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

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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Plaintiff regularly used Roundup on his lawn for about 30 years until 2016. Around 2016, Plaintiff was diagnosed with malignant fibrous histiocytoma, which he believes was linked to the compound glyphosate, the main chemical ingredient in Roundup. Plaintiff filed suit against Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup. In his four-count complaint, Plaintiff alleged strict liability for a design defect under Georgia law (Count I); strict liability for failure to warn under Georgia law Count II); negligence under Georgia law (Count III); and breach of implied warranties under Georgia law (Count IV).   On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit was tasked with deciding whether the district court erred in concluding that Plaintiff’s failure to warn claim was preempted under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Ac (FIFRA) because the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) had classified glyphosate as not likely to be carcinogenic to humans and approved the Roundup label. The Eleventh Circuit concluded it did and reversed the district court’s ruling. The court held that Plaintiff’s Georgia failure to warn claim is not preempted by the federal requirements under the FIFRA or the EPA actions pursuant to it. View "John D. Carson v. Monsanto Company" 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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Plaintiff appealed the district court’s dismissal of his amended complaint against Carnival Corporation for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff contended that the district court erred in finding that his amended complaint failed to allege sufficient facts in support of his negligence claims to show that Carnival was on notice of the alleged hazard.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court concluded that Plaintiff failed to include factual allegations that plausibly suggest Carnival had constructive notice of the dangerous condition. Therefore, Plaintiff failed to satisfy the pleading standard set forth in Iqbal and Twombly. While Plaintiff alleged facts that establish the possibility that Carnival had constructive notice of the hazardous substance on the staircase as to invite corrective measures, a claim only has facial plausibility when the plaintiff’s allegations allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”   Furthermore, while Plaintiff alleged that there were crewmembers in the surrounding shops, he does not allege that there were any crewmembers in the immediate area of the glass staircase that could have observed or warned him of the hazard. Simply put, Plaintiff’s allegations do not cross the line from possibility to the plausibility of entitlement to relief. View "Donnie Holland v. Carnival Corporation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff a female employee of Wakulla County (“the County”), worked for the County’s building department. Plaintiff filed a lawsuit in federal district court for, among other claims, the County’s violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the present case, Plaintiff filed a five-count complaint against the defense attorneys for the County. The defense attorneys and their law firms filed several motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The district court dismissed the complaint, explaining that Plaintiff’s alleged facts did not demonstrate that the defense attorneys for the County had engaged in a conspiracy that met the elements of 42 U.S.C. Section 1985(2).   Plaintiff’s complaint suggested that the defense attorneys filed the complaint for the “sole benefit of their client rather than for their own personal benefit.” Alternatively, Plaintiff points to the fact that the County defense attorneys had been aware of Plaintiff’s recordings for many months and only reported her recordings to law enforcement when they learned that Plaintiff “insist[ed] on her right to testify in federal court about the recordings and present them as evidence” in the sexual harassment case.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court explained that per Farese, it is Plaintiff’s burden to allege facts that establish that the County defense attorneys were acting outside the scope of their representation when they told law enforcement about Plaintiff’s recordings. Here, Plaintiff but in no way suggests that the defense attorneys were acting outside the scope of their representation, thus her Section 1985(2) claims were properly dismissed. View "Tracey M. Chance v. Ariel Cook, et al" on Justia Law

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The Defendant, Evanston Insurance Company (“Evanston”), appeals the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff Westchester General Hospital, Inc. (“Westchester”), challenging the district court’s holding that Evanston must defend Westchester in its ongoing litigation against Jane and John Doe (the “Does”). After the Does sued Westchester for negligence based on a violent incident that occurred at Westchester’s facility, Westchester sought coverage from Evanston, its insurer, under Westchester’s “Specified Medical Professions Insurance Policy” (“the Policy”). Evanston refused to provide complete coverage. So, Westchester sued Evanston, seeking a declaratory judgment that Evanston must defend it in its ongoing litigation against the Does. After the case was removed to federal court, a district court judge in the Southern District of Florida granted partial summary judgment in favor of Westchester, and Evanston appealed.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed finding that the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Westchester was proper because none of the relevant exclusions invoked by Evanston bars coverage for the Does’ claims against Westchester. The court explained that neither the Bodily Injury Exclusion nor the Professional Services Exclusion bars coverage for Westchester’s lawsuit against the Does. Evanston owes Westchester a duty to defend the hospital in its litigation against the Does under the GL Coverage Part. And because the court concluded that Evanston owes Westchester a duty to defend under the GL Coverage Part, the court held that the Umbrella Policy also applies. View "Westchester General Hospital, Inc. v. Evanston Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed from the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of a mixed group of domestic and foreign corporations, (collectively, “the defendants”), in a product liability action stemming from a motorcycle accident and allegedly defective helmet. Plaintiff contended that the district court erroneously excluded the testimony of her expert witness, after finding his testimony based on novel and untested theories unreliable.   In the district court proceedings, defendant HJC Corporation (“HJC”), a foreign corporation organized under the laws of, and principally operating within, South Korea, moved separately for summary judgment based on a lack of personal jurisdiction. The district court denied this motion as moot, after granting summary judgment to all the defendants on the merits.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of Defendants’ motion to exclude Plaintiff’s expert’s testimony. Because the district court properly excluded Plaintiff’s expert’s testimony, the court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The court reversed its denial of HJC’s motion for summary judgment. The court concluded that the district court erred by failing to conduct a veil piercing or alter-ego analysis with respect to HJC and HJCA for personal jurisdiction purposes. The court agreed with HJC that the district court erred by failing to address HJC’s jurisdictional motion before reaching the merits of Defendants’ summary judgment motion. View "Sheila A. Knepfle v. J & P Cycles, LLC, et al" on Justia Law

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This appeal arises from a massive and complex multi-district litigation proceeding based on claims—brought in part under the Torture Victim Protection Act, 28 U.S.C. Section 1350, and Colombian law—that Chiquita Brands International and some of its executives provided financial support to the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, which murdered thousands of persons in Colombia. In a dozen bellwether cases, the district court issued a comprehensive order granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants. After excluding some of Plaintiffs’ evidence, the court ultimately concluded that the Plaintiffs “fail[ed] to identify any admissible evidence” in support of their allegations that the AUC had killed their respective decedents.   On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that the district court abused its discretion in excluding much of their evidence and that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment on their claims. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, reversed in part, and dismissed in part. With respect to the evidentiary rulings, the court concluded that the district court got some right and some wrong. As to the merits, the court held that most of the bellwether Plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence to withstand summary judgment with respect to whether the AUC was responsible for the deaths of their decedents. On the cross-appeals, the court did not reach the arguments presented by the individual Defendants. View "Does 1 Through 976, et al. v. Chiquita Brands International, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a sheriff’s department employee, had an affair with the wife of a county administrator. The mistress allegedly conducted a smear campaign against Plaintiff’s wife and, when the affair ended, against Plaintiff as well. The sheriff’s department fired Plaintiff and a local prosecutor declined to prosecute the mistress for harassment. Suspecting the county administrator had a hand in both actions, Plaintiffs sued the mistress, the county administrator, and a host of other county officials for violating state and federal law. The district court entered a summary judgment in favor of the officials and certified that judgment as final even though claims against the mistress remained pending.   The Eleventh Circuit dismissed the appeal, finding that the district court abused its discretion when it determined that the summary judgment warranted certification under Rule 54(b). The determination in this case that there was no just reason for delay rested on a single factual finding—that “[t]his litigation could potentially remain pending for quite a lengthy time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The court wrote that there is no indication that the delays here would cause anything other than inconvenience. Indeed, if pandemic-related delays alone justified an immediate appeal, Rule 54(b) certifications” would cease to “be reserved for the unusual case. View "Chase Peden, et al v. Glenn Stephens, et al" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit certified the following three questions to the Georgia Supreme Court regarding Georgia’s fiduciary duty to disclose.(1) If a confidential relationship creates a duty to disclose which, if breached, would constitute fraud sufficient to toll the statute of limitations, would that duty to disclose also support a breach of fiduciary duty tort claim under Georgia law?(2) If so, may an adult fiduciary in a confidential relationship with a minor beneficiary without a written agreement discharge his duty to disclose by disclosing solely to the minor’s parents or guardians?(3) If the adult fiduciary does have an obligation to disclose to the minor beneficiary directly without a written agreement, when must the adult fiduciary disclose or redisclose to the minor beneficiary? View "Elkin King v. Forrest King, Jr." on Justia Law

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Appellants lost over $850,000 when an alleged BB&T employee and a co-conspirator impersonated them, changed their passwords, and transferred the money out of their BB&T bank accounts. Appellants sued BB&T under contract and tort theories. The district court dismissed the tort claims as duplicative of the contract claim, concluding that Appellants’ demand was time-barred because BB&T’s standard bank account contract limited the time to assert a demand from the statutory one-year period to just 30 days. In the alternative, the district court entered summary judgment for BB&T because it concluded the bank had and had followed commercially reasonable security procedures.The Eleventh Circuit vacated (1) the district court’s order dismissing the complaint and (2) the district court’s order entering summary judgment for BB&T on the remaining counts in the Fourth Amended Complaint, finding, as a matter of law, that Appellants’ claim for statutory repayment is not time-barred. View "Jesus Alonso Alvarez Rodriguez, et al v. Branch Banking & Trust Company, et al" on Justia Law