Category Archives: Federal Decisions

Subscribe to Federal Decisions RSS Feed

Seventh Circuit Returns to Full Strength

As Wisconsin lawyers well know, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has been working with less than its fully authorized complement of eleven active circuit judges since Judge Terence Evans took senior status in January 2010.  The court continued with 10 active members until February 2015, when Judge John Tinder of Indiana … Continue reading this entry

Citing Failure to Request Leave to Amend, Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal with Prejudice Under Rule 12(b)(6)

Federal district courts are supposed to grant leave to amend a complaint “freely … when justice so requires.”  Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2).  The Seventh Circuit has construed this directive to require, in most cases, that a plaintiff whose complaint has been dismissed under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) be given at least one opportunity … Continue reading this entry

Seventh Circuit Explains the Standard for Certification of a Question of State Law

Seventh Circuit Rule 52 allows the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, when faced with “questions arising under the laws of [a] state which will control the outcome of a case pending in the federal court” to “certify such a question to the state court in accordance with the rules of that court” … Continue reading this entry

Seventh Circuit Disqualifies Conflicted Counsel

It’s not often that a court disqualifies one of the lawyers who appears before it. That’s what makes the Seventh Circuit’s recent decision in Doe v. Nielsen, No. 17-2040 (7th Cir. Feb. 26, 2018), one for the history books. The decision, written by Judge Diane Sykes, took the “drastic measure” of disqualifying counsel who appeared … Continue reading this entry

SCOTUS Raises an Interesting Question for Appeals in Consolidated Cases in Wisconsin

The U.S. Supreme Court today decided unanimously that, when cases are consolidated under Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(a), they nevertheless remain separate cases. In Hall v. Hall, No. 16-1150, two separate cases had been consolidated and were tried together to a jury, but the district court granted a new trial in one of the cases … Continue reading this entry

Seventh Circuit Explains Unique Feature of Diversity Statute

A feature of 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the diversity-jurisdiction statute, may make you scratch your head and wonder why it’s there. In the Seventh Circuit’s March 15, 2018 decision in Hyland v. Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. Co., No. 17-2712, Judge Frank Easterbrook explained the origin of § 1332(c)(1) and the role that Wisconsin law played in … Continue reading this entry

Seventh Circuit Sanctions an Appellant for Failing To Include the District Court’s Rulings with Its Opening Brief

Seventh Circuit Rule 30(a) requires an appellant to “append to [its] opening brief[] the judgment under review and its adjoining findings of fact and conclusions of law.” Rule 30(b) further requires an appellant to include any other opinions or orders that bear on the issues on appeal, and subparagraph (d) requires an appellant to certify … Continue reading this entry

Seventh Circuit Considers Diversity Jurisdiction in Trust Dispute

In Doermer v. Oxford Fin’l Group, Ltd., No. 17-1659 (7th Cir. Mar. 7, 2018), the Seventh Circuit had before it an example of what Chief Judge Diane Wood called a “depressingly common” type of litigation: “[f]amily disputes over who owns what.” In resolving the appeal, the court resolved a couple of interesting diversity jurisdictional issues … Continue reading this entry

In the Age of Airbnb, the Seventh Circuit Explains the “Reasonable Diligence” Required for Personal Service in Wisconsin

Wis. Stat. § 801.11(1)(c) allows a plaintiff to resort to service by publication when, through efforts that amount to “reasonable diligence,” he has been unable to serve the defendant in person. The Seventh Circuit’s recent decision in Cunningham v. Montes, No. 17-2516 (7th Cir. Feb. 21, 2018), written by Judge Frank Easterbrook, considered whether the plaintiff … Continue reading this entry

Seventh Circuit Explains When an Award of Attorney’s Fees Is Final for Purposes of an Appeal

The law clerks of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit might be excused for thinking of the court’s recent decision in Cooke v. Jackson National Life Insurance Co., No. 17-2080 (7th Cir. Feb. 9, 2018), as the one that got away. So pervasive and fundamental were the case’s jurisdictional issues on appeal … Continue reading this entry

Supreme Court Decides Case That the 7th Circuit Could Not Review En Banc

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued its decision in Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran, No. 16-534 (Feb. 21, 2018), affirming the Seventh Circuit by holding that a provision of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1610(g), does not create a freestanding exception to the general prohibition on executing a judgment against a foreign state. … Continue reading this entry

Artis v. D.C.: SCOTUS Explains How § 1367(d) Stops the Clock

The federal supplemental jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1367, allows a litigant with a federal claim to bring into federal court with it any state claims that are so related to the federal claim that they “form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.”  Thus, a plaintiff seeking … Continue reading this entry

Seventh Circuit To Welcome First New Judge Since 2009

The Senate yesterday confirmed the nomination of Professor Amy Coney Barrett of the Notre Dame University Law School to the vacant Indiana seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Her appointment makes her the first judge to join the court in eight years, since Judge David F. Hamilton of Bloomington, … Continue reading this entry

“You Can’t Beat Something with Nothing”: 7th Cir. Explains the Importance of Disclosing Experts

Some cases present issues that are difficult for the parties to litigate or for the courts to decide. But those cases tend to be the exception. Much of litigation—at least when practiced successfully—requires the mastery of a fundamental set of skills or tasks, the blocking and tackling of the craft. This week’s decision by the … Continue reading this entry

BNSF Railway: SCOTUS Narrows General Jurisdiction for Corporate Defendants and Limits the Reach of Wisconsin's Long-Arm Statute

Last week, in BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell, 581 U.S. ___, No. 16-405, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Montana Supreme Court and concluded that BNSF Railway was not subject to general jurisdiction in Montana to answer for alleged work-related injuries occurring in North Dakota and South Dakota. Though BNSF maintained over 2,000 miles of railroad … Continue reading this entry

Water Splash Reveals a Glaring Omission in Wisconsin's Service-of-Process Rules, Which Ought To Be Fixed

Today’s unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision in Water Splash, Inc. v. Menon, 581 U.S. ___, No. 16-254, points out a glaring omission in Wisconsin’s service-of-process rules that ought to be fixed, so that Wisconsin plaintiffs are not unnecessarily put at a disadvantage when suing overseas defendants in state court. Justice Samuel Alito’s decision, reversing the … Continue reading this entry

Midland Funding Highlights Peculiar Feature of Wisconsin's Statute-of-Limitations Law

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today in Midland Funding, LLC v. Johnson, 581 U.S. ___, No. 16-348, draws attention in passing to a peculiar feature of Wisconsin law on the effect of statutes of limitations. The 5-3 decision, in an opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer, holds that a debt collector that files a proof of … Continue reading this entry

A Softer, Gentler Seventh Circuit Reconsiders “Substantial Compliance” under Rule 11

Those who practice regularly before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit know that the court has not been reluctant to punish a misbehaving lawyer. So the court’s recent decision in Riffner v. PNC Bank, No. 15-2142 (7th Cir. Mar. 10, 2017), might come as a bit of a surprise. Unlike (apparently) all … Continue reading this entry

Seventh Circuit Explains Disclosure of Hybrid Witnesses under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(2)(C)

The Seventh Circuit’s recent decision in Indianapolis Airport Authority v. Travelers Property Casualty Co. of America, No. 16-2675 (7th Cir. Feb. 17, 2017), written by Judge David Hamilton, is one for civil litigators to take note of. It appears to be the first time the Seventh Circuit has used Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2)(C). … Continue reading this entry

Waiting for Gorsuch: SCOTUS Kicks Important Class-Action Waiver Case to Next Term

Last week, the United States Supreme Court informed litigants in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis that it is pushing the case to its October 2017 term. The lawsuit, which rose up through the Western District of Wisconsin and the Seventh Circuit, presents the High Court with a chance to resolve a robust circuit split on … Continue reading this entry

Seventh Circuit Confirms that Parties Seeking Review of an Interlocutory Order Have 30 Days to Request a Rule 54(b) Judgment

The rule of 28 U.S.C. § 1291 limits the appealability of district court orders to “final decisions.” Although an order resolving fewer than all claims of all parties is not a final decision for purposes of appeal, Rule 54(b), Fed. R. Civ. P., permits district courts to make such orders appealable by expressly determining that “there … Continue reading this entry

Simultaneous Decisions from the 7th Circuit: How the Later-Argued Case Became Binding Precedent

The Seventh Circuit is very serious about treating its panel decisions as the “law of the court” unless and until they are overruled by the en banc court or a higher authority. Hence, its Circuit Rule 40(e) requires a panel that contemplates issuing an opinion that would overrule a prior decision or create a conflict … Continue reading this entry

Supreme Court Calls for the Views of the Solicitor General in a Case That the 7th Circuit Could Not Review En Banc

Last summer, we wrote about a unique situation that arose in the case of Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran, No. 14-1935 (7th Cir. July 19, 2016), in which the Seventh Circuit found itself unable to assemble a “majority” of the judges in regular active service who were eligible to vote whether to rehear a case … Continue reading this entry

The Case of the Vanishing § 1292(b) Certification

Nothing about the Seventh Circuit’s recent per curiam decision in Kenosha Unified School District No. 1 Board of Education v. Whitaker, No. 16-8019 (7th Cir. Nov. 14, 2016), could be considered much of a mystery, but file the case away as something you don’t see often. It answers the question of what happens to the … Continue reading this entry