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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit posts four from 12/23/05

This afternoon the 7th Circuit has posted four decisions, dated 12/23/05, to its official site. None involve Indiana:

Johnson, Isaac v. Robert, Bradley is a prisoner appeal to initiate another collateral attack on his conviction and 80-year sentence for murder. Denied.

In Slusher, Nick v. NLRB, a 31-page opinion by Judge Rovner, the panel reverses the Board's order and directs that the ALJ's order be reinstated.

USA v. Gee involves interesting facts, kickbacks granted to the majority leader of the Wisconsin's senate by the defendant, who claims that the evidence doesn't support the conviction. Affirmed.

Croplife America v. City of Madison, an opinion by Judge Posner, arises from:

a suit by producers and suppliers of “weed and feed” products against the City of Madison and the county (Dane) in which Madison is located. Weed and feed products are lawn-care products each granule of which contains both a herbicide and a substance, such as phosphorus, that fertilizes. Though not without its critics, this ingenious combination—“sold by the chemical industry to homeowners as the magic bullet of turf care,” * * * “saves time and labor” and provides “greater safety since there is less chance of an incorrect dosage [of pesticide] being applied.” * * * However, Madison and Dane County have enacted ordinances forbidding (with irrelevant exceptions) the sale or use of fertilizers that include more than trace amounts of phosphorus, Madison General Ordinances §§ 7.48(3), (6); Dane County Ordinances §§ 80.05, 80.07—as the plaintiffs’ weed and feed products do. Though an excellent fertilizer, phosphorus is also a pollutant that “contribute[s] to excessive growth of algae and other undesirable aquatic vegetation in water bodies.”

To comply with the ordinances, the plaintiffs have had to reconstitute their weed and feed products to eliminate the phosphorus. Invoking a variety of federal and state legal theories, their suit seeks a declaration that the ordinances are invalid. The defendants moved for summary judgment, which was granted. The only claim pressed in this appeal is that the ordinances are preempted by a Wisconsin state statute that, with irrelevant exceptions, forbids a city or county to “prohibit the use of or otherwise regulate pesticides.” * * *

The defendants point out, without contradiction, that it makes practical sense to allow local regulation of phosphorus because the effects differ from county to county depending on the number and importance of a county’s lakes and other bodies of water, not to mention the number of geese and other contributors to phosphorus pollution. So our interpretation of the statute, which is the natural interpretation as a semantic matter and has the further virtue of closing a regulatory loophole, cannot be rejected on the ground that it produces absurd or unreasonable results, which the Wisconsin legislature is unlikely to have intended. * * * Quite the contrary, it produces sensible results.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 27, 2005 01:48 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions