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Friday, January 14, 2005

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit posts two today

Schmidt, Robert E. v. Barnhart, Jo Anne (WD Wis.)

Before COFFEY, WILLIAMS, and SYKES, Circuit Judges. SYKES, Circuit Judge. Appellant Robert Schmidt suffers from an anxiety disorder, irritable bowel syndrom (IBS), and pain in his back and shoulder. In 1999 Schmidt applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income. Following a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), Schmidt’s application for benefits was denied on the grounds that he possessed the residual functional capacity to perform his past relevant work as either a group home manager or a data entry clerk. The denial of benefits was subsequently upheld by both the Social Security Appeals Council and the district court.

In this appeal Schmidt contends that he was denied the opportunity to be represented by counsel before the Appeals Council, that he was denied the opportunity to present evidence to the Appeals Council, that the ALJ’s decision was not supported by substantial evidence, and that new evidence, unheard by the ALJ, requires remand for a new hearing. We find no merit to any of Schmidt’s requested grounds for relief and affirm the decision of the district court.

Moreland, Estate C. v. Dieter, Erich (ND Ind., Allen Sharp, Judge)
Before ROVNER, WOOD and SYKES, Circuit Judges. SYKES, Circuit Judge. This is an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivation of civil rights arising out of the death of an inmate in the St. Joseph County, Indiana jail. Defendants Erich Dieter and Michael Sawdon, former St. Joseph County sheriff’s deputies, were found liable for violating Christopher Moreland’s civil rights by wrongfully causing his death by the use of unnecessary and excessive force. The jury awarded substantial damages: $29 million in compensatory damages and $27.5 million in punitive damages ($15 million against Dieter and $12.5 million against Sawdon). On appeal Dieter and Sawdon assert evidentiary and instructional errors and also challenge the punitive damages as unconstitutionally excessive. The plaintiffs crossappeal the district court’s order granting summary judgment to Joseph Speybroeck, the sheriff of St. Joseph County. They contend the evidence was sufficient to raise a jury issue about official policy or custom in the jail for purposes of § 1983 liability against the sheriff. We affirm the judgment against Dieter and Sawdon as well as the summary judgment in favor of Sheriff Speybroeck. * * *

III. Conclusion
We conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion under Rule 403 by admitting the videotaped interviews of the defendants and excluding evidence that the defendants were acquitted of criminal charges; also, the court’s limiting instruction regarding this evidence was not inappropriate in any way. The defendants’ Daubert challenge to Dr. Lustgarten’s testimony was forfeited. The punitive damages awards against Dieter and Sawdon are not unconstitutionally excessive. We also conclude that summary judgment dismissing the plaintiffs’ claim against Sheriff Speybroeck was appropriate. We affirm the judgment against Dieter and Sawdon and the summary judgment in favor of Speybroeck.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 14, 2005 02:51 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions