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

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In 2012, 41-year-old Karen Hubbard suffered a catastrophic stroke caused by a blood clot to her brain--a venous sinus thrombosis, a type of venous thromboembolism (VTE). She had been taking Beyaz, a birth control pill manufactured by Bayer. While she first received a prescription for Beyaz on December 27, 2011, Karen had been taking similar Bayer birth control products since 2001. The pills are associated with an increased risk of blood clots. The Beyaz warning label in place at the time of Karen’s Beyaz prescription warned of a risk of VTEs and summarized studies.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Bayer. Georgia’s learned intermediary doctrine controls this diversity jurisdiction case. That doctrine imposes on prescription drug manufacturers a duty to adequately warn physicians, rather than patients, of the risks their products pose. A plaintiff claiming a manufacturer’s warning was inadequate bears the burden of establishing that an improved warning would have caused her doctor not to prescribe her the drug in question. The Hubbards have not met this burden. The prescribing physician testified unambiguously that even with the benefit of the most up-to-date risk information about Beyaz, he considers his decision to prescribe Beyaz to Karen to be sound and appropriate. View "Hubbard v. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1) and 924(e). The court held that defendant failed to show that his counsel's representation with respect to the state plea offer was objectively unreasonable under Strickland v. Washington, and the district court did not err in concluding that defendant failed to show prejudice. The court also held that the district court did not err in determining that defendant's three prior sale of cocaine convictions under Fla. Stat. 893.13(1)(a)(1) were serious drug offenses within the meaning of the Armed Career Criminal Act. View "United States v. Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eleventh Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's determination that petitioner should be removed from the United States because he has been convicted of two or more crimes of moral turpitude under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii).The court held that petitioner's conviction for vehicular homicide in Florida contains the necessary mens rea to constitute a crime of moral turpitude. When a person deviates from the standard of care by operating a motor vehicle so recklessly that it is likely to cause death or great bodily harm, and, in fact, results in the killing of a human being, the court has little difficulty finding that he has exhibited the baseness in the duties owed to society that constitutes moral turpitude. Therefore, petitioner's conviction in Florida of vehicular homicide is categorically a crime involving moral turpitude, and he is removable under the controlling statute. View "Smith v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed separate district court orders directing defendant and MinTrade to comply with SEC subpoenas for the production of documentary evidence and testimony. The court held that the district court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over defendant in the Southern District of Florida. As to MinTrade, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in not holding an evidentiary hearing. On the merits, the court held that neither district court abused its considerable discretion in concluding that the subpoenas were relevant to a legitimate investigation into possible violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. View "Securities and Exchange Commission v. Marin" on Justia Law

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Students filed suit against Broward County and five public officials on the theory that their response to the school shooting in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was so incompetent that it violated the students' substantive rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint based on failure to state a claim of a constitutional violation. The court first clarified that the three John Does are not parties to this appeal. The court concluded that the students failed to state a claim for violation of their right to substantive due process. The court explained that the students were not in custodial relationship with defendants, and the students did not allege any arbitrary or conscience-shocking conduct. The court also concluded that the students failed to state a claim of failure to train where they never properly presented the claim to the district court. Finally, the court concluded that the district court correctly dismissed the claims with prejudice because leave to amend would be futile. View "L.S. v. Peterson" on Justia Law

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M&M Realty entered into a contract with the William Mazzoni Trust in 2011 for the purchase of a plot of land in Boynton Beach, Florida. M&M subsequently filed suit seeking specific performance of the land sale contract and damages from the Mazzoni Trust, as well as damages from William Mazzoni, as co-trustee and agent of the Trust, for tortious interference with the land sale contract.The Eleventh Circuit held that M&M failed to make out a prima facie claim for specific performance or for damages for breach of contract because M&M did not provide evidence that it was ready, willing, and able to perform under the contract -- specifically, that it had the necessary funds to make the purchase. The court also held that William Mazzoni, as a co-trustee of the Defendant trust and signatory as its agent on the contract, is not liable for tortious interference. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment granting summary judgment in favor of William Mazzoni and the Mazzoni Trust. View "M & M Realty Partners at Hagen Ranch, LLC v. Mazzoni" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit denied a petition for review contending that the IJ erred by ordering petitioner removed under 8 U.S.C. 1182 for unlawfully entering the United States. Petitioner claims that her factual admissions and concession of removability were plainly contradicted by the record—which she says proves that she was lawfully admitted in 2002 on a tourist visa—and that she should not be bound by them at all. Petitioner contends that she should have been charged under 8 U.S.C. 1227 for overstaying her six-month tourist visa—not section 1182 for unlawful entry. Furthermore, she alleges that her first attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel.The court held that petitioner failed to show the "egregious circumstances" required for her to be released from a counseled concession. In this case, petitioner failed to demonstrate that the concession was untrue or incorrect. The court accepted the Board's factual finding that after petitioner's lawful entry in 2002, she could have left and reentered the United States unlawfully on a later date, which would make both her concession and her testimony true. Furthermore, even if petitioner's concession were incorrect, she cannot show either of the two circumstances that could release her from her concession. In this case, the concession did not lead to an unjust result and she cannot show that her concession was the product of unreasonable professional judgment. Finally, the Board did not err by denying petitioner's motion to remand where the new evidence she sought to introduce on remand was not material. View "Dos Santos v. U. S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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Petitioner challenges the application of an Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) enhancement to his 1994 sentence for the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition as a convicted felon. Petitioner claims that he was sentenced under the ACCA's residual clause, which the Supreme Court has since held to be unconstitutionally vague.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the denial of the 28 U.S.C. 2255 petition, concluding that petitioner cannot meet his burden of proving it is more likely than not that in fashioning his sentence, the district judge relied solely on the residual clause. Furthermore, petitioner could not meet this burden on any remand. In this case, the district court already examined the record and correctly found that it does not reveal which clause the sentencing judge relied on. Nor would any other obvious source of information provide any helpful information. Therefore, remand would be futile. View "Santos v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Taylor pled guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute at least five kilograms of a mixture containing a detectable amount of cocaine hydrochloride (powder cocaine) and at least 50 grams of a mixture containing a detectable amount of cocaine base (crack cocaine), 21 U.S.C. 846, 841(b)(1)(A)(ii), and 841(b)(1)(A)(iii). Section 841(b) then provided that an offense involving either 50 grams or more of crack or five kilograms or more of powder cocaine carried a mandatory minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life in prison. The court calculated Taylor’s Guidelines range as life in prison and “reluctantly” applied the Guidelines as mandatory.The Eleventh Circuit vacated. On remand, in 2005, the district court resentenced Taylor to 360 months’ imprisonment. The 2010 Fair Sentencing Act increased the quantity of crack cocaine required to trigger a 10-year mandatory minimum from 50 grams to 280 grams. The 2018 First Step Act allows—but does not require—courts to reduce an eligible prisoner’s sentence as if the drug-quantity changes were in effect at the time the prisoner committed his offense. The district court denied Taylor’s motion for resentencing, finding that Taylor’s was not a “covered offense” because it involved five kilograms or more of powder cocaine, “a sufficient quantity to trigger the mandatory minimum sentence.” The Eleventh Circuit vacated. A federal drug crime involving both crack cocaine and another controlled substance can be a “covered offense” under the First Step Act. View "United States v. Taylor" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Ten days after the 2020 presidential election, plaintiff, a Georgia voter, filed suit against state election officials to enjoin certification of the general election results, to secure a new recount under different rules, and to establish new rules for an upcoming runoff election. Plaintiff alleged that the extant absentee-ballot and recount procedures violated Georgia law and, as a result, his federal constitutional rights. The district court denied plaintiff's motion for emergency relief.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, concluding that plaintiff lacks standing to sue because he fails to allege a particularized injury. The court explained that plaintiff alleged only a generalized grievance because he bases his standing on his interests in ensuring that only lawful ballots are counted, and an injury to the right to require that the government be administered according to the law is a generalized grievance. In this case, plaintiff cannot explain how his interest in compliance with state election laws is different from that of any other person.Even if plaintiff had standing, because Georgia has already certified its election results and its slate of presidential electors, plaintiff's requests for emergency relief are moot to the extent they concern the 2020 election. The court stated that the Constitution makes clear that federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and the court may not entertain post-election contests about garden-variety issues of vote counting and misconduct that may properly be filed in state courts. View "Wood v. Raffensperger" on Justia Law