The ECF System Ate My Homework: Seventh Circuit Pardons Tardy Lawyer

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Can a complaint be “filed” before the “filing process” is completed? Actually, yes, according to Farley v. Koepp, No. 14-1695, a recent decision from the Seventh Circuit written by Judge Sykes.

Here is the scene: Late on a Friday afternoon (as all these sort of stories begin), an attorney’s assistant emails a complaint to the clerk’s office in the Southern District of Illinois, thus complying with the first step of the local rule. (Filers in that court could not open new cases on CM/ECF on their own at the time.) The clerk responds after 5 p.m., informing the filer that the CM/ECF case file is available for uploading the complaint. On the following Monday, the assistant attempts to upload the complaint electronically, but she fails to do so, reporting that “complications arose concerning the electronic payment of the filing fee.” Regardless of those complications, the last day to file the complaint within the limitations period was Monday (of course, it was), and the district court dismisses the case, ruling that the complaint, filed finally on Tuesday, was untimely.

The Seventh Circuit reversed—and, in the process, provided a bit of a lesson to all those who file complaints electronically.

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Wisconsin Supreme Court Accepts New Cases: Occurrences, 12% Interest, and Donning and Doffing

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Last Friday, Wisconsin’s supreme court announced that it had accepted seven new cases. Three of them are of particular interest to Wisconsin businesses.

In Wis. Pharmacal Co. v. Nebraska Cultures of Cal., 2013AP613/687, the court of appeals addressed whether the negligent provision of an ingredient to a probiotic manufacturer constituted an “occurrence” under a CGL policy. The court of appeals held that there was coverage. In our post, we warned that, “[b]arring review by the supreme court, the court’s detailed discussion of the CGL policies will have broad ramifications in future disputes between suppliers and manufacturers.” Apparently the supreme court thinks it necessary to weigh in. The court will take up three issues related to CGL policy interpretation: the grant of coverage, the definition of “occurrence,” and a “business risk” exclusion.

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Wisconsin’s Supreme Court Creates More Power for the Arbitrator

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Most commercial litigators know that a circuit court will enforce an arbitration agreement as long as a given dispute falls within the agreement’s scope. What is or is not within the scope of an agreement, however, has not always been clear. For example, could a court consider whether an arbitration request had been timely filed, or whether it was barred by estoppel or laches, or are such issues to be decided in arbitration?

The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently decided this issue in favor of arbitration in First Weber Group, Inc. v. Synergy Real Estate Group, LLC, a unanimous decision written by Justice Ziegler. 2015 WI 34.

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Shaking Down the Thunder From the Sky: Part 2 of Notre Dame's Challenge to the Contraception Mandate

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For the second time in as many years, the Seventh Circuit has declined to grant Notre Dame’s request for an injunction exempting the university from the contraception requirements of the Affordable Care Act. We wrote about the first decision here.

As was true back in 2014, the court remained skeptical of the link between Notre Dame’s actions (filling out a form noting its religious objections to contraceptives and sending the form to its insurance administrator) and the resulting actions (the administrator then providing the contraceptives directly to the insured). Consequently, the court ruled that Notre Dame did not meet its burden of showing that its religious beliefs were substantially burdened by the contraceptive mandate. Judge Posner wrote the majority opinion, which Judge Hamilton joined while writing a separate concurrence.

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Seventh Circuit Leaves Sen. Ron Johnson Without a Leg to Stand on in His Obamacare Suit

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On Tuesday, April 14, 2015 the Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of a lawsuit by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin in Johnson v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management, No. 14-2723. Sen. Johnson sought to enjoin the OPM from implementing a regulation that he considered contrary to the text of the Affordable Care Act (the ACA, or “Obamacare”). Chief Judge William C. Griesbach of the Eastern District of Wisconsin had dismissed the case for lack of Article III standing, and the Seventh Circuit agreed.

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