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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides three Indiana cases today

But first, a non-Indiana ruling today, Adams v. Raintree Vacation Exchange, a 15-page opinion that begins:

POSNER, Circuit Judge.
This appeal requires us to consider the enforceability of a forum selection clause by entities not named as parties to the contract in which the clause appears.
In Parish v. City of Elkhart (ND Ind., Lozano), a 13-page opinion, Judge Rovner writes:
This appeal concerns a civil action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Christopher Parish seeking damages for his wrongful conviction based on a violation of the Due Process Clause. The appeal, brought by Parish who prevailed in his § 1983 action, focuses on the adequacy of the damages award and the district court’s restriction of evidence relating to it. * * *

Because the district court’s rulings improperly limited the introduction of evidence relating to Parish’s innocence, and that evidence was critical to the damages issue, the award of damages cannot stand. The excluded evidence did not impact the jury’s consideration of the liability issue and that issue is not before us on appeal, and therefore a new trial is required only as to the damages issue. See Cobige v. City of Chicago, IL, 651 F.3d 780, 785 (7th Cir. 2011). Accordingly, the jury’s determination of liability is affirmed, the award of damages is vacated, and the case remanded for a new trial as to the issue of damages only. Circuit Rule 36 shall apply on remand. Costs on appeal are to be taxed against appellees.

In US v. Elliot (ND Ind., Simon), a 22-page opinion, Judge Rovner writes:
After he pleaded guilty to a felonin- possession charge, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), James Elliott was sentenced as an armed career criminal based on the district court’s finding that a series of three robberies he perpetrated in a five-day period when he was eighteen years old were “committed on occasions different from one another,” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). Elliot challenges that finding, contending that he had a right to have a jury, rather than the judge, assess the nature of his prior crimes, and that our decision in United States v. Hudspeth, 42 F.3d 1015, 1019-22 (7th Cir. 1994) (en banc), abrogated on other grounds by Shepard v. United States, 544 U.S. 13, 125 S. Ct. 1254 (2005), should be overruled. We affirm.
In Beller v. Wishard Hospital (SD Ind.. Pratt), a 10-page opinion, Judge Rovner writes:
The plaintiffs brought suit alleging that the defendant, Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indiana d/b/a Wishard Memorial Hospital d/b/a Wishard Ambulance Service (“Wishard”) violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (“EMTALA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd, by failing to stabilize Melissa Welch and her minor son, Joshua Beller, during an emergency medical situation. The district court granted summary judgment for Wishard, and the plaintiffs appeal. * * *

The issue in this case is whether the plaintiffs had “come to the emergency room” of Wishard Memorial Hospital when they were transported in the Wishard ambulance. The regulations to the EMTALA, promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“DHHS), provide a definition of when a person is deemed to have “come to the emergency room,” but the 2001 definition in effect at the time of the incident was subsequently amended. Both parties agree that under the 2003 definition, the plaintiffs would not have “come to the emergency room” of Wishard, and therefore the claim could not proceed. The core issue, then, is which definition applies. * * *

We agree with the district court’s conclusion that the DHSS considered the 2003 regulation to be a clarification of the definition of “comes to the emergency department.” * * *

The 2003 definition merely provided guidance as to what it means for an ambulance to be “operated by” a hospital. The district court properly held that the 2003 amendment is a clarification, which therefore applies in interpreting the meaning of the 2001 language. Because the Wishard ambulance was operating under the EMS protocol at the time the plaintiffs were in it, the plaintiffs had not come to the Wishard emergency department under the EMTALA, and the plaintiffs’ claim cannot succeed. The decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant is AFFIRMED.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 20, 2012 12:40 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions