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

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Under the Retirement Plan, participating Northwestern University employees can contribute a portion of their salary to their account and Northwestern makes a matching contribution. Employees participating in the Voluntary Savings Plan also contribute a portion of their salary, but Northwestern does not make a matching contribution. Both plans allow participants to choose the investments for their accounts from options assembled by the plans’ fiduciaries. Northwestern is the administrator and designated fiduciary of both plans. The plaintiffs sued Northwestern under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1001 (ERISA). The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the amended complaint and rejection of the plaintiffs’ demand for a jury trial. Under the plans, no participant was required to invest in any particular product. Any participant could avoid the alleged problems with certain products--record-keeping fees and underperformance. Northwestern provided a wide range of investment options and provided prudent explanations for the challenged fiduciary decisions involving alleged losses. There was no ERISA violation with Northwestern’s record-keeping arrangement; the plaintiffs identified no alternative recordkeeper that would have accepted any fee lower than what was paid nor have they explained how a hypothetical lower-cost recordkeeper would perform at the level necessary to serve the best interests of the plans. View "Divane v. Northwestern University" on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA
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Manriquez-Alvarado, a citizen of Mexico, has repeatedly entered the U.S. illegally. He was ordered removed in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2017, each time following a criminal conviction. He was found in the U.S. again in 2018 and was sentenced to 39 months' imprisonment for illegal reentry. 8 U.S.C. 1326(a), (b)(2). All of the convictions for reentry rest on the 2008 removal order. Manriquez-Alvarado argued that this order was invalid because immigration officials never had “jurisdiction” to remove him. His “Notice to Appear” did not include a hearing date. In 2018, the Supreme Court held (Pereira) that a document missing that information does not satisfy the statutory requirements. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of his motion to dismiss. Pereira identifies a claims-processing doctrine, not a rule limiting immigration officials' jurisdiction. Older removal orders are pen to collateral attack if the alien exhausted any administrative remedies that may have been available; the deportation proceedings improperly deprived the alien of the opportunity for judicial review; and the order was fundamentally unfair, 8 U.S.C.1326(d). In 2008, Manriquez-Alvarado stipulated to his removal, waiving his rights to a hearing, administrative review, and judicial review. The statute does not ask whether administrative and judicial remedies would have been futile. It asks whether they were available. Manriquez-Alvarado’s removal was the result of his criminal conduct; he lacked permission to enter the U.S. at all. It is not unfair to order such an alien's deportation. View "United States v. Manriquez-Alvarado" on Justia Law

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Defendant manufactures aloe vera gel, sold under its own brand and as private‐label versions. Suppliers harvest, fillet, and de-pulp aloe vera leaves. The resulting aloe is pasteurized, filtered, treated with preservatives, and dehydrated for shipping. Defendant reconstitutes the dehydrated aloe and adds stabilizers, thickeners, and preservatives to make the product shelf‐stable. The products are 98% aloe gel and 2% other ingredients. Labels describe the product as aloe vera gel that can be used to treat dry, irritated, or sunburned skin. One label calls the product “100% Pure Aloe Vera Gel.” An asterisk leads to information on the back of the label: “Plus stabilizers and preservatives to insure [sic] potency and efficacy.” Each label contains an ingredient list showing aloe juice and other substances. Plaintiffs brought consumer deception claims, alleging that the products did not contain any aloe vera and lacked acemannan, a compound purportedly responsible for the plant’s therapeutic qualities. Discovery showed those allegations to be false. Plaintiffs changed their theory, claiming that the products were degraded and did not contain enough acemannan so that it was misleading to represent them as “100% Pure Aloe Vera Gel,” and to market the therapeutic effects associated with aloe vera. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants. There was no evidence that some concentration of acemannan is necessary to call a product aloe or to produce a therapeutic effect, nor evidence that consumers care about acemannan concentration. View "Beardsall v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc." on Justia Law

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USFE planned to offer an electronic-based futures trading platform that posed a competitive threat to exchanges using the more traditional floor-trading model, like CBOT. USFE targeted February 1, 2004, as its launch date to establish itself before several futures and options contracts expired, so that traders could transfer their business to USFE. In July 2003, USFE sought approval as a designated contract market by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The Commission solicited public comment. CBOT, another futures exchange (CME), and others raised objections. CBOT and CME successfully requested a postponement. USFE approached BOTCC to negotiate an agreement for clearing services that would have provided USFE with access to startup liquidity in the form of open interest created by market participants and held at BOTCC. CBOT also used BOTCC and proposed Rule 701.01. The Commission approved the rule, which compelled the transfer of CBOT’s open interest from BOTCC to its new, exclusive clearing partner. By draining its open contracts from BOTCC, CBOT deprived USFE of access to significant liquidity. The Commission approved USFE on February 4, 2004. USFE launched on February 8. The undertaking flopped. USFE sued under the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants. The Noerr-Pennington doctrine shields the defendants’ petitioning from antitrust scrutiny and neither exception (fraud or sham lawsuit) applies. The Commission’s explicit approval of Rule 701.01 impliedly repeals the antitrust laws, immunizing defendants against USFE’s open interest claims. View "U.S. Futures Exchange, L.L.C. v. Board of Trade of the City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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The plaintiffs, current and former inmates of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), have been diagnosed with hepatitis C. They filed suit against IDOC, Wexford (which provides inmate health services) and doctors more than 10 years ago after fruitless efforts to receive treatment for their disease while incarcerated. Their 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint alleges that the diagnostic and treatment protocols for IDOC inmates with hepatitis C violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Seventh Circuit reversed the grant of class certification and vacated a preliminary injunction. After discussing numerosity and commonality of facts and issues, the court noted that the district court failed to name a class representative or explain its omission, leaving no way to assess the adequacy of representation. On the assumption that the court would have accepted the proposed representatives, the record does not reveal whether they would be adequate. The lack of a named representative also makes it impossible to find typicality--that the “claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class.” The individual plaintiffs have not shown that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm absent the preliminary injunction, so it was error to grant injunctive relief. View "Orr v. Shicker" on Justia Law

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The Center lodged a FOIA request with the Department of Justice (DOJ) for records of communications between the Attorney General, the Office of the Attorney General and any Office of Immigration Litigation or Office of the Solicitor General lawyers related to 11 certified cases decided in 2002-2009. DOJ produced about 1,000 pages but withheld 4,000 pages, citing FOIA Exemption 5, which allows the withholding of agency memoranda not subject to disclosure in the ordinary course of litigation, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(5). Exemption 5 encompasses the attorney work product, attorney-client, and deliberative process privileges. DOJ submitted a Vaughn index describing each document withheld, identifying documents reflecting discussions between attorneys working within different offices of issues related to immigration cases under consideration or on certification for decision by the Attorney General. The Center unsuccessfully argued that the documents contained ex parte communications outside Exemption 5's scope because the DOJ attorneys’ eventual litigation role taints the advice they provide the Attorney General at the certification stage; removal proceedings end in federal court litigation where those same attorneys are opposite the immigrant. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Office of Immigration Litigation and Solicitor General attorneys do not hold interests adverse to the noncitizen at the stage at which the Attorney General certifies a case for decision. “ To conclude otherwise would chill the deliberations that department and agency heads like the Attorney General undertake in confidence to execute the weighty responsibilities of their offices.” View "National Immigrant Justice Center v. United States Department of Justice" on Justia Law

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Police officers stopped the plaintiffs numerous times for violating an ordinance while they were panhandling on the streets of Chicago. During these stops, the officers typically asked the plaintiffs to produce identification and then used the provided ID cards to search for outstanding warrants for their arrest or investigative alerts. The plaintiffs sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that these checks unnecessarily prolong street stops and that the delays constitute unreasonable detentions in violation of the Fourth Amendment. They argued that Chicago maintained an unconstitutional policy or practice of performing these checks (Monell claim), citing a Chicago Police Department Special Order regulating name-checks that purportedly omitted essential constitutional limits, arguing that the Department failed to train on these same constitutional limits, and claiming that the former Superintendent promulgated an unconstitutional policy by promoting name-checks in conjunction with every street stop. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the Monell claims. Officers may execute a name check on an individual incidental to a proper stop under Terry v. Ohio, as long as the resulting delay is reasonable. The plaintiffs e failed to establish that they suffered an underlying constitutional violation such that Chicago can be held liable. View "Hall v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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Groce was convicted of sex trafficking, conspiracy to engage in interstate transportation for prostitution, interstate transportation for prostitution, maintaining a drug house, using or carrying a firearm in maintaining the drug house, and witness retaliation. He was sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment plus 20 years of supervised release. The Seventh Circuit vacated the retaliation count. His PSR recommended 11 standard conditions of supervised release and seven special conditions. Condition 11 states: As directed by the probation officer, defendant shall notify employers and third parties providing volunteer opportunities and educational opportunities; organizations to which defendant belongs; and neighbors and family members with minor children, of defendant’s criminal record based on risk associated with his offense, his obligations to register as a sexual offender, and the legal requirements under the Sex Offender Notification Act. The probation officer may also take steps to confirm defendant’s compliance ... or provide such notifications directly. Condition 18 states: Have no contact with the victim in person, through written or electronic communication, or through a third party, unless authorized by the supervising U.S. probation officer. Defendant shall not enter the premises or loiter within 1,000 feet of the victim’s residence or place of employment. At his resentencing, Groce objected to conditions 4, 8, 15, and 17. His counsel stated, “I’m aware of no grounds for objecting ... we’re willing to waive the reading.” Groce subsequently challenged Conditions 11 and 18 as vague and overbroad. The Seventh Circuit dismissed, finding that Groce had waived his objections. View "United States v. Groce" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Joll, an accomplished runner and an experienced running coach, had been a middle school teacher for more than 25 years. She applied for a job as the assistant coach of a high school girls’ cross-country team. The school hired a younger man for the job but invited Joll to apply for the same position on the boys’ team. She did so but the school hired a younger man again. She filed suit for sex and age discrimination. After discovery, the district court granted summary judgment for the school district, concluding that Joll had not offered enough evidence of either form of discrimination to present to a jury. The Seventh Circuit reversed, stating that the district court apparently asked “whether any particular piece of evidence proves the case by itself,” rather than aggregating the evidence “to find an overall likelihood of discrimination.” Joll offered evidence that would allow a reasonable jury to find that the school district used hiring procedures tilted in favor of the male applicants, applied sex-role stereotypes during the interview process, and manipulated the criteria for hiring in ways that were inconsistent except that they always favored the male applicants. View "Joll v. Valparaiso Community Schools" on Justia Law

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Davis's girlfriend, Orkman, a Walmart assistant manager, shared her knowledge of Walmart’s cash handling procedures. Davis robbed the Indianapolis Walmart with Greer. Greer entered the customer service area, pointed a gun, used duct tape to restrain employees, including Orkman, then returned, with bags of cash, to the car where Davis was waiting. Davis photographed the cash and gave Orkman $1,500. Davis planned a second robbery. Orkman wanted out. Davis threatened her. Davis and Williams executed a second robbery. Later that day, Davis paid $8,000 in low-denomination bills for a Land Rover. Indianapolis Police began watching Orkman, who had worked during both robberies although they occurred during different shifts. An officer noticed Davis’s Land Rover near Orkman's home, learned about its purchase, and obtained a court order to place a GPS tracking device. Davis planned his third robbery with Townsell, who later testified. The GPS tracking device allowed the police to locate the Land Rover after an alert about the Kokomo robbery. Officers arrested Davis, Greer, and Townsell. Inside the vehicle, they found a gun and stashes of cash ($23,862, $9,088, $17,020, $8,205, and $1,958). In Davis’s apartment, they found a bag of quarters stamped “Walmart,” ammunition, cash, and a suitcase taken from the Kokomo Walmart. The Seventh Circuit affirmed Davis's and Greer's convictions, rejecting challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence. A rational jury could have found each guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law