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Liberty PAC sued Illinois officials under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that campaign contribution limits set by the Illinois Disclosure and Regulation of Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Act, violated the First Amendment. Invoking the intermediate-scrutiny framework, Liberty PAC challenged specific provisions as not closely drawn to prevent quid pro quo corruption or its appearance. The Act sets lower contribution limits for individuals than for corporations, unions, and other associations; allows political parties to make unlimited contributions to candidates during a general election; lifts the contribution limits for all candidates in a race if one candidate’s self-funding or support from independent expenditure groups exceeds $250,000 in a statewide race or $100,000 in any other election; and allows certain legislators to form “legislative caucus committees,” which, like political party committees, are permitted to make unlimited contributions during a general election. The district judge dismissed the first three claims as foreclosed by Supreme Court precedent. After a bench trial, the judge held that legislative caucus committees are sufficiently similar to political party committees to justify their identical treatment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Supreme Court campaign-finance cases plainly foreclose any argument that the contribution limits for individual donors are too low or that the limits for other donors are too high. The court rejected an argument that the Act is fatally underinclusive by favoring certain classes of donors. View "Illinois Liberty PAC v. Madigan" on Justia Law

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Reynolds claimed that the law firm (H&L) gave bad advice that led him to violate federal disclosure laws when he drafted his LLCs’ financial statements. The district court granted H&L summary judgment, stating that Reynolds could not bring a malpractice suit on his own behalf because he did not have a personal attorney-client relationship with H&L. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Although H&L had an attorney-client relationship with the LLCs that Reynolds co-owned and managed, and it was in his capacity as a managing member of these LLCs that Reynolds communicated with, and was advised by, H&L, Illinois courts consistently have held that neither shared interests nor shared liability establish third-party liability. For third-party liability in Illinois, Reynolds must have been a direct and intended beneficiary; simply because the officers of a business entity were at risk of personal liability does not transform the incidental benefits of the law firm’s representation of the business entity into direct and intended benefits for the officers. View "Reynolds v. Henderson & Lyman" on Justia Law

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D.D.B., then under 18 years of age, with an adult accomplice robbed a pharmacy and was charged with acts of juvenile delinquency that, if committed by an adult, would be robbery, 18 U.S.C. 1951(a), and carrying, using, and brandishing a firearm during a robbery, 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A)(ii). Transfer to adult proceedings is mandatory if the juvenile committed the underlying act after his sixteenth birthday; the charged offense is a felony that “has as an element thereof the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another”; and the juvenile has previously been found guilty of a crime that “has as an element thereof the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another,” 18 U.S.C. 5032. The government alleged that D.D.B. had convictions for Indiana attempted robbery and burglary, Class B felonies, and for conspiracy to commit robbery. The district court addressed only the attempted robbery offense and concluded that it required transfer. The Seventh Circuit vacated. The court erred by assuming that any attempted violent felony is itself a violent felony and failed to consider the lack of an intent requirement in Indiana’s crime of attempted robbery. No finder-of-fact found that D.D.B. had an intent to use, attempt to use, or threatened the use of physical force against a person. On remand, the government may raise the other predicate crimes of burglary and conspiracy to commit robbery. View "United States v. D. D. B." on Justia Law

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Hotel Coleman owned a Holiday Inn Express franchise. Vaughn ran daily operations, including hiring, supervising, and discharging employees, and determining compensation. Frey and other Hotel workers were on Hotel Coleman’s payroll; the management agreement stated that all personnel “are in the employ of” the Hotel. Vaughn hired Frey in 2008. Frey alleged that Vaughn subjected her to unwelcome sexual comments and advances. Frey objected and complained to the housekeeping manager, but the behavior went unchecked. After Frey informed Vaughn that she was pregnant, Vaughn reduced her hours and took other steps in retaliation. During Frey’s maternity leave, she filed a charge with the EEOC. One week after she returned from leave, Vaughn fired her for allegedly stealing another employee’s phone. Frey sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e. The court accepted Vaughn’s argument that it was not an employer; granted Vaughn summary judgment on Frey’s sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and Title VII retaliation claims; and entered summary judgment against Hotel Coleman. A jury awarded Frey $45,000 in compensatory damages; the court awarded her $13,520 in back pay. The Seventh Circuit vacated, finding that Vaughn was a joint employer. The existence of a joint employment relationship is analyzed under an “economic realities” test which considers the extent of the employer’s control over the worker; the kind of occupation and skill required; responsibility for the costs of operation; method of payment and benefits; and length of job commitment or expectations. View "Frey v. Hotel Coleman" on Justia Law

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On March 18, 2011, Manuel was arrested charged with possessing unlawful drugs. He was held in jail pending trial; on May 4, 2011 the prosecutor dismissed all charges after concluding that the pills Manuel had been carrying were legal. On April 22, 2013, Manuel filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The next day he was released. In 2017, the Supreme Court held that Manuel is entitled to seek damages on the ground that detention without probable cause violates the Fourth Amendment and remanded the question whether Manuel sued in time. Illinois law gave Manuel two years from the claim’s accrual but federal law defines when a claim accrues. The Seventh Circuit determined that the claim was timely. Manuel’s claim accrued on May 5, when he was released from custody. While many Fourth Amendment cases concern pre-custody events that can be litigated without awaiting vindication on the criminal charges, Manuel contests the propriety of his detention. When a wrong is ongoing rather than discrete, the limitations period does not commence until the wrong ends. Fourth Amendment malicious prosecution is the wrong characterization of Manuel’s case; the problem is wrongful custody. A claim cannot accrue until the would-be plaintiff is entitled to sue, yet the existence of detention forbids a suit for damages contesting that detention’s validity. View "Manuel v. City of Joliet" on Justia Law

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Rhodes was convicted of first‐degree intentional homicide and first‐degree recklessly endangering safety for shooting two victims, killing Davis. The prosecution’s theory was that Rhodes and his brother shot Davis, who was an ex‐boyfriend of their sister, Nari, and that the other victim was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Nari had suffered a severe beating the day before Davis was murdered. Nari’s direct testimony focused on her injuries from the beating the day before. When Rhodes tried to cross‐examine Nari to rebut the motive theory, the judge limited the questioning and did not allow evidence of prior beatings. In 2010, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reversed Rhodes’s conviction, finding that his Confrontation Clause rights were violated and that the violation was not harmless. The Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the conviction in 2011. Rhodes then sought federal habeas corpus relief, 28 U.S.C. 2254(d)(1). The district court agreed that Rhodes had shown a clear Confrontation Clause violation but found that the violation was harmless. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The state courts violated clearly established federal law in violating Rhodes’s Confrontation Clause rights. Given the importance of the motive issue and the overall balance of evidence in the trial, the constitutional error was not harmless. View "Rhodes v. Dittmann" on Justia Law

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Packgen's customer, CRI, required a new type of intermediate bulk container (IBC) for a chemical catalyst used in refining crude oil into other petroleum products. The new IBC's outer surface consisted primarily of polypropylene fabric rather than metal; it could be collapsed for storage. CRI's catalyst is self-heating and can ignite when exposed to oxygen. Packgen engaged Berry to manufacture a laminate of woven polypropylene chemically bonded to aluminum foil, to strengthen the IBC’s exterior and serve as a barrier to oxygen, ultraviolet light, and infrared radiation. By April 2008, Packgen was selling an average of 1,261 IBCs per month to CRI and was making overtures to other petroleum refiners. While CRI personnel were lifting an IBC full of catalyst, the foil layer separated from the polypropylene, exposing the interior lining. Other failures followed, some resulting in fires. Packgen determined that foil laminate obtained from Berry was defective. CRI canceled pending orders and destroyed and refused to pay for IBCs that Packgen had provided. Word reached other potential Packgen customers. Packgen sued Berry. The First Circuit affirmed an award of $7.2 million in damages. Berry unsuccessfully demanded that Illinois National indemnify it for all but the first $1 million, which Berry’s primary liability insurer agreed to cover. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Illinois National. The policy covers damages that Berry is required to pay “because of … Property Damage.” While some portion of the lost profits award might be attributable to property damage, Berry did not attempt to make that showing. View "Berry Plastics Corp. v. Illinois National Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Suppo, a Costco employee, was stalked by Thompson, a Costco customer, and secured a plenary no-contact order from an Illinois state court. Traumatized by the experience, she also took an unpaid medical leave. When she did not return to work, Costco terminated her employment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Costco on Suppo’s behalf, alleging that Costco had subjected her to a hostile work environment by tolerating Thompson’s harassment. After the jury rendered a verdict in the EEOC’s favor. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in part. A reasonable jury could conclude that Thompson’s conduct was severe or pervasive enough to render Suppo’s work environment hostile. Suppo cannot recover backpay for the period of time after Costco fired her, but the court should have considered whether Suppo was entitled to backpay for some or all of her time on unpaid medical leave. View "Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Costco Wholesale Corp." on Justia Law

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Cleven worked as a City of Madison stagehand, classified as an independent contractor and not enrolled in the Wisconsin Retirement System. In 2006, a union sought to represent the stagehands. The Employment Relations Commission found that they were not independent contractors and ordered an election. The city agreed to review the stagehands’ hours to determine whether they qualified for enrollment in the System, determined that Cleven qualified as of December 2009, and agreed to pay the stagehands’ share of the required contribution starting in 2010. There was no agreement concerning the period before the labor agreement. The state Employee Trust Funds Board concluded that Cleven was eligible to enroll in 1983, but declined to decide who was responsible for paying the past‐due employee contribution. State courts declined his efforts to seek judicial review. In the meantime, the city did not report his hours and earnings. Cleven sought mandamus relief. In 2016, the state court ordered the city to “immediately” report his enrollment as a participating employee as of 1983. The city complied; the System invoiced the city for the employer and employee contributions. After the city paid, it joined parallel litigation about whether the stagehands owed the past‐due employee contribution; its appeal is pending. Cleven sued the city and city employees under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that they violated his due process rights because he wanted to retire in 2011, but the delay in reporting his hours forced him to wait until 2016, holding his benefits "hostage” without a pre-deprivation hearing. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the city. If there was a deprivation of property, Cleven’s ability to seek a writ of mandamus was adequate post-deprivation process. View "Cleven v. Soglin" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Standard sued, on behalf of itself and “all others similarly situated," alleging that was injured when it “purchased several items of steel tubing [at an inflated price] indirectly … for end use," claiming that eight U.S. steel producers colluded to slash output to drive up the price of steel so that plaintiffs overpaid for steel sheets, rods, and tubing. Eight years later, the plaintiffs amended their complaint, asserting that they overpaid for end-use consumer goods, including vehicles, washing machines, and refrigerators, that were manufactured by third parties using steel. The district court dismissed the suit as time-barred because it redefines “steel products” to give rise to an entirely different, and exponentially larger, universe of plaintiffs, and, in the alternative, for not plausibly pleading a causal connection between the alleged antitrust conspiracy and plaintiffs’ own injuries. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. No reasonable defendant, reading the original complaint, would have imagined that plaintiffs were actually suing over the thousands of end-use household and commercial goods manufactured by third parties—a reading so broad that it would make nearly every person in the country a potential class member. The court further noted that it was unclear how to trace the effect of an alleged overcharge on steel through the complex supply and production chains that gave rise to consumer products. View "Supreme Auto Transport, LLC v. Arcelor Mittal USA, Inc." on Justia Law