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Former State Attorney Candidate's Civil Rights Suit, Plus Criminal, Employment & Civil Rights Matters

By FindLaw Staff on August 31, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Wolfe v. Schaefer, 10-1016, involved an attorney's 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against the State Attorney and others, arising from his failed 2008 bid for State's Attorney of Cumberland County, Illinois, claiming that defendants violated the Fourth Amendment and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by publicly disclosing that plaintiff was under investigation by Illinois state agencies for possible violations of legal ethics, tax law, and unemployment-insurance law.  In affirming the district court's dismissal of the suit, the court held that the fact that a candidate for public office is under investigation for legal and ethical violations is a matter of substantial public interest.


Wickens v. Shell Oil Co., 09-2737, involved a plaintiffs' suit against Shell Oil under Indiana's Underground Storage Tank Act, claiming that Shell Oil was liable for the contamination on a plot of land where plaintiffs' shoe store was located.  In affirming the district court's grant of most of the plaintiffs' requests for corrective actions costs and attorney's fees, the court held that without a better showing from the plaintiffs' attorney, the court will assume that the district court did its job properly when it decided to award $37,443.25 in litigation costs and disbursements.  Also, there is no error in ordering Shell to pay for the corrective action costs incurred in May and June 2007.  District court did not abuse its discretion in denying the attorney's request for prejudgment interest.  Lastly, district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Shell's Rule 60(b) motion.  However, the court reversed and remanded insofar as it miscalculated when it deducted the attorney's wife's fees from the attorneys' fees award.

Kone v. Holder, 09-2689, concerned Malian citizens' petition for review of BIA's denial of their application for asylum and related relief.  In granting the petition, the court vacated and remanded the BIA's decision as, the BIA effectively only addressed half of petitioner's argument in concluding that petitioner could not assert a derivative claim based on potential hardship to her daughter, but failed to address her assertion that female genital mutilation of the daughter would also constitute direct persecution of her parents.

Hayes Lemmerz Int'l, Inc. v. ACE Am. Ins. Co., 10-1073, involved an employer's suit against its insurer for refusing to tender defense in an underlying suit under its workers' compensation and employer liability policy.  In affirming the judgment of the district court in favor of the insurer, the court held that because defendant was, by virtue of Indiana law, a joint employer, insurer was contractually obligated to reimburse the reasonable expense of defendant's getting itself dismissed from the tort suit.  However, because the defendant is not claiming that insurer refused to pay that amount, but rather, it is complaining that the insurer breached its duty to defend by failing to advise defendant that it's law firm was not defending the suit properly, the insurer had no duty to provide its insured's lawyers with legal advice.

Forrest v. Prine, 09-3471, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendant in plaintiff's excessive force claim against an officer under 42 U.S.C. section 1983.  In affirming, the court held that a reading of the record reveals that the officer's use of the taser was a reasonable, good faith effort to maintain or restore discipline within the jail.  Also, there is no genuine issue of triable fact as to whether the officer's decision to employ the taser amounted to a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. And lastly, no reasonable jury would conclude that the officer fired his taser with a malicious or sadistic intent.

Cent. States Southeast & Southwest  Areas Pension Fund v. O'Neil Bros. Transfer & Storage Co., 09-2608, involved a multi-employer pension fund administrator's suit against an employer seeking interim payment of withdrawal liability under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.  In affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment for administrator, the court held that defendant's default is governed by the provisions of 29 U.S.C. section 1399(c)(5)(B), and under that section, as interpreted reasonably by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the entire amount of thef withdrawal payment is immediately payable upon default and that obligation is not deferred because of the pendency of arbitration.

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