Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Entertainment & Sports Law
Berisha v. Lawson
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against Shkelzen Berisha, the son of the former Prime Minister of Albania, who alleges that he was defamed in a book that accused him of being involved in an elaborate arms-dealing scandal in the early 2000s. Guy Lawson wrote the book at issue, called Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History, which tells the supposedly true story of three young Miami, Florida, men who became international arms dealers. Lawson also sold the movie rights to Warner Brothers, which turned the story into the 2016 major motion picture War Dogs, starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller.After determining that the district court correctly applied the heightened defamation standard for claims brought by public figures, the court held that the district court did not err in finding that there was insufficient evidence to support Berisha's claim that defendants acted with actual malice. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Berisha's motion to compel where the employee-equivalent doctrine, which extends the attorney-client privilege beyond individuals who control the corporation to include other employees with whom the lawyer must consult in order to advise the company, would likely shield from discovery the communications between Lawson and Simon & Schuster's attorneys. Finally, the court held that Berisha presents no grounds upon which the court could conclude that the district court abused its discretion in denying him an additional and last-minute extension of the discovery deadline. View "Berisha v. Lawson" on Justia Law
United States v. Estrada
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendants' convictions for smuggling four Cuban baseball players into the United States and conspiring to commit crimes against the United States. Defendants, a baseball trainer and a baseball manager, partnered with business professionals, human traffickers, and members of a Mexican criminal organization to smuggle baseball players out of Cuba. The players went to the United States to enter into "free agent" contracts with Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. The players used false residency documents procured from defendants and other co-conspirators to obtain unblocking licenses permitting them to contract with MLB teams. Sometimes the players also relied on the false documents to obtain visas, which allowed them to come to the United States to play baseball.The court held that the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) and the Wet-Foot/Dry-Foot policy did not provide prior official authorization for the Cuban players to come to, enter, or reside in the United States; the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions on the substantive smuggling counts and the conspiracy count; and the district court committed no abuse of discretion in the challenged evidentiary rulings. View "United States v. Estrada" on Justia Law
Turner v. Wells, Jr.
Former Coach of the Miami Dolphins, James Turner, filed suit against defendants, alleging defamation claims under Florida law related to defendants' publication of a report, which concluded that bullying by other Dolphins players contributed to Jonathan Martin's decision to leave the team. The Eleventh Circuit held that none of the challenged statements contained in the report were actionable for defamation; no alleged omission or juxtaposition of facts in the report stated a claim for defamation by implication; and Turner was a public figure who failed to adequately plead that defendants acted with malice in drafting and publishing the report. View "Turner v. Wells, Jr." on Justia Law
Commodores Entertainment Corp. v. McClary
This case arose from a dispute over the ownership of the mark "The Commodores." Defendant appealed an order granting judgment as a matter of law to CEC and converting a preliminary injunction into a permanent one against defendant and his corporation, Fifth Avenue. The Eleventh Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the denial of the motion to dismiss and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding expert testimony from an attorney who proffered only legal conclusions; when defendant left the band, he left behind his common-law rights to the marks and those rights remained with CEC; the scope of the injunction was not impermissibly broad; defendant's arguments about the validity of the federal registration of the marks were irrelevant to this determination; and defendant did not establish any affirmative defenses. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Commodores Entertainment Corp. v. McClary" on Justia Law
Flo & Eddie v. Sirius SM Radio
Flo & Eddie, a California corporation, filed suit against Sirius, a satellite and internet radio provider, claiming that Sirius violated Flo & Eddie’s rights as owner of sound recordings of musical performances that were fixed before February 15, 1972. Because the issues in this case have not been addressed by the Supreme Court of Florida, the court certified the following questions to that state court: 1. Whether Florida recognizes common law copyright in sound recordings and, if so, whether that copyright includes the exclusive right of reproduction and/or the exclusive right of public performance? 2. To the extent that Florida recognizes common law copyright in sound recordings, whether the sale and distribution of phonorecords to the public or the public performance thereof constitutes a “publication” for the purpose of divesting the common law copyright protections in sound recordings embedded in the phonorecord and, if so whether the divestment terminates either or both of the exclusive right of public performance and the exclusive right of reproduction? 3. To the extent that Florida recognizes a common law copyright including a right of exclusive reproduction in sound recordings, whether Sirius’s back-up or buffer copies infringe Flo & Eddie’s common law copyright exclusive right of reproduction? 4. To the extent that Florida does not recognize a common law copyright in sound recordings, or to the extent that such a copyright was terminated by publication, whether Flo & Eddie nevertheless has a cause of action for common law unfair competition/misappropriation, common law conversion, or statutory civil theft under FLA. STAT. 772.11 and FLA. STAT. 812.014? View "Flo & Eddie v. Sirius SM Radio" on Justia Law
Michel v. NYP Holdings, Inc.
Rapper and philanthropist Prakazrel Michel, and founding member of the Fugees, filed a defamation suit alleging that an article published about him in the New York Post's Page Six gossip column claimed that he failed to perform as expected as the headliner at a 9/11 charity event for the Hope for Them Foundation with which he was purportedly affiliated. Michel contends that the article defamed him because he had no connection to the Foundation and had not been scheduled to perform at the event. The district court dismissed the claims with prejudice. This court also dismissed the complaint, but for different reasons. The court concluded that the article is not privileged against a defamation action because a reasonable reader of the article would have concluded that it presented statements of fact (not just nonactionable opinion). However, Michel has failed to state a claim because he did not adequately plead facts giving rise to a reasonable inference that defendants published the article with actual malice. Accordingly, the court affirmed the dismissal but entered the dismissal without prejudice, giving leave to amend. View "Michel v. NYP Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Rosa and Raymond Parks Inst. for Self Dev. v. Target Corp.
The Institute filed the underlying complaint, alleging claims for unjust enrichment, right of publicity, and misappropriation under Michigan common law for Target’s sales of all items using the name and likeness of Rosa Parks. The district court dismissed the complaint. The court concluded that Target's use of Rosa Parks’s name and likeness in the books, movie, and plaque is necessary to chronicling and discussing the history of the Civil Rights Movement. These matters are quintessentially embraced and protected by Michigan’s qualified privilege. Michigan law does not make discussion of these topics of public concern contingent on paying a fee. Therefore, all six books, the movie, and the plaque are protected under Michigan’s qualified privilege protecting matters of public interest. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Rosa and Raymond Parks Inst. for Self Dev. v. Target Corp." on Justia Law
Ellis v. The Cartoon Network, Inc.
Cartoon Network provides a free mobile application for smartphones called the CN app. After plaintiff downloaded the free app, the Cartoon Network kept records of the videos he watched and shared those records with Bango without his consent. Bango specializes “in tracking individual behaviors across the Internet and mobile applications . . . [and claims] that its technology ‘reveals customer behavior, engagement and loyalty across and between all [ ] websites and apps.’” Plaintiff filed suit against Cartoon Network under the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), 18 U.S.C. 2710, alleging that he was a “subscriber” of Cartoon Network and therefore a “consumer” under the Act. Plaintiff further claimed that Cartoon Network violated the Act when it disclosed his “personally identifiable information” to Bango. The district court granted Cartoon Network's motion to dismiss. The court concluded that a person who downloads and uses a free mobile application on his smartphone to view freely available content, without more, is not a “subscriber” (and therefore not a “consumer”) under the VPPA. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Ellis v. The Cartoon Network, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Entertainment & Sports Law
Sunbeam Television Corp. v. Nielsen Media Research, Inc.
Sunbeam is one of Nielsen's customers in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area and uses Nielsen's ratings in operating a FOX-affiliated broadcast television channel in Miami. Sunbeam filed an antitrust suit, the claims principally stemmed from Nielsen's alleged improper and defective implementation of new ratings technology. The court concluded that the district court correctly held that Sunbeam lacked antitrust standing to pursue this lawsuit as it failed to establish that it was an efficient enforcer of the antitrust laws. Without antitrust standing, the court did not reach the other issues on appeal. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Sunbeam Television Corp. v. Nielsen Media Research, Inc." on Justia Law