Semmerling v. Bormann, No. 19-3211 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Semmerling worked as a contractor for the U.S. Military Commissions Defense Organization as part of the legal team for a person charged as an al-Qaeda enemy combatant. Semmerling, who is gay, disclosed his sexuality to the lead attorney of that team. Semmerling alleges that, despite promising secrecy, that attorney disclosed his sexuality to the client and told the client that Semmerling was infatuated with the client and was pursuing that interest. Semmerling sued the lead attorney for state-law torts of defamation, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and he sued the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2674, for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The district court dismissed the suit.
The Seventh Circuit denied the government’s motion for summary affirmance while acknowledging that Semmerling’s brief is substantively deficient in multiple ways. The court noted that the other defendant filed a brief. Sparse briefing alone is not a reason to enter a merits judgment, and this case does not rise to the level of “incomprehensible or completely insubstantial.” Semmerling may, within seven days, seek leave to strike his opening brief and to file a brief that complies with Rule 28.