Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiff, an Alabama granite processing business, worked with Defendant, a corporation that represents manufacturers in the sale of equipment used in the granite industry. Five years after the plant was completed, Plaintiff sued Defendant in Alabama state court, arguing, among other things, that Defendant breached its contract with Plaintiff. The district court granted summary judgment on the breach of contract claims. As to Defendant’s counterclaim, the district court determined Plaintiff had to pay the unpaid invoices and granted summary judgment on the counterclaim as well. Plaintiff appealed the district court’s orders   On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment finding that Plaintiff’s claim was time-barred. The court also affirmed the grant of summary judgment and denial of reconsideration as to Defendant’s counterclaim for unpaid invoices.     The court held that summary judgment is appropriate, because this is a contract for goods, and the UCC’s applicable four-year statute of limitations has passed. The court reasoned that Plaintiff has cited no record document or case to suggest that the contracting parties agreed to the markups as disguised service charges, and it seems more logical to conclude that a sale of equipment will include a margin of profit for the seller.   Further, the court held that Plaintiff’s argument on the statute of limitations defense is forfeited. The court reasoned that Plaintiff’s failure to raise the statute of limitations defense in its response to Defendant’s motion for summary judgment is not an “exceptional condition” that merits the court using its discretion. View "Wadley Crushed Stone Company, LLC v. Positive Step, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts
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OJ Commerce and Naomi Home sued KidKraft and MidOcean. OJ Commerce and Naomi Home alleged that “KidKraft control[led] over 70% of the wooden play kitchen market in the continental United States.” They asserted that “KidKraft’s termination of its relationship with OJ[] [Commerce] had no legitimate business justification or procompetitive benefit” and violated section two of the Sherman Act. They asserted that, alternatively, the termination was a form of attempted monopolization, a separate violation of section two.  The district court entered summary judgment in favor of KidKraft and MidOcean.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the summary judgment order. The court held that the district court correctly entered a summary judgment in favor of MidOcean and KidKraft on the section-one claim. The court reasoned that a company ordinarily cannot conspire with an entity it owns and controls and with which it does not compete. Here, MidOcean owns nothing other than its interest in KidKraft that sells toys of any type. And as noncompetitors, MidOcean and KidKraft are incapable of conspiring for purposes of section one because the evidence establishes that MidOcean has majority ownership of and controls KidKraft. It is undisputed that, during the relevant period, MidOcean owned approximately 57 percent of the membership interests in the company that wholly owns KidKraft.Further, the court held that the district court correctly entered a summary judgment against the section-two claim because OJ Commerce and Naomi Home failed to present substantial evidence to support a viable theory of monopolization. View "OJ Commerce, LLC, et al. v. KidKraft, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued Select Portfolio Servicing ("Portfolio"), a mortgage servicer, under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act ("FDCPA") and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act ("FCCPA"). Plaintiff claimed that several mortgage statements sent by Portfolio misstated a number of items, including the principal due, and that by sending these incorrect statements, Portfolio violated the FDCPA and FCCPA. The district court dismissed Plaintiff's complaint, finding the mortgage statements were not "communications" under either statute.The Eleventh Circuit reversed, holding that monthly mortgage statements may constitute "communications" under the FDCPA and FCCPA if they "contain debt-collection language that is not required by the TILA or its regulations" and the context suggests that the statements are an attempt to collect or induce payment on a debt. View "Constance Daniels v. Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff insured a nightclub under a general liability policy, which covered “bodily injury and property damage liability.” The policy contained several restrictions on that coverage. A nightclub employee and guest were both shot during a shooting at the club.   After the shooting, Plaintiff filed a federal declaratory judgment to determine the full extent of its liability. Plaintiff claimed that because the nightclub shooting was an assault and battery, the policy limited recovery for any and all injuries to $50,000. Second, it argued that the worker’s compensation and employee-injury exclusions barred the employee’s recovery. To get around the bar, the employee’s estate argued that the nightclub’s actions triggered a statutory exception for intentional torts. It alleged that the nightclub had engaged in conduct that it “knew” was virtually certain to result in injury or death to the employee.” Relying primarily on the conflict between one of the federal claims and the state case, the district court dismissed the case. Defendant appealed.   The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court’s dismissal held that the district court failed to consider the policy limits claim, missed the efficiency gains that it needed to balance against federalism and comity interests before deciding whether to proceed with the declaratory judgment action. A totality-of-the-circumstances analysis only works when a court considers all of the relevant details. To do otherwise leaves weights that should be balanced off the scales, or, if used more nefariously, would tip them in favor of a result chosen in advance. View "James River Insurance Company v. Rich Bon Corp, et al." on Justia Law

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Defendant was arrested and indicted under 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(5)(A), which prohibits an alien who "is illegally or unlawfully in the United States" from possessing a firearm. Defendant did not dispute that he possessed a firearm, but filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, claiming Section 922(g)(5)(A) violated his Second Amendment rights. The district court denied Defendant's motion, ultimately convicting him after a bench trial.Defendant appealed, arguing that because he lived in the United State prior to his arrest, he was among "the people" protected by the Second Amendment. The Eleventh Circuit rejected Defendant's argument, holding that the Second Amendment does not apply to all citizens. Under District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Second Amendment confers the right to gun ownership to individuals, not collectively. Thus, certain groups of people are constitutionally deprived of the right to own or possess a gun. Based on the Eleventh Circuit's "'examination of a variety of legal and other sources' from the Founding era," aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States are among those who are constitutionally restricted from owning or possessing a firearm. View "USA v. Ignacio Jimenez-Shilon" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (together, “NetChoice”)—are trade associations that represent internet and social-media companies. They sued the Florida officials charged with enforcing S.B. 7072 under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. They sought to enjoin enforcement of Sections 106.072 and 501.2041 on a number of grounds, including, that the law’s provisions (1) violate the social-media companies’ right to free speech under the First Amendment and (2) are preempted by federal law.   The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it preliminarily enjoined those provisions of S.B. 7072 that are substantially likely to violate the First Amendment. But the district court did abuse its discretion when it enjoined provisions of S.B. 7072 that aren’t likely unconstitutional.   The court reasoned that it is substantially likely that social-media companies—even the biggest ones—are “private actors” whose rights the First Amendment protects, that their so-called “content-moderation” decisions constitute protected exercises of editorial judgment and that the provisions of the new Florida law that restrict large platforms’ ability to engage in content moderation unconstitutionally burden that prerogative. The court further concluded that it is substantially likely that one of the law’s particularly onerous disclosure provisions—which would require covered platforms to provide a “thorough rationale” for each and every content-moderation decision they make—violates the First Amendment. However, because it is unlikely that the law’s remaining disclosure provisions violate the First Amendment, the companies are not entitled to preliminary injunctive relief with respect to them. View "NetChoice, LLC, et al. v. Attorney General, State of Florida, et al." on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of conspiracy and substantive health care fraud for fraudulently billing Medicare and Medicaid for millions of dollars for visits to nursing home patients that he never made. He challenged the convictions, sentence, restitution amount, and forfeiture amount on appeal. In an April 12, 2022 opinion, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Defendant's convictions and sentence.Following the court's initial opinion, Defendant filed a petition for rehearing en banc. The Eleventh Circuit considered Defendant's petition as a petition for a panel rehearing. The court granted Defendant's petition, vacated its previous opinion and issued a revised opinion that did not change the court's judgment or Defendant's sentence. Defendant was given 21 days to file a supplemental brief. View "USA v. Douglas Moss" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court’s dismissal of their constitutional and state law claims against Defendants and its owner for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiffs are legal practitioners who reside in Florida and represent clients in personal injury cases. Defendant is a company is operated by an owner who resides in Florida.   Plaintiffs claim that Defendants violated their right to due process of law by freezing their assets in Maryland, obtaining writs of garnishment based on Maryland law without providing notice and an opportunity to be heard. They also alleged violations of state law, including a charge of usury, breach of contract, and tortious interference. The district court concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Plaintiffs’ federal claim was so utterly frivolous that it robbed the court of federal question jurisdiction.   The sole issue before the Eleventh Circuit court was whether the district court erred in concluding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ claims. The court reversed the district court’s ruling that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate Plaintiffs’ state and constitutional claims against Defendants. The court reasoned that Defendants have identified no case law suggesting that a plaintiff does not have a constitutionally protected interest in her property, even post-judgment.  Plaintiffs have plausibly raised an as-applied challenge to the use of Maryland’s garnishment statute, as opposed to a facial challenge, because they claim that the Maryland rules were applied in a way that unconstitutionally deprived them of their property. View "Diane N. Resnick, et al. v. KrunchCash, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed the district court’s denial of his 28 U.S.C. Section 2254 habeas petition. The Eleventh Circuit issued a certificate of appealability and concluded that the district court properly denied Section 2254 habeas petition. The court reviewed Petitioner’s ineffective assistance claims under the two-prong test set forth in Strickland. To prevail on an ineffective-assistance claim, the petitioner must show (1) that counsel’s performance was deficient and (2) that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense.   The court held that counsel’s failure to assert the failure-to-inform theory as trial court error in briefing Petitioner’s appeal could not amount to ineffective assistance under Strickland. The fact that Petitioner was concerned about a joint trial, not joint representation, fully supports the Florida District Court of Appeal (“DCA”) rejection of this ineffective assistance claim. The court reasoned that the trial court appropriately responded to Petitioner’s concern by explaining why Petitioner would not be prejudiced by a joint trial: because the State had charged Petitioner as a principal in the armed robbery, all of the evidence that would be introduced in co-defendant’s trial would be introduced in his as well.   Further, the district court correctly concluded that Petitioner failed to establish that the DCA’s affirmance of this ineffective assistance claim constituted an adjudication that was “contrary to, or an incorrect application of,” the Supreme Court’s holdings in Strickland. View "Gregory Lamar Blackmon v. Secretary, Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his sentence of 168 months imprisonment followed by 30 years of supervised release, imposed pursuant to his guilty plea for child sex crimes. He challenged the procedural and substantive reasonableness of his bottom-of-the-guidelines sentence, arguing that the district court did not properly consider the 18 U.S.C. Section 3553(a) factors. He also contested the imposition of a special condition of supervised release prohibiting him—absent probation office approval—from using or possessing a computer or a device capable of connecting to the internet and from possessing an “electronic data storage medium.”   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in weighing the relevant factors or imposing a special condition of supervised release. The court reasoned that the district court did not commit any procedural errors. Here, the district court stated that it had considered the advisory guidelines and “all of the factors” set out in Section 3553(a)(1)– (7) and reliance on some Section 3553(a) factors over others does not necessarily render a sentence unreasonable.   Next, the court reasoned that the sentence was substantively reasonable because the district court imposed the lowest possible prison sentence within the range and it was within the district court’s discretion to weigh the factors as it did and arrive at this sentence. Finally, the court held that a district court has discretion to impose any condition of supervised release it deems appropriate so long as it comports with the factors enumerated in Section 3553(a). View "USA v. Blaine Joyner Coglianese" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law