Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs v. City of Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs (FLFNB), a nonprofit unincorporated association, advocates the message “that food is a human right, not a privilege.” FLFNB’s efforts include its weekly food sharing events in Fort Lauderdale’s downtown Stranahan Park, a location where the homeless tend to congregate. FLFNB does not serve food as a charity, but to communicate its message that "society can end hunger and poverty if we redirect our collective resources from the military and war.’ The Eleventh Circuit previously held FLFNB’s food-sharing to be expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment and remanded the issue of whether the city’s regulations violated the First Amendment. Fort Lauderdale Park Rules require city permission for social service food-sharing events in all Fort Lauderdale parks,The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the city. The Eleventh Circuit reversed. The Rule commits the regulation of FLFNB’s protected expression to the standardless discretion of city permitting officials. It provides no guidance nor explanation of when, how, or why the city will agree. As applied to FLFNB’s protected expression, it violates the First Amendment. It is neither narrowly drawn to further a substantial government interest that is unrelated to the suppression of free expression, nor, as applied, does it amount to a reasonable time, place, and manner regulation on expression in a public forum. View "Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs v. City of Fort Lauderdale" on Justia Law
Bradshaw v. Federal Aviation Administration
Bradshaw was a designated pilot examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with the authority to issue an applicant an airman certificate, 49 U.S.C. 44703(a). In 2018, the FAA discovered that Bradshaw had certified a pilot applicant without conducting a complete flight test and terminated Bradshaw’s designation. A three-member FAA appeal panel affirmed.The Eleventh Circuit denied a petition for review. The FAA did not fall short of its own requirements and did not violate Bradshaw’s constitutional right to due process. FAA-designated pilot examiners do not have a property or liberty interest in their designation. Bradshaw’s other constitutional claim—that the FAA violated his right to equal protection because other categories of FAA designees are afforded a hearing before their designation can be terminated—was also without merit. View "Bradshaw v. Federal Aviation Administration" on Justia Law
Hakki v. Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs
Plaintiff challenged his discharge in federal court, but the district court held that it did not have jurisdiction to hear his claims brought pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the Mandamus Act because the Veterans' Benefits Act (VBA) is a comprehensive statutory scheme governing the discipline of VA employees and was the exclusive remedy for review of plaintiff's employment discharge. The district court also held that while the VBA did not bar plaintiff's procedural due process claims, the claims were not colorable because he received all the process due to him.The Eleventh Circuit concluded that the district court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction over any claim under the APA because the VBA is a comprehensive statutory scheme that precludes APA review; the district court did not have jurisdiction to hear a constitutional claim because plaintiff did not present a colorable due process claim; and there is no basis for mandamus jurisdiction because plaintiff has not established a clear right to any relief or a clear duty of the VA. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's decision but remanded solely so that the district court can amend its judgment to reflect that it is a dismissal without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction. View "Hakki v. Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law
Smith v. United States
Plaintiff filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), alleging that various medical professionals working for the VA breached their legal duty to exercise ordinary medical care and negligently failed to diagnose his throat cancer and immediately treat it. The district court dismissed plaintiff's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that judicial review of his claims was precluded by the Veterans' Judicial Review Act (VJRA).The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in pat, concluding that the district court did lack jurisdiction over some of plaintiff's claims but that it had jurisdiction over his tort claims alleging medical negligence or malpractice. To the extent that plaintiff alleges that any delay in his receipt of needed medical care was a result of the VA's failure to timely approve and/or authorize his care or payments therefore, the district court could not review those allegations without second-guessing a decision by the VA necessary to a benefits determination—when to grant the requested benefit. As for plaintiff's allegations related to the VA's failure to follow its own policies, procedures, and protocols, if the district court lacks jurisdiction to review the VA's approval, authorization, and scheduling decisions, it must also lack jurisdiction to determine whether the VA followed its own internal procedures in making those decisions. However, plaintiff's medical negligence and malpractice claims do not require the district court to decide whether plaintiff was entitled to benefits nor do they require the court to revisit any decision made by the Secretary in the course of making benefits determinations. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Smith v. United States" on Justia Law
Brown v. Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (2020) (CARES Act), among other things, imposed a 120-day moratorium on evictions for rental properties receiving federal assistance. The CDC then issued a temporary eviction moratorium on September 4, 2020, that suspended the execution of eviction orders for nonpayment of rent. Before the CDC's order was originally set to expire on December 31, 2020, Congress enacted the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which extended the CDC's order through January 31, 2021. The CDC's order was then extended again through March 31, 2021, and again through June 30, 2021, and again through July 31, 2021.Plaintiffs, several landlords seeking to evict their tenants for nonpayment of rent and a trade association for owners and managers of rental housing, filed suit alleging that the CDC's orders exceeds its statutory and regulatory authority, is arbitrary and capricious, and violates their constitutional right to access the courts.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction based on plaintiffs' failure to show an irreparable injury. The court declined to find that the CDC's order is unconstitutional, and failed to see how the temporary inability to reclaim rental properties constitutes an irreparable harm. Furthermore, the court explained that, without any information about a tenant’s financial or employment picture, the court has no way to evaluate whether she will ever be able to repay her landlord; to decide otherwise based solely on the CDC declaration would be to conclude that no one who signed the declaration is likely to repay their debts after the moratorium expires. Given the lack of evidence and the availability of substantial collection tools, the court could not conclude that the landlords have met their burden of showing that an irreparable injury is likely. View "Brown v. Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services" on Justia Law
Belcher Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. Hospira, Inc.
Belcher filed suit against its competitor, Hospira, under the Lanham Act, alleging that the labels of two of Hospira's drug products falsely implied that the products and their uses were FDA-approved, and that Hospira's misrepresentations allowed it to cut into the sales of Belcher's drug. The district court granted summary judgment to Hospira.The Eleventh Circuit concluded that the Lanham Act can peacefully coexist with the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for many drug-related claims, including this one. Although Belcher's Lanham Act claim was not precluded by the FDCA, the court concluded that it also was not supported by evidence of any misleading statements on Hospira's labels. The court explained that, because Belcher never showed that Hospira made representations that misled consumers about the FDA's approval of its drug products, Hospira is entitled to summary judgment. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Belcher Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. Hospira, Inc." on Justia Law
United States v. US Stem Cell Clinic, LLC
The FDA filed suit against the Clinic, alleging that the Clinic's stem cell procedure violates the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. The Clinic offers a procedure, which purportedly treats all kinds of chronic conditions, in which they remove fat tissue from a patient, isolate the portion containing stem cells, and inject that portion back into the patient. The district court granted summary judgment for the FDA and enjoined the Clinic from offering its procedure until it can demonstrate to the FDA that its stem cell therapy is safe and effective.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, concluding that the Clinic's stem cell procedure does not fall within the "same surgical procedure" exception or the "361 HCT/P" exception to regulation under the FDCA. The procedure does not fall within the same surgical procedure exception because the biological material implanted into the patient is not the same as that removed. Furthermore, the procedure does not fall within the 361 HCT/P exception because the Clinic intends the stem cells to perform functions after the procedure beyond the basic functions the stem cells performed prior to the procedure. View "United States v. US Stem Cell Clinic, LLC" on Justia Law
Fisher v. United States
The Eleventh Circuit held that a Florida statute, Fla. Stat. 375.251(2)(a), which speaks in broad and unqualified terms, means exactly what it says—that an owner incurs no ordinary duty of care to, and no duty to warn, any entrant, regardless of his common-law status or reason for entry.In this case, plaintiff and his wife filed suit against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) after plaintiff slipped and fell at a public shower at Tables Beach. The federal government operates Patrick Air Force Base on a large parcel of land in Brevard County, and that land encompasses Tables Beach, which fronts the Atlantic Ocean and which the government has opened to the public. The United States claimed that it was immune from suit because the FTCA, which waives sovereign immunity in specified instances, authorizes only those tort actions that can be brought against private persons under state law. The district court granted the motion to dismiss, holding that Florida's recreational-use statute eliminated the government's ordinary duty of care and duty to warn as to plaintiff and his wife.The court affirmed the district court's dismissal, holding that because the recreational-use statute protects a qualifying landowner against a suit alleging a breach of its ordinary duty of care and duty to warn as to all entrants, regardless of their reason for entry, the government has not waived its sovereign immunity under the FTCA. Therefore, the court cannot exercise jurisdiction over this action against the United States. View "Fisher v. United States" on Justia Law
Bibby v. Mortgage Investors Corp.
The Eleventh Circuit vacated its previous opinion and replaced it with the following opinion.Relators filed a qui tam action against MIC under the False Claims Act (FCA), seeking to recover the money the VA had paid when borrowers defaulted on MIC-originated loans. Relators then amended the complaint, adding a state law fraudulent transfer claim against MIC executive William L. Edwards, as well as a corporate veil-piercing theory of liability, which made Edwards a defendant to the FCA claim. The district court granted Edwards's motion to dismiss the fraudulent transfer claim based on lack of standing and granted MIC's motion for summary judgment on the FCA claim.The court concluded that summary judgment was improper on relators' FCA claim because genuine issues of material fact remain as to whether MIC's alleged false certifications were material. The court agreed with the district court that relators' claim is not barred by previous public disclosure. The court held that the district court has personal jurisdiction over Edwards. Finally, the court held that relators lack standing on the fraudulent transfer claim because their pre-judgment interest in preventing a fraudulent transfer is a mere byproduct of their FCA claim and cannot give rise to an Article III injury in fact. View "Bibby v. Mortgage Investors Corp." on Justia Law
Posted in: Government & Administrative Law
Pincus v. American Traffic Solutions, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit against ATS, a red light camera vendor, alleging three counts of unjust enrichment after ATS charged plaintiff a fee for processing his payment of a traffic ticket issued through an ATS red light photo enforcement system used in the City of North Miami Beach.The Eleventh Circuit certified the following questions to the Supreme Court of Florida: (1) Did ATS violate Florida law when it imposed a five percent fee on individuals who chose to pay their red light traffic ticket with a credit card? In particular: a. Does the challenged fee constitute a "commission from any revenue collected from violations detected through the use of a traffic infraction detector" under Fla. Stat. 316.0083(1)(b)(4)? b. Was the fee assessed under Chapter 318 and therefore subject to section 318.121's surcharge prohibition? c. Was ATS a "money transmitter" that was required to be licensed under Fla. Stat. 560.204(1)? (2) If there was a violation of a Florida statute, can that violation support a claim for unjust enrichment? In particular: a. Does plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim fail because the statutes at issue provide no private right of action? b. Does plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim fail because he received adequate consideration in exchange for the challenged fee when he took advantage of the privilege of using his credit card to pay the penalty? View "Pincus v. American Traffic Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law