« Ind. Decisions - "DNR permit for Cedar Creek invalid" | Main | Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 5 NFP) »

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ind. Decisions - One Indiana case decided today by the 7th Circuit; plus an interesting decision out of Illinois

In Williams v. Rohm and Haas Pension Plan (SD Ind., Judge Barker), an 8-page opinion, Judge Kanne writes:

Gary Williams filed suit, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, alleging that the Rohm and Haas Pension Plan (Plan) violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by failing to include a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in his lump sum distribution from the Plan. 29 U.S.C. § 1054(c)(3). The district court granted class certification and entered summary judgment for Williams. The district court concluded that the terms of the Plan violated ERISA because the COLA was an accrued benefit as ERISA defines that term. We agree, and therefore affirm the judgment of the district court.
Cavel Int'l. v. Madigan, out of the ND Ill., is a 2-1 opinion by Judge Posner, with Chief Judge Easterbrook dissenting. From Judge Posner opinion:
Cavel International, the principal appellant (we can ignore the others), produces horsemeat for human consumption. The plant at which it slaughters the horses is in Illinois. Americans do not eat horsemeat, but it is considered a delicacy in Europe and Cavel exports its entire output. Its suit challenges the constitutionality of a recent amendment to the Illinois Horse Meat Act, 225 ILCS 635/1.5, that makes it unlawful for any person in the state to slaughter a horse for human consumption or “to import into or export from this State, or to sell, buy, give away, hold, or accept any horse meat if that person knows or should know that the horse meat will be used for human consumption.” Cavel lost in the district court, has appealed, and, after unsuccessfully moving the district court for an injunction pending appeal, has asked us for such an injunction, emphasizing the disastrous consequences for its business if the decision of the district court stands.

An affidavit by the firm’s general manager states that it is a virtual certainty that if the injunction is denied the result will be the “permanent closure” of its plant. * * *

We do not suggest that Cavel has a winning case or even a good case (the Fifth Circuit in Empacadora de Carnes de Fresnello, S.A. v. Curry, 476 F.3d 326, 336-37 (5th Cir. 2007), recently upheld a similar Texas law against a challenge based on the commerce clause), but only that it has a good enough case on the merits for the balance of harms to entitle it to an injunction pending an expedited appeal that will enable the merits to be fully briefed and argued. It is important to note in this regard that the slidingscale approach that governs Cavel’s request for an injunction pending appeal does not require a “strong showing” that the applicant will win his appeal. The Supreme Court was precise in stating in Hilton v. Braunskill, supra, 481 U.S. at 776, that among “the factors regulating the issuance of a stay are . . . whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits.” Certainly that is one of the factors to be considered, but it has to be balanced against the harms to the parties of granting or denying the injunction.

The injunction pending appeal is therefore granted.

[CJ Easterbrook's dissent begins:] My colleagues assume that, when deciding whether to issue an injunction pending appeal, both the trial and appellate courts should use the same sliding scale that a district judge uses when deciding the case as an initial matter. This is a mistake. Once a plaintiff has litigated and lost, a higher standard is required for an injunction pending appeal.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 14, 2007 12:48 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions