Law

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Under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, before obtaining any fingerprint, a “private entity” must provide the subject or “the subject’s legally authorized representative” with certain written information and obtain the consent of the subject or authorized representative, 740 ILCS 14/15(b). The private entity must make available to the public a protocol for retaining and handling biometric data and follow rules regarding the destruction of the data. Private entities must protect biometric information from disclosure. Both Southwest and United Airlines maintain timekeeping systems that require workers to clock in and out with their fingerprints. Plaintiffs contend that the airlines implemented these systems in violation of the Act. The airlines contend that the plaintiffs’ unions consented. Plaintiffs argued that a judge should resolve their contentions. The airlines claimed that resolution belongs to an adjustment board under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), 45 U.S.C. 151–88, which applies to air carriers. The Seventh Circuit held that dispute about the interpretation or administration of a collective bargaining agreement must be resolved by an adjustment board under the RLA. Unions in the air transportation business are the workers’ exclusive bargaining agents. Illinois cannot and did not remove a topic from the union’s purview. Its statute provides that a worker or an authorized agent may receive necessary notices and provide consent. Whether the unions did consent or grant authority through a management-rights clause, is a question for an adjustment board. View "Miller v. Southwest Airlines Co." on Justia Law

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Firefighter Mollet became a battalion chief in 2009. His relationships with chief Cohn and assistant chief Weber were strained. One night, firefighter Hernandez forgot to stow his gear. Other firefighters displayed the items and posted a paper sign with a Mexican flag and the words “Border Patrol.” Hernandez did not file a complaint but another firefighter reported it. Mollet emailed Cohn and Weber, who agreed “that this crosses the line of firehouse hazing” and asked Mollet to investigate. Four individuals were eventually disciplined. In the following months, Cohn and Weber were critical of Mollet’s performance on multiple occasions and stated that he might be demoted or reassigned. Mollet received an offer of employment from another department. Cohn and Weber indicated that he would be demoted if he did not take that position. Mollet told Weber he was going to accept the offer, which was contingent upon his passing a physical and psychological exam. Cohn sent a letter accepting Mollet’s resignation; Mollet responded he would not resign until the contingencies were met. Cohn responded that Mollet’s employment had terminated. Mollet was placed on paid leave until he submitted his resignation and began his new employment. Mollet filed suit, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, alleging he was retaliated against for opposing workplace discrimination. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment rejecting the claim; no reasonable trier of fact could find that reporting the Hernandez incident was the but-for cause of Mollet’s constructive discharge. View "Mollet v. City of Greenfield" on Justia Law

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Richardson began working for CTA in 1993. Richardson weighed 350 pounds in January 2005 and weighed 566 pounds in May 2009. Richardson suffers from hypertension and sleep apnea. In 2010, Richardson was absent from work because he had the flu. CTA’s medical provider documented that could not return to work until he controlled his blood pressure. CTA transferred Richardson to Temporary Medical Disability. When Richardson was physically fit to work, he had to be cleared for safety because CTA bus seats are not designed for drivers weighing over 400 pounds. Assessment instructors noted that: Richardson had his foot on the gas and brake at the same time; Richardson was unable to make hand-over-hand turns; Richardson’s leg rested close to the door handle; Richardson could not see the floor from his seat; part of Richardson’s body hung off his seat and the seat deflated when Richardson sat. Richardson was “sweating heavily,” needed to lean onto the bus for balance, and had a “hygiene problem.” CTA proposed to return Richardson to disability to work with doctors to lose weight; Richardson would release his ability to bring various claims. Richardson refused. In 2012, CTA terminated his employment. The district court rejected Richardson’s claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101–12213. The Seventh Circuit affirmed; extreme obesity only qualifies as a disability under the ADA if it is caused by an underlying physiological disorder or condition. Richardson offered no such evidence. View "Richardson v. Chicago Transit Authority" on Justia Law

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Tjader purchased child pornography online from sellers in the Philippines, asking about recordings of girls under 14 years old being tortured, raped, or killed. His conduct involved over 250 different pornographic images and videos of prepubescent girls. Tjader pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography, 18 U.S.C. 2252(a)(2),(b)(1). Tjader confirmed that he received and understood the presentence investigation report, which recommended supervised‐release terms relating to Tjader leaving the judicial district, following probation officer’s instructions, notifying third parties of risks that may be occasioned by hi’s criminal record or personal history or characteristics, providing requested financial information, undergoing psychosexual evaluations, participating in outpatient sex offender counseling, and limited interaction with persons under the age of 18. Tjader objected to only the financial information and psychosexual evaluation and counseling conditions The court addressed Tjader’s objections in detail, overruled them, and adopted the proposed conditions. Tjader “waive[d] the reading of any justification of the additional conditions that [he] did not object to,” acknowledging that he reviewed the conditions with counsel and that he understood them and their justifications. The Seventh Circuit affirmed Tjader's sentence of seven years' imprisonment and 10 years of supervised release. Tjader waived his new appellate arguments against the supervisory conditions. View "United States v. Tjader" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Bodum produces and sells what design magazines and art museums have recognized as an iconically designed houseware product—the Chambord French press coffee maker. Bodum sued Top for selling a French press that Bodum claimed infringes on its unregistered trade dress in the Chambord, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a)(1)(A). The court excluded evidence of various utility patents covering French press coffee makers and rejected Top’s argument that Bodum failed to prove the Chambord design was nonfunctional. A jury awarded Bodum $2 million in damages. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Bodum presented sufficient evidence for the jury to have found Bodum’s claimed trade dress was non‐functional. The district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding evidence of utility patents that do not claim any of the features that comprise the claimed Chambord trade dress. View "Bodum USA, Inc. v. A Top New Casting Inc." on Justia Law

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Illinois inmate Williams sued prison officials under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that they violated his Eighth Amendment rights by providing inadequate nutrition through a “brunch” program that served only two meals a day. Williams had filed multiple grievances complaining that the prison’s food was making him ill. He mainly objected to the use of soy protein, asserting that it caused him stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, migraine headaches, and excessive gas; he sometimes claimed that he received only 1600 calories per day or fewer than 2800 calories per day, and requested that he be served breakfast. The district court granted the defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, stating that the record establishes without dispute that the brunch program was adequate as designed by a licensed dietician to provide 2200-2400 calories per day, including a minimum of six ounces of protein per day. Williams lacks evidence that any of the defendants knew that he was allegedly not receiving adequate nutrition. For persons having special dietary needs, the Department allows therapeutic dietary trays as prescribed by physicians. View "Williams v. Shah" on Justia Law

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Lacko began working for BKD’s predecessor in 1999 and worked until September 2015, when she was Senior Manager in the Audit Department, with an annual salary of $93,250.04. She applied for benefits under the short term disability (STD) plan, claiming gastroparesis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, congestive heart failure, breathing difficulties, anxiety, musculoskeletal impairments, and cognitive difficulties related to the medication needed to manage the other conditions. Although United approved her claims for STD benefits three times, it denied benefits in June 2016 for the period beyond November 22, 2015, concluding there was no change in Lacko’s medical condition when she stopped working or subsequently. United also denied her claim for long term disability benefits. Lacko sued under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001.. The district court granted United summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit reversed. United failed to adequately address a determination that Lacko was entitled to Social Security disability benefits and failed to recognize the significant distinction between her ability to perform unskilled work and the job of Senior Manager. The court noted that the Plan’s requirement of a “change” in a person’s physical or mental capacity in order to qualify for benefits does not by its terms preclude a degenerative condition from qualifying a claimant for benefits and noted United's conflict of interests, having issued the policies and serving as claims review fiduciary. View "Lacko v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA, Insurance Law

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LeFlore traded drugs to minors in exchange for guns— one of which he sold to a confidential informant. He pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. 922(g), and was sentenced to 96 months in prison, the top of a 77-96 month Sentencing Guidelines range. The Seventh Circuit dismissed his appeal and granted his attorney’s motion to withdraw. The judge did err in calculating his criminal history points. Sentences that are “imposed on the same day” are treated as one when scoring a defendant’s criminal history unless there was an intervening arrest, U.S.S.G. 4A1.2(a)(2), but any challenge based on the miscalculation would be frivolous because the error was harmless. Under the correct calculation, LeFlore would remain in the same criminal history category and the same Guidelines range would apply. The criminal history points and category actually underrepresented LeFlore’s criminality. The court reasonably categorized LeFlore’s prior Illinois convictions for second-degree murder and domestic battery as crimes of violence and appropriately considered the section 3553(a) factors, including LeFlore’s “32-year crime spree.” The court did not err in not specifically addressing LeFlore’s argument that his history of alcohol and drug use were mitigating factors. View "United States v. LeFlore" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law