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

by
After Junior Prosper was shot and killed by a police officer, Prosper's widow filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the officer. The district court found that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity and granted his motion for summary judgment.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, concluding that the district court was within its discretion to exclude the opinions of two expert witnesses. The court also concluded that the officer acted as an objectively reasonable officer both in tasing and in using deadly force on Prosper. The court explained that plaintiff's interpretation of the blurry surveillance video amounts to mere speculation and thus the video fails to create the issues of fact that plaintiff says it does. Rather, the officer's version of events remains unrebutted and controls the court's analysis. The court concluded that the officer did not violate Prosper's Fourth Amendment rights by using deadly force after Prosper struck him in the face, resisted arrest through three taser discharges, and bit down on his finger while "twisting and turning" with unabating intensity. Furthermore, the district court did not err by finding that the officer acted as an objectively reasonable officer by using the taser. View "Prosper v. Martin" on Justia Law

by
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against ACS and in favor of its competing distributor, White Cap, on ACS's Sherman Antitrust Act and Georgia state law claims. ACS argues that summary judgment was erroneously granted because the evidence demonstrates that White Cap agreed with Meadow Burke to have Meadow Burke stop supplying ACS projects in Florida.The court held that the evidence is at least equally consistent with Meadow Burke having made an independent decision to terminate ACS as it is with an inference of concerted action. Furthermore, the evidence is at least equally consistent with White Cap having made an independent decision to continue distributing the Meadow Burke product as it is with it having engaged in concerted action. Therefore, the court cannot conclude that White Cap acted in a manner rising to the level of anticompetitive conduct necessary for a claim under section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The court also held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on ACS's monopolization and attempted monopolization claims pursuant to section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Finally, the court held that the district court properly granted summary judgment on the tortious interference claim. View "American Contractors Supply, LLC v. HD Supply Construction Supply, Ltd." on Justia Law

by
After a blog operator filed suit against a content aggregator for copyright infringement after the aggregator copied and published the blog's content, the jury ruled in favor of the blog operator. At issue is whether the district court should have allowed the jury to decide whether the aggregator had an implied license to copy and publish the blog's content.The Eleventh Circuit concluded that, although the district court employed a too narrow understanding of an implied license, a jury could not have reasonably inferred that the blog impliedly granted the aggregator a license to copy and publish its content. In this case, the district court erred by granting judgment as a matter of law against the aggregator on its implied-license defense; the district court did not err by instructing the jury that it could consider unregistered articles in its calculation of statutory damages; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the aggregator's motion for a new trial on the basis of the jury's statutory-damages award; the district court did not err by failing to consult with the register of copyrights about the alleged fraud on the copyright office; and the aggregator is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law on its fair-use defense. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment against the aggregator. View "MidlevelU, Inc. v. ACI Information Group" on Justia Law

by
The Eleventh Circuit vacated its previously issued opinion and substituted this one in its place.The court affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A) motion for compassionate release. The court explained that the district court was permitted to reduce defendant's sentence if it found, among other things, that extraordinary compelling reasons warrant it. In this case, the district court concluded that defendant's medical conditions did not. The court reasoned that, of the conditions defendant argued to the district court, only hypertension appears on the CDC's list of conditions, and it appears only as one that means an adult with it "might be at an increased risk."Furthermore, the district court considered the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors and section 1B1.13 n.1, which further contributes to the court's holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. The court explained that regardless of whether the district court was required to consider USSG 1B1.13 n.1, it did so. In this case, the district court's order makes clear that it independently considered whether defendant's reasons were "extraordinary and compelling" under section 3582(c)(1)(A), and then separately and "[m]oreover" considered and rejected her reasons in light of section 1B1.13 n.1. View "United States v. Harris" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed Defendants Goldstein and Bercoon's convictions for charges related to their involvement in a market-manipulation scheme involving shares of MedCareers Group, Inc. (MCGI) and a scheme to defraud investors in Find.com Acquisition, Inc. (Find.com).The court concluded that the magistrate judge did not err in concluding that there was probable cause to support the wiretap affidavit and satisfied the necessity requirement. Furthermore, defendants have not shown that the district court erred in concluding that the wiretap evidence was admissible under the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule, even assuming there was some deficiency in the necessity or probable cause showing. The court also concluded that, because defendants did not make a substantial preliminary showing that the law enforcement agent deliberately or recklessly omitted material information from his wiretap affidavit, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying their motions for a Franks hearing; any variance in the indictment did not cause prejudice warranting relief; defendants' claims of prosecutorial misconduct failed; the district court did not err in suppressing Goldstein's statements to an SEC attorney; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Goldstein's request for an evidentiary hearing; the district court did not err in imposing joint and several liability; and the court found no basis to dismiss Bercoon's indictment. View "United States v. Goldstein" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff, an inmate in a federal prison, filed suit against several corrections officers, the prison’s warden, and the United States, claiming that the officers restrained him, removed his clothes, and fondled his genitals and buttocks in violation of, among other things, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The district court concluded that plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he suffered a physical injury as required by 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)(2).The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, concluding that plaintiff's argument—that allegations amounting to "sexual contact," but not a "sexual act," necessarily constitute "physical injury" within the meaning of section 1346(b)(2)—defies the FTCA's language and structure. The court also concluded separately that Congress's inclusion of the term "sexual act" in the 2013 amendment to section 1346(b)(2) implies an intention to exclude the conduct of the sort that plaintiff has alleged—"sexual contact." Therefore, plaintiff has failed to satisfy section 1346(b)(2) and his claim does not fall into the category of cases with respect to which the government has waived its sovereign immunity under the FTCA. The court noted that it does not for a moment condone the corrections officers' alleged misconduct, but rather condemned it in the strongest possible terms. View "Johnson v. White" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
by
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A) motion for compassionate release based on her medical conditions of lupus, scleroderma, hypertension, glaucoma, and past cases of bronchitis and sinus infections, which she argued put her at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in deciding that defendant's medical conditions were not "extraordinary and compelling reasons" to grant compassionate release. Furthermore, the district court considered the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors and section 1B1.13 n.1, which further contributes to the court's holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. The court explained that regardless of whether the district court was required to consider USSG 1B1.13 n.1, it did so. In this case, the district court's order makes clear that it independently considered whether defendant's reasons were "extraordinary and compelling" under section 3582(c)(1)(A), and then separately and "[m]oreover" considered and rejected her reasons in light of section 1B1.13 n.1. View "United States v. Harris" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief to petitioner, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Petitioner claims that since he was restrained without adequate and on-the-record justification by the district court, his trial counsel should have objected and that the failure to object constituted inadequate assistance.The court concluded that, even if Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1 (2012), could excuse petitioner's procedural default, he has failed to show actual prejudice under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), and therefore has not presented a "substantial claim" that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance. In this case, given the strong evidence of his guilt, there is no reasonable probability that the jury seeing petitioner in shackles affected his conviction. Nor is there any reasonable probability that seeing petitioner in shackles affected the jury's decision to recommend the death penalty. View "Clark v. Commissioner, Alabama Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff, a dermatologist in Atlanta, Georgia, has filed many appeals in the Eleventh Circuit in recent years, all of which have involved her attempts to receive in-network payments despite being an out-of-network provider. These consolidated appeals arise from plaintiff's treatment of two patients who were insured under two separate employee welfare benefit plans which are administered by United. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) covers both plans.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's cases against Coca-Cola and Delta (defendants). The court concluded that, even assuming that waiver is available in the ERISA context, defendants did not waive their ability to assert the anti-assignment provisions as a defense. Furthermore, regardless of waiver, plaintiff's lawsuit still fails to state a claim: United paid her in full, both under the terms of the patients' assignments and the provisions of the healthcare plans. View "Griffin v. Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA
by
The Chapter 7 trustee for the bankruptcy estates of Atherotech Inc. and Atherotech Holdings, appeals the dismissal of his complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. After removal from Alabama state court, the district court applied the doctrine of derivative jurisdiction articulated in Lambert Run Coal Co. v. Baltimore & O.R. Co., 258 U.S. 377, 382 (1922), and ruled that because the state court did not have personal jurisdiction over defendants under Alabama's long-arm statute, it too lacked personal jurisdiction. The district court concluded that the trustee could not rely on Bankruptcy Rule 7004(d) (which looks to a defendant's national contacts and permits nationwide service of process) to establish personal jurisdiction. The district court also denied as futile the trustee's motion to transfer the case.The Eleventh Circuit reversed and concluded that the trustee did not waive his right to appeal the district court's dismissal of MidCap for lack of personal jurisdiction by failing to name MidCap in the amended complaint because amendment would have been futile. Under the circumstances of this case, the trustee did not waive his right to appeal the district court's dismissal of Mid Cap from the original complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction.The court also concluded that the doctrine of derivative jurisdiction does not apply to removed cases in which the state court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants. The court explained that the district court could exercise jurisdiction following removal notwithstanding the state court's lack of personal jurisdiction over defendants under Alabama's long-arm statute. The court reasoned that the district court could look to Bankruptcy Rule 7004(d) to decide whether personal jurisdiction existed. Furthermore, the district court could consider the trustee's alternative request for a transfer to the Southern District of New York pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1406 even if there was no personal jurisdiction over defendants under Alabama's long-arm statute. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Reynolds v. Behrman Capital IV L.P." on Justia Law