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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Nationwide appealed both the district court's order denying Nationwide's motion in limine and the final judgment entered in favor of plaintiff, as assignee of Gary Gardner & Gary Gardner Builders, Inc. At issue is the preclusive effect of a judgment entered by a federal court exercising diversity jurisdiction on a nonparty to an earlier federal action.The Eleventh Circuit held that when determining the preclusive effect of an earlier judgment rendered by a federal court exercising diversity jurisdiction, federal common law adopts the rules of issue preclusion applied by the State in which the rendering court sits. In this case, the court held that the district court was required to apply Alabama's rules of issue preclusion. Instead, the district court applied a federal rule of issue preclusion and that federal rule is not substantively similar to Alabama's rule on nonparty issue preclusion. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's order denying Nationwide's motion in limine, vacated the final judgment in favor of plaintiff, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Sellers v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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After the Medical Center suspended plaintiff's medical privileges, plaintiff filed suit against the Medical Center, an injunction against the suspension, and a declaration that the Health Care Quality Improvement Act provided no immunity from damages to the Medical Center.The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's judgment and remanded with instructions to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff contends only that federal question jurisdiction exists over his suit, but a request for declaratory relief that a federal law does not entitle the opposing party to a defense ordinarily does not raise a federal question under 28 U.S.C.1331. The court explained that, because the Declaratory Judgment Act does not enlarge the court's jurisdiction, plaintiff must still assert an underlying ground for federal court jurisdiction. In this case, plaintiff's complaint does not establish that the Medical Center could file a coercive action under federal law. Furthermore, a plaintiff cannot create federal question jurisdiction by seeking a declaration that a federal defense does not protect the defendant. Therefore, plaintiff's request for declaratory judgment does not establish federal question jurisdiction. View "Patel v. Hamilton Medical Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's entry of a bar order barring appellants' claims against the settling appellees based on its conclusion that the bar order was essential to appellees' settlement because the order was essential to facilitating all settlement payments. The court held that the district court abused its discretion in entering the order, because a bar order was not essential to resolving the parties' dispute. In this case, the settling parties would have settled their dispute even without the bar order. View "Securities and Exchange Commission v. Quiros" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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In this multidistrict litigation (MDL), plaintiffs contend that a Colombian paramilitary group killed their family members, and that Chiquita paid the paramilitary group over $1.7 million to quell labor unrest and drive other guerilla groups out of the banana-growing regions of Colombia. All plaintiffs obtained a protective order prohibiting the disclosure of "private facts" that could reveal their identities or personal information.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to revoke the privacy protections, holding that the district court acted within its discretion when it held that plaintiffs failed to meet their necessary burdens. In this case, the district court had ample comparator evidence to support its ruling; the evidence does not compel the finding that litigants pursuing tort claims against a paramilitary-affiliated entity in the United States face similar risks of harm; and the court rejected the idea that the district court's pseudonym ruling conflicts with its forum non conveniens ruling. Furthermore, the district court engaged in balancing sufficient to satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), where it weighed plaintiffs' safety interests against Chiquita's interests in administrative feasibility. View "Carrizosa v. Chiquita Brands International, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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Plaintiffs, Charles and Myra Corley, filed suit in state court against dozens of companies that allegedly supplied products containing asbestos that caused Charles's malignant mesothelioma. After removal to federal court, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation then transferred the suit to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which eventually returned it to the Northern District of Alabama. After the Northern District of Alabama granted plaintiffs' motion to voluntarily dismiss the last two companies in the suit, plaintiffs then sought review of an order entered by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denying their motion to reconsider a partial summary judgment in favor of several companies. In the motion, plaintiffs argued for the first time that the district court should apply maritime law, not state law, to determine the merits of their claims.The Eleventh Circuit held that an order granting a voluntary dismissal without prejudice is a final order; the court has territorial jurisdiction to review an interlocutory decision by an out-of-circuit district court that merged into the final judgment of a district court in this circuit; and plaintiffs have standing to appeal from the final judgment accompanying an order granting the motion for a voluntary dismissal. Finally, the court affirmed the judgment against plaintiffs, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to allow plaintiffs to argue that a different substantive law governed their complaint at this late stage in the litigation. View "Corley v. Long-Lewis, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal based on lack of standing of this action for damages under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act and remanded with instructions for the district court to dismiss the complaint with prejudice. The court held that the Addendum (but not the Nunc Pro Tunc Assignment) is impermissible parol evidence; although the Nunc Pro Tunc Assignment could create standing on the basis of retroactive assignment of claims, plaintiffs did not receive any rights under it; and the court declined to consider whether the Recovery Agreement by itself equitably assigned plaintiffs HFHP's rights under the Act because plaintiffs did not assert this argument before the district court. View "MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC v. QBE Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to pursue their claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Plaintiffs alleged that collection letters were misleading and unfair in falsely suggesting that they could be sued or that the debt could be reported to credit-rating agencies. The court wrote that plaintiffs seek to recover for representations that they contend were misleading or unfair, but without proving even that they relied on the representations, much less that the reliance caused them any damages. View "Trichell v. Midland Credit Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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Thirty-nine plaintiffs—two American and thirty-seven foreign—filed suit agianst Citigroup, claiming that fraudulent cash advances lured them into investing in or contracting with Oceanografía and that either Citigroup or Oceanografía knowingly misrepresented Oceanografía's financial stability.The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of Citigroup's motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens, holding that the district court did not apply the deference owed to the domestic plaintiffs, and it erred in weighing the Gulf Oil private interest factors as to all the plaintiffs because Citigroup did not satisfy its burden. In this case, the court held that the district court mistakenly gave only "reduced" deference to the domestic plaintiffs' choice of forum. The court also held that Citigroup—which had the burden of persuasion—did not support its claims that most of the relevant documents and witnesses are located in Mexico. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings, including consideration of the United States' interests under the public interest factors. View "Otto Candies, LLC v. Citigroup, Inc." on Justia Law

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After injuring her foot on a rug while onboard a Carnival ship, plaintiff filed suit against Carnival in both state and federal court, seeking damages for the injuries she allegedly suffered onboard the ship. In this case, plaintiff entered into a contract with Carnival that contained a forum-selection clause.Under the forum-selection clause's plain language, when jurisdiction for a claim could lie in federal district court, federal court is the only option for a plaintiff. The court held that plaintiff's claim for negligence at sea falls well within the walls of the federal court's admiralty jurisdiction. Even without explicitly invoking admiralty jurisdiction, the court held that plaintiff's complaint is subject to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(h)'s provision rendering her claim an admiralty or maritime claim. View "DeRoy v. Carnival Corp." on Justia Law

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After the district court upheld third-party counterclaim defendants' removal of this case from Alabama state court, the Supreme Court issued Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. v. Jackson, 139 S. Ct. 1743 (2019), which held that third-party counterclaim defendants cannot remove a "civil action" under 28 U.S.C. 1441(c).The Eleventh Circuit held that Home Depot makes the holding in Carl Heck Engineers, Inc. v. Lafourche Parish Police Jury, 622 F.2d 133 (5th Cir. 1980), no longer good law. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's denial of third-party counterclaim plaintiffs Philip and Jennie Bowling's motion to remand, which was based in substantial part on Carl Heck. The court explained that the analysis in Home Depot leaves no doubt that, even if Carl Heck involves section 1441(c), it is no longer good law because it is impossible to read the statute as a whole and conclude that the same term in sections 1441(a) and 1441(c) has different meanings. Furthermore, section 1441(c) does not provide for removal jurisdiction of the Bowlings' claims against the third-party counterclaim defendants here because section 1441(a) is the operative clause that authorizes removal, and section 1441(c) merely adds a condition for certain types of civil cases. Because the district court erred in denying the Bowlings' motion to remand, the court held that the district court's order granting third-party counterclaim defendants' motion for summary judgment must be vacated, and the entire case must be remanded to state court. View "Bowling v. U.S. Bank National Ass'n" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure