Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's denial of motions for discovery because the jurisdictional facts in this case were genuinely in dispute and there was no undue delay by the ACLU. In this case, the ACLU twice asked for jurisdictional discovery on a state law enforcement officer's status, but both requests were denied. The court held that the district court erred when it completely denied the ACLU any opportunity to inquire into the capacity in which the officer created, submitted, and/or maintained the requested documents, a fact which implicated both the merits of the ACLU's claim and the district court's jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1). Furthermore, the interrogatories propounded by the district court did not render this error harmless. Given the limited record, this was a factual inconsistency the district court should not have resolved solely on the papers. View "American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Inc. v. City of Sarasota" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Conservationists filed suit under the Clean Water Act and Florida law, challenging the Corps' decisions about when and how to release water from certain locks along the Okeechobee Waterway. The district court dismissed the complaint based on the Corps' sovereign immunity. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(b) required the dismissal of this case regardless of whether the court agreed with the Water District's sequencing argument on cross-appeal or the Corps' sovereign immunity argument. The court need not reach those matters because the Water District was an indispensable party under Rule 19(b) and thus the action may not proceed without the Water District. View "Florida Wildlife Federation Inc. v. US Army Corps of Engineers" on Justia Law

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Federal tobacco laws do not preempt state tort claims based on the dangerousness of all the cigarettes manufactured by the tobacco companies. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the jury verdicts of negligence and strict liability in Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc., 945 So. 2d 1246 (Fla. 2006) (Engle III), and decertified the class to allow individual actions about the remaining issues. In this case, R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris challenged the jury verdict against them in one of the individual actions. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed its holding in Walker v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 734 F.3d 1278 (11th Cir. 2013), and concluded that giving full faith and credit to the Engle jury findings of negligence and strict liability does not deprive R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris of property without due process of law, and that federal law does not preempt the Engle jury findings. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgments against R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris. View "Graham v. R.J Reynolds Tobacco" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a motion to compel post-judgment discovery over ten years after a money judgment was entered against defendant in a suit filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq. The Eleventh Circuit certified the following question to the Florida Supreme Court: What limitations period, if any, applies to a request for post-judgment discovery brought in federal district court in Florida on a judgment entered by that same federal district court? View "Salinas v. Ramsey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Plaintiffs filed a class action in state court against insurance companies, alleging a variety of state law violations including breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unconscionability, unjust enrichment, negligence, and bad faith. The insurance companies subsequently sought permission to appeal the district court's order remanding plaintiffs' class action to state court. The court concluded that there was no minimal diversity supporting federal jurisdiction because all of the plaintiffs and all of the defendants were citizens of Georgia. Accordingly, the court denied the petition. View "Life of the South Insurance Co. v. Carzell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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In December 2011, Purchasing Power filed suit against Bluestem in Georgia state court. Bluestem, a citizen of Minnesota and Delaware, sought to remove the case to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. Burr & Forman (B&F) was the law firm representing Purchasing Power. In 2014, the district court granted summary judgment for Bluestem. On appeal, this court noted that the pleadings did not allege Purchase Power's citizenship. B&F had failed to realize, and no one bothered to investigate, that Falcon, one of the LLCs, did not own an interest in Holdings directly. This missing piece of information was essential in destroying diversity jurisdiction because Falcon was incorporated in Delaware, of which Bluestem was a citizen. The district court subsequently found that B&F misrepresented to either the district court or Bluestem on five occasions that diversity of citizenship existed. In this appeal, B&F challenged the district court's sanctions order. The court reversed the district court's imposition of sanctions, concluding that, while the requirements of diversity jurisdiction were complicated, no party in this case acted with bad intentions. View "Purchasing Power, LLC v. Bluestem Brands, Inc." on Justia Law

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Thermoset filed a products liability suit in Florida state court against GAF and RSGO. After GAF removed to federal court, the district court granted summary judgment for defendants. Thermoset appealed and shortly afterwards, it became apparent that RSGO was not a diverse party at the time of removal. The court vacated the district court's summary judgment order and remanded with instructions to send this case back to the state court for further proceedings. The court explained that, because RSGO was not a nominal party, its non-diverse citizenship could not be ignored for jurisdictional purposes. And because RSGO was an indispensable party under Rule 19, the court could not preserve jurisdiction over the rest of the case by dismissing RSGO. View "Thermoset Corp. v. Building Materials Corp of America" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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This case involved a contract dispute arising out of the lease of telecommunications equipment by GDG to the Government of Belize. In this appeal, the Government challenged the district court's denial of its motion to dismiss. The court concluded that the Government waived its sovereign immunity. In this case, the Government claimed that the express waiver of sovereign immunity contained in the contract was ineffectual because its Minister of Budget Management, who negotiated and signed the contract on its behalf, lacked the authority to waive sovereign immunity. The court explained that, despite the Minister's claimed lack of authority to bind Belize, the Government ratified the actions by fully performing its contract obligations during the lease term and paying approximately $13.5 million in forty separate payments over a period of nearly six years and spanning two different administrations. Therefore, the court reasoned that the Government's conduct intended it to be bound by the contract and affirmed the district court's denial of the Government's motion to dismiss. View "GDG Acquisitions LLC v. Government of Belize" on Justia Law

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After a jury found CSX solely liable for injuries suffered by an employee of General Mills and awarded the employee damages, CSX filed this action for indemnification from General Mills. The district court dismissed on the ground that the contract between the parties barred indemnification for damages arising from CSX's sole negligence. In reaching this result, the district court applied a federal rule of collateral estoppel to bar relitigation of the relative fault of General Mills for the injury suffered by its employee. The court held, however, that federal common law adopts the state rule of collateral estoppel to determine the preclusive effect of a judgment of a federal court that exercised diversity jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for the district court to determine whether collateral estoppel bars the complaint of CSX for indemnification. The court declined to decide the dispute regarding one element of collateral estoppel as defined by Georgia law: the earlier litigation must have been between identical parties. The court also declined to decide the alternative argument raised by CSX, whether the Sidetrack Agreement requires indemnification assuming CSX was solely at fault. View "CSX Transportation, Inc. v. General Mills, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-appellant Myra Furcron appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Mails Centers Plus, LLC (“MCP”) on Furcron’s claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. In addressing Furcron’s sexual harassment claim, the district court found that Furcron failed to produce sufficient evidence that the alleged harassment was based on sex. On the retaliation claim, the district court found that Furcron failed to demonstrate that she engaged in protected activity and that Defendant’s defense was a pretext for her termination. The Fifth Circuit vacated and remanded in part, and affirmed in part. The Court concluded that questions of fact remained on Furcron's harassment claim. The Court concluded that her allegations with respect to the pretext argument. View "Furcron v. Mail Centers Plus, LLC" on Justia Law