Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
Tundidor v. Miami-Dade County
Plaintiff filed suit against the County after he suffered injuries while aboard a vessel traveling in the Coral Park Canal, a drainage canal in the County. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. At issue is whether a canal is navigable for purposes of admiralty jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. 1333, if an artificial obstruction prevents vessels from using the canal to conduct interstate commerce. Because the Coral Park Canal cannot support interstate commerce, the court concluded that it cannot satisfy the location requirement of admiralty jurisdiction. The court concluded that extending jurisdiction to waters incapable of commercial activity serves no purpose of admiralty jurisdiction. Therefore, the court agreed with the district court that plaintiff's injuries did not occur on navigable waters for purposes of admiralty jurisdiction because an artificial obstruction prevents vessels from traveling from the Coral Park Canal to places outside of Florida. View "Tundidor v. Miami-Dade County" on Justia Law
Mamani v. Sanchez Berzain
Plaintiffs, heirs to eight civilians killed in 2003 by Bolivian troops, filed suit under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), 28 U.S.C. 1350, seeking damages and fees. In this case, plaintiffs have exhausted all of their available Bolivian remedies. They received some compensation through those remedies but not nearly as much as they claim is necessary to fully compensate them for their losses. Defendants sought certification for an interlocutory appeal on two issues: (1) whether the exhaustion requirement in section 2(b) of the TVPA bars plaintiffs’ claims, and (2) whether plaintiffs have failed to state claims for relief under the TVPA. The court answered the first certified question in the negative and affirmed the part of the district court’s order denying defendant’s motion to dismiss the TVPA claims on exhaustion grounds. The court concluded that section 2(b)’s exhaustion requirement does not bar a TVPA suit by a claimant who has successfully exhausted her remedies in the foreign state. The court exercised its discretion not to decide the second certified issue, which is actually a cluster of multiple issues involving the claims of multiple plaintiffs against the two defendants. View "Mamani v. Sanchez Berzain" on Justia Law
Chhetri v. United States
Plaintiffs, two survivors of a bus crash that occurred because the driver fell asleep at the wheel, filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2680, against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Plaintiffs alleged that agency officials were at fault for allowing the bus company to continue operating after it should have been declared unsafe to do so. The case was dismissed for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction. The court affirmed the district court's Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. 1951, analysis in its order granting summary to the United States on plaintiffs' claims. The district court correctly held that because it lacks jurisdiction to determine the validity of 49 C.F.R. 385.17(f), the district court must proceed with its discretionary function analysis based on the regulation as it stood in 2011. Therefore, the court's review is limited to the portion of plaintiffs' claims that would not require it to assume invalid the version of 49 C.F.R. 385.17(f) in effect at the time the FMCSA granted the company the ten-day extension. The court agreed with the district court's holding that the United States had not waived its immunity from suit related to the decision allowing the bus company to continue operating because that decision was a discretionary one, excepted under 28 U.S.C. 2680(a) from the United States’ waiver of sovereign immunity for certain tort actions. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Chhetri v. United States" 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
Douglas v. United States
Plaintiff, a federal inmate, filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2680, alleging that a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) official withheld wages he was owed for his work while incarcerated. Plaintiff also filed related claims of discrimination, retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court concluded that the record shows that BOP regulations allowed no discretion to refuse to pay the wages at that stage and that the refusal was not grounded in policy. Therefore, the district court erred in dismissing the claim on the basis of the pleading allegations. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment in regards to the pay claim. The court affirmed as to the other claims. View "Douglas v. United States" on Justia Law
Seamon v. Remington Arms Co.
Plaintiff filed a product liability suit against Remington after her husband, Kenneth Seamon, died from a gunshot wound while deer hunting alone. Plaintiff alleged that Mr. Seamon died as a result of a defect in his Remington Model 700 bolt action rifle. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's exclusion of the causation opinion of plaintiff's liability expert and the district court's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment. In this case, the expert provided a reasonable explanation for why the defense's proposed alternative cause - trigger pull - was not in fact the cause of Mr. Seamon's death. In holding that the expert's opinion was based on speculation, rather than facts in the record, the court concluded that the district court also mischaracterized the evidentiary support for the expert’s opinion in several ways. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's judgment regarding the motion to exclude, and consequently the motion for summary judgment, remanding for further proceedings. View "Seamon v. Remington Arms Co." on Justia Law
Singh v. Caribbean Airlines Ltd.
Plaintiff filed a negligence action against CAL, an international airline based in Trinidad and Tobago. CAL is Trinidad and Tobago’s national carrier and it is majority-owned by the Minister of Finance of Trinidad and Tobago (Minister). At issue was whether CAL qualifies for jury immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1330. Because the court concluded that the district court correctly held that the Minister is a political subdivision of Trinidad and Tobago, CAL qualifies as an agency or instrumentality of Trinidad and Tobago, and the district court’s strike of plaintiff’s jury demand was not erroneous. Therefore, the court affirmed the order and the final judgment. View "Singh v. Caribbean Airlines Ltd." on Justia Law
Hill v. Madison Cnty. Sch. Bd.
Jane Doe, an eighth-grade student, filed suit against the Board and officials because she was raped in a bathroom after school officials decided to use her as bait in a sting operation to catch another eighth-grade student in the act of sexual harassment. The court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Board on Doe's Title IX claim where, to prevail on a student-on-student sexual harassment claim, a plaintiff must prove the funding recipient had actual knowledge the sexual harassment was severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive. In this case, there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Doe has satisfied all five elements necessary to succeed under Title IX. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Board on Doe's 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim where the rape-bait scheme was not a known or obvious consequence of the "catch in the act" policy or the Board's allegedly inadequate training policies; reversed the grant of summary judgment to Defendant Blair on Doe's section 1983 equal protection claim where there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Blair violated Doe’s constitutional right to equal protection by acting with deliberate indifference to the rape of Doe; reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendant Dunaway on Doe's section 1983 equal protection claim where Dunaway acquiesced to and ratified the sting operation; affirmed the grant of summary judgment to Defendant Terrell on Doe's section 1983 equal protection claim because Terrell is entitled to qualified immunity; and affirmed the grant of summary judgment to Defendant Simpson for the alleged section 1983 substantive due process violation where Simpson is entitled to qualified immunity. In regard to the state law claims, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment to Blair for negligence/wantonness because he is entitled to state-agent immunity; affirmed the denial of summary judgment to Dunaway; and reversed the grant of summary judgment to Simpson for the tort of outrage. View "Hill v. Madison Cnty. Sch. Bd." on Justia Law
Sorrels v. NCL (Bahamas), LTD
Plaintiff and her husband filed suit against NCL after she slipped on the pool deck of NCL's cruise ship and fractured her wrist, alleging negligence and seeking damages. The district court excluded all of the expert testimony and publications submitted by plaintiff with respect to the coefficient of friction (COF), and granted summary judgment in favor of NCL. The court concluded that the district court abused its discretion in excluding evidence of one of the expert's publications relied on for his opinion of the industry COF standard; assuming without deciding that the “substantial similarity” test applied to the COF measurements taken by the expert, the district court erred; the court left it to the district court to consider Federal Rule of Evidence 403 on remand given what the court discussed about the admissibility of portions of the expert's testimony; but the district court correctly ruled that the expert's "false sense of security" theory was unreliable. The court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's evidentiary rulings, vacated the grant of summary judgment and the award of costs in favor of NCL, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Sorrels v. NCL (Bahamas), LTD" on Justia Law
Posted in: Injury Law
Reider v. Phillip Morris USA, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit against Phillip Morris after her husband's death, alleging claims of fraudulent concealment, conspiracy, negligence, and strict liability under Florida law. The jury found Phillip Morris comparatively liable for the husband's injuries and death but awarded plaintiff no damages. Plaintiff argued to the district court that the verdict was inconsistent with liability and that the jury did not follow the district court's instructions. The district court denied plaintiff's request and then plaintiff moved for a mistrial based on the same reasons. The district court denied the motion. The court held that a party’s post-trial claim that a jury verdict is inconsistent does not preserve for appeal the separate and legally distinct claim that the verdict was the result of an unlawful jury compromise. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order denying plaintiff's motion for a new trial, as well as the final judgment entered on the jury's verdict. View "Reider v. Phillip Morris USA, Inc." on Justia Law