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

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Under Section 227 of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, to be an auto-dialer, the equipment must (1) store telephone numbers using a random or sequential number generator and dial them or (2) produce such numbers using a random or sequential number generator and dial them. Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that the companies' unsolicited phone calls violated the Act. Plaintiffs alleged that the companies placed the calls through "Automatic Telephone Dialing Systems," which the Act regulates and restricts. The Eleventh Circuit held that because neither phone system used randomly or sequentially generated numbers and because the phone system in Plaintiff Glasser's appeal required human intervention and thus was not an auto-dialer, the Act does not cover them. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment in Glasser's case, and affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment in Plaintiff Evans' case. View "Glasser v. Hilton Grand Vacations Co., LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law
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Although a court must procedurally dismiss without prejudice the claim of a prisoner who has struck out under the three-strikes provision and failed to pay the filing fee, the court may also consider the merits to dismiss the case with prejudice instead. After the sheriff counterclaimed in a prior suit, plaintiff responded with the current action against the sheriff, his counsel, and the United States Department of the Treasury. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court properly dismissed the current case on its merits and affirmed the judgment. The court held that plaintiff had struck out under the three-strikes provision because he failed to pay the filing fee and that the three-strikes provision is non-jurisdictional. In this case, the district court properly held that plaintiff failed to qualify for in forma pauperis status since he had three qualifying prior dismissals and failed to allege that he was in danger of imminent harm. The court also held that the district court correctly dismissed the case on the merits of plaintiff's claims under the False Claims Act; the abuse-of-process claim was properly dismissed; and plaintiff was not entitled to defense and indemnification. View "White v. Lemma" on Justia Law

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Defendants may not use a writ of error coram nobis to challenge a forfeiture judgment. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of relief after determining that defendants had standing to bring their challenge. The court held that, even assuming that Honeycutt v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 1626, 1630 (2017), -- which held that a different forfeiture statute does not permit joint-and-several liability -- applies retroactively and that coram nobis may be used, defendants were not entitled to relief because their failure to challenge their forfeiture judgments on direct appeal means they cannot challenge them now. As a non-jurisdictional error, the court stated that defendants needed to raise their Honeycutt claims on direct appeal to avoid procedural default. In this case, defendants failed to establish cause for not raising their claims on direct appeal, and defendants also failed to establish prejudice. View "United States v. Bane" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's determination that debtor's Massachusetts income tax return debt is dischargeable in bankruptcy. The court held that 11 U.S.C. 523 does not incorporate a mandatory precondition that a tax return must be timely filed to be dischargeable; under Massachusetts tax law, a late-filed tax return does not automatically cease having the status of a "return" merely because it was filed late; and, whether or not section 523 incorporates the Beard test or Massachusetts state law, the bankruptcy court's discharge order included debtor's tax debt. View "Massachusetts Department of Revenue v. Shek" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy
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Sabal Trail brought a condemnation action to acquire permanent and temporary easements that would allow it to build and operate a portion of the pipeline on property owned by Sunderman Groves. The jury awarded Sunderman Groves $309,500 as compensation for the easements, and the district court entered a final judgment providing that as part of the compensation award, Sunderman Groves was entitled to recover its attorney's fees and costs in an amount to be set by the court. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing Sunderman Groves to testify about the value of the property and the court lacked jurisdiction to review whether Sunderman Groves was entitled to attorney's fees and costs. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and dismissed in part. View "Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC v. 3.921 Acres of Land in Lake County Florida" on Justia Law

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The administrator brought separate actions against Regions and Fidelity, alleging claims arising from the decedent's transfer of his entire retirement savings account to his sister before his death. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court properly granted Fidelity's Rule 12(b)(6) motion regarding the Count III breach of contract and Count IV breach of fiduciary duty claims; vacated the district court's Rule 12(b)(1) dismissals of the Count II Georgia UCC claims in both complaints because those rulings were incapable of meaningful review; and affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Count I common law conversion and Count II common law negligence claims because they were preempted by Georgia Code 11-3-420. View "Estate of David Bass v. Regions Bank, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for conspiring to distribute and possessing with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. The court held that probable cause supported defendant's arrest because the informant's information was veritable, reliable, and corroborated. The court also held that the district court did not err by refusing to apply a two-level sentence reduction for truthful disclosure under USSG 2D1.1(b)(17), because defendant failed to satisfy his burden of proving his truthful disclosure. View "United States v. Mancilla-Ibarra" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Executive Clemency Board appealed the district court's orders denying in part its motion for summary judgment and permanently enjoining Florida's former system for re-enfranchising convicted felons. Plaintiff and other convicted felons alleged that the former system facially violated their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court granted plaintiff's motion on three of four counts, and issued permanent injunctions prohibiting the Board from enforcing the then-current vote-restoration system, ending all vote-restoration processes. In 2016, Florida voters amended their state constitution as it concerns the re-enfranchisement of convicted felons. In 2019, Florida's legislature revised its statutory scheme for re-enfranchisement. Plaintiff claimed that he and the other convicted felons are eligible to seek restoration of their voting rights. Therefore, the Eleventh Circuit held that this case is moot and vacated in part the district court's order on cross-motions for summary judgment dated February 1, 2018; vacated the district court's order directing entry of judgment dated March 27, 2018; and remanded with instructions to dismiss. View "Hand v. Desantis" on Justia Law

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On petition for rehearing, the Eleventh Circuit vacated and reconsidered its original opinion, substituting the following opinion. The court affirmed the district court's grant of GDC's motion to quash plaintiffs' subpoena directing GDC to testify at a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition and to produce documents concerning Georgia's lethal injection protocol. Plaintiffs argued that the information was necessary to support their 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims pending in the Southern District of Mississippi challenging the legality of Mississippi's lethal injection protocol. The court held that the district court applied the correct standard of review, the clearly erroneous or contrary-to-law standard, to the magistrate judge's ruling on the motion to quash. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by affirming the magistrate judge's ruling to grant GDC's motion to quash where the relevance of the information sought in the GDC subpoena to the pending section 1983 litigation was highly questionable; the subpoena subjected GDC to an undue burden which mandated the quashing of the subpoena under Rule 45(d)(3)(A)(iv); and compliance with plaintiffs' subpoena would impose an undue burden on the State of Georgia. View "Jordan v. Georgia Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed the district court's denial of its motion for judgment as a matter of law, or in the alternative, motion for a new trial or remittitur. In this Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law to the extent it challenged the reputational harm claim and the willfulness claim. However, the court vacated the jury's punitive damages award and remanded the case to the district court to enter a judgment awarding plaintiff $1 million in punitive damages. The court held that, although punitive damages were properly awarded, a $3.3 million dollar award was unconstitutionally excessive. View "Williams v. First Advantage Background Services Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law