Articles Posted in U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiff owns 2,485 acres containing Indiana's only antebellum plantation and 2,000 acres of "classified forest," with endangered species habitats. A utility company has a lease for storing and extracting oil and natural gas on portions of the property. The Lease continues so long as "oil or gas is produced in paying quantities" or "the Property continues to be used for the underground storage of gas" and will terminate upon the utility's surrender or failure to make payments. The lease contains provisions to protect historic sites and to calculate damage to trees, requires notice of utility activity, and requires that the utility's use be "as minimally necessary." Plaintiff sought damages and to terminate the lease and evict the utility. The district court entered judgment for the utility, finding that a disagreement about the use of land was not an express reason for termination and that the lease specifically provided that damages were the proper remedy. Plaintiff dismissed the damages claim with prejudice to appeal the ejectment claim. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Plaintiff did not show that damages are inadequate to compensate for the harm to its property. View "Cedar Farm, Harrison County, Inc. v. Louisville Gas & Elec. Co" on Justia Law

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The Wisconsin smelting plant owed more than $1.3 million in delinquent utility charges to the local municipal utility when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Months later, despite the automatic stay, the utility implemented a process pursuant to sections 66.0809 and 66.0627, Wisconsin Statutes and local ordinance, under which unpaid utility bills become a lien against the property. The bankruptcy court and district court found that none of the exceptions to the automatic stay applied to the debt, which constituted more than one-third of the utility's operating revenue. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that no exception to the stay applied. The utility did not obtain a pre-petition security interest in the plant property by providing service or billing. The utility bills were not a tax or special assessment. View "Reedsburg Util. Comm'n v. Grede Foundries, Inc." on Justia Law