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The money that a homosexual man paid to father children through in vitro fertilization—and in particular, to identify, retain, compensate, and care for the women who served as an egg donor and a gestational surrogate—was not spent "for the purpose of affecting" his body's reproductive "function" within the meaning of I.R.C. 213. In this case, the Eleventh Circuit held that it was constrained by I.R.C. 213's plain language where taxpayer's own function within the human reproductive process was to produce and provide healthy sperm, and because taxpayer was and remained capable of performing that function without the aid of IVF-related treatments, those treatments did not affect any function of his body and did not qualify as deductible "medical care" within the meaning of Section 213(a). The court also held that the IRS's disallowance of taxpayer's claimed deduction neither violated any fundamental right nor discriminated on the basis of any suspect (or quasi-suspect) characteristic. View "Morrissey v. United States" on Justia Law

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A voicemail can, and will, be considered a communication under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692, if the voicemail reveals that the call was from a debt collection company and provides instructions and information to return the call. Meaningful disclosure is provided as long as the caller reveals the nature of the debt collection company's business, which can be satisfied by disclosing that the call is on behalf of a debt collection company, and the name of the debt collection company. In this case, the Eleventh Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against Credit Control, alleging that Credit Control violated the FDCPA not only by failing to provide the required disclosures for initial communications with consumers, but also by failing to provide meaningful disclosure. View "Hart v. Credit Control, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief in a capital case where petitioner was convicted of three murders. The court held that the Florida Supreme Court's decision to exclude evidence related to an alternative perpetrator was neither contrary to nor an unreasonable application of clearly established law and the district court correctly denied relief. In this case, petitioner sought to admit into evidence testimony from a death row inmate who claimed to have received and then destroyed a letter in which the lynchpin witness who put him on death row allegedly confessed to the triple homicide petitioner was accused of. The court explained that it was not hard to understand why the trial court was skeptical of this story. The court also rejected petitioner's claim that counsel was ineffective during the penalty phase of trial. View "Pittman v. Secretary, FL DOC" on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed the district court's denial of his 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion to vacate his 210-month sentence, arguing that he was entitled to resentencing pursuant to Johnson v. United States. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the portion of the district court's judgment determining that petitioner's section 2255 motion was untimely because it raised only a claim pursuant to Descamps v. United States. The court held, however, that the district court's conclusion that petitioner's section 2255 motion also did not assert a Johnson claim was erroneous. On the merits of the Johnson claim, the court held that petitioner failed to prove that but for the residual clause he would have received a different sentence. Accordingly, the court affirmed the denial of the motion. View "Beeman v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a public school teacher, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that she was denied a promotion in violation of her First Amendment right to free speech and intimate association. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity to the school superintendent, holding that the district court defined "clearly established law" at too high a level of generality. In this case, the case law that plaintiff relied upon was not particularized to the facts of the case, but rather it merely set out First Amendment principles at a high level of generality, it was not "apparent" that passing her over for promotion based on things her father said would violate her constitutional rights. Accordingly, the court remanded with instructions to grant the superintendent summary judgment based on qualified immunity as to the section 1983 claims against him. View "Gaines v. Wardynski" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence agents found in an outbuilding adjacent to defendant's main residence while they were executing a warrant for defendant's arrest. The court held that the district court did not err in concluding that the search of the adjacent outbuilding was reasonable for two independent reasons: (1) the search was a reasonable entry pursuant to the arrest warrant; and alternatively (2) the search qualified as a valid protective sweep. Finally, the court held that there was no merit to defendant's newly raised argument that the evidence found in the outbuilding should have been suppressed because the arrest warrant executed at "approximately" 6:00 a.m. was invalid. View "United States v. Williams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this appeal arising from an allegedly defective surgical mesh implant, the Eleventh Circuit certified the following question to the Supreme Court of Texas: In a product liability case, does Texas' discovery rule require a plaintiff to have some knowledge of possible wrongdoing on the part of the manufacturer—i.e., a causal connection between the injury and the manufacturer's conduct—before the plaintiff's claims can accrue? View "Bergin v. Mentor Worldwide LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Products Liability

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When a plaintiff takes inconsistent positions by pursuing in district court a civil claim that he failed to disclose as an asset in his bankruptcy proceedings, a district court may apply judicial estoppel to bar the plaintiff's civil claim if it finds that the plaintiff intended to make a mockery of the judicial system. When determining whether a plaintiff who failed to disclose a civil lawsuit in bankruptcy filings intended to make a mockery of the judicial system, a district court should consider all the facts and circumstances of the case. The Eleventh Circuit reasoned that the court should look to factors such as the plaintiff's level of sophistication, his explanation for the omission, whether he subsequently corrected the disclosures, and any action taken by the bankruptcy court concerning the nondisclosure. The court overruled portions of Barger v. City of Cartersville, 348 F.3d 1289 (11th Cir. 2003), and Burnes v. Pemco Aeroplex, Inc., 291 F.3d 1282 (11th Cir. 2002), that permit a district court to infer intent to misuse the courts without considering the individual plaintiff and the circumstances surrounding the nondisclosure. Accordingly, the court remanded for consideration of whether the district court abused its discretion in light of this new standard. View "Slater v. United Steel Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The Eleventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of five complaints filed by automobile body shops, asserting federal antitrust and state tort claims against insurance companies. The court held that the shops pleaded enough facts to plausibly support their federal antitrust and state tort claims. In this case, the body shops argued that the insurance companies engaged in two lines of tactics in pursuit of a single goal: to depress the shops' rates for automobile repair. The body shops have supplied enough allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of an illegal agreement; the body shops have consistently alleged the existence of parallel conduct and of plus factors allowing a plausible inference of an illegal agreement; and the allegations have sufficiently established the body shops' state tort claims of unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, and tortious interference. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Quality Auto Painting Center of Roselle, Inc. v. State Farm Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

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The plain reading of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) covers discrimination against breastfeeding mothers. Plaintiff filed suit against the police department under the PDA and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) after her reassignment and constructive discharge. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the jury verdict in favor of plaintiff and held that there was sufficient evidence of intentional discrimination when plaintiff was reassigned from the narcotics task force to the patrol division; the denial of accommodations for a breastfeeding employee violated the PDA when it amounted to a constructive discharge; a reasonable person in plaintiff's position would have felt compelled to resign; and the City's remaining arguments were unavailing. View "Hicks v. Tuscaloosa, Alabama" on Justia Law