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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Arrive and Tech, compete to help customers coordinate shipments. Six employees at Arrive departed for Tech despite restrictive covenants. Arrive sued the six individuals and Tech for injunctive relief under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, 18 U.S.C. 1836(b)(3), claiming irreparable harm because the individuals had breached their restrictive covenants and misappropriated trade secrets.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of a preliminary injunction. Arrive has an adequate remedy at law for each of its claimed injuries, and faces no irreparable harm. Even if its argument were not forfeited, lost opportunities cannot support a showing of irreparable harm under these circumstances. The type of harm Arrive alleges would ultimately translate into lost profits, albeit indirectly, as in the end there is no economic value to opportunities that are not converted to sales. Given the balance of harms, the district court was within its discretion to deny injunctive relief. The court noted that the expiration of the time period of a former employee’s restrictive covenants does not render moot an employer’s request for an injunction to prevent the former employee from violating those restrictive covenants. A court could still grant Arrive effectual relief in the form of an injunction, even though certain individual defendants no longer work for Traffic Tech. View "DM Trans, LLC v. Scott" on Justia Law

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The federal government may deny admission or adjustment of status to a noncitizen “likely at any time to become a public charge, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4)(A). For decades, “public charge” was understood to refer to noncitizens “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either (i) the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or (ii) institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security expanded the meaning of “public charge” to disqualify a broader set of noncitizens from benefits. The Rule immediately generated extensive litigation.In 2020, the district court vacated the 2019 Rule under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 701. In 2021, the federal government dismissed appeals defending the 2019 Rule in courts around the country. Several states subsequently sought to intervene in the proceedings, hoping to defend the 2019 Rule; they also moved for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b). The district court denied the motions, finding each untimely. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion with respect to timeliness. The court declined to address other issues. View "Cook County, Illinois v. State of Texas" on Justia Law

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In a nationwide class action on behalf of all customers of GLV, which operates in several states as Sports Performance Volleyball Club, the district court certified a class limited to customers of GLV’s Illinois locations. Later, the judge concluded that Mullen, who asserts that GLV committed fraud by failing to disclose allegations of sexual abuse by a coach, was an unsuitable class representative because Mullen had not been injured and invited her to find a substitute. She did not. The class was never decertified.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the rejection of the suit on summary judgment after noting that abstention might have been appropriate. All of the litigants are citizens of Illinois, the claim rests on state law, and the remaining stakes are modest. The sole asserted basis of federal jurisdiction is the Class Action Fairness Act, which applies to class actions with more than 100 class members, stakes exceeding $5 million, and minimal diversity of citizenship. 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2). Illinois law requires the plaintiff to show that she was “in some manner, deceived” by misrepresentation or material omission. Mullen was aware of the allegations against the coach. The court noted that the outcome does not bind any other person whose children attended the Club. View "Mullen v. GLV, Inc." on Justia Law

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While residing in a nursing home, Hill died of COVID-19. Her estate sued in state court under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, The defendant removed the suit to federal court, asserting that Martin’s suit necessarily rests on federal law, 28 U.S.C.1441(a), and that it was “acting under” a federal officer under 28 U.S.C.1442(a)(1).The district judge remanded to state court. The Seventh Circuit affirmed,. The nursing home is subject to extensive federal regulation (especially for Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement), and CDC orders during the pandemic have increased that regulatory burden but regulation does not turn a private entity into a public actor. The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, 42 U.S.C. 247d, forbids liability under state law for injuries caused by use of a “covered countermeasure”, and creates a federal claim for injuries caused by “willful misconduct” in connection with covered countermeasures (payable from a federal fund), but does not preempt any other kind of claim nor occupy the field of health safety. The estate’s claims are not even arguably preempted. The principal disputes in this suit are likely to be whether the nursing home allowed members of the staff to work while ill or failed to isolate residents who contracted COVID-19, which are unrelated to federal law. View "Martin v. Petersen Health Operations, LLC" on Justia Law

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Federal officials investigating Jaquez for distributing illegal drugs obtained an order authorized a wiretap on Jaquez’s cell phone and two orders authorizing a pen register that revealed the numbers that Jaquez called or that called him. Federal officials disclosed some of this information to state officials, who used it to prosecute Jaque. He is serving a 36-year sentence. He has not been prosecuted in federal court. Seeking evidence for a collateral attack on his convictions, Jaquez filed a federal court motion, seeking copies of the applications, affidavits, and orders authorizing the pen register and the wiretap. Magistrate Judge Gotsch ordered some of the pen-register papers unsealed. Jaquez did not ask a district judge to review that decision but filed a notice of appeal within 60 days.The Seventh Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. While 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(3) permits the assignment of duties to magistrate judges, the Northern District of Indiana has not authorized such delegation for wiretap-related matters and neither Jaquez nor the United States consented to the entry of final decision by a magistrate judge. The order was not entered by a district judge, and neither the district court nor the parties used the direct-appeal procedure allowed by 636(c). View "Jaquez v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The plaintiffs sued the LLC, for fraud and breach of contract. After Judge Coleman denied their motion to add Carrier (one of the LLC’s members) and D’Aprile (Carrier’s employer) as additional defendants, a jury returned a verdict of $905,000 in the plaintiffs’ favor. Judge Coleman denied the LLC’s motion for judgment as a matter of law, but its motion for a new trial remains pending. The plaintiffs filed a second suit against Carrier and D’Aprile, presenting the same substantive claims; it was assigned to Judge Kness, who dismissed it as barred by claim preclusion, even though the first suit is ongoing.The Seventh Circuit vacated and instructed that the second suit be assigned to Judge Coleman. The plaintiffs “are engaged in judge-shopping.” Local Rule 40.4 in the Northern District of Illinois permits judges to ask for consolidation of related suits before a single judge. The judiciary has an interest, independent of litigants’ goals, in avoiding messy, duplicative litigation. A second suit is unnecessary, whether plaintiffs win or lose in the first. View "Ewing v. Carrier" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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In 2018, the Indiana Supreme Court held that the state holds exclusive title to Lake Michigan and its shores up to the lake’s ordinary high-water mark. The plaintiffs, who own beachfront property on Lake Michigan’s Indiana shores, believed that their property extended to the low-water mark, and filed suit, alleging that the ruling amounted to a taking of their property in violation of the Fifth Amendment–a “judicial taking.” The defendants were Indiana officeholders in their official capacities: the Governor, the Attorney General, the Department of Natural Resources Director, and the State Land Office Director.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. None of the named officials caused the plaintiffs’ asserted injury or is capable of redressing it, so the plaintiffs lack Article III standing. View "Pavlock v. Holcomb" on Justia Law

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In January 2019, Ali brought this civil rights action against Chicago and several police officers, alleging that the officers followed a city policy “of refusing to release on bond an arrestee taken into custody on an arrest warrant issued by an Illinois state court outside of Cook County.” Days before the deadline for completing fact discovery, Ali moved to certify a class. The district court granted the city’s motion to strike, noting that Ali had not added class allegations to his complaint. Ali sought leave to amend his complaint to include class allegations, arguing that he did not have evidentiary support for the existence of the city policy until a November 2019 deposition. The city replied that it had acknowledged the policy months earlier. The district court denied Ali's motion. Weeks later, Ali settled his case.On January 25, the district court dismissed the case without prejudice. Also on January 25, Miller moved to intervene under Rule 24, asserting that he was a member of Ali’s proposed class. With his motion to intervene pending, Miller filed a notice of appeal from the January 25 order. On March 24, with that appeal pending, the district court denied Miller’s motion to intervene as untimely. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. There was no operative class action complaint. Miller’s motion to intervene was untimely; he is not a party to the lawsuit and cannot pursue other challenges. View "Miller v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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When the Indiana Department of Child Services identifies a situation that involves the apparent neglect or abuse of a child, it files a “CHINS” (Children in Need of Services) petition that may request the child’s placement with foster parents. The litigation ends only when the court determines that the child’s parents can resume unsupervised custody, the child is adopted, or the child turns 18. Minors who are or were subject to CHINS proceedings sought an injunction covering how the Department investigates child welfare before CHINS proceedings, when it may or must initiate CHINS proceedings, and what relief the Department may or must pursue. The district court denied a request to abstain and declined to dismiss the suit.The Seventh Circuit reversed. Only two plaintiffs still have live claims; all of their claims may be resolved in CHINS proceedings, so “Younger” abstention applies. Short of ordering the state to produce more money, "it is hard to see what options are open to a federal court but closed to a CHINS court." It is improper for a federal court to issue an injunction requiring a state official to comply with existing state law. Questions that lie outside the scope of CHINS proceedings, such as how the Department handles investigations before filing a CHINS petition, do not affect the status of the remaining plaintiffs. Any contentions that rest on state law also are outside the province of the federal court. View "Ashley W. v. Holcomb" on Justia Law

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The Southern District of Indiana imposed a filing bar against Martin for submitting false information in an application to proceed in forma pauperis. Martin subsequently filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that an Indiana State Prison guard sexually assaulted him. The defendants argued that Martin had forged the signature, date, and checkmark on a grievance form to avoid summary judgment for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Martin unsuccessfully moved to remove the allegedly falsified documents from the record and asked the court to appoint handwriting and computer experts; he alleged the defendants had tampered with the forms.The district court found that Martin had knowingly submitted an altered form and, under FRCP 56(h), barred him for two years “from filing any document in any civil case in this court until he pays all fines and filing fees due in any federal court.” The bar does not apply to appeals or to habeas corpus petitions. The court dismissed all of Martin’s pending civil cases. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The evidence of Martin’s fraud was plain, and the court did not abuse its discretion in deciding that it did not need an expert to understand the evidence. The court reasonably concluded that a hearing would not aid its decision. “Martin’s conduct in this case and others cannot be tolerated.” View "Martin v. Redden" on Justia Law