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

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The Department of Justice filed suit against the State of Florida, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and 28 C.F.R. 35.130(d). The Department alleged that Florida was failing to meet its obligations under Title II by unnecessarily institutionalizing hundreds of children with disabilities in nursing facilities. The Department also alleged that Florida's Medicaid policies and practices placed other children who have "medically complex" conditions, or who are "medically fragile," at risk of unnecessary institutionalization. The Eleventh Circuit held that the Attorney General has a cause of action to enforce Title II of the ADA. The court held that when Congress chose to designate the "remedies, procedures, and rights" in section 505 of the Rehabilitation Act, which in turn adopted Title VI, as the enforcement provision for Title II of the ADA, Congress created a system of federal enforcement. The court also held that the express statutory language in Title II adopts federal statutes that use a remedial structure based on investigation of complaints, compliance reviews, negotiation to achieve voluntary compliance, and ultimately enforcement through "any other means authorized by law" in the event of noncompliance. Therefore, courts have routinely concluded that Congress's decision to utilize the same enforcement mechanism for Title II as the Rehabilitation Act, and therefore Title VI, demonstrates that the Attorney General has the authority to act "by any other means authorized by law" to enforce Title II, including initiating a civil action. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded. View "United States v. State of Florida" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's 1440 month sentence after he was convicted of five counts relating to the production and possession of child pornography. The court held that the district court did not procedurally err when it calculated defendant's guidelines sentence as close to indefinite incarceration as the law allowed. The court also held that defendant's sentence was not substantively unreasonable, because the district court thoroughly discussed defendant's particularly heinous conduct and direct participation in the creation of child pornography, his breach of public trust as a police officer, and his total failure to take responsibility for his actions. View "United States v. Kirby" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was convicted of attempting to knowingly induce or entice a minor to engage in sexual activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2422(b), solicitation of another to commit the crime of federal kidnapping under 18 U.S.C. 1201(a) in violation of 18 U.S.C. 373, and knowingly transmitting a communication containing a threat to kidnap in violation of 18 U.S.C. 875(c). The Eleventh Circuit held that sufficient evidence supported defendant's conviction for Count 1, and the district court did not err in rejecting the testimony of two proposed experts. However, because section 1201(a) can be violated without the "use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against property or against the person of another" as required by section 373(a)'s force clause, and because the court knows from Curtis Johnson v. United States and its progeny that "physical force" does not include "intellectual force or emotional force," defendant's 373 conviction must be reversed. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "United States v. Gillis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Three healthcare providers filed a class action against Progressive over a claims-handling process that was allegedly illegal under Florida law. The district court certified an injunction class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2), but declined to certify a damages class under Rule 23(b)(3). The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court erred by certifying the injunction class, because the injunctive remedy the class sought -- in this case, damages -- was improper. Therefore, Rule 23(b)(3) is the proper mechanism for certifying a damages class. The court stated that, because plaintiffs' damages claims involved individualized issues that ruled out Rule 23(b)(3) certification, plaintiffs sought to recast their claims as one for injunctive relief under Rule 23(b)(2). View "AA Suncoast Chiropractic Clinic, P.A. v. Progressive American Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action

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This consolidated appeal arose after Massage Envy’s stated reason for the termination of intervenor was its fear that she might contract and later develop Ebola due to her trip to Ghana. EEOC and intervenor appealed the entry of judgment for Massage Envy on their employment discrimination claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendments of 2009. The Eleventh Circuit held that, even construing the statute broadly, the terms of the ADA protect persons who experience discrimination because of a current, past, or perceived disability—not because of a potential future disability that a healthy person may experience later. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's final judgment in favor of Massage Envy. View "Lowe v. STME, LLC" on Justia Law

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The EPA has discretion not to commence withdrawal proceedings under 40 C.F.R. 123.64(b) even if it finds that a state's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program has not always complied with the requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the EPA's decision affirming its previous refusal to commence withdrawal proceedings against Alabama. In regard to the four alleged violations, the court held that the EPA reasonably construed the statutory and regulatory text. The court also held that the EPA's decision not to commence withdrawal proceedings in the face of these alleged violations was not arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law. View "Cahaba Riverkeeper v. Environmental Protection Agency" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for two counts of wire fraud. The court held that United States v. Takhalov was distinguishable from this case and the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to give defendant's proposed jury instruction on the difference between fraud and deceit; there was sufficient evidence to convict defendant; and there was no merit to defendant's claim that the district court reversibly erred by not making an on-the-record waiver inquiry and that the district court made an erroneous factual finding that impacted his sentence. View "United States v. Waters" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against three deputies and the county sheriff after she was shot five times during a routine wellness check. On appeal, the county sheriff challenged the judgment against him and the district court's denial of his motion for a new trial. The Eleventh Circuit held that controlling federal law did not preclude district court judges from accurately informing jurors of the effects of their findings—in either their instructions or their verdict forms. Therefore, the court held that it was not improper for the judge to provide an accurate statement of law explaining the legal effect of the jury's finding under Florida's alcohol defense. The court also held that plaintiff did not present a nonexistent negligent-use-of-force claim and that her negligent-wellness-check claim was not precluded; plaintiffs lawyer did not make a forbidden golden-rule argument; and any error that the district court committed in admitting testimony about the deputies' dismissals was harmless. View "Ermini v. Scott" on Justia Law

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After three former AseraCare employees alleged that AseraCare had a practice of knowingly submitting unsubstantiated Medicare claims in violation of the False Claims Act, the Government intervened and filed the operative complaint. The Eleventh Circuit held that a clinical judgment of terminal illness warranting hospice benefits under Medicare cannot be deemed false, for purposes of the False Claims Act, when there is only a reasonable disagreement between medical experts as to the accuracy of that conclusion, with no other evidence to prove the falsity of the assessment. However, the court held that the Government should have been allowed to rely on the entire record, not just the trial record, in making its case that disputed issues of fact, beyond just the difference of opinion between experts, existed sufficient to warrant denial of the district court’s post-verdict sua sponte reconsideration of summary judgment on the falsity question. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and remanded in part. View "United States v. Aseracare, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendants, Mr. Feldman and Mrs. Feldman, appealed their convictions stemming from their operation of a pain management clinic. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the convictions, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Mrs. Feldman's motion for severance; the district court did not plainly err by admitting the testimony of the government's witness; because Mrs. Feldman implicitly consented to the order declaring a mistrial, she was not entitled to relief on her double jeopardy claim; and the court rejected Mrs. Feldman's remaining claims of prosecutorial misconduct and claims of error regarding the jury instructions. The court also held that the evidence was sufficient to support each of defendant's conspiracy convictions, and convictions based on dispensation of controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose that resulted in death (Counts 2 through 4). However, the court reversed the district court's application of 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(C)'s 20-year mandatory minimum sentence on Counts 2–4 and remanded the case for the district court to resentence Dr. Feldman to a term of imprisonment of not more than 20 years as to each of these counts. View "United States v. Feldman" on Justia Law