Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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Prolite Building Supply bought Ply Gem windows, which it resold to Wisconsin builders. Some homeowners were not satisfied with the windows, which admitted air even when closed. Contractors stopped buying from Prolite, which stopped paying Ply Gem. Prolite and homeowners sued. Ply Gem removed the action to federal court and counter-claimed against Prolite for unpaid bills. Additional parties intervened. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Prolite. The court vacated the judgment on the homeowners’ claims for remand to state court. The service agreement between Prolite and Ply Gem requires Prolite to repair the Ply Gem windows in exchange for a discount and needed parts. There was no breach of that agreement. The homeowners’ claims can be resolved under supplemental jurisdiction only if they “are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy,” 28 U.S.C. 1367(a). The language of the window warranties received by the homeowners and the service agreement did not overlap. Prolite complained that Ply Gem did not do enough to ensure that its customers (the builders) remained willing to purchase Ply Gem windows. The homeowners just wanted to stop drafts and moisture. The nature of the work done differed. View "ProLite Building Supply, LLC v. Ply Gem Windows" on Justia Law

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SP operates Dayton International Airport parking facilities and is headquartered in Chicago. Plaintiffs allege that they used these parking lots and received receipts that included the expiration date of their credit or debit cards, violating the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA), 15 U.S.C. 1681c(g)(1). They filed a class-action complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The complaint did not describe any concrete harm that the plaintiffs had suffered. SP removed the action to federal court, arguing that the claim arose under a federal statute, then moved to dismiss for lack of Article III standing because the plaintiffs did not allege an injury in fact. Plaintiffs sought remand to state court, arguing that it was SP’s responsibility to establish subject-matter jurisdiction and that, without it, 28 U.S.C. 1447(c) required return of their case to state court. Because Article III does not apply in state court, they presumably hoped that their case could stay alive there despite their lack of a concrete injury. The district court denied the motion, determined that plaintiffs could not establish standing by stating only that the defendant had violated statutory requirements, and dismissed the case. The Seventh Circuit vacated and ordered a remand. The case was not removable, because the plaintiffs lack Article III standing—negating federal subject-matter jurisdiction. View "Collier v. SP Plus Corp." on Justia Law

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Brokers Webb and Beversdorf were fired by Jefferies. They challenged their termination. As their employment contracts required, they filed claims in the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s arbitration forum. They signed FINRA's required “Arbitration Submission Agreement.” Their dispute proceeded in arbitration for two-and-a-half years. They withdrew their claims before a final decision was rendered. Under FINRA’s rules, that withdrawal constituted a dismissal with prejudice. Webb and Beversdorf then sued FINRA in Illinois, alleging that FINRA breached its contract to arbitrate their dispute with Jefferies by failing to properly train arbitrators, failing to provide arbitrators with appropriate procedural mechanisms, interfering with the arbitrators’ discretion, and failing to permit reasonable discovery. They sought damages in “excess of $50,000” and a declaratory judgment. The district court held that FINRA was entitled to arbitral immunity and dismissed the suit. The Seventh Circuit vacated, concluding that the federal courts lacked jurisdiction under the diversity statute, 28 U.S.C. 1332, which grants jurisdiction when there is complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs. While Illinois law permits plaintiffs to recover legal expenses as damages in limited circumstances, those circumstances are not present here, so the amount in controversy requirement was not satisfied. View "Webb v. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority" on Justia Law

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In Jansen’s bankruptcy case, Gleason brought an adversary proceeding, 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(2)(A), regarding a default judgment ($400,000) obtained in a case involving a phony investment scheme. Gleason unsuccessfully argued that Jansen was not entitled to relitigate that judgment. A bench trial revealed that Gleason gave $141,000 to Jansen’s company, Baytree, for closing costs in a business acquisition. The deal never closed and Jansen never fully refunded the money. Gleason’s checks, endorsed by “Talcott Financial … D/B/A Baytree,” were deposited, then disappeared. Jansen later pleaded guilty to unrelated money-skimming charges, involving a bank account in the name of Talcott Financial, which was involuntarily dissolved in 1999. Jansen testified that the “Talcotts” were two different businesses with separate accounts. The bankruptcy court credited Jansen’s story and concluded the debt was dischargeable. Meanwhile, Jansen tried to withdraw his guilty plea. Despite a warning that invoking the privilege against self-incrimination could lead to an adverse inference for bankruptcy purposes, Jansen asserted that privilege repeatedly. Gleason filed the “merits appeal,” then found publicly-available records in previous litigation, including bank statements. The bankruptcy court declined Gleason's motion for relief from the judgment, reasoning the evidence, easily found on PACER, was not new. Gleason then filed a “Rule 60 appeal.” After procedural confusion, during which the merits appeal was dismissed, the district court and Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district court’s mistaken assumption that it could reach the merits of the case in the later-filed Rule 60 appeal is not enough to revive the dismissed merits appeal. View "Gleason v. Jansen" on Justia Law

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From 2009-2014, Sampra was an FAA field electrical engineer, initially assigned to Chicago’s Midway Airport. She was eventually assigned to oversee technical support services contract work releases, which required little field work, so Sampra spent most of her time in the office. She retained the same job title; her job description continued to require up to 100% travel and field work. While Sampra was on Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) childbirth leave, a new supervisor assigned to himself the work releases that Sampra had overseen. After Sampra’s return, she was reassigned to work on an O’Hare Airport runway overnight. Before she would have had to start the overnight assignment, Sampra requested reassignment to the position of drafting coordinator. Her request was granted. The drafting coordinator position is in a lower pay band than an electrical engineer, but Sampra retained her electrical engineer salary. Sampra filed suit under the FMLA more than two years after her assignment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants without reaching the merits. The suit was barred by a two-year statute of limitations. The more forgiving three‐year statute of limitations does not apply because Sampra failed to provide evidence that the department willfully violated her FMLA rights. View "Sampra v. United States Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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DaSilva, a Waupan Correctional Institution inmate, received his medication one evening, then became dizzy, vomited, lost consciousness, and fell, hitting his head. DaSilva believes he was given the wrong medication. More than three hours passed before DaSilva was taken to the hospital (only five minutes away), where doctors stapled a deep laceration and diagnosed a serious concussion. DaSilva sued the officer who gave him the medication (Coby), a corrections supervisor, and Nurse DeYoung, under the Eighth Amendment. A magistrate judge concluded that Coby should be dismissed from the case because the distribution of the medication was only a mistake, which fails as a matter of law to reflect deliberate indifference. After discovery, the court, through the magistrate, granted the remaining defendants summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit determined that the matter could proceed to appeal, even though Coby was dismissed before he had an opportunity to consent to the disposition of the case by a magistrate. There was no final judgment until after the state (representing the defendants) filed its consent and Coby was a prison employee who stood in exactly the same position as the other two defendants for purposes of legal representation. View "DaSilva v. Rymarkiewicz" on Justia Law

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University Park hired Linear as its Village Manager through May 2015, concurrent with the term of its Mayor. In October 2014 the Village extended Linear’s contract for a year. In April 2015 Mayor Covington was reelected. In May, the Board of Trustees decided that Linear would no longer be Village Manager. His contract provides for six months’ severance pay if the Board discharges him for any reason except criminality. The Village argued that the contract’s extension was not lawful and that it owes Linear nothing. The district court agreed and rejected Linear’s suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, reasoning that 65 ILCS 5/3.1-30-5; 5/8-1-7 prohibit a village manager's contract from lasting beyond the end of a mayor’s term. The Seventh Circuit affirmed on different grounds. State courts should address the Illinois law claims. Linear’s federal claim rests on a mistaken appreciation of the role the Constitution plays in enforcing state-law rights. Linear never had a legitimate claim of entitlement to remain as Village Manager. His contract allowed termination without cause. His entitlement was to receive the contracted-for severance pay. Linear could not have a federal right to a hearing before losing his job; he has at most a right to a hearing to determine his severance pay--a question of Illinois law. View "Linear v. Village of University Park" on Justia Law

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Barnes & Noble discovered that its PIN pads, used to verify payment information, had been compromised. The hackers acquired customers’ names, card numbers and expiration dates, and PINs. Some customers temporarily lost the use of their funds while waiting for banks to reverse unauthorized charges; some spent money on credit-monitoring services; some lost the value of their time devoted to acquiring new account numbers and notifying businesses of these changes. Many people use credit or debit cards to pay bills automatically; every time the account number changes, they must notify merchants. Plaintiffs sought damages from Barnes & Noble. Jurisdiction was based on the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d), because the proposed class contains at least 100 members, the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, and minimal diversity of citizenship exists. The district court dismissed the complaint, ruling that it did not adequately plead damages. The Seventh Circuit vacated. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(c) provides that the prevailing party receives the relief to which it is entitled, whether or not the pleadings have mentioned that relief. While it is not clear that the company is liable, dismissal was inappropriate. Under the federal rules, all this complaint needed to do was allege generally that plaintiffs have been injured. View "Dieffenbach v. Barnes & Noble, Inc." on Justia Law

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Baek purchased property through his LLC and obtained financing from Labe Bank; Frank was the loan officer. Frank later moved to NCB and asked Baek to move his business, representing that NCB would provide a larger construction loan at a lower rate. In 2006, Baek entered a construction loan with NCB for $11,750,000. Baek executed a loan agreement, mortgage, promissory note, and commercial guaranty. Baek’s wife did not sign the guaranty at closing. NCB maintains that, 18 months after closing, she signed a guaranty. One loan modification agreement bears her signature but Baek‐Lee contends that it was forged and that she was out of the country on the signing date. NCB repeatedly demanded additional collateral and refused to disburse funds to contractors. The Baeks claim that NCB frustrated Baek’s efforts to comply with its demands. In 2010, NCB filed state suits for foreclosure and on the guaranty. The Baeks filed affirmative defenses and a counterclaim, then filed a breach of contract and fraud suit against NCB. The Baeks later filed a federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1964(c), suit alleging fraud. The state court granted NCB summary judgment. The federal district court dismissed, citing res judicata. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. There has been a final judgment on the merits with the same parties, in state court, on claims arising from a single group of operative facts. View "Baek v. Clausen" on Justia Law

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A Wisconsin John Doe proceeding is conducted by a judge, to collect evidence and determine whether probable cause exists to issue a criminal complaint. During the time at issue, a proceeding could subpoena witnesses, take testimony under oath, and, issue search warrants; the proceeding could be conducted in secret so that the targets would be unaware of it. A Milwaukee judge commenced a proceeding to investigate alleged campaign‐finance violations and entered a secrecy order. The targets were not notified of the execution of search warrants for electronic records. Eventually a judge concluded that the targets of subpoenas had done nothing wrong--Wisconsin law did not prohibit coordination between campaign committees and outside groups to finance issue advocacy. The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed. The court ordered that the proceedings be closed; a modified order required that all original documents relating to the proceeding be filed with the Clerk of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. All other copies were destroyed. MacIver filed suit on behalf of a putative class, alleging violations of the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. 2703(a)–(c), 2711(3), arguing that the proceeding did not constitute a “court of competent jurisdiction.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the action, citing the Act's provision that “good faith reliance on … a court warrant or order … is a complete defense” and the defense of qualified immunity. MacIver’s interpretation of the Act was not “clearly established” at the time defendants’ warrants were issued. View "John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, Inc. v. Schmitz" on Justia Law