Weekly Case Digests September 3, 2019 September 6, 2019.

 
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7th Circuit Digests

7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Michael O. Campos v. Cook County, et al.

Case No.: 18-3472

Officials: KANNE, SYKES, and BRENNAN, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Due Process Violation

After Michael Campos's August 2011 arrest for driving under the influence, his employerthe Cook County Sheriff's Officebegan termination proceedings. The Merit Board has voted to terminate Campos's employment on two occasions. But both times the Cook County Circuit Court vacated the decision. And, to this day, the termination proceedings are ongoing. Instead of waiting for their completion, Campos filed this federal law suit alleging, among other things, that the protracted proceedings have violated his substantive due process rights. Because Campos has not met the high standard for stating a substantive due process claim, we affirm the district court's dismissal of his claims.

Affirmed

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Scott N. Jaffe v. Laverne Williams

Case No.: 18-2726

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

Focus: Bankruptcy - Exemption of Contingent Future Interests

Section 522(b)(1) of the United States Bankruptcy Code states that a "debtor may exempt from property of the [bankruptcy] estate the property listed in either paragraph (2) or, in the alternative paragraph (3)." At issue in this case is paragraph (3) subsection (B), which states, in full, that: Property listed in this paragraph is any interest in property which the debtor had, immediately before the commencement of the case, an interest as a tenant by the entirety or joint tenant to the extent that such interest as a tenant by the entirety or joint tenant is exempt from process under applicable nonbankruptcy law.

11 U.S.C. 522(b)(3)(B). We must determine to what extent contingent future interests created by Illinois law are exempt under this section. The most natural reading of the statute exempts any interest held by an individual as a tenant by the entirety to the extent that state law exempts that particular interest. The district court found that any interest held by the debtor is exempt to the extent that state law exempted the entirety interest. We reverse the district court and hold that the debtor's property cannot be excluded from the bankruptcy estate.

Reversed and remanded

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: United States of America v. Otis Hunter, et al.

Case No.: 18-2013; 18-2044

Officials: FLAUM, KANNE, and SCUDDER, Circuit Judges.

Focus: 6th Amendment Violation

Police arrested five men involved in a string of Milwaukee armed robberies in late 2016. Three of the defendants cooperated with the government and pled guilty. The two remaining defendants, Otis Hunter and Deshawn Evans, proceeded to trial where a jury convicted them. Through counsel, the pair challenges the district court's handling of jury selection and denial of their Batson challenge.

They also challenge our circuit precedent and argue that the district court violated the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause when it prevented them from cross-examining government witnesses about the specific prison terms they avoided through their cooperation. After obtaining authorization from the court, Hunter made additional, pro se arguments challenging how the trial court handled witness testimony and whether the government provided sufficient evidence to support his conviction. All challenges are rejected and we affirm.

Affirmed

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Patrick J. Doherty v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, et al.

Case No.: 18-3133

Officials: FLAUM, KANNE, and SCUDDER, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Default Action Res Judicata

Washington Federal Bank brought a default action against Patrick Doherty, John Farano, Jr., and Worth Conversion, LLC, for notes related to various real estate ventures. Doherty raised affirmative defenses on behalf of himself and Worth, but the bank dismissed Doherty and Worth from the action, without prejudice, after obtaining a default judgment against Farano. Doherty then attempted to bring this suit against the bank with claims founded on similar grounds as his previously-raised affirmative defenses. But the Cook County Circuit Court determined that Doherty's claims were barred by res judicata thanks to the default judgment entered against Farano. Doherty appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court, but before his appeal was heard, Washington Federal was placed into the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's receivership. The FDIC removed this action to the district court, which adopted the Illinois Circuit Court's decision. Because res judicata does not bar Doherty's claims, we vacate and remand for further proceedings.

Vacated and remanded

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Donald N. Timm, et al. v. Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America, LTD., et al.

Case No.: 18-2641

Officials: FLAUM, KANNE, and SCUDDER, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Duty to Warn Product Liability

Donald and Mary Timm sustained serious injuries in a horrific motorcycle accident. Believing defects with the motorcycle and its rear tire caused the accidentand that their injuries were especially severe because of a defect with their helmetsthe Timms brought a products liability action under Indiana law against numerous defendants involved in the sale and manufacture of the motorcycle, its rear tire, and the helmets they wore at the time of the accident. Concluding that the Timms failed to present admissible expert testimony to support their claims, the district court entered summary judgment for the defendants. We affirm.

Affirmed

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Eric J. Mapes v. State of Indiana, et al.

Case No.: 19-1384

Officials: FLAUM, SYKES, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Court Error Abuse of Discretion

Eric Mapes was arrested for trespassing after being refused service at a CVS store. He sued the State of Indiana, CVS, and a number of individual defendants asserting a long list of grievances under federal and state law. Mapes asked the district court to recruit counsel for him. The district judge denied that request, dismissed Mapes's complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim, and suggested several amendments to the complaint. Mapes did not heed that advice and now appeals the judge's refusal to recruit counsel. We affirm. The judge did not abuse her discretion when she denied his request for pro bono counsel, provided an opportunity to amend, and offered instructions on how best to do so without a lawyer.

Affirmed

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Louis Wozniak v. Ilesanmi Adesida, et al.

Case No.: 18-3315

Officials: WOOD, Chief Judge, and EASTERBROOK and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Wrongful Termination

The University of Illinois fired Louis Wozniak in 2013. Until then he had tenure on the faculty of the College of Engineering. But after Wozniak waged an extended campaign against students who did not give him an award, the University's Board of Trustees decided that he had violated the institution's norms and rules, including the need to treat students with respect. As he had done before when the University insisted that he follow school policies, Wozniak responded with a federal lawsuit. He lost the last time, see Wozniak v. Conry, 236 F.3d 888 (7th Cir. 2001), and loses this time too.

Affirmed

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Michael Alonso, et al. v. Leslie J. Weiss, et al.

Case No.: 18-1740; 18-1791

Officials: SYKES, SCUDDER, and ST. EVE, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Breach of Fiduciary Duty

This appeal centers on the performance of the court-appointed receiver of financial advisory firm Nutmeg Group, LLC. The district court appointed the receiver after the Securities and Exchange Commission initiated an enforcement action against Nutmeg and its managing member, Randall Goulding. Against the Commission's allegations of ongoing fraud and misappropriation of client assets, the district court presiding over the SEC matter entered a temporary restraining order prohibiting Goulding from operating Nutmeg and appointed a receiver to oversee all aspects of the firm's business.

This civil suit followed. Goulding and a group of limited partners in one or more of the Nutmeg funds alleged that the receiver breached her fiduciary duties and, in doing so, reduced the value of the funds' assets. After dismissing certain counts, the district court entered summary judgment in the receiver's favor on all remaining claims. Because we agree that no reasonable jury could find that the receiver engaged in a willful, deliberate, or even grossly negligent breach of a fiduciary duty, we affirm.

Affirmed

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: Bradley A. Lavite v. Alan J. Dustan, et al.

Case No.: 18-3465

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

Focus: Ban From Administrative Building For Cause Summary Judgment Supplemental Jurisdiction

Plaintiff Bradley Lavite is a combat veteran who works in the Administration Building of Madison County, Illinois, as superintendent for the County's Veterans Assistance Commission. In the spring of 2015, government officials in Madison County banned Lavite from the Administration Building indefinitely. They did so shortly after...

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