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Significant Decisions

Below is a sampling of cases Mr. Keleher has litigated. Contact the Keleher Appellate Law Group, LLC for a free consultation.

Washington v. Office of the State Appellate Defender, No. 12 cv 8533 (N.D. Ill. 2017)

Alice Washington worked for the Illinois appellate defender’s office as an investigator and forensic social historian. Her ten-year career ended when she was terminated for objecting to disability discrimination while suffering from breast cancer. Mr. Keleher was lead counsel and persuaded a federal jury to award her $400,000 for unlawful retaliation under Title VII. In post-trial motions, Mr. Keleher then persuaded the federal district court to award Ms. Washington front pay and back pay. Ultimately, the court ordered the Illinois appellate defender’s office to pay more than $1 million to Ms. Washington.

Media coverage of the case can be found here.

Hoekstra v. Ford Motor Co., No. 15-3634 (7th Cir. 2016)

After repeated incidents at the hands of her co-workers, Plaintiff Heather Hoekstra brought a claim for harassment and retaliation against her employer, Ford Motor Company. Ford moved for summary judgment and the federal district court granted it. Hoekstra retained Mr. Keleher to appeal the adverse result. Mr. Keleher drafted the appellate briefs and presented oral argument to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Following oral argument, and before an opinion was issued, Ford agreed to settle the matter and Hoekstra dismissed the appeal.

Church Street Homeowners Assoc. v. Kelton, 2016 IL App (1st) 150378-U (Ill. App. Ct. 2016)

Plaintiff Teresa Kelton sought to enforce a settlement agreement she entered with her homeowners association. The parties had previously settled a dispute over association fees. The settlement agreement released Kelton from paying certain fees. However, a few months after the settlement, the association demanded the fees from Kelton. She thus asked the Circuit Court of Cook County to enforce the settlement agreement. The court found against Kelton, and she hired Mr. Keleher to appeal the Circuit Court's decision. The First District Appellate Court agreed with Mr. Keleher's arguments, interpreted the settlement agreement in favor of Ms. Kelton, and reversed the Circuit Court's Order in its entirety.   

Meegan v. Gonzales, 2015 IL App (1st) 132501-U (Ill. App. Ct. 2015)

Plaintiff Sara Meegan sued defendant Florence Gonzalez for defamation, interference with a contractual relationship, and violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act. The jury ruled in Meegan's favor and awarded her $225,000 in damages. Defendant filed post-trial motions, which the trial court denied. Defendant appealed those rulings, and Mr. Keleher, representing Sara Meegan, drafted the appellate brief to the Illinois Appellate Court. The Appellate Court agreed with Mr. Keleher and affirmed the $225,000 jury verdict.

Packer v. Indiana University, No. 15-1095 (7th Cir. 2015)

Plaintiff Subah Packer sued her employer, Indiana University, for employment discrimination and unequal pay. She lost at summary judgment and hired Mr. Keleher to appeal to the Seventh Circuit. Ultimately, the Seventh Circuit affirmed, deeming much of Packer's appellate arguments waived based on deficiencies in the summary judgment proceedings. However, the Seventh Circuit took the unusual step of commending Mr. Keleher: "Packer’s appellate counsel has done a far superior job of identifying and elaborating on the factual underpinnings of her case. In particular, her new counsel has supported Packer’s factual contentions with appropriate citations to the record. And counsel has presented much more developed arguments as to why the evidence might support a verdict on each element of Packer’s claims."

United States v. Toviave, 761 F.3d 623 (6th Cir. 2014)

Jean Claude Kodjo Toviave was convicted in Michigan federal court of four counts of forced labor and sentenced to 11 years in federal prison. Mr. Keleher drafted the appellate briefs and presented oral argument to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The Sixth Circuit reversed. It agreed that the federal prosecutors overstepped their authority and that Toviave's conduct did not support a forced labor conviction. The Court then took the extremely rare step of throwing out the four convictions.

Mendez v. Republic Bank, 725 F.3d 651 (7th Cir. 2013)

A judgment creditor sought to freeze a debtor's assets held at Republic Bank.  The federal District Court ruled Republic Bank correctly unfroze the debtor's assets and the creditor appealed.  Mr. Keleher drafted Republic Bank's appellate brief in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  Affirming, the Seventh Circuit  adopted Mr. Keleher's arguments and found Republic Bank acted appropriately in unfreezing the assets. 

Hernandez v. Cook County Sheriff’s Office, 711 F.3d 816 (7th Cir. 2013)

Correctional officers brought a civil rights action against their employer, the Sheriff, claiming an investigation of them was politically motivated.  The federal District Court found the Sheriff was not entitled to qualified immunity for his conduct in investigating the officers.  Representing the Sheriff, Mr. Keleher obtained interlocutory review in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on the issue of qualified immunity.  The Court then found the Sheriff was entitled to qualified immunity, reversing the District Court and effectively ending the suit.

In re Marriage of Andrew Rurak, 2012 Il App (1st) 112876-U (Ill. App. Ct. 2012)

In a family law dispute involving the allocation of a child’s college expenses, the trial court found against the Respondent, Ms. Tajak.  Mr. Keleher represented Ms. Tajak on appeal before the Illinois Appellate Court.  He convinced the Court that the trial court erred in its allocation ruling by misapplying statutory requirements.  He secured reversal of the trial court decision and obtained a new evidentiary hearing for Ms. Tajak on remand.

United States v. Clay, 667 F.3d 689 (6th Cir. 2012)

Mr. Keleher was appointed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to handle the appeal of Gary Clay, who was convicted by a jury of violating federal carjacking laws and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Mr. Keleher drafted the appellate briefs and presented oral argument to the Court in Cincinnati. The appeal involved an interpretation of Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b), and whether the District Court erred in admitting evidence of a prior conviction. Mr. Keleher convinced the Sixth Circuit that the federal prosecutors admitted evidence of Mr. Clay’s prior conviction for improper purposes. In a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit held the District Court abused its discretion in admitting this evidence. The Sixth Circuit further agreed with Mr. Keleher that the errors were not harmless and thus vacated the 30 year sentence and reversed for a new trial.

Hernandez v. Cook County Sheriff’s Office, 634 F.3d 906 (7th Cir. 2011)

Correctional officers brought a civil rights action against their employer, the Sheriff, claiming an investigation of them was politically motivated.  The federal District Court found the Sheriff was not entitled to qualified immunity because he waived the defense.  Representing the Sheriff, Mr. Keleher obtained interlocutory review in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on the issue of qualified immunity. He then convinced the Seventh Circuit to reverse because the District Court erred in finding the Sheriff waived qualified immunity.

Ortiz v. Webster, 655 F.3d 731 (7th Cir. 2011)

Mr. Keleher was appointed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to represent Arboleda Ortiz, who had sued the federal penitentiary in Indiana where he was incarcerated. Mr. Ortiz suffered from an eye condition known as pterygium and claimed the federal penitentiary was deliberately indifferent to his medical condition. The District Court granted the federal penitentiary summary judgment. Mr. Keleher was then appointed for the appeal. He persuaded the Seventh Circuit, despite the difficult burden of establishing deliberate indifference, that the District Court erred and the federal penitentiary was deliberately indifferent to Mr. Ortiz’s condition. Ortiz represents a rare reversal on the issue of deliberate indifference to an inmate’s medical needs.

Active Disposal v. City of Darien, 635 F.3d 883 (7th Cir. 2011)

A class-action was filed on behalf of several waste haulers and customers who used the haulers. The class argued that various municipal ordinances granting exclusive contracts to a single waste hauler violated federal antitrust law. The District Court held that the exclusive contracts fell within the state-action exception to antitrust law and dismissed the complaint. Mr. Keleher argued the matter before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  He asserted that the state-action doctrine allows municipalities to engage in conduct that would otherwise violate antitrust law when such conduct is authorized by the state. The Seventh Circuit agreed with Mr. Keleher and affirmed.

Roughneck Concrete Drilling v. Plumbers' Pension Fund, 640 F.3d 761 (7th Cir. 2011)

A construction company filed actions under the Labor Management Relations Act against a plumbers' pension fund to enforce the prior order of a national plan arbitrator.  The company sought to vacate the subsequent order of the joint arbitration board that had been established by a collective bargaining agreement.  Mr. Keleher argued before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that the fund could challenge the arbitrator’s order and that the Court should reverse the District Court.  The Seventh Circuit agreed with Mr. Keleher’s argument and reversed.

Berge v. Village of Oak Lawn, No. 1-10-3692 (Ill. App. Ct. 2011)

Plaintiff sued under the Illinois Open Meetings Act, alleging a municipality violated the statute by discussing certain matters in a closed session and taking a final action during a closed session.  The trial court dismissed the suit.  Representing the municipality on appeal, Mr. Keleher argued that the closed executive session was to discuss pending litigation and collective negotiating matters, subjects specifically exempt from the Open Meetings Act.  The Illinois Appellate Court agreed with Mr. Keleher and affirmed.

Swearnigen-El v. Cook County Sheriff’s Dept., 602 F.3d 852 (7th Cir. 2010)

The plaintiff was a correctional officer accused by inmates of custodial sexual assault. The State’s Attorney’s Office investigated and prosecuted the plaintiff. After the plaintiff was eventually cleared of the criminal charges, he sued his employer, the Sherriff, for gender and racial discrimination. The federal District Court granted the Sheriff’s motion for summary judgment.  Mr. Keleher drafted the appellate brief on behalf of the Sheriff in the Seventh Circuit.   Mr. Keleher successfully convinced the Seventh Circuit to affirm.

Thomas v. Cook County Sheriff’s Dept., 604 F.3d 293 (7th Cir. 2010)

The Sheriff was sued in a civil rights lawsuit alleging wrongful death of a detainee. A jury found in favor of the detainee’s estate for $5 million.  Mr. Keleher drafted the appellate briefs and argued before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the Sheriff.  Mr. Keleher obtained the reversal of the jury verdict against the Sheriff in the Seventh Circuit.

United States v. Rodriguez, 612 F.3d 1049 (8th Cir. 2010)

Mr. Rodriguez was convicted in a Missouri federal court for possessing a firearm.  Mr. Keleher represented him on his appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and argued before the Eight Circuit in St. Louis.  The Eighth Circuit found the district court did not err in denying Mr. Rodriguez’s motion for substitution of trial counsel, and that the federal prosecutor’s remark in closing argument was not prejudicial.

Mercado v. Dart, 604 F.3d 360 (7th Cir. 2010)

In a matter involving the constitutionality of a jail’s intake policy, Mr. Keleher presented oral argument to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals as to whether the Sheriff was entitled to argue the defense of sovereign immunity.  The Court ruled the issue was not immediately appealable and thus remanded to the District Court for trial.

Doe v. University of Chicago, 404 Ill.App.3d 1006 (Ill. App. Ct. 2010)

The plaintiff sued the University of Chicago for violating the Illinois Gender Violence Act.  The trial court dismissed the suit against the University.  Mr. Keleher represented the University on appeal. The Illinois Appellate Court agreed with Mr. Keleher’s position that the Gender Violence Act cannot be retroactively applied to conduct occurring before the Act’s effective date and affirmed.

Bailey v. Illinois Liquor Control Commission, 405 Ill.App.3d 550 (Ill. App. Ct. 2010)

A day care center challenged the issuance of a liquor license to a retail establishment. The day care argued the license was issued in violation of the Illinois Liquor Control Act’s prohibition of any retail liquor establishment within 100 feet of a “school.”  The Illinois Liquor Commission ruled that the day care, which did provide some educational programs, failed to prove that it was a “school” within 100 feet of a retail liquor establishment.  Following briefing and oral arguments by Mr. Keleher, the Illinois Appellate Court, stating this was a case of first impression, affirmed the Commission’s decision that the day care failed to prove it was a “school” within 100 feet of a liquor retail establishment.

Egonmwan v. Cook County Sheriff’s Dept., 602 F.3d 845 (7th Cir. 2010)

The plaintiff was a correctional officer charged with custodial sexual misconduct while employed as a correctional officer. He was subsequently terminated after a merit board hearing. Plaintiff alleged the Sheriff initiated a frivolous criminal prosecution and terminated him because of his gender, race, and protected speech.  The federal District Court granted the Sheriff summary judgment.  Mr. Keleher drafted the appellate brief convincing the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm.

Dorge v. Martin, 388 Ill.App.3d 863 (Ill. App. Ct. 2009)

Plaintiff alleged injuries she suffered on a boat ride were the defendant’s responsibility.  The trial court granted the defendant summary judgment.  Mr. Keleher represented the defendant on appeal and convinced the Illinois Appellate Court to affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment.

Mach v. Will County Sheriff, 580 F.3d 495 (7th Cir. 2009)

Plaintiff alleged his employer committed age discrimination.  The federal District Court ruled in the employer’s favor.  Mr. Keleher represented the employer before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. He not only convinced the Seventh Circuit to affirm the judgment in favor of the employer, but also to affirm the imposition of sanctions against his opponent.

Lucarelli v. Holzem, 387 Ill.App.3d 1174 (Ill. App. Ct. 2009)

Plaintiff brought a personal injury action against the defendant after a car accident.  The only issue at trial was whether the accident was a proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries. The defendant prevailed at trial and Mr. Keleher represented him on appeal.  The Illinois Appellate Court agreed with Mr. Keleher’s position and affirmed the trial court.

Moritz v. West Suburban Hosp. & Medical Center, 392 Ill.App.3d 1128 (Ill. App. Ct. 2009)

A medical malpractice suit was dismissed by the trial court.  Representing the hospital on appeal, Mr. Keleher successfully convinced the Illinois Appellate Court to affirm the dismissal and award sanctions against opposing counsel for bringing a frivolous lawsuit.

Hoffman v. Barnes, No. 12-C-31 (N.D. Ill. 2012)

Defendant was accused of defamation and federal Lanham Act violations for disparaging posts about plaintiff’s business on an Internet forum.  Representing the defendant, Mr. Keleher drafted a Motion to Dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2).  The federal District Court adopted Mr. Keleher’s position and dismissed the suit, which sought treble damages and attorneys’ fees.  The matter was not appealed.

Kohlman v. Midlothian, No. 08-C-5300 (N.D. Ill. 2011)

Members of the Hells Angels claimed a municipality violated their freedom of speech and freedom of association rights under the First Amendment. The members claimed they were denied entry to various establishments while wearing Hells Angels’ insignia due to pressure from municipal officials. Mr. Keleher drafted a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the municipality. In granting the motion for summary judgment, the federal District Court held that the Hells Angels’ insignia was not “protected speech” under the First Amendment, nor was their motorcycle club of a religious or political nature implicating the “freedom of association” prong of the First Amendment.  The matter was not appealed.

Dart v. Craigslist, 665 F.Supp.2d 961 (N.D. Ill. 2009)

Sheriff brought an action against the website Craigslist, alleging the site facilitated prostitution and constituted a public nuisance under Illinois law.  Mr. Keleher drafted the complaint on behalf of the Sheriff. Craigslist filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings.  While the District Court held that Craigslist did not induce users to post illegal content, Craigslist ultimately disbanded the “erotic services” section of its website.  The matter was not appealed.



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