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

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Respondent appealed the district court's order confirming a $28 million international arbitration award in favor of EGI. EGI sought to enforce the Chilean award in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by filing a petition to confirm the international arbitration award under the Federal Arbitration Act. The Eleventh Circuit agreed with the district court that service in Brazil was proper and that this arbitration award should be confirmed. The court held that the district court did not err in finding that considerations of international comity counseled against reviewing the Brazilian court's determination that respondent had been properly served in accordance with Brazilian law, especially since the Convention on Letters Rogatory commits jurisdiction of this issue to the courts of Brazil. However, the court vacated the district court's order and remanded with instructions to correct two errors that the district court committed in enforcing the award. In this case, the district court clearly erred in accepting EGI's calculations, which converted UF to pesos to U.S. dollars on January 23, 2012, rather than the proper conversion date under the breach day rule, January 13, 2012. Furthermore, instead of enforcing the Arbitration Award as requested by EGI, the district court's order should have required respondent to pay the purchase price set out in the Shareholders' Agreement and the Award and in exchange required EGI to tender its shares. View "EGI-VSR, LLC v. Juan Carlos Celestino Coderch Mitjans" on Justia Law

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Relator filed a qui tam action under the False Claims Act (FCA) and the Florida False Claims Act (Florida FCA), against two skilled nursing home facilities, two related entities that provided management services at those and 51 other facilities in the state, and an affiliated company that provided rehabilitation services. The Eleventh Circuit denied the motion to dismiss, holding that relator has sufficiently demonstrated she has constitutional standing and thus the case or controversy requirement is satisfied. Furthermore, relator's entry into the litigation funding agreement does not violate the FCA. Drawing all inferences in favor of relator, the court held that the evidence at trial permitted a reasonable jury to find that defendants committed Medicare-related fraud. In this case, relator alleged that defendants defrauded Medicare through the use of two improper practices: upcoding and ramping. Furthermore, relator introduced sufficient evidence to permit a jury to reasonably conclude that La Vie Management caused the submission of false claims. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment as a matter of law to defendants as to the Medicare-related fraud claims. However, the court held that the district court correctly granted defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law as to the alleged false Medicaid claims where, based on the evidence presented at trial, no jury could have reasonably concluded that defendants defrauded Medicaid. The court remanded with instructions for the district court to reinstate the jury's verdict in favor of relator, the United States, and the State of Florida and against defendants on the Medicare claims in the amount of $85,137,095, and to enter judgment on those claims after applying trebling and statutory penalties. The court also reversed and vacated the district court's grant of a conditional new trial. View "Ruckh v. Salus Rehabilitation, LLC" on Justia Law

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The en banc court overruled United States v. Sparks, 806 F.3d 1323, 1341 n.15 (11th Cir. 2015), to the extent that it holds that abandonment implicates Article III standing and is therefore a jurisdictional issue that the government cannot waive and that courts should raise sua sponte. To the contrary, the court held that a party's abandonment of a place or thing runs to the merits of his Fourth Amendment challenge and thus if the government fails to argue abandonment it waives the issue. In this case, the district court denied defendant's motion to suppress evidence found in two separate, warrantless searches of his motel room. A gun was found in the first search and drugs and associated paraphernalia was found in the second search. The government asserted for the first time on appeal that defendant had abandoned his room and any privacy interest therein and thus he lacked standing to assert his Fourth Amendment rights. The court held that the government waived its abandonment argument by failing to raise it in the district court. View "United States v. Ross" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for five armed bank robbery and firearm offenses. The court held that the district court did not clearly err in finding that a bank teller's identification was sufficiently reliable and in allowing the government to introduce her out-of-court show-up identification; the district court did not err in denying defendant's Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29 motion for judgment of acquittal on one count where a reasonable jury could find beyond a reasonable doubt that the BOA branch was FDIC-insured at the time of the 2016 robbery; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's Rule 33 motion for a new trial where, even without the DNA evidence, the jury had more than sufficient evidence that defendant robbed both the BOA and Noa branches. View "United States v. Caldwell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Eleventh Circuit joined the Fifth and Eighth Circuits in concluding that the First Step Act does not require district courts to hold a hearing with the defendant present before ruling on a defendant's motion for a reduced sentence under the Act. The court affirmed defendant's sentence for distributing more than 5 grams f crack cocaine and held that the district court did not err in reducing defendant's prison sentence on his drug conviction to 188 months, followed by 6 years of supervised release, without first holding a hearing in his presence. To the extent defendant contends that the First Step Act itself gives him a statutory right to attend a hearing, the court agreed with the Fifth and Eighth Circuits, which have concluded that the plain text of the First Step Act does not give a defendant seeking a sentence reduction such a right. Furthermore, defendant's motion is governed by Rule 43 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which expressly provides that defendant's presence is not required in a 18 U.S.C. 3582(c) proceeding. The court also held that defendant's due process claim failed because Rule 43 did not require defendant's presence at a section 3582(c)(1)(B) sentence reduction hearing, and he had no corresponding due process right to be present at such a hearing. Finally, the court held that United States v. Brown, 879 F.3d 1231 (11th Cir. 2018), actually shows that a section 3582(c)(1)(B) proceeding is not a "critical stage" that requires the defendant's presence at a hearing and why Brown undermines defendant's due process claim here. View "United States v. Denson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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After defendant, representing himself, pleaded guilty to one charge of bank fraud and one charge of money laundering, he appealed his convictions and the district court's orders directing him to reimburse the United States Treasury. The Eleventh Circuit held that defendant waived his right to counsel knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily. The court rejected defendant's argument that 18 U.S.C. 3006A(f) did not authorize the district court to seize money from his jail account, holding that the district court followed the proper procedures under section 3006A before directing that defendant's money be paid from the court registry to the Treasury. The court also held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider defendant's argument that the district court could not use this money to reimburse the Treasury for his counsel's fees and expenses. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and dismissed in part. View "United States v. Owen" on Justia Law

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Defendant's prior conviction for possession with intent to distribute ecstasy under O.C.G.A. 16-13-30 qualifies as a felony punishable under the Controlled Substances Act. The Eleventh Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's order affirming an IJ's determination that petitioner's prior state conviction qualified as an aggravated felony under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii), rendering him removable and ineligible for cancellation of removal. The court held that O.C.G.A. 16-16-30 is divisible, and that the modified categorical approach applies. The court also held that the BIA did not err in determining that ecstasy is a federally controlled substance under Georgia law. View "Gordon v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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After the district court upheld third-party counterclaim defendants' removal of this case from Alabama state court, the Supreme Court issued Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. v. Jackson, 139 S. Ct. 1743 (2019), which held that third-party counterclaim defendants cannot remove a "civil action" under 28 U.S.C. 1441(c). The Eleventh Circuit held that Home Depot makes the holding in Carl Heck Engineers, Inc. v. Lafourche Parish Police Jury, 622 F.2d 133 (5th Cir. 1980), no longer good law. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's denial of third-party counterclaim plaintiffs Philip and Jennie Bowling's motion to remand, which was based in substantial part on Carl Heck. The court explained that the analysis in Home Depot leaves no doubt that, even if Carl Heck involves section 1441(c), it is no longer good law because it is impossible to read the statute as a whole and conclude that the same term in sections 1441(a) and 1441(c) has different meanings. Furthermore, section 1441(c) does not provide for removal jurisdiction of the Bowlings' claims against the third-party counterclaim defendants here because section 1441(a) is the operative clause that authorizes removal, and section 1441(c) merely adds a condition for certain types of civil cases. Because the district court erred in denying the Bowlings' motion to remand, the court held that the district court's order granting third-party counterclaim defendants' motion for summary judgment must be vacated, and the entire case must be remanded to state court. View "Bowling v. U.S. Bank National Ass'n" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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This appeal arose from an action brought by plaintiffs who object to the City of Lakeland's decision to relocate a Confederate monument from one city park to another, contending that the relocation violates their rights under the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause. The Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiffs lack standing to pursue either their First Amendment claim or their due process claim. Plaintiffs have not shown that they have suffered a particularized Article III injury of the sort that distinguishes them from other interested observers and thus qualifies them, specifically, to invoke federal-court jurisdiction. Rather, plaintiffs' allegations implicate only the generalized desires to promote Southern history and to honor Confederate soldiers. Therefore, the court vacated and remanded the with-prejudice dismissal of plaintiffs' First Amendment claim, with instructions that the district court should dismiss without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction. The court affirmed the district court's without-prejudice dismissal of the due process claim. View "Gardner v. Mutz" on Justia Law

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After a pretrial detainee, Kenneth Grochowski, was killed by his cellmate, William Alexander Brooks, while both men were detained at the Clayton County Jail, Grochowski's surviving adult children filed a civil rights action against the County and four supervisors at the jail. Plaintiffs alleged that the conditions at the jail violated Grochowski's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and that those conditions caused his death. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the jail supervisors' motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The court held that plaintiffs have failed to show that the jail supervisors violated a constitutionally protected right because they failed to show that the Constitution requires in-person security screenings or consideration of violent misdemeanors and that the Constitution requires jail officials to conduct rounds more frequently than once per hour. The court also affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the County, holding that plaintiffs failed to show that either the jail design or its funding and staffing levels violated Grochowski's Fourteenth Amendment rights. Finally, the court granted the district court's order granting the County's motion for a protective order regarding the decision-making process with respect to the design and funding of the jail. View "Grochowski v. Clayton County, Georgia" on Justia Law