Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Business Law
Highpoint Tower Technology Inc. v. Commissioner
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the tax court's order denying taxpayer's motion to restrain collection to the extent it related to the gross valuation-misstatement penalty. At issue was whether, under the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), a tax court presiding over partner-level deficiency proceedings has jurisdiction over a gross valuation-misstatement penalty previously determined to be applicable at the partnership level where the partnership was determined to be a "sham" and "lacking economic substance." The court held that the Internal Revenue Code, as in effect during the relevant time, applicable regulations, and Supreme Court precedent make clear that the valuation-misstatement penalty at issue here relates to an adjustment to a partnership item and, consequently, is explicitly excluded from the tax court's deficiency jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court held that the tax court presiding over partner-level deficiency proceedings does not have jurisdiction over gross valuation misstatement penalties imposed against a partnership previously determined to be a "sham" and "lacking economic substance." View "Highpoint Tower Technology Inc. v. Commissioner" on Justia Law
Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. HBS International Corp.
Hi-Tech filed suit alleging that the label of a protein-powder supplement distributed by HBS misled customers about the quantity and quality of protein in each serving, violating both the Georgia Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the federal Lanham Act. The district court dismissed the complaint. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the state law claim because it was preempted by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FDCA). However, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the Lanham Act claim, and rejected HBS's arguments that the FDCA barred the claim under the Lanham Act. In this case, Hi-Tech's Lanham Act claim would only require a court to determine whether the protein-content representations on the HexaPro label were misleading to consumers in the context of the label's failure to specify the sources of the nitrogen measured by the federal test. Therefore, this inquiry would not require a court to interpret or apply the FDCA to determine whether or not the marketing of the supplement was deceptive. View "Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. HBS International Corp." on Justia Law
Cableview Communications of Jacksonville, Inc. v. Time Warner Cable Southeast, LLC
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Time Warner in an action brought by Cableview seeking to recover a payment it made to Time Warner based on a disputed indemnity claim. The court held that there were two disputed issues of fact regarding whether Time Warner initially gave its consent to the Installation Agreement assignment through its director of technical operations and whether Time Warner entered into new vendor contracts with FTS, which it later revoked, that made formal assignment of the Installation Agreement unnecessary. The court held, however, that these disputed issues were not material and that a reasonable jury could not find for Cableview on duress. The court also held that the settlement agreement contained sufficiently definite terms and that Cableview could not succeed on its other claims despite the settlement. View "Cableview Communications of Jacksonville, Inc. v. Time Warner Cable Southeast, LLC" on Justia Law
Posted in: Business Law
Yellowfin Yachts, Inc. v. Barker Boatworks, LLC
Yellowfin filed suit against Barker Boatworks and Kevin Barker, alleging claims for trade dress infringement and false designation of origin under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, common law unfair competition, common law trade dress infringement, and violation of Florida's Uniform Trade Secret Act (FUTSA). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants. The court, weighing the likelihood of confusion factors holistically, held that the district court did not err in holding that Yellowfin could not, as a matter of law, prove a likelihood of confusion between Barker Boatworks' trade dress and its own. Therefore, the court held that the district court properly rejected the rest of Yellowfin's claims related to trade dress and consumer confusion. The court rejected Yellowfin's claims under FUTSA and held that Yellowfin failed to show that Barker allegedly misappropriated Source Information and Customer Information trade secrets. View "Yellowfin Yachts, Inc. v. Barker Boatworks, LLC" on Justia Law
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation v. Loudermilk
The Eleventh Circuit certified the following question to the Supreme Court of Georgia: 1) Whether Georgia's apportionment statute, O.C.G.A. 51-12-33, applies to tort claims for purely pecuniary losses against bank directors and officers; 2) whether section 51-12-33 abrogated Georgia's common-law rule imposing joint and several liability on tortfeasors who act in concert; and 3) whether, in a negligence action premised upon the negligence of individual board members in their decisionmaking processes, a decision of a bank's board of directors is a "concerted action" such that the board members should be held jointly and severally liable for negligence. View "Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation v. Loudermilk" on Justia Law
Federal Trade Comm’r v. Universal Processing Services of Wisconsin, LLC
In 2011 and 2012, a number of individuals and closely held corporations known as Treasure Your Success (TYS) operated a fraudulent credit card interest reduction scheme. Universal Processing Services of Wisconsin, LLC (Universal) violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), 16 C.F.R. 310.1 et seq., by providing substantial assistance to the TYS schemers. The district court found that a violation of the TSR constitutes an “unfair or deceptive act or practice” in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. As such, the district court was authorized to order restitution and disgorgement. Furthermore, the court clarified that substantial assistance under the TSR was itself sufficient to justify joint and several liability. The court reaffirmed its order holding Universal jointly and severally liable; Universal contended that was error and joint and several liability can only lie where the defendant is a participant in a common enterprise with the primary violators. The Eleventh Circuit concluded after review the district court did not abuse its discretion in holding Universal jointly and severally liable with the members of the TYS scheme. View "Federal Trade Comm'r v. Universal Processing Services of Wisconsin, LLC" on Justia Law
Savannah College of Art and Design, Inc. v. Sportswear, Inc.
SCAD appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Sportswear in an action where SCAD asserted a number of claims against Sportswear, including service mark infringement under 15 U.S.C. 1114; unfair competition and false designation of origin under 15 U.S.C. 1125; and unfair competition under O.C.G.A. 10-1-372. The Eleventh Circuit reversed, holding that this case did not involve the alleged infringement of a common-law trademark, and as a result the date of SCAD's first use of its marks on goods was not determinative. Therefore, Boston Prof’l Hockey Ass’n, Inc. v. Dallas Cap & Emblem Mfg., Inc., 510 F.2d 1004 (5th Cir. 1975), controls, as it extends to protection for federally-registered service marks to goods. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Savannah College of Art and Design, Inc. v. Sportswear, Inc." on Justia Law
Quality Auto Painting Center of Roselle, Inc. v. State Farm Indemnity Co.
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
Kardash v. Commissioner of IRS
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the Tax Court's determination that petitioner was liable as a transferee under 26 U.S.C. 6901 for his former employer's unpaid taxes. Because the state substantive law in this case does not require exhaustion for liability to exist, the court held that the Commissioner was not required to exhaust remedies against the company before proceeding against petitioner as a transferee. In this case, applying Florida law, the court held that petitioner could not definitively prove that the Dividend Payments were a part of his employment with FECP and because he did not raise any other argument for why FECP might have received reasonably equivalent value even if the dividends were not compensation, the court must conclude that they were dividends for which FECP did not receive reasonably equivalent value. As such, the court affirmed the Tax Court's determination that the reasonable-value element of constructive fraud under the Florida Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act was satisfied for all of the Dividend Payments. When considered together, those dividend payments were substantial enough for the Tax Court to conclude that they led to the insolvency of FECP. View "Kardash v. Commissioner of IRS" on Justia Law
ADT LLC v. Northstar Alarm Services, LLC
ADT filed suit against Vision Security for violations of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a). The parties agreed to an injunction prohibiting Vision Security from using certain sales tactics. NorthStar Alarm then acquired customer accounts, rental leases, and other assets from Vision Security and hired four senior officers and some of the sales team from Vision Security. ADT moved to hold NorthStar in contempt of the injunction when NorthStar allegedly used sales tactics prohibited by the injunction. The court concluded that NorthStar cannot be bound by the injunction when it is not in privity with Vision Security and in the absence of any evidence that it had notice of the injunction. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment holding otherwise. View "ADT LLC v. Northstar Alarm Services, LLC" on Justia Law
Posted in: Business Law