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Monday, December 27, 2004

Indiana Decisions - 7th Circuit posts two today

Munro, Patrick J. v. Golden Rule (ED Wis.)

Before BAUER, EASTERBROOK and KANNE, Circuit Judges.
BAUER, Circuit Judge. At all times relevant to this action,
Plaintiffs-Appellants Patrick and Claudette Munro were
covered by a health insurance policy issued by Defendant-
Appellee Golden Rule Insurance Company. From March 1999
through March 2002, Claudette Munro incurred medical
bills in connection with a series of hospital visits. Golden
Rule paid $289,650.91 of these bills but contested inpatient
expenses totaling $3,885.01, arguing that they were not
covered under the terms of the policy. The Munros filed an
action against Golden Rule in the Milwaukee County Circuit
Court to compel payment, alleging bad-faith breach of
contract. Golden Rule removed the case to federal court, citing
diversity of citizenship. While the case was pending,
Golden Rule resolved the billing dispute and paid the outstanding
charges of $3,885.01. The Munros responded by
dismissing their breach of contract claim, but they continued
to press their claim of bad faith. The district court granted
summary judgment in favor of Golden Rule, and the Munros
now appeal. * * *

Even when
attorney fees are taken into account, the Munros are
$71,670.00 short of the threshold for federal jurisdiction. To
find that subject matter jurisdiction exists would render
meaningless the amount-in-controversy rule. Therefore, the
judgment of the district court is VACATED, and we REMAND
with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction.

USA v. Smith, Corey A. (ND Ind., William C. Lee, Judge)
Before CUDAHY, COFFEY, and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.
ROVNER, Circuit Judge. Corey Smith and two codefendants
were charged with one count of distributing and
one count of conspiring to distribute crack cocaine. See 21
U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B), 846. One of the codefendants,
Alonzo Grant, made a deal with the government
and testified against the other two. After a jury trial at
which Grant’s testimony played a crucial role, Smith was
convicted of both counts, and the third codefendant, Travis
Black, was acquitted of both counts. Smith initially argued
in his brief that the government failed to disclose all
of the terms of its deal with Grant, and that the nondisclosure
violated his due process rights. See Giglio v.
United States
, 405 U.S. 150, 154-55 (1972); Brady v.
Maryland
, 373 U.S. 83, 87 (1963). At oral argument,
however, Smith’s counsel withdrew that argument, concluding
that Smith should raise it in a collateral attack and
further develop the record. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Smith’s
remaining arguments on appeal are that there was insufficient
evidence to convict him and that he was sentenced in
violation of Blakely v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004),
and United States v. Booker, 375 F.3d 508 (7th Cir. 2004),
cert. granted, 73 U.S.L.W. 3073, 3074 (U.S. Aug. 2, 2004)
(No. 04-104). We affirm in part and vacate and remand in
part. * * *

Smith also argues on appeal that his sentence violates the
Sixth Amendment because it includes a two-level sentencing
enhancement that was based on facts neither admitted
by Smith nor found by a jury. See Blakely, 124 S. Ct. 2531;
Booker, 375 F.3d 508. Smith testified at trial that he was
not involved in the drug sale and that the reason he went to
the park twice was to plan a basketball game with Grant.
At sentencing the district court imposed an enhancement
for obstruction of justice because it concluded that Smith
committed perjury with his testimony. Under Blakely and
Booker, an increase in the defendant’s sentence may not be
based solely on a judge’s findings of fact, so we vacate the
enhancement and remand for resentencing.

Thus we AFFIRM the judgment of conviction but VACATE
the sentence and remand for resentencing.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 27, 2004 12:41 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions