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

Articles Posted in Business Law
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The case in question concerns the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit's decision on whether Ibrahim Almagarby and his company, Microcap Equity Group, LLC, violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by buying and selling securities without registering as a "dealer". Almagarby was a so-called “toxic” lender who bought the convertible debt of penny-stock companies, converted the debt into common stock at a discount, and then sold the stock in high volumes. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil action against Almagarby, alleging that his conduct constituted dealing, which required registration. The district court ruled in favor of the SEC, ordered Almagarby to disgorge all profits, and permanently enjoined him from future securities law violations and participation in penny-stock offerings.On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit upheld the district court’s ruling that Almagarby was acting as an unregistered “dealer” in violation of the Exchange Act, but found that the district court abused its discretion by imposing a penny-stock ban. The court determined that Almagarby’s high volume of transactions, quick turnaround of sales, and the fact that his entire business relied on flipping penny stocks qualified him as a dealer under the Exchange Act. However, the court ruled that the district court overstepped in enjoining Almagarby from future participation in penny-stock offerings as his actions were not egregious enough to warrant such a bar. The court also rejected Almagarby's claim that the SEC's action violated his due process rights, noting that the Commission did not rely on a novel enforcement theory that contradicted longstanding agency guidance. The court affirmed in part and reversed in part, upholding the judgment against Almagarby but striking down the penny-stock ban. View "Securities and Exchange Commission v. Almagarby" on Justia Law

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In the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the Court reviewed a case involving the estates of two patients who passed away after undergoing liposuction procedures at CJL Healthcare, LLC in Georgia. After the patients' deaths, their estates filed lawsuits against the clinic and its doctor. The clinic's insurer, Prime Insurance Co., defended the clinic under a reservation of rights but ultimately withdrew its defense after the costs of defending the lawsuits exhausted the insurance coverage.The estates of the patients and the clinic then filed a lawsuit against the insurers, Prime Insurance Co., Prime Holdings Insurance Services, and Evolution Insurance Brokers, claiming they had breached their duties, contract, and acted negligently. They also claimed the insurers had unlawfully sold surplus lines insurance. The district court dismissed the case, and the plaintiffs appealed.The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's decision. The Court held that the policy unambiguously provided a $50,000 limit for a single professional liability claim and a $100,000 aggregate limit for all claims. The Court further held that the insurers' duty to defend the clinic ended when the policy limits were exhausted by payment of damages and claim expenses. The Court also affirmed the district court's finding that the Georgia Surplus Lines Insurance Act did not provide a private cause of action for the unauthorized sale of surplus lines insurance. View "Jumlist v. Prime Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reviewed the decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia regarding a dispute over the enforceability of a restrictive covenant in Georgia. The plaintiff, Charles Baldwin, had worked for various franchisees of Express Oil Change, LLC, and was asked to sign a restrictive covenant as a condition of receiving a payment after the franchisees' stores were sold to Express. The covenant restricted Baldwin from engaging in certain competitive business activities for a specified duration and within a specified geographic area. After leaving Express, Baldwin sued, seeking a declaration that the covenant was unenforceable under the Georgia Restrictive Covenants Act (GRCA). The district court preliminarily enjoined the enforcement of the covenant, finding it unreasonable in terms of its geographic scope and duration. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit found that the district court correctly concluded that the covenant's geographic scope was unreasonable under the GRCA, but that it applied the wrong presumption in concluding that the covenant's duration was unreasonable. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, dismissed the appeal in part, and remanded the case to the district court for reconsideration of its preliminary injunction under the proper presumptions. View "Baldwin v. Express Oil Change, LLC" on Justia Law

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In the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, a group of Florida restaurants brought a lawsuit against Sysco Jacksonville, Inc., a food distribution company. The restaurants, which include A1A Burrito Works, Inc., A1A Burrito Works Taco Shop 2, Inc., and Juniper Beach Enterprises, Inc., alleged that Sysco violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) and breached their contracts when Sysco regularly delivered underweight boxes of poultry. The district court dismissed the restaurants' claims, ruling that the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) preempted their state law claims because their claims sought to impose on Sysco labeling requirements that are "in addition to, or different than" the requirements prescribed by federal law.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case for further proceedings. The court agreed with the district court that the restaurants failed to show that their FDUTPA claim was not preempted by the PPIA. However, the court disagreed with the district court's dismissal of the restaurants' breach of contract claim. The court found that this claim, which argued that the restaurants did not receive the amount of poultry they paid for in accordance with their contracts with Sysco, was not preempted because it merely sought to enforce the parties' private agreements regarding the cost and weight of poultry packages and did not amount to a state imposing a labeling requirement inconsistent with federal regulations. View "A1A Burrito Works, Inc., et al v. Sysco Jacksonville, Inc." on Justia Law

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TASER International, Inc., obtained an injunction against “Phazzer [Electronics] and its officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys; and any other persons who are in active concert or participation with Phazzer Electronics or its officers, agents, servants, employees, or attorneys” (the “2017 injunction”). The injunction prohibited Phazzer Electronics from distributing or causing to be distributed certain stun guns and accompanying cartridges that infringed on TASER’s intellectual property. At the time of the TASER-Phazzer Electronics litigation, Steven Abboud controlled Phazzer Electronics, and Phazzer Electronics employed, among others, Defendant. In 2018, after the district court found Abboud in contempt for violating the 2017 injunction, Abboud and Defendant went to work for other entities with “Phazzer” in their names. Based on that activity, the district court found Defendant (and others) in contempt of the 2017 injunction. At issue on appeal is whether the 2017 injunction extended broadly enough to bind Defendant and prohibit her conduct under the theories of liability that the government has pressed and the district court decided   The Eleventh Circuit vacated Defendant’s conviction. The court concluded that the record cannot sustain Defendant’s conviction.  The court explained that the district court did not make factual findings about whether Defendant was a key employee. Nor did it determine whether she so controlled Phazzer Electronics and the litigation that resulted in the 2017 injunction that it would be fair to say she had her day in court on that injunction. View "USA v. Diana Robinson" on Justia Law

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Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Jared Wheat, and Stephen Smith appealed the district court’s denial of their request for relief from contempt sanctions. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued them for violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act, alleging they had misrepresented their weight-loss products to consumers. The agency sought equitable monetary remedies and an injunction against future unlawful trade practices. The district court granted injunctive relief and ordered them to pay $16 million in equitable monetary relief. Years later, the district court found that they had violated the injunction, held them in civil contempt, and ordered them to pay an additional $40 million in contempt sanctions. Before the $40 million contempt judgment was collected, the United States Supreme Court decided AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission. Invoking Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), Defendants returned to the district court to request relief from the contempt judgment, arguing that continued enforcement of the judgment was no longer equitable after AMG. The district court denied the motion.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying relief under Rule 60(b)(5). The court explained that because AMG did not address the district court’s inherent authority to sanction contempt, the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendants’ request for relief under Rule 60(b)(5). Further, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying relief under Rule 60(b)(6). The court reasoned that Defendants have failed to show extraordinary circumstances justifying relief under Rule 60(b)(6). View "Federal Trade Commission v. National Urological Group, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Appellant informed the court that its case was moot and that it had been moot at the time of our decision. Appellee has since confirmed that had dissolved its limited liability company seven weeks before we decided the case, thereby eliminating any possibility of redress. The Eleventh Circuit, thus, granted Appellant’s motion to dismiss the appeal. The panel vacated its March 31, 2023 order staying the issuance of the mandate. View "Deborah Laufer v. Arpan LLC" on Justia Law

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Two companies filed a lawsuit in federal court against two of their former employees, who had served in executive positions. The former executives responded by suing the companies in Florida state court. They later moved for summary judgment in the federal action. While that motion was pending, the companies moved for a voluntary dismissal without prejudice of their federal action, which the executives opposed. The district court granted the companies’ motion for voluntary dismissal, and it denied the executives’ request for attorney’s fees and costs incurred in defending the federal lawsuit to that point. On remand, the district court again granted the voluntary dismissal. The executives moved to alter or amend that judgment and be awarded fees and costs immediately, which the court denied. The executives appealed.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the district court sufficiently protected the executives from the prejudice of duplicative litigation by essentially inviting them to move for payment of their costs and fees if the companies ever refiled their federal lawsuit. The court adequately explained its reasoning for granting the dismissal without prejudice on that condition. In all aspects of the decision, the court acted within its discretion. View "Emergency Recovery, Inc., et al v. Bryan Hufnagle, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s employee opened, in Plaintiff’s name, a credit card with Chase and ran up tens of thousands of dollars in debt. The employee also illegally accessed Plaintiff’s bank accounts and used them to partially pay off the monthly statements. When she discovered the scheme, Plaintiff reported the fraud to Chase, but Chase refused to characterize the charges as illegitimate. Plaintiff sued Chase under the Fair Credit Reporting Act for not conducting a reasonable investigation into her dispute. The district court granted summary judgment for Chase because it concluded that Chase’s investigation into Plaintiff’s dispute was “reasonable,” as the Act requires.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff hasn’t shown a genuine dispute of fact whether Chase’s conclusion was unreasonable as a matter of law. The court explained that Chase didn’t need to keep investigating. Nor has Plaintiff explained what Chase should have done differently: whom it should have talked to or what documents it should have considered that might have affected its apparent-authority analysis. That omission dooms Plaintiff’s claim because “a plaintiff cannot demonstrate that a reasonable investigation would have resulted in the furnisher concluding that the information was inaccurate or incomplete without identifying some facts the furnisher could have uncovered that establish that the reported information was, in fact, inaccurate or incomplete.” View "Shelly Milgram v. Chase Bank USA, N.A., et al" on Justia Law

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This diversity case arises out of the theft—possibly by a group of third-party contractors—of 1,380 memory cards that belonged to Global Network Management, LTD., and were stored in a data center operated by Centurylink Latin American Solutions, LLC. Global Network sued Centurylink for implied bailment, breach of contract implied in law, and breach of contract implied in fact to hold Centurylink liable for the theft of the memory cards. The district court dismissed all of the claims with prejudice, and Global Network now appeals.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. The court held that the district court correctly dismissed the contract implied in law and contract implied in fact claims. But Global Network plausibly alleged that Centurylink possessed the memory cards at the time of the theft, and as a result, the implied bailment claim survives at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage. The court explained that according to Centurylink, Global Network’s ability to visit the servers means that it did not possess the servers exclusively, and as a result, no bailment relationship was formed. But this argument does not carry the day at this stage of the proceeding, where the standard is plausibility and not probability. The court noted that it does not hold there was an implied bailment as a matter of fact or law; it only held that Global Network plausibly alleged an implied bailment. View "Global Network Management, Ltd. v. CenturyLink Latin American Solutions, LLC" on Justia Law