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Seventh Circuit Review

Volume 11, Issue 2 (Spring 2016)

Introduction (contains Table of Contents, Masthead, About the Seventh Circuit Review and Preface)

Bankruptcy Law

Tetzlaff: Has the "Undue Hardship" Test Become Undue?
Alexander J. Beehler
11 Seventh Circuit Rev. 116 (2016) [Full Article] [Audio Synopsis]

Abstract: As the wage-market remains stagnant, and student indebtedness continues to rise, many graduates struggle to balance their student loan debt. Generally, when a debtor files for bankruptcy, her student loan debt is not dischargeable. However, under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(8), debtors can discharge their student loans through bankruptcy if they can prove that maintaining those student loan debts would impose an "undue hardship" upon themselves. Unfortunately, Congress did not define what "undue hardship" meant when enacting the bankruptcy code. Courts have since been left to interpret the definition of "undue hardship," and many do so in different ways. [Read more...]


Civil Procedure

Is the Injury Real?: The Seventh Circuit Extends Article III Standing to Data Breach Victims
Emily P. Linehan
11 Seventh Circuit Rev. 146 (2016) [Full Article] [Audio Synopsis]

Abstract: Data breaches are becoming a more frequent and more troubling part of modern life. When customer or employee information is stolen en masse, lawsuits often follow. Courts have frequently dismissed such cases very early for want of Article III standing. For purposes of standing, courts are faced with the question of whether or not the fact of a breach is sufficient for plaintiffs to bring lawsuits against the credit card companies, employers, or stores that, as victims of a cyberattack, have compromised the information of hundreds or thousands. But the real victims are those whose personal information has been stolen. Therefore, the essential question is whether or not their harm is sufficient to allege the injury element of Article III standing. [Read more...]

Remittitur in Civil Rights Cases: Where the Seventh Circuit Went Wrong in Adams v. City of Chicago
Kelsey N. Weyhing
11 Seventh Circuit Rev. 174 (2016) [Full Article] [Audio Synopsis]

Abstract: This nation is currently engaged in vigorous discussion about how to address brutality and targeting of minorities committed by law enforcement. In some cases, even where liability is admitted as to racially targeted policing, a court may significantly reduce the amount of damages awarded by a jury to victims of police brutality through use of a procedure call “remittitur.” Remittitur occurs when a trial judge determines that a jury award is excessive, and offers the plaintiff the option of accepting a reduction in the jury verdict or proceeding to a new trial. Although the Seventh Amendment provides that “no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States,” courts have insisted that remittitur results only where a jury verdict is excessive as a matter of law. [Read more...]


Class Action Law

Impunity for Snake Oil Merchants?: The Seventh Circuit Upholds the Class Action as a Vehicle for Consumer Protection
Stephen Pigozzi
11 Seventh Circuit Rev. 198 (2016) [Full Article] [Audio Synopsis]

Abstract: The class action is often the only way for victims of consumer fraud to pursue a remedy. Several federal circuit courts have recently adopted the heightened ascertainability requirement—a requirement that makes certifying a consumer class almost impossible. A plaintiff can only meet the heightened ascertainability requirement by showing that members of her proposed class can be identified in a reliable and administratively feasible way. This typically requires documentary proof of class membership. For classes made up of purchasers of deceptive low-cost products who have not kept their receipts, heightened ascertainability has served as an insurmountable barrier to certification. [Read more...]


Criminal Procedure

Deference to the Lower Court: How the Seventh Circuit Improperly Granted Habeas Corpus Relief in Jensen v. Clements
David J. Welch
11 Seventh Circuit Rev. 231 (2016) [Full Article]

Abstract: As Justice Blackstone once opined, a writ of habeas corpus, oft referred to as the “great Writ,” is “another Magna Carta” established to safeguard people imprisoned in violation of the law. Codified under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, the writ compels a judicial body to review the legality of a state prisoner’s conviction. A granted writ of habeas corpus may require the court to set aside or vacate the conviction or detention. If a petitioner’s case has already been adjudicated on the merits in state court, then the writ cannot be granted. However, if the petitioner can show that either the state court proceeding resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or the state court unreasonably applied, clearly established federal law, or the state court’s decision was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented at trial, then the petitioner’s habeas relief must be issued. [Read more...]


First Amendment

"Equity Will Not Enjoin a Libel": Well, Actually, Yes, It Will
Ann C. Motto
11 Seventh Circuit Rev. 271 (2016) [Full Article]

Abstract: The First Amendment prohibits prior restraints on speech. Indeed, prior restraints are the most serious and the least tolerable infringements on First Amendment rights. Because of this, for nearly 200 years, courts stood by the maxim that "equity will not enjoin a libel"; traditionally, money damages were the only remedy available to a defamed plaintiff. However, there is a modern trend among some state and federal courts allowing the issuance of a narrow, permanent injunction against statements that have been adjudicated defamatory. [Read more...]


Law and Entertainment

Filming Police & Legal Dramas: Examining the Influence of Television Programs on the Legal Profession and Law Enforcement
Ryan D. Suniga
11 Seventh Circuit Rev. 303 (2016) [Full Article] [Audio Synopsis]

Abstract: Criminal trials make for inherently compelling television. There are very few things as dramatic as watching an individual being forced to defend their liberty. Because of the spectacle associated with criminal proceedings, the legal drama has evolved into a staple of television programing. Media programing like Serial and Making a Murderer can have profound effects on the operation and integrity of criminal proceedings. While televising criminal justice proceedings adds a level of accountability to those procedures, it also creates an opportunity for abuse by allowing the media to negatively influence individuals vital to the integrity of the criminal justice system throughout law enforcement and judicial proceedings. [Read more...]


Trade Secret Law

A Proposal for Eliminating Adjudicative Loopholes Under Statutory Law of Trade Secrets in the Seventh Circuit
Anna A. Onley
11 Seventh Circuit Rev. 333 (2016) [Full Article] [Audio Synopsis]

Abstract: Today, when 70% of business value is derived from intangible assets, and trade secret misappropriation (TSM) is the most frequently litigated form of intellectual property protection, it is critical to ensure that judicial remedies for misappropriation of intellectual property remain adequate without encouraging abusive litigation. With this goal in mind, in 1979, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws promulgated the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) in order to ensure a uniform and consistent treatment of trade secrets among the states. The Uniform Act displaced business torts claims that arise in common law, but only if those claims conflicted with the law of trade secrets. In its most recent decision interpreting the Illinois equivalent of the Uniform Act, Spitz v. Proven Winners, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, by upholding the district court's dismissal of common-law claims on summary judgment, held that the plaintiff's statutory claim of trade secret misappropriation displaced the plaintiff's common-law claim of unjust enrichment even in the absence of a finding that the business information at issue amounted to a trade secret. As a result of this holding, TSM plaintiffs may be left without a common-law remedy if they plead, but do not adequately prove, statutory trade secret misappropriation-notwithstanding the fact that different elements are required for common-law tort claims. [Read more...]

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