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Plaintiffs filed suit against state officials in state court, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief entitling them to an enhanced status in the retirement system for Alabama state employees. The state officials removed the action to federal court. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of immunity from suit to defendants, holding that the officials have either waived or forfeited any immunity from suit and that the court lacked jurisdiction to consider their immunity from liability on interlocutory appeal. View "Green v. Graham" on Justia Law

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The panel denied the petition for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc, affirming the panel's January 12, 2018 opinion affirming the district court. In the January opinion, the panel determined that no reasonable fact finder could conclude that the injuries of a killer whale held in captivity, Lolita, presented a "threat of serious harm" sufficient to trigger liability under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The opinion reflected the panel's determination that the law would be better served by announcing the "threat of serious harm" rule, without defining its contours, and allowing district courts the flexibility to apply that rule to future circumstances with which they are presented. The panel held that the January opinion aligned with Congress's intent in drafting the ESA: to prevent extinction. Finally, the panel rejected PETA's alternative argument that the panel's reading of the ESA conflicted with regulatory definitions. View "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Miami Seaquarium" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against employees of the county jail, alleging violation of her constitutional rights when she was detained in jail on suspicion that she was illegally present in the United States. The Eleventh Circuit held that, although the district court accurately determined that the Fourth Amendment governed the analysis in this case, it did not conduct an individualized analysis of each defendant's actions and omissions and whether they were causally related to the alleged violation of plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment and remanded for the district court to conduct an individualized analysis in the first instance. View "Alcocer v. Mills" on Justia Law

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The en banc court remanded this appeal to the panel for further proceedings in light of Sessions v. Dimaya, 584 U.S. ___, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), after the initial panel opinion affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion to vacate her 18 U.S.C. 924(c) conviction and sentence for using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, namely, attempted carjacking. The panel reinstated its prior ruling in Ovalles I insofar as it held that defendant's attempted carjacking conviction qualifies as a crime of violence under section 924(c)(3)(A)'s elements clause. In this case, defendant had by definition attempted to use or threaten force because she attempted to commit a crime that would be violent if completed. Therefore, given that section 924(c)'s elements clause equates an attempted force with actual or threatened force, and that an attempt conviction requires an intent to commit all elements of the completed crime, attempted carjacking qualifies as a crime of violence under section 924(c)(3)(A) as well. View "Orvalles v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The question whether a predicate offense constitutes a "crime of violence" within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(B) should be determined using a conduct-based approach that accounts for the actual, real-world facts of the crime's commission, rather than a categorical approach. The Eleventh Circuit held that, to the extent that its decision in United States v. McGuire, 706 F.3d 1333 (11th Cir. 2013), required use of the categorical approach in making the crime-of-violence determination under section 924(c)(3)(B), it is overruled; as interpreted to embody a conduct-based approach, section 924(c)(3)(B) is not unconstitutionally vague; and, in light of the particular circumstances of its commission, defendant's attempted-carjacking offense was a crime of violence within the meaning of section 924(c)(3)(B). Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Ovalles v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the termination of her housing voucher violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and regulations promulgated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Authority, holding that indictments and evidence of an arrest did not constitute sufficient evidence to support the decision of a public housing authority to terminate housing subsidies provided under Section 8 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1937. View "Yarbrough v. Decatur Housing Authority" on Justia Law

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Objectors challenged a class action settlement between plaintiff and Godiva for claims under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). Over the objections, the district court approved the settlement, class counsel's request for attorney's fees, and an incentive award for plaintiff. The Eleventh Circuit held that class members who objected to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) class settlements but did not opt out were "parties" for purposes of appeal. Determining that Article III standing requirements were satisfied, the court held on the merits that the district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding attorney's fees despite a Rule 23(h) violation; the district court properly assessed the risks faced by the class and the compensation secured by class counsel, and did not abuse its discretion by awarding an above-benchmark percentage of the common fund; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by granting a $10,000 incentive award to plaintiff as class representative. View "Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the partial denial of defendant's motion to dismiss the amended complaint by the estate of Marquette F. Cummings Jr. After Cummings was stabbed by a fellow inmate and subsequently died at the hospital the next day, his estate filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that defendant, a prison warden, violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution by illegally interfering with Cummings's end-of-life medical care with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The district court held that defendant was not entitled to qualified immunity. The court held that defendant's alleged actions, including the entry of a do not resuscitate order and the decision to remove plaintiff from artificial life support, did not fall within the scope of his discretionary authority. The court held that Alabama law established that defendant's discretionary authority did not extend to such actions and thus he was not entitled to qualified immunity. Finally, the court lacked jurisdiction to consider whether the amended complaint stated a claim and the court's jurisdiction was exhausted under the collateral order doctrine. View "The Estate of Marquette F. Cummings Jr. v. Davenport" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the Bankruptcy Court's order dismissing a fraudulent conveyance claim by the trustee of the liquidating trust of Teltronics against Harris and RPX. The court held that the Bankruptcy Court made no material error in ruling on the admissibility of evidence, and there was no error in the conclusion that the trustee failed to prove that Teltronics was insolvent at the time of the transfer. In this case, having accepted that the value of the assets listed on the balance sheet, as presented by an expert who testified for the trustee, was incomplete without the inclusion of the value of the three maintenance contracts, the burden was on the trustee to prove that the value of those contracts was so small as to leave the expert's opinion as to insolvency unaffected. The trustee offered no such evidence. Therefore, the court did not reach the lower courts' decisions and dismissed the cross-appeals as moot. View "O'Halloran v. Harris Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for writ of habeas corpus as untimely. The court held that, for purposes of AEDPA and federal habeas review, the relevant judgment in this case was the 2010 criminal judgment authorizing petitioner's confinement for a period of 25 years in the Florida Department of Corrections. In this case, petitioner's judgment was final under Florida law and the entirety of the state appellate review process was complete when the First District Court of Appeal issued its decision. Therefore, petitioner's judgment was final for purposes of triggering AEDPA’s limitations period on November 6, 2012 and the section 2254 petitioner was untimely because it was filed almost two years later in October 2015. View "Chamblee v. Florida" on Justia Law