In Luddington v. Indiana Bell Telephone, the Seventh Circuit held that the Civil Rights Act of 1991 ("the Act") does not apply to suits pending on the effective date of the Act. In so holding, the court faced conflicts between Supreme Court precedent on the issue of when statutes become effective.
The Supreme Court cases deciding whether statutes are to be applied retroactively have been said to be "'in irreconcilable contradiction.' " In Bradley v. School Board of City of Richmond, the Supreme Court stated that statutes are presumed to apply to cases pending when the statute becomes effective. In Bowen v. Georgetown University Hospital, the Court stated that a statute will not apply retroactively unless the statute's language requires it. Yet in another Supreme Court case, the Court held that statutes making procedural changes which will not likely favor one litigant over another can be applied to pending cases.
While the Seventh Circuit acknowledged that the Act does not outlaw any conduct that was not previously illegal, it found that the changes were not purely procedural and should not be applied to cases pending when the Act became effective.
William Wright Banks, Jr., Luddington v. Indiana Bell Telephone: The 1991 Civil Rights Act is No Help in Pending Cases, 44 Mercer L. Rev. 709 (1990.