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

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Progressive in a third-party bad-faith action brought by plaintiff. Plaintiff claimed that Progressive was collaterally estopped by a previous action against the driver of the vehicle that hit plaintiff's vehicle, permanently injuring her and killing her son, from arguing that it had no opportunity to settle her claims within policy limits.Applying Florida law, the court concluded that, at bottom, it agreed with the district court's endorsement of the magistrate judge's detailed and well-reasoned factual findings and legal conclusions that Progressive did not act in bad faith. In this case, the day that Progressive learned of the accident, it concluded that it should offer the full bodily-injury policy limits to plaintiff and her son's estate; while the driver's criminal proceedings were ongoing, Progressive stayed in touch with plaintiff, informing her that it was ready to settle at her discretion; and after receiving plaintiff's counsel's unilateral offer to settle, Progressive's claims examiner, in-house counsel, and outside counsel promptly moved to satisfy his time-limited demands. The court explained that, under Florida law, an overbroad release can create a factual dispute regarding bad faith, but the totality of the circumstances and Progressive's release did not support a finding that Progressive acted in bad faith. View "Eres v. Progressive American Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law
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The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's order denying defendant's motion to modify a protective order. Defendant, who was sued for her alleged involvement in money laundering and market manipulation schemes, sought to modify a joint, stipulated protective order so that she could use certain confidential materials obtained from the Funds to defend herself against a possible Swiss prosecution for her role in the schemes. Before defendant could file her motion to modify, the Funds voluntarily dismissed their case under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(i). The court concluded that the Funds' voluntary dismissal stripped the district court of jurisdiction to consider defendant's post-dismissal motion to modify. View "Absolute Activist Value Master Fund Limited v. Devine" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Eleventh Circuit held that a certificate of appealability is required when a federal prisoner obtains relief through a postconviction motion, 28 U.S.C. 2255, and appeals the decision to correct only the illegal sentence instead of performing a full resentencing. In this case, because defendant does not have a certificate of appealability, the court lacked jurisdiction to consider his argument that the district court erred by correcting his sentence instead of performing a full resentencing. Accordingly, the court granted the government's motion to dismiss the appeal for lack of jursidiction. View "United States v. Cody" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Defendants were convicted of bribery under 18 U.S.C. 666(a)(2) and other charges related to their involvement in concealing payments to Alabama Representative Oliver Robinson, through his charitable foundation in exchange for "advocacy" and "community outreach" intended to undermine the EPA's efforts to clean up a Superfund site. Defendants argued that the convictions should be overturned because no reasonable jury could find that the Representative committed an "official act," an element required for bribery under 18 U.S.C. 201.The Eleventh Circuit has previously held in United States v. McNair, 605 F.3d 1152, 1190 (11th Cir. 2010), that section 666 has no "official act" requirement and is distinguishable from section 201. Consistent with its sister circuits, the court held that McDonnell v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2355 (2016), does not disturb the court's holding in McNair and the court did not read into section 666 limitations unsupported by the language. In this case, the evidence was sufficient to convict defendants of bribery under section 666(a)(2) where defendants each acted with a corrupt state of mind; Representative Robinson was an agent of Alabama; and defendants intended Representative Robinson to act "in connection with any business, transaction, or series of transactions" of the Alabama government. The court also rejected defendants' claims of error regarding the jury instructions. Finally, the court concluded that the district court's decisions not to sever the cases for trial or subsequent grant of a mistrial were not abuses of discretion. The court affirmed the convictions. View "United States v. Roberson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's denial of defendant's motion for compassionate release. Defendant contends that his conditions of hypertension, latent tuberculosis, and obesity, create a high risk he will fall seriously ill or die should he contract COVID-19 in the midst of the unprecedented global pandemic. The court concluded that the district court failed to demonstrate that it considered the applicable 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors in denying relief. In this case, the district court's order includes nothing to suggest it considered, balanced, or weighed any of the factors supporting the grant of defendant's motion. Accordingly, the court remanded the matter for further proceedings. View "United States v. Cook" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of her complaint against Floridian, in an action alleging that Floridian violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) based on barriers to access she encountered at the hotel property (Count I) and deficiencies in its online reservation system (Count II). The district court dismissed Count II for improper claim splitting, given that plaintiff had made a claim in her first lawsuit about Floridian's online reservation system. The district court subsequently dismissed Count I with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that plaintiff did not have standing to seek injunctive relief.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Count I for lack of standing, except to the extent that the district court dismissed the claim with prejudice. In this case, the totality of relevant facts simply do not support the conclusion that plaintiff faced a real and immediate threat of future discrimination at the Hotel. Therefore, the court remanded for the district court to amend its judgment as to Count I. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of Count II for claim splitting because Count II and Floridian I arise from the same transaction and are based on facts that are sufficiently related in time, space, origin, and motivation. View "Kennedy v. Floridian Hotel, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this dispute over an illegal stranger-originated life insurance (STOLI) policy, the district court found that the AIG Policy at issue lacked an insurable interest at its inception and was therefore void under Delaware Code Annotated Title 18, 2704(a), which, in relevant part, governs the purchase of a life insurance policy on the life of another person.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision allowing the Estate to recover the policy's proceeds under section 2704(b) and finding that the policy was void. However, the court reversed the district court's decision to strike Berkshire's counterclaims for fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations. The court deferred its decision on the remaining issues in this case pending certification of two questions to the Supreme Court of Delaware. The court stated that Berkshire may be entitled to the premiums it paid and the district court erred by striking its misrepresentation counterclaims. The court reserved judgment on the questions of whether the district court properly calculated prejudgment interest to which the Estate is entitled. View "Estate of Malkin v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law
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Plaintiff filed suit against the school district, claiming discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act; interference with her Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rights; and retaliation in violation of all three statutes. Principally, plaintiff alleged that, in ending her employment, the school district discriminated against her because she suffers from major depressive disorder and retaliated against her for asserting her statutory rights.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the school district. The district court concluded that the school district had terminated plaintiff's employment because of her conduct—the threats she made against her own life and the lives of others—not because she had major depressive disorder or because she had participated in statutorily protected activity. In regard to plaintiff's disability discrimination claims under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act, the court ultimately concluded that plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence to create a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the school district's proffered reasons for terminating her employment were pretextual. In regard to plaintiff's retaliation claims, the court concluded that, besides the temporal proximity between when plaintiff asserted her ADA rights and when the school district asked her to resign, no evidence suggests that the school district's stated reasons for ending her employment were merely an excuse to cover up retaliation. In regard to the FMLA interference claim, the court concluded that plaintiff cites nothing from the record to show that the school district's decision to end her employment related in any way to her decision to take FMLA leave. View "Todd v. Fayette County School District" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendants' convictions and sentences for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1349; and wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1343. Defendants' convictions stemmed from three public housing repair contracts that their construction company procured following successful bids to the county. The court held that the government presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate that defendants intentionally participated in a scheme to defraud to constitute wire fraud, and knowingly and voluntarily engaged in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud. View "United States v. Estepa" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Statewide harvests and hauls fruit from about 1,500 fields for Florida farmers. It does not own any of the lands it harvests. In 2014-2017, Statewide employed mostly temporary foreign guest workers as its seasonal harvest workers, through the federal H-2A program, which requires a labor contractor to provide workers with housing, either three meals a day or “free and convenient cooking and kitchen facilities,” and other basic housing amenities including laundry facilities. Statewide provided its workers with cooking facilities instead of meals and with transportation from housing to a grocery store, laundromat, and bank. Statewide employed Ramirez and Santana as crew leaders during the harvest seasons; they also drove the workers to and from housing and the grocery store, laundromat, and bank. These weekly trips lasted approximately four hours. Ramirez and Santana worked up to 80 hours a week. Neither received overtime compensation.They sued under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 201, for unpaid overtime compensation for the driving trips. Statewide argued that those activities fell under the agricultural work exemption from the overtime requirements, section 213(b)(12). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in favor of the crew leaders. Statewide is not a farmer; it “did not own, lease, or control the farms or crops harvested. To be exempt from the overtime requirements, the driving trips must have been “performed . . . on a farm.” They occurred off a farm and were not physically tied to a farm. View "Ramirez v. Statewide Harvesting & Hauling, LLC" on Justia Law