280 F.3d 741 (7th Cir. 2002), 00-3299, Muick v. Glenayre Electronics

Docket Nº:00-3299
Citation:280 F.3d 741
Party Name:Albert J. Muick, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Glenayre Electronics, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:February 06, 2002
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 741

280 F.3d 741 (7th Cir. 2002)

Albert J. Muick, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Glenayre Electronics, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 00-3299

In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit

Decided February 6, 2002

October 9, 2001

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. No. 98 C 3187--Harold A. Baker, Judge.

Page 742

Before Posner, Manion, and Rovner, Circuit Judges.

Posner, Circuit Judge.

Muick, at the time an employee of Glenayre Electronics, was arrested on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography in violation of federal law. At the request of federal law enforcement authorities, Glenayre seized from Muick's work area the laptop computer that it had furnished him for use at work and held it until a warrant to search it could be obtained. He was later convicted and imprisoned. He has now sued his former employer, claiming that Glenayre, acting under color of fed eral law, seized "proprietary and privileged personal financial and contact data" contained in files in the computer, in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. He also charges that Glenayre violated rights conferred on him by Illinois law. The district court had diversity as well as supplemental jurisdiction over these claims.

The district judge rightly granted summary judgment to Glenayre on Muick's federal claims. The only basis for a federal suit against Glenayre, that is, a suit for damages for violation of a federal constitutional right, is the Bivens doctrine, which the Supreme Court has held to be inapplicable to corporate defendants even when they are acting under color of federal law. Correctional Services Corp. v. Malesko, 122 S.Ct. 515 (2001). And in any event Glenayre was not acting under color of federal law. The federal agents wanted Glenayre to give them the laptop right away but it refused until the search warrant was issued (and so it had no choice) because the computer contained confidential corporate information. It was happy to take thecomputer away from Muick, for obvious reasons--it doubtless would have done so even if not asked to by the government-- but it was not happy to turn the computer over to the government. It held on to it for as long as it could, for purely selfish reasons. An agency relationship is created by voluntary agreement and obligates the agent to act on behalf of the principal...

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