« Ind. Courts - "Governor appoints Bluffton City Judge" | Main | Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues awaited insurance decisions »

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ind. Decisions - Two today from 7th Circuit

In Schleicher, Steve v. Salvation Army (SD Ind., Judge Young), an 11-page opinion, Judge Posner writes:

The Schleichers brought suit against their former employer, the Salvation Army, charging violations of the minimum-wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq. Invoking the “ministerial exception” (better termed the “ministers exception,” to avoid the misleading connotation of “ministerial”—better still, as we’ll see, to call it the “internal affairs” doctrine) to federal employment statutes, see, e.g., Alicea-Hernandez v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 320 F.3d 698 (2003), the district judge dismissed the suit—though only after an evidentiary hearing—for want of federal jurisdiction. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). * * *

But it is entirely proper in a case like this for a defendant who is invoking the presumption that ministers’ compensation is not subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act to move to dismiss an FLSA case under Rule 12(c) (judgment on the pleadings). If the plaintiff presents evidence to rebut the presumption, then, as the rule states, the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings is treated as a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56. It does not matter in this case, however, what rule the judge acted under, since he granted an evidentiary hearing at which the plaintiffs could have tried to present evidence that would have rebutted the presumption, but did not. We therefore modify the judgment to base it on the lack of merits of the plaintiffs’ claim rather than on any want of federal jurisdiction, and as so modified the judgment is affirmed.

In USA v. Choiniere, Bruno (ND Ind., Judge Sharp), a 13-page opinion, Judge Williams writes:

Chiropractor Bruno Choiniere developed what he terms a back “brace” and the government deems a back “belt,” and he billed Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies over $1000 each time he prescribed it. The government maintained it was worth about $50, and a jury convicted Choiniere of health care fraud, fraudulent concealment of health care benefits, and money laundering. On appeal, Choiniere argues that the district court committed reversible error when it refused to give two of the proposed intent to defraud jury instructions that he tendered. Because the instructions the jury received already conveyed the theories in Choiniere’s proposed instructions, and the failure to give the instructions did not deny him a fair trial, we find no error in the decision not to give the jury the two instructions. We also affirm the sentencing enhancement Choiniere received for using minors in furtherance of his scheme, as the district court was entitled to credit the testimony of the minors’ mother and grandmother that Choiniere had solicited the minors’ assistance. Therefore, as we discuss in more detail below, we affirm the judgment of the district court.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 28, 2008 05:10 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions