Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion for want of jurisdiction. The court held that petitioner's second section 2255 motion was an improper vehicle to contest the denial of his first one because a Johnson v. United States claim was available to petitioner during the time that his first section 2255 motion was pending. View "Randolph v. United States" on Justia Law

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High school students sprayed with or exposed to Freeze +P filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the board of education, the chief of police, and the Student Resource Officers (SROs) who used the spray against them or in their vicinity. On appeal, the police chief challenged the district court's judgment. The Eleventh Circuit reversed and held that the September 30 order was final and appealable under 28 U.S.C. 1291 pursuant to the court's decision in United States v. Alabama; assuming the SROs in question violated the Fourth Amendment by failing to adequately decontaminate the students exposed to Freeze +P, they were entitled to qualified immunity because the relevant law was not clearly established at the time of their conduct in 2009, 2010, and 2011; the class-based claim for declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to the use of Freeze +P failed for lack of standing; and the class-based claim for declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to the decontamination policy also failed for lack of standing. View "J W v. Roper" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Southern Home under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. 1981, asserting claims for discriminatory termination, hostile work environment, and retaliation. The Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiff's discriminatory termination and retaliation claims failed as a matter of law because she provided insufficient evidence of pretext in response to Southern Home's legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for terminating her. The court held, however, that plaintiff offered sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact that the harassment plaintiff suffered was severe or pervasive to alter the terms or conditions of her employment. The court also held that plaintiff offered sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact that Southern Home had actual notice of the hostile work environment. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Smelter v. Southern Home Care Services Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Kia for gender and national origin discrimination and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as race and alienage discrimination and retaliation under 42 U.S.C. 1981. The district court granted summary judgment for Kia. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's judgment as to the retaliation claims under Title VII and section 1981. The court held that, viewing the record in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the manner of her opposition to discrimination was reasonable. In this case, were it not for plaintiff's position as a human resource manager, her action of providing the name of an attorney in connection with her EEOC charge would be protected opposition conduct, because it assisted the employee with filing her own charge. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's claim of sex and national origin discrimination under Title VII and section 1981. View "Gogel v. Kia Motors Manufacturing of Georgia, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit to compel the city to implement a referendum to change its form of government, including how the city council was elected. The district court denied defendants' motion for summary judgment based on section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and then subsequently reversed itself and granted summary judgment. The Eleventh Circuit held that the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013), rendered section 5 inapplicable to the city by striking down section 4(b)'s coverage formula that defined the jurisdictions to which section 5 applied. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment. View "Voketz v. City of Decatur" on Justia Law

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Valencia College did not violate plaintiff's statutory or constitutional rights when it suspended him for his conduct toward another student at the college. In this case, plaintiff was suspended from the college after he sent numerous unwanted texts to his former lab partner. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the college, holding that plaintiff's as applied claim that the college violated his First Amendment right to free speech failed because the college could regulate plaintiff's expressive conduct because it invaded the rights of another student; the college's stalking provision was not unconstitutionally overbroad nor was it facially vague or vague as applied to his conduct; and plaintiff was not denied substantive or procedural due process. View "Koeppel v. District Board of Trustees of Valencia College" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against a police officer and the city, alleging claims of excessive force. In this case, plaintiff was experiencing an episode of diabetic shock when he lost control of his car, came to a stop at an interstate median, and was tased four times by the officer as he attempted to comply with the officer's orders. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendants' motions to dismiss, holding that the officer was not entitled to qualified immunity at this stage of the case. The court also held that plaintiff, for purposes of summary judgment, established a constitutional violation. Therefore, the district court properly denied the city's motion for summary judgment. View "Glasscox v. City of Argo" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision ordering the City to remove a 34-foot Latin cross from a public park. The court held that American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia v. Rabun County Chamber of Commerce, Inc., 698 F.2d 1098 (11th Cir. 1983), was controlling here, because both Rabun and this case involved a private organization placing a similarly-sized cross on government property for Easter services. The court noted that, although the Supreme Court's contemporary jurisprudence seems to have substantially weakened Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), and thus by extension Rabun, it was bound to follow precedent that was closely on point with the case before it and precedent that had not been overruled. View "Kondrat'yev v. City of Pensacola" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the standard for denying a motion for directed verdict in a criminal trial in Georgia can accurately gauge whether summary judgment was properly granted to a defendant in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 malicious prosecution case. The district court applied Georgia’s Monroe rule, which provides that denial of a motion for directed verdict in a criminal trial conclusively demonstrates the existence of probable cause, thereby precluding a state civil malicious-prosecution claim based on the prosecution in which the criminal court denied the directed verdict. In applying the rule, the court granted summary judgment to Defendant and against Plaintiff on his section 1983 malicious prosecution claim. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the entry of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings, holding (1) a district court evaluating a motion for summary judgment on a section 1983 malicious prosecution claim must apply only the federal summary-judgment standard in determining whether summary judgment should be granted; and (2) the district court erred in granting summary judgment based solely on the Monroe rule. View "Blue v. Lopez" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction entered by the district court in favor of Maurice Walker and against the City of Calhoun and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings, holding that the injunction violated Fed. R. Civ. P. 65. Walker filed this action against the City while he was in custody, alleging that the City’s bail policy violated equal protection and due process principles by conditioning immediate release from jail on an arrestee’s ability to pay a cash bond without providing alternatives to indigent arrestees. Walker filed a motion to preliminarily enjoin the City from jailing him or other similarly situated indigent arrestees without offering them release on their own recognizance or on an unsecured bond. The district court granted the motion. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction, holding that the order granting the motion for a preliminary injunction, as written, cannot stand. View "Walker v. City of Calhoun, Georgia" on Justia Law