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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit posts four today


Before POSNER, ROVNER, and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges. POSNER, Circuit Judge. This case bids fair to bring constitutional litigation into disrepute. The plaintiff, a resident of a Milwaukee suburb, owns two dogs, one a 95-pound Doberman Pinscher that is constantly getting loose and frightening the neighbors. The plaintiff received nine citations for violating the municipal ordinance that forbids people to let their dogs run wild. These citations cost her in fines and attorneys’ fees some $25,000. The next time the dog got out the local humane society picked it up and the town authorities told the society to hold on to the dog as a stray, though they knew it was not a stray—that it was the plaintiff’s notorious animal. She brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, contending that the town had deprived her of her property without due process of law and seeking injunctive relief and damages. After detaining the dog for 60 days, the humane society returned it to her, so her suit became one for the loss of 60 days of animal companionship.

If ever the resolution of a dispute belonged at the local level of government, it is this dispute over what to do about the plaintiff’s inability or, more likely, unwillingness to control her intimidating Doberman. It is impossible to discern a federal interest. There is no suggestion that the plaintiff belongs to a discriminated-against minority, that Wisconsin officialdom is irrationally hostile to dog owners, that Brookfield intended to sell the Doberman in order to retire the town debt, that the plaintiff is a political opponent of the town’s mayor, that leash laws challenge values embedded in the federal Constitution or federal laws, or that the detention of the dog was intended as retaliation against the plaintiff for asserting her federal rights. This is a neighborhood squabble over a dog, a squabble properly to be resolved at the neighborhood or local level rather than by federal judges sitting in Milwaukee and Chicago. Such hotly litigated issues as whether a neighbor’s two-pound dog the scruff of whose tiny neck the Doberman clamped its jaws on was a puppy that the Doberman was playing sweetly with or a minute adult that the Doberman was terrifying do not engage the expertise of federal judges. * * *

This is nuisance litigation that the federal judiciary does not need. So we affirm the judgment but at the same time issue the plaintiff an order to show cause why she should not be sanctioned for making a frivolous argument in a meritless case.


Before RIPPLE, EVANS, and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges. EVANS, Circuit Judge. Louis Nese claims that his employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 (ADA), by reducing his wages and then terminating him because of its incorrect perception that he had a disability. The district court granted summary judgment for the employer and Nese appeals. * * *

Nothing indicates a belief that the reason Nese’s work was not quite up to par was that he was disabled and unable to perform a broad range of jobs. For these reasons, the judgment of the district court is AFFIRMED.


Before POSNER, MANION, and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.
ROVNER, Circuit Judge. Fisher and Fisher, Attorneys at Law, P.C. earns its bread and butter representing mortgage companies and lending institutions in mortgage foreclosure cases, creditor bankruptcies, evictions, real estate closings, housing court, and housing related matters. By its own description, it is a high volume operation, receiving 10,000 to 12,000 cases each year, 4,000 to 5,000 of which are new foreclosure matters. The firm does not assign one attorney to handle a single case, but rather lawyers work on numerous files on a daily basis and several attorneys may work on any particular matter.

This approach to its caseload may have exacerbated the firm’s mishandling of a foreclosure action against Mattie Sullivan-Moore, who has since died. Working on behalf of U.S. Bank National Association, N.D., Fisher and Fisher handled the foreclosure of Sullivan-Moore’s home, located at 7744 South Carpenter Street, Chicago. The proceedings got off to a bad start, however, because the complaint misidentified Sullivan-Moore’s common address as 7742 South Carpenter instead of 7744 South Carpenter. As a result of this error, Sullivan-Moore never received proper notice of the proceedings before a judgment of foreclosure was entered, her property was sold, and she was evicted. Although sympathetic to the initial error, the district court believed Fisher and Fisher had ample opportunity to rectify the problem before Sullivan-Moore was evicted. The district court thus imposed sanctions against Fisher and Fisher, and it appeals, tending that the sanctions were improperly imposed. * * * Affirmed.


Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 27, 2005 01:19 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions