Weekly Case Digests June 3, 2019 June 7, 2019.



7th Circuit Digests

7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Rodolfo Deiby Burgos Noeller v. Jason Wojdylo

Case No.: 18-2723

Officials: BAUER, HAMILTON, and BARRETT, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Habeas Corpus Extradition

Mexico asked the United States to extradite appellant Rodolfo Deiby Burgos Noeller for the 2015 murder of Rosa Lorena Jacobo Carrillo in Mexico City. The United States extradition treaty with Mexico establishes the requirements for each country to request the arrest and extradition of a person within the other's borders. See Extradition Treaty, Mexico-U.S., art. X, 3, Feb. 6, 1980, 31 U.S.T. 5059 (1980). In accord with the treaty, Mexico submitted a formal request along with an authenticated arrest warrant and other supporting documents. After a hearing under 18 U.S.C. 3184, the presiding magistrate judge found that Mexico's request complied with the treaty requirements, including submitting evidence establishing probable cause that Burgos Noeller is guilty of the crime for which extradition is sought. The magistrate judge granted the United States government's request for the certification of Burgos Noeller's extradition to Mexico and ordered him committed to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. See In re Noeller, No. 17 CR 664, 2018 WL 1027513 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 23, 2018).

Burgos Noeller then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the district court seeking review of the magistrate judge's orders certifying him for extradition and committing him to custody. The district court denied the petition, and we review its decision now in this appeal. We affirm. Mexico has submitted a valid request for extradition, which United States courts must honor. Burgos Noeller's legal and factual challenges to the extradition request ask us to go well beyond the narrow role for courts in the extradition process.


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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Mehdi Abdollahzadeh v. Mandarich Law Group, LLP

Case No.: 18-1904

Officials: WOOD, Chief Judge, and SYKES and BARRETT, Circuit Judges.

Focus: FDCPA Violation Bona Fide Error

Mehdi Abdollahzadeh opened a credit-card account with MBNA America Bank in 1998 and used it to make various personal, family, and household purchases. Twelve years later he defaulted on his debt, making his last payment in August 2010. In June 2011 he attempted another payment, but it never cleared. In April 2013 the bank sold the delinquent account to CACH, LLC, a debt buyer. Abdollahzadeh sued Mandarich for attempting to collect a time-barred debt in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq. ("FDCPA" or "the Act"). His claims centered on the collection letter and the state-court collection action. Mandarich moved for summary judgment citing the bona fide error defense. Id. 1692k(c). The district court granted the motion, concluding that the violations were unintentional and occurred despite reasonable procedures aimed at avoiding untimely collection attempts.

Abdollahzadeh challenges that ruling on several grounds. First, he argues that Mandarich's continuation of the collection action after it learned the true last-payment date creates a factual dispute on the issue of intent. He also contends that the law firm's reliance on CACH's representations about the last-payment date was an abdication of its duty to engage in meaningful review and thus was unreasonable as a matter of law. Finally, he characterizes the firm's procedures for weeding out time-barred debts as "thinly specified policies" insufficient to support the affirmative defense.

We reject these arguments and affirm. The bona fide error defense doesn't require the independent verification and procedural perfection Abdollahzadeh seems to think necessary. The undisputed evidence shows that any FDCPA violations were the unintentional result of a bona fide mistake. And Mandarich had procedures in place that, while simple, were reasonably adapted to avoid late collection efforts.


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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: LeTran Tran v. Minnesota Life Insurance

Case No.: 18-1723

Officials: BAUER, MANION, and BRENNAN, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Insurance Claim Coverage

Linno Llenos died engaging in an act known as autoerotic asphyxiation. His widow and beneficiary, LeTran Tran, filed a claim with Minnesota Life Insurance Company, seeking the proceeds from Llenos's ERISA-governed life insurance policies. Minnesota Life paid most of her claims but denied coverage under Llenos's Accidental Death & Dismemberment policy riders. Minnesota Life determined Llenos's death was not accidental and fell under a policy exclusion for deaths resulting from "intentionally self-inflicted injury." The district court reversed, ruling that Llenos's death qualified as an accidental death and did not result from an intentionally self-inflicted injury.

Because a reasonable person would interpret Llenos's cause of death, autoerotic asphyxiation, to be an "intentionally self-inflicted injury," we reverse.


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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Pearl Carter v. City of Alton, et al.

Case No.: 18-2636

Officials: HAMILTON, BARRETT, and ST. EVE, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Withdrawal of Motion Court Error - Dismissal

Pearl Carter moved to voluntarily dismiss the complaint that she had filed against Michael Morelli, Jeffrey Henderson, and the City of Alton. Her motion did not explicitly say that she sought dismissal without prejudice, but it did state that "neither party will be prejudiced by the granting of this Motion." The defendants responded, arguing that the district court should grant Carter's motionbut that it should do so with prejudice. Carter's only reply was to amend her motion to specify that she sought dismissal without prejudice. The district court dismissed Carter's complaint with prejudice. Carter filed a motion for reconsideration, requesting one of two remedies: she asked that the court either reinstate her action or enter an order dismissing it without prejudice. The court denied Carter's motion for reconsideration, and she appeals.

Because the defendants had already filed an answer to Carter's complaint, she could only voluntarily dismiss her action if all the parties signed a stipulation of dismissal or if she secured a court order. See FED.R. CIV. P. 41(a). Carter acknowledges that she did not file a signed stipulation, so the district court properly construed Carter's motion as one seeking its approval to dismiss her case. Under Rule 41(a)(2), the court had discretion to dismiss the case either with or without prejudice. The court determined that a dismissal with prejudice was proper, and it was within its discretion to do so.

But before the court entered the dismissal order, it should have given Carter an opportunity to withdraw her voluntary dismissal motion. Babcock v. McDaniel, 148 F.3d 797, 799 (7th Cir. 1998) ("When a plaintiff moves for dismissal without prejudice, the district court may not dismiss the action with prejudice without first providing the plaintiff a reasonable opportunity to withdraw the motion."); Marlow v. Winston & Strawn, 19 F.3d 300, 305 (7th Cir. 1994) ("[A] plaintiff who moves for dismissal without prejudice under Rule 41(a)(2) must be given a reasonable opportunity to withdraw his motion in the event the district court grants the motion but only with prejudice."). Carter requested just such an opportunity, and the court refused to give it to her. That was error.

We thus VACATE the district court's judgment dismissing Carter's action with prejudice, VACATE the order of costs, and REMAND the case to the district court for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Vacated and remanded

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Stockbridge-Munsee Community v. State of Wisconsin, et al.

Case No.: 18-1449

Officials: EASTERBROOK, ROVNER, and ST. EVE, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Tribal Sovereignty

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. 270121, establishes a framework under which tribes may conduct gambling on land held in trust for their use. Some kinds of gambling may be conducted by every tribe, in every state, without prior approval. But class III gambling, which includes slot machines and table games such as blackjack, may be offered only in states that allow at least some non-Indian groups to conduct similar gambling, and then only if tribe and state enter into a compact or contract covering the operation. 25 U.S.C. 2710. Both a federal commission (the National Indian Gaming Commission) and the federal judiciary oversee this process. See generally Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, 572 U.S. 782 (2014).

The Community has two legal theories. First, it contends that Ho-Chunk Gaming Wittenberg is not located on a parcel of land that was held in trust for the tribe on or before October 17, 1988, a critical date under 25 U.S.C. 2719(a). The parcel was conveyed to the Nation in 1969, but with a condition that the Nation did not satisfy and that was not lifted until 1989too late, the Community asserts, even though the Department of the Interior declared in 1986 that the parcel is part of the Nation's trust lands. Second, the Community observes that the contract between the Nation and the State treats the Wittenberg casino as an "ancillary" gaming facility, a word that the contract defines as a place where gambling is not the primary business. The Community insists that gambling is the primary business at Wittenberg and faults the State for failing to enforce this contractual limitation.

In this appeal the Community contends that it is not subject to any time limit, both because it is a sovereign (and Wisconsin does not set time limits for its own suits) and because it seeks equitable relief against an ongoing violation of law. See Holmberg v. Armbrecht, 327 U.S. 392, 396 (1946). Wisconsin replies that, because the dispute involves...

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