Seventh Circuit Clarifies That Lawyers Can Appeal Nonmonetary Sanctions

7thcircuit_light

Imagine that, at the end of a case, the judge decides to impose sanctions on you for the way in which you have handled discovery, or done something at trial. In the order requiring you and your client to pay your opponent some money, the judge holds forth at length as to the ways in which your conduct has fallen below the standards of appropriate professional behavior, including saying that your actions reflected dishonesty or were taken in bad faith. You want to appeal the sanctions order, but your client has had enough of the case and pays the entire financial portion of the sanctions order. Can you still appeal the judge’s finding that you have misbehaved in a way that is improper and sanctionable?

Your natural reaction is likely that of course you can appeal the nonmonetary sanction. How else can you rescue your reputation from the harm worked by the sanctions order?

Yet, until the May 23 decision in Martinez v. City of Chicago, (7th Cir. No. 15-2752), the Seventh Circuit’s case law would likely not have permitted you to appeal the nonmonetary sanction.

Continue reading this entry

Beware of Unguarded Talk: A Cautionary Tale of Privilege Waiver in Wisconsin

WI_statehouse2

Loose lips sink ships.

And, at least according to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, they can sink the protections afforded to privileged communications.

A decision last week in a criminal case could have considerable effect on a client’s waiver of the attorney-client privilege, in civil as well as criminal cases.

Continue reading this entry

Seventh Circuit Rejects Plaintiffs’ Chain-of-Causation Theory of Personal Jurisdiction

7thcircuit_light

Although spring-break season is officially over, a recent Seventh Circuit decision offers a lesson to vacationers: When choosing your next vacation destination, make sure it’s somewhere you would be willing to visit again. You might need to litigate there.

In Noboa v. Barceló Corporación Empresarial, SA, 812 F.3d 571 (7th Cir. 2016), the Seventh Circuit reminds litigants that the proper focus of the “minimum contacts” inquiry for specific jurisdiction depends on the defendant’s intentional contacts with the forum jurisdiction. In affirming the district court’s dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction, the Court rejected the plaintiffs’ “chain-of-causation theory,” which fundamentally relied upon the plaintiffs’ own contacts with the forum state, rather than any accident-related contacts of the defendants.

Continue reading this entry

Beware the Scrollable Window: The Seventh Circuit Strikes Down an Internet Contract

dirksen

If you’re like us—and most others, we’ll venture to guess—you’ve never read all the terms and conditions of the iTunes end-user license agreement.

We doubt that it’s a scintillating read, but, regardless, most consumers don’t slog through these contractual tomes because they have better things to do.

Apple and others in the world of e-commerce know this, but they need to rely on some form of contract for their services, so the struggle begins to create a binding contract (where a purchaser “receives reasonable notice of those terms”) when the purchaser doesn’t devote the time or attention to reading the essential terms.

The Seventh Circuit’s recent decision in Sgouros v. TransUnion Corp., No. 15-1371 (7th Cir. March 25, 2016), decided under Illinois law, is a cautionary tale for those that operate in this digital realm. The court declined to enforce an arbitration provision because that term was buried at the bottom of a scrollable window (and not immediately visible on the page), with no prompt directing the user to scroll to the bottom. Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote for the court, in an instructive opinion that included screenshots from TransUnion’s webpage.

Continue reading this entry

Seventh Circuit Reinforces the Importance of Memorializing Agreements in Mediation

seventhcircuit_abs_light

Put it in writing.

How many times have those four words been uttered in the course of commerce?

Many more than we care to count, to be sure. For the fact remains that the act of putting pen to paper, ribbon to page, or transmitting bits in a particular fashion (the complicated subsurface of modern technology foils us here), all to memorialize the meeting of the minds, is a significant—and consequential—step.

That is the essence of the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Beverly v. Abbott Laboratories, No. 15-1098 (7th Cir. Mar. 16, 2016), a case in which the court upheld the district court’s decision to enforce a handwritten agreement reached in mediation. Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote for the court. The case, decided under Illinois law, is a notable exhibition of the court’s pro-enforcement attitude on these issues.

Continue reading this entry