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

by
Former President Donald J. Trump brought a civil action seeking an injunction against the government after it executed a search warrant at his Mar-a-Lago residence. He argues that a court-mandated special master review process is necessary because the government’s Privilege Review Team protocols were inadequate because various seized documents are protected by the executive or attorney-client privilege because he could have declassified documents or designated them as personal rather than presidential records, and—if all that fails—because the government’s appeal was procedurally deficient. The government disagrees with each contention.   At issue on appeal is whether the district court had the power to hear the case. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction in this case. For that reason, the court vacated the September 5 order on appeal and remanded with instructions for the district court to dismiss the underlying civil action. The court explained that it cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can it write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so. Either approach would be a radical reordering of the court’s caselaw limiting the federal courts’ involvement in criminal investigations. And both would violate bedrock separation-of-powers limitations. View "Donald J. Trump v. USA" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff as pulled over by a deputy of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office for erratic driving. During the stop, the deputy noticed an open container of beer and decided to issue a warning citation. The deputy wrote—but never delivered—the ticket. Instead, a few minutes into the stop, he ordered Plaintiff out of the truck so he could walk his drug-sniffing dog around the vehicle. Plaintiff resisted the deputy’s commands verbally and then physically. The deputy arrested him for obstruction and Plaintiff suffered minor injuries. His truck was searched, but no drugs were found. The obstruction charge was later dismissed. A couple years after this encounter, Plaintiff filed claims against the deputy and the Jackson County Sheriff under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and Florida common law.   The Eleventh Circuit vacated he district court’s summary judgment on the Section 1983 claim against the deputy, but only with respect to the issue of whether the deputy unlawfully prolonged the traffic stop in violation of Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights. The court also vacated the district court’s summary judgment on the false imprisonment claim against both the deputy and the Jackson County Sheriff, but only with respect to the issues of whether the deputy tortiously detained Plaintiff by (1) unlawfully prolonging the traffic stop and (2) arresting Plaintiff without probable cause. The court affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in all other respects. View "Michael Baxter v. Louis Roberts, III, et al." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs sued Defendants, alleging that the title of Defendants’ series, MTV Floribama Shore, infringes on Plaintiffs’ Flora-Bama trademarks. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants. Plaintiffs timely appealed.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment for Defendants. The court explained that the titles are not being used as trademarks to identify and distinguish the source of the artistic works. Plaintiffs have presented no evidence that any of these titles to the third parties’ artistic works have any source-identifying function. Because these titles are not being used as trademarks, this is not a title-versus-title case for purposes of the Rogers footnote. Further, Plaintiffs have not provided any evidence that they own interests in those artistic works as trademarks for Plaintiffs’ own goods or services—the foundation of trademark rights. Indeed, nothing in the record would allow a reasonable jury to conclude that the public views Plaintiffs as the source of these artistic works. Moreover, Plaintiffs’ claims are premised on alleged confusion with Plaintiffs’ commercial establishments, not with any artistic works purportedly owned by Plaintiffs. As Defendants note, Plaintiffs’ complaint did not claim rights in or allege any confusion relating to any artistic work, and Plaintiffs’ cease-and-desist letter did not mention any artistic works. View "MGFB Properties, Inc., et al. v. 495 Productions Holdings LLC, et al." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff a veteran currently imprisoned by the state of Florida, sued prison and state officials under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, alleging that they violated his rights under Section 5301 by taking his VA benefits from his inmate account to satisfy liens and holds stemming from medical, legal, and copying expenses he had incurred in prison. Plaintiff also sought to enjoin a Florida administrative rule requiring that inmates have their VA benefits sent directly to their inmate accounts for prison officials to honor the funds’ protected status, which Plaintiff contended violates Section 5301, thereby running afoul of the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. After dismissing some of Defendants, the district court granted qualified immunity to those remaining. It also found that Plaintiff lacked standing to challenge Florida’s administrative rule.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court held that Plaintiff lacks standing because he has failed to show a “real” and “immediate” threat of future injury from complying with the Florida Direct Deposit Rule, pointing only to injuries in the distant past. Although it appears that Plaintiff initially suffered concrete harm when he transitioned to keeping two addresses on file with the VA (i.e., receiving VA checks several months late in the spring of 2013), that harm occurred only in the immediate aftermath of the address change—over nine years ago. Thus the court held that because Plaintiff has not shown a “real or immediate threat” of future injury from keeping two addresses to comply with Florida’s administrative rule, he lacks standing to challenge it. View "John David Wilson, Jr. v. Secretary, Department of Corrections, et al" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff is a U.S. citizen and a U.S. national as that term is defined in 22 U.S.C. Section 6023(15). He claims to be the “rightful owner of an 82.5% interest in certain commercial waterfront real property in the Port of Santiago de Cuba,” identified by the Cuban government as La Marítima and Terminal Naviera. At issue on appeal is whether Plaintiff has Article III standing to assert his claims against Carnival and Royal Caribbean, and if so, whether those claims have merit.   The Eleventh Circuit concluded that Plaintiff has standing to assert his Title III claims, but that those claims fail on the merits. The court, therefore, affirmed the district court’s grant of judgment on the pleadings in favor of Carnival and Royal Caribbean. The court explained that the claims fail under Section 6082(a)(4)(B) of the Act because the Cuban government confiscated La Marítima prior to March 12, 1996, and because Plaintiff acquired his interest in the property through inheritance after that date. View "Javier Garcia-Bengochea v. Carnival Corporation" on Justia Law

by
The Trump administration announced that it would not suspend the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (known as the “Helms-Burton Act”) for the first time since its enactment in 1996. Shortly after this announcement, the cause of action created by Title III of the Helms-Burton Act became fully effective in U.S. courts. Plaintiffs in this case Title III against several entities that own and operate travel websites, including Booking.com BV and Booking Holdings, Inc. (the Booking Entities), and Expedia Group, Inc., Hotels.com L.P., Hotels.com GP, and Orbitz, LLC (the Expedia Entities). Plaintiffs alleged that they are U.S. nationals and living heirs to separate beach-front properties nationalized by the Cuban government after the 1959 revolution According to the complaint, the Booking Entities and Expedia Entities trafficked in those properties on their travel booking websites.   The district court dismissed Plaintiffs’ Title III claims without leave to amend, ruling that it lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants under the relevant provisions of Florida’s longarm statute. The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded. The court explained that based on the uncontroverted allegations in the complaint, the district court has specific personal jurisdiction over the Booking Entities and Expedia Entities pursuant to Fla. Stat. Section 48.193(1)(a)(2), and the exercise of such jurisdiction does not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiffs also have plausibly alleged Article III standing. View "Mario Del Valle, et al. v. Trivago GMBH, et al." on Justia Law

by
On March 26, 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida suspended all grand jury sessions in response to the pandemic. On August 28, 2020, while the administrative order suspending grand jury sessions was still in effect, the government filed a sealed two-count information against B.G.G. The information charged B.G.G. with conspiring to accept kickbacks for prescribing opioids from August 2012 through August 31, 2015, in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 371, and with soliciting and receiving kickbacks for prescribing opioids on August 31, 20   The question in this case is whether the district court abused its limited discretion when it granted “leave” to dismiss the information against B.G.G. with prejudice. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court’s order. The court explained that although “a dismissal under rule 48(a) does not bar a subsequent prosecution,” it also “does not impair the protection afforded by the statute of limitations.” If the grand jury later indicts B.G.G., he can still raise a statute of limitations defense. The court explained it need not pass on the statute of limitations issue and do not determine whether the sealed information was instituted within the meaning of section 3282(a). The court only concluded that the district court erred in not applying the “leave” requirements for dismissing an information under rule 48(a). The court vacated the dismissal order and remand to the district court for further proceedings. View "USA v. B.G.G." on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
In January 2020, Plaintiff sued Iberostar under the Helms-Burton Act, which grants the right to sue companies trafficking in property confiscated by the Cuban government. Plaintiff claims that Cuba seized her family’s hotel in 1961 and that Iberostar and the Cuban government now operate the hotel together.Iberostar successfully sought a stay of the proceedings, citing a regulation that prohibits participation in Helms-Burton suits—on pain of a fine that could reach 600,000 euros. Two years have passed since the stay, and Plaintiff sought to lift the stay. The district court denied her request.On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's decision, vacated the stay, and remanded the case with instructions it proceed. The court noted that the stay was indefinite and that the European Union agency tasked with resolving the matter has no timeline for its decision. As a result, the court concluded that the stay is immoderate and must be vacated. View "Maria Dolores Canto Marti v. Iberostar Hoteles Y Apartamentos SL" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff, an Alabama prisoner, brought this 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 action alleging long delays in his receipt of treatment for hernias and for post-surgery complications. In his pro se third amended complaint, Plaintiff asserted claims of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs against: (1) Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”), a private contractor that provides health care services for Alabama inmates; (2) Kay Ivey, the Governor of Alabama; and (3) Jefferson Dunn, the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections.The district court (1) granted summary judgment in favor of Wexford and (2) dismissed Roy’s complaint against Governor Ivey and Commissioner Dunn for failure to state a claim.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, finding that only one of several statements from other inmates that Plaintiff presented satisfied the requirements of 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1746 because the other statements were only presented as "affidavits" and did not mention the statement was “true and correct” and was made “under penalty of perjury." Considering Plaintiff's remaining evidence, the Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not err in entering judgment in favor of Defendants. View "Larry Roy v. Kay Ivy, et al." on Justia Law

by
Intervenor is a former commercial pilot who now flies a small Cessna jet for his own personal use. The intervenor landed his Cessna at the Lantana Airport. A Palm Beach County ordinance prohibits “pure turbo-jet aircraft” and cargo-carrying aircraft that weigh more than 12,500 pounds from using Lantana Airport, and Palm Beach County enforces the ordinance in a way that actually bans all jets, not just the “pure turbo” variety. The intervenor complained to the Federal Aviation Administration that the ordinance’s jet restriction violated a grant assurance the County had made to the FAA in exchange for federal airport improvement money. The FAA agreed with the Intervenor and ordered the County to rescind the restriction. The County and the City of Atlantis, which borders Lantana Airport, have petitioned us for review of the FAA’s final agency decision.   The Eleventh Circuit denied the petition for review. The court explained that the FAA has exclusive authority over our national navigable airspace, which means it’s responsible for “developing plans and policy . . . necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use” of that space. It “may modify or revoke an assignment of airspace when required in the public interest.” As long as any change in the FAA’s position on an airport restriction isn’t based on an impermissible bias, it has the authority to make that change. The Associate Administrator’s conclusion that Lantana Airport’s jet restriction violates Grant Assurance wasn’t arbitrary and capricious but instead was supported by substantial evidence. View "Palm Beach County, et al. v. Federal Aviation Administration" on Justia Law