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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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In September 2016, Legend’s Creek filed a claim with Travelers for hail and wind damage that had occurred in May 2016 to the north-facing sides of insured condominium buildings. Legend’s Creek retained Kassen to negotiate the claim with Travelers’ agent Knopp. The two initially agreed to repair the north-facing sides of the buildings. Travelers issued a $644,674.87 check. In January 2017, Kassen informed Knopp that the repairs were unacceptable. Travelers investigated and submitted additional checks of $238,766.88 and $28,438.02. Kassen told Knopp that the north-facing sides had to be completely replaced. Travelers agreed and, in February 2018, submitted an estimate. Less than three weeks before the contractual deadline to file suit Kassen demanded the replacement of all sides of the buildings because the new sides did not match to his satisfaction the undamaged ones. Knopp informed Kassen that Travelers would only replace the damaged north-facing sides and paint them to match.Legend’s Creek sued, alleging breach of contract and bad faith. Travelers argued that the lawsuit was brought outside the two-year contractual window and later moved to compel Travelers to submit to an appraisal. The magistrate compelled an appraisal for discovery purposes. The appraiser granted an “award” to Legend’s Creek based on the mismatched sides. The district court granted Travelers summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, citing the limitations clause and rejecting claims of waiver. View "Legend's Creek Homeowners Associaton, Inc. v. Travelers Indemnity Co. of America" on Justia Law

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Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund is a state-created insolvency insurer; when a member insurer becomes insolvent, the Fund pays covered claims. In cases involving insolvent health insurance, many claims are for patients who are eligible for both Medicare benefits and private health insurance. The Fund sought a determination that it is not subject to reporting requirements under section 111 of the 2007 Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395y(b)(7) & (b)(8), which is intended to cut Medicare spending by placing financial responsibility for medical costs with available primary plans first. Because time may be of the essence in medical treatment, the government may make conditionally cover medical expenses for Medicare beneficiaries insured by a primary plan, subject to later reimbursement from a primary plan. Section 111 imposes reporting requirements so that the government can identify the primary plan responsible for payment. The Fund believes that it is not an “applicable plan.”The district court dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, reasoning the government had not made a final decision through its administrative processes. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Fund can obtain judicial review of its claim in a federal court only by channeling its appeal through the administrative process provided under 42 U.S.C. 405(g). The usually-waivable defense of failure to exhaust administrative remedies is a jurisdictional bar here. View "Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund v. Becerra" on Justia Law

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Qin (from China) is among 165 foreign limited partners who collectively invested $82.5 million into the Colorado Regional Center Project Solaris LLLP (CRCPS), whose general partner is CRC-I (an LLC). The parent company of CRC-I is Waveland, which has a member (Deslongchamps) and a Milwaukee office. CRCPS was part of an approved U.S. EB-5 immigrant visa program through which Qin and others obtained permanent-resident visas as a result of their investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States. CRC-I invested CRCPS’s funds in a condominium project. The investment was a failure, allegedly due to CRC-I’s malfeasance. Qin, on behalf of a class of investors, wants to sue CRC-I in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. He filed a petition under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 27, seeking leave to depose Deslongchamps, in order to identify CRC-1’s members.The district court denied the petition, reasoning that Qin’s request is not one to perpetuate testimony that is at risk of being lost. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. While Qin faces an obstacle to pursuing federal court relief, and the dilemma posed by the non-corporate association whose members (and their citizenship) the plaintiff cannot ascertain despite reasonable investigatory efforts has been noted and discussed elsewhere, the court concluded that addressing that issue would require an advisory opinion. View "Qin v. Deslongchamps" on Justia Law

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In 2006 Pierre opened a credit card account. She accumulated consumer debt and defaulted. Midland Funding bought the debt and sued Pierre in Illinois state court in 2010 but voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit. In 2015. Midland Credit sent Pierre a letter seeking payment, listing multiple payment plans, stating that the offer would expire in 30 days. The letter stated that because of the age of the debt, Midland would neither sue nor report to a credit agency and that her credit score would be unaffected by either payment or nonpayment. The statute of limitations had run. Pierre sued Midland under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692e(2). Asking for payment of a time-barred debt is not unlawful, but Pierre contended that the letter was a deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable method of debt collection. She sought to represent a class of Illinois residents who had received similar letters from Midland.The district court certified the class and granted it summary judgment on the merits. A jury awarded statutory damages totaling $350,000. The Seventh Circuit vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss the suit. The letter might have created a risk that Pierre would suffer harm, such as paying the time-barred debt; that risk alone is not enough to establish an Article III injury in a suit for money damages, as the Supreme Court held in “TransUnion" (2021). View "Pierre v. Midland Credit Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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Lush started at the NIU College of Law in 2003. Poor academic performance, perhaps due to mental-health struggles, resulted in his dismissal. Lush sued NIU in state court. An Illinois court entered judgment for the defendants. Lush brought additional lawsuits advancing similar claims, which were also rejected. In 2020 Lush sued NIU’s Board of Trustees, individual trustees, and the state under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws, civil and criminal. Lush sought the recruitment of counsel. After screening under 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2), the district court entered an order observing that Lush’s claims were precluded by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, were untimely, and fell short of stating any claim for relief. The court denied a new request to recruit counsel and a request to seal the case. Lush voluntarily dismissed the action to avoid potential Rule 11 sanctions. The court dismissed the case with prejudice.The Seventh Circuit dismissed an appeal from the interlocutory orders for lack of jurisdiction. The voluntary dismissal did not result in an adverse final judgment from which Lush may appeal. The district court denied Lush’s request for counsel because of the futility of allowing another federal pleading on the matters alleged in this most recent complaint. View "Lush v. Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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In 2008-2013, IMSS, the agency of the Mexican government tasked with purchasing medical products for Mexican citizens, purchased medical products from Zimmer, a medical device company, headquartered in Indiana and incorporated in Delaware. Zimmer distributes its products in Mexico through an indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary. IMSS claims Zimmer orchestrated an international bribery scheme from its Indiana headquarters to facilitate the sale of unregistered medical products and paid around $1 million in bribes to its “Mexican agents” who passed bribes to Mexican government officials.IMSS sued in the Northern District of Indiana, alleging two causes of action under Mexican law (breach of contract and violating the Law of Acquisitions, Leases and Services of the Public Sector) and fraud. for which the relief is the same under U.S. or Mexican law. The district court disagreed with IMSS’s interpretation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and dismissed based on forum non conveniens. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Two of IMSS’s claims arise under Mexican law and the remedy for the third is identical in either country. There is no risk IMSS will be deprived of a remedy by litigating in Mexican courts. The court noted the hardship of transporting witnesses from Mexico to the U.S. and that UNCAC is expressly non-self-executing. View "Instituto Mexicano del Seguro v. Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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Schutte retained a law firm to seek compensation for personal injuries. The firm requested electronic copies of Schutte’s medical records. Ciox produced the electronic copies but charged “Per Page Copy (Paper)” charges of $59.23 and an “Electronic Data Archive Fee” of $2.00. A Wisconsin statute lists specific maximum charges for paper, microfiche, or microfilm copies, X-ray prints, and for certification of copies, shipping, and retrieval. The statute is silent regarding charges for electronic copies.Schutte filed a putative class action, claiming that the class includes “several thousand persons and entities.” In addition to compensatory damages, she sought exemplary damages up to $25,000 per claimant, as authorized by Wisconsin law for “knowing and willful” violations. Ciox removed the action to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), arguing: Schutte’s proposed class has at least 100 members; there is at least minimal diversity of citizenship between Schutte and the defendants; and based on the complaint’s allegations, the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d).The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of a motion to remand to state court. Ciox provided a “plausible good faith estimate” that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. The local controversy exception does not apply because the factual allegations in a recent Montana class action against Ciox were “identical” to Schutte’s. View "Schutte v. Ciox Health, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs alleged that Hyles committed sexual abuse and assault at Hammond, Indiana's First Baptist Church, and its affiliated school, Hyles-Anderson College, in the late 1970s and that the institutions conspired to conceal the abuse. One plaintiff alleged that she paid fees and tithes to the institutions while being abused as a teenager. In 2020, they filed a civil claim under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.The district court dismissed the complaint because the plaintiffs had not alleged the injury to “business or property” required for RICO’s civil cause of action, 18 U.S.C. 1962, 1964(c). The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The complaint alleges that the plaintiffs suffered personal injuries during the exercise of a property right (while expending money to participate in Church-related activities) that had an “indirect, or secondary effect” on the value of the property right. That is insufficient to satisfy the business or property element of a civil RICO claim. They contend that the institutions misappropriated their funds by using them to fund a sham investigation in the 2010s but did not describe how money paid in the 1970s could plausibly have been used to fund a phony investigation decades later. The allegations are too “speculative and amorphous” to permit their RICO claim to proceed. View "Ryder v. Hyles" on Justia Law

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In May 2007, SunTrust hired Birch to perform a portfolio valuation on a property located in Indiana. The Birch report valued the property at $3.23 million. PNC Bank provided financing for the mortgage loan; both PNC and SunTrust accepted the report. In October 2007, the owner sold the property to a SunTrust affiliate subject to a $2.3 million loan PNC extended to SunTrust. The loan was later acquired by Regent. After consulting with independent appraisal experts, Regent hired a law firm and employed a certified appraiser, Potter, to evaluate the original Birch report. Potter’s report detailed several deficiencies in Birch’s 2007 appraisal.Regent filed a federal complaint, with state law claims, but soon moved to dismiss the complaint. Birch then filed its own lawsuit against Regent for malicious prosecution. Regent counterclaimed for attorney’s fees under the Indiana frivolous litigation statute. The district court dismissed both claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Birch cannot establish the elements of a successful malicious-prosecution claim, but its lawsuit was not frivolous under Indiana law. Regent did not act maliciously in commencing the underlying action; it had probable cause based on advice from outside counsel, a detailed report by a certified appraiser, and justifiable reliance on the report. View "Birch Rea Partners, Inc. v. Regent Bank" on Justia Law

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Cortez sued Cook, alleging that she was injured by an Inferior Vena Cava Filter, implanted in her in 2006 for the prevention of pulmonary embolisms. Cortez’s action was part of consolidated multidistrict proceedings. Accordingly, Cortez filed a Short‐Form Complaint that incorporated counts from the Master Consolidated Complaint for Individual Claims, alleging product liability, negligence, breach of express and implied warranty, and violations of Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act.Cook argued that the product liability claims were filed beyond the time period in the statute of repose of Cortez’s home state, Oregon. Cortez countered that the Oregon statute incorporates Indiana law because the product was manufactured there, which allows for equitable tolling of the limitations period, and that the complaint sufficiently alleged entitlement to tolling based on fraudulent concealment. She alleged that Cook knew the product was defective and, through affirmative misrepresentations and omissions, actively concealed significant risks, continuing to promote the Filter as safe and effective even though inadequate clinical trials had been performed.The district court dismissed the claims, finding the allegations insufficient to demonstrate fraudulent concealment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, applying Indiana law. Because these product liability claims are subject to a statute of repose, and fraudulent concealment cannot extend the time to file claims for such a statute, the claims are untimely. View "Cortez v. Cook Inc." on Justia Law