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

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law
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Plaintiff as pulled over by a deputy of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office for erratic driving. During the stop, the deputy noticed an open container of beer and decided to issue a warning citation. The deputy wrote—but never delivered—the ticket. Instead, a few minutes into the stop, he ordered Plaintiff out of the truck so he could walk his drug-sniffing dog around the vehicle. Plaintiff resisted the deputy’s commands verbally and then physically. The deputy arrested him for obstruction and Plaintiff suffered minor injuries. His truck was searched, but no drugs were found. The obstruction charge was later dismissed. A couple years after this encounter, Plaintiff filed claims against the deputy and the Jackson County Sheriff under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and Florida common law.   The Eleventh Circuit vacated he district court’s summary judgment on the Section 1983 claim against the deputy, but only with respect to the issue of whether the deputy unlawfully prolonged the traffic stop in violation of Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights. The court also vacated the district court’s summary judgment on the false imprisonment claim against both the deputy and the Jackson County Sheriff, but only with respect to the issues of whether the deputy tortiously detained Plaintiff by (1) unlawfully prolonging the traffic stop and (2) arresting Plaintiff without probable cause. The court affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in all other respects. View "Michael Baxter v. Louis Roberts, III, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff a veteran currently imprisoned by the state of Florida, sued prison and state officials under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, alleging that they violated his rights under Section 5301 by taking his VA benefits from his inmate account to satisfy liens and holds stemming from medical, legal, and copying expenses he had incurred in prison. Plaintiff also sought to enjoin a Florida administrative rule requiring that inmates have their VA benefits sent directly to their inmate accounts for prison officials to honor the funds’ protected status, which Plaintiff contended violates Section 5301, thereby running afoul of the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. After dismissing some of Defendants, the district court granted qualified immunity to those remaining. It also found that Plaintiff lacked standing to challenge Florida’s administrative rule.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court held that Plaintiff lacks standing because he has failed to show a “real” and “immediate” threat of future injury from complying with the Florida Direct Deposit Rule, pointing only to injuries in the distant past. Although it appears that Plaintiff initially suffered concrete harm when he transitioned to keeping two addresses on file with the VA (i.e., receiving VA checks several months late in the spring of 2013), that harm occurred only in the immediate aftermath of the address change—over nine years ago. Thus the court held that because Plaintiff has not shown a “real or immediate threat” of future injury from keeping two addresses to comply with Florida’s administrative rule, he lacks standing to challenge it. View "John David Wilson, Jr. v. Secretary, Department of Corrections, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff is a U.S. citizen and a U.S. national as that term is defined in 22 U.S.C. Section 6023(15). He claims to be the “rightful owner of an 82.5% interest in certain commercial waterfront real property in the Port of Santiago de Cuba,” identified by the Cuban government as La Marítima and Terminal Naviera. At issue on appeal is whether Plaintiff has Article III standing to assert his claims against Carnival and Royal Caribbean, and if so, whether those claims have merit.   The Eleventh Circuit concluded that Plaintiff has standing to assert his Title III claims, but that those claims fail on the merits. The court, therefore, affirmed the district court’s grant of judgment on the pleadings in favor of Carnival and Royal Caribbean. The court explained that the claims fail under Section 6082(a)(4)(B) of the Act because the Cuban government confiscated La Marítima prior to March 12, 1996, and because Plaintiff acquired his interest in the property through inheritance after that date. View "Javier Garcia-Bengochea v. Carnival Corporation" on Justia Law

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The Trump administration announced that it would not suspend the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (known as the “Helms-Burton Act”) for the first time since its enactment in 1996. Shortly after this announcement, the cause of action created by Title III of the Helms-Burton Act became fully effective in U.S. courts. Plaintiffs in this case Title III against several entities that own and operate travel websites, including Booking.com BV and Booking Holdings, Inc. (the Booking Entities), and Expedia Group, Inc., Hotels.com L.P., Hotels.com GP, and Orbitz, LLC (the Expedia Entities). Plaintiffs alleged that they are U.S. nationals and living heirs to separate beach-front properties nationalized by the Cuban government after the 1959 revolution According to the complaint, the Booking Entities and Expedia Entities trafficked in those properties on their travel booking websites.   The district court dismissed Plaintiffs’ Title III claims without leave to amend, ruling that it lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendants under the relevant provisions of Florida’s longarm statute. The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded. The court explained that based on the uncontroverted allegations in the complaint, the district court has specific personal jurisdiction over the Booking Entities and Expedia Entities pursuant to Fla. Stat. Section 48.193(1)(a)(2), and the exercise of such jurisdiction does not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiffs also have plausibly alleged Article III standing. View "Mario Del Valle, et al. v. Trivago GMBH, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an Alabama prisoner, brought this 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 action alleging long delays in his receipt of treatment for hernias and for post-surgery complications. In his pro se third amended complaint, Plaintiff asserted claims of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs against: (1) Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (“Wexford”), a private contractor that provides health care services for Alabama inmates; (2) Kay Ivey, the Governor of Alabama; and (3) Jefferson Dunn, the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections.The district court (1) granted summary judgment in favor of Wexford and (2) dismissed Roy’s complaint against Governor Ivey and Commissioner Dunn for failure to state a claim.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, finding that only one of several statements from other inmates that Plaintiff presented satisfied the requirements of 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1746 because the other statements were only presented as "affidavits" and did not mention the statement was “true and correct” and was made “under penalty of perjury." Considering Plaintiff's remaining evidence, the Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not err in entering judgment in favor of Defendants. View "Larry Roy v. Kay Ivy, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs (the Estate) appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the named Defendants. This appeal stems from the circumstances surrounding Plaintiff’s son's detention and death at the Charlotte County Jail.  The Estate brought a seven-count complaint against the named Defendants. The district court granted each of the summary judgment motions in full, finding that the Estate failed to present evidence sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact on any of the claims, and entered final judgment for the Defendants.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment for the Sherriff of Charlotte County, the jail’s health care provider, and the jail’s medical personnel. The court also affirmed the grant of summary judgment for the jail’s corrections officers. The court agreed with the district court’s conclusion that the Estate failed to carry its burden of establishing a reasonable dispute of material fact regarding whether either the prison or the Sheriff advanced an unconstitutional policy or custom. Specifically, the district court found that Ireland’s Estate presented “no evidence” of an unconstitutional policy or custom and, at most, that the  Estate pointed to isolated incidents by the prison and the Sherriff.   Further, because there is no evidence in the record from which the court can infer that the officers were aware of the man’s need for medical aid at any time during the encounter before he ultimately lost consciousness, the deliberate indifference to medical treatment claims against the officers fail and summary judgment in their favor was proper. View "Thomas B. Ireland v. Bill Prummell, et al." on Justia Law

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Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, appeals the district court’s denial of her Motion for Preliminary Injunctive Relief. In her motion, Rep. Greene asked the district court to enjoin the state court’s application of O.C.G.A. Section 21-2-5 (“Challenge Statute”) against her to prevent her from being disqualified as a candidate for Congress under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.   The Eleventh Circuit remanded the case to the district court with instructions to dismiss the case as moot. The court explained that Rep. Greene sought to enjoin the application of the Challenge Statute against her in the state proceedings to prevent her from being disqualified as a candidate for Congress under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, the state proceedings under the Challenge Statute have concluded, and Rep. Greene has prevailed at each stage: the ALJ ruled in Rep. Greene’s favor, Secretary Raffensperger adopted the ALJ’s conclusions, the Superior Court of Fulton County affirmed the Secretary’s decision, and the Supreme Court of Georgia denied the Challengers’ application for discretionary review. Ultimately, Rep. Greene was not disqualified from being a candidate for Congress and is presently on the ballot for the upcoming election. Accordingly, the court no longer has the ability to accord Rep. Greene meaningful relief. Therefore the court held that the case is moot. View "Marjorie Taylor Greene v. Secretary of State for the State of Georgia, et al" on Justia Law

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After a series of prolonged airport security screenings, Plaintiff filed Bivens claims against the Customs and Border Protection officers who detained him. The district court found that the officers had qualified immunity and dismissed the complaint. Plaintiff then filed a new complaint, under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The district court dismissed the new complaint for failure to state a claim, and Plaintiff appealed.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiff's claims on grounds of collateral estoppel. Applying the four elements of collateral estoppel from Miller’s Ale House, Inc. v. Boynton Carolina Ale House, LLC, 702 F.3d 1312, 1318 (11th Cir. 2012), the court held that Plainitff's claims against the federal officers were barred due to the determinations made in the prior Bivens action. View "Daniel Kordash v. USA" on Justia Law

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Over the past 25 years, Florida lawmakers have amended the state's sex-offender registration law dozens of times, making them increasingly more burdensome. Following the state's 2018 amendments to the law, Plaintiffs, a group of men who were subject to the law based on convictions occurring before the amendment, challenged the constitutionality of the law. Finding that Plaintiffs' injuries all accrued in 2018, the district court dismissed all of Plaintiffs' claims as untimely under the applicable four-year statute of limitations.The Eleventh Circuit reversed in part. Reviewing each of Plaintiffs' claims individually, the court found that while Plaintiff's injuries originated in 2018; they were ongoing. Thus, applying the continuing violation doctrine, the court reversed the district court's holding on several of Plaintiffs' claims, dismissing the remaining claims as untimely. View "Jane Doe, et al. v. Richard L. Swearingen" on Justia Law

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Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., a corporation headquartered in Florida, operates cruise ships that travel around the world. Norwegian requires everyone on board its ships to be vaccinated against COVID-19. To enforce that policy, Norwegian requires its customers to provide proof of vaccination. Florida sought to protect its residents from that kind of discrimination by enacting a statute that prohibits businesses from “requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-infection recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business operations in Florida.” Norwegian sued Florida’s Surgeon General and moved for a preliminary injunction. The district court entered a preliminary injunction on the grounds that the statute likely violates Norwegian’s right to speak freely.The Eleventh Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction. The court explained that Florida’s statute is a regulation of economic conduct that only incidentally burdens speech, which does not implicate the First Amendment. And its burdens on interstate commerce do not exceed the benefits of furthering Florida’s substantial interests in protecting its residents from discrimination and invasions of privacy. View "Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, et al. v. State Surgeon General" on Justia Law