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

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After plaintiff seriously injured her knee while at work, Hospital Housekeeping told her nothing about her rights under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), instead handling the injury solely as a workers' compensation claim. Hospital Housekeeping subsequently discharged plaintiff after she could not perform the essential-functions test before returning to work. Plaintiff filed suit for interference under the FMLA and the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Hospital Housekeeping.The Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiff was entitled to FMLA rights; plaintiff demonstrated that Hospital Housekeeping denied her a leave benefit under the FMLA where it did not give her any FMLA notice whatsoever and thus failed to satisfy its notice obligations; and a material issue of fact exists over whether an uninterrupted twelve-week FMLA leave period would have made a difference to whether plaintiff could have passed her essential-functions test and returned to work. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's entry of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Ramji v. Hospital Housekeeping Systems, LLC" on Justia Law

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A Florida conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, Fla. Stat. 790.23(1)(a), is categorically an aggravated felony under the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(E)(ii).The Eleventh Circuit denied the petition for review challenging the BIA's removal based on petitioner's Florida felon-in-possession conviction. The court concluded that petitioner is not entitled to relief based on exemplar prosecutions. In this case, petitioner does not assert that his own felon-in-possession conviction involved an antique firearm, but he does point to exemplar prosecutions that he says establish that Florida actually prosecutes felons for possession of federal antique firearms. However, petitioner does not point to exemplar prosecutions of felons for mere possession of federal antique firearms nor for possessing black-powder muzzleloaders. Furthermore, Florida's felon-in-possession statute is not broader than the federal statute on its face and thus petitioner is not entitled to relief based on the statutory language. View "Aspilaire v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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Plaintiff filed a putative class action against Comcast, alleging that it had violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Plaintiff claimed that when he called Comcast to inquire about pricing and services, a Comcast representative conducted a credit check and pulled his credit information without his permission.The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's denial of Comcast's motion to compel arbitration, finding that plaintiff's FCRA claim relates to the Subscriber Agreement because of: the FAA's liberal federal policy favoring arbitration agreements, the relevant provisions in the Subscriber Agreement applicable to plaintiff, and the fact that Comcast would not have access to plaintiff's personal information—and therefore could not have engaged in the allegedly tortious conduct—but for the pre-existing Agreement. The panel remanded for the district court to determine the merits of the parties' remaining arguments related to Comcast's motion to compel arbitration. View "Hearn v. Comcast Cable Communications, LLC" on Justia Law

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The required service of a "notice of a motion to vacate" under 9 U.S.C. 12 is not accomplished by emailing to opposing counsel a "courtesy copy" of a memorandum in support of that motion where, as here, the party to be served did not expressly consent in writing to service by email.In this contract dispute, Excel demanded arbitration with O'Neal, and DRT participated in the arbitration as a third-party respondent. Because of DRT's subsequent refusal to pay the attorney's fees part of the arbitration award, O'Neal filed a complaint in Georgia state court seeking confirmation of the award. The case was then removed to federal court. In a separate case, DRT filed a motion in district court to vacate part of the arbitration award for the $650,090.49 in attorney's fees. That night, DRT's counsel emailed O'Neal's counsel what he called a "courtesy copy" of DRT's signed and dated 20-page memorandum in support of the motion to vacate. Both cases were consolidated and the district court denied DRT's motion to vacate the attorney's fees part of the arbitration and confirmed the arbitration award. The court concluded that the district court correctly held that DRT did not serve in a proper and timely way notice of its motion to vacate and, as a result, that motion was due to be denied and the arbitration award confirmed. The court affirmed the district court's order and judgment insofar as it confirmed the arbitration award and denied the motion to vacate. The court dismissed the appeal from the district court's order and judgment awarding post-arbitration attorney's fees. View "O'Neal Constructors, LLC v. DRT America, LLC" on Justia Law

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On remand from the Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded on plaintiff's age discrimination and gender discrimination claims, affirming the Title VII retaliation and hostile work environment claims. Plaintiff sought rehearing, arguing that the Supreme Court's decision in her case also undermined the court's Trask-based rejection of her Title VII retaliation claim and that an intervening 11th Circuit decision, Monaghan v. Worldpay US, Inc., 955 F.3d 855 (11th Cir. 2020), gutted the precedent on which the court had relied in rejecting her hostile work environment claim.The Eleventh Circuit held that the Supreme Court's decision in plaintiff's case undermined Trask v. Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs, 822 F.3d 1179 (11th Cir. 2016), to the point of abrogation and that the standard that the Court articulated there now controls cases arising under Title VII's nearly identical text. The court also held that Monaghan clarified the court's law governing what the court called "retaliatory-hostile-work-environment" claims, and that the standard for such claims is, as the court said there, the less onerous "might have dissuaded a reasonable worker" test articulated in Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. White, 548 U.S. 53 (2006), and Crawford v. Carroll, 529 F.3d 961 (11th Cir. 2008), rather than the more stringent "severe or pervasive" test found in Gowski v. Peake, 682 F.3d 1299 (11th Cir. 2012). Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's Title VII retaliation and hostile work environment claims and remanded for the district court to consider those claims under the proper standards. View "Babb v. Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit concluded that petitioner is entitled to equitable tolling as he demonstrated that he exercised reasonable diligence in pursuing his rights and he further demonstrated extraordinary circumstances—his counsel's abdication of her duty of loyalty to petitioner so she could promote her own interests—that prevented the filing of his petition. The court explained that counsel's interests were so adverse to those of her client that counsel effectively abandoned petitioner. In this case, counsel sacrificed petitioner's guaranteed opportunity of federal habeas review in order to pursue her own novel—and ultimately meritless—constitutional argument against the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act's limitations period.On the merits of the habeas petition, the court concluded that the district court correctly ruled that petitioner procedurally defaulted on his first two claims and the state court reasonably denied relief on his third claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order denying habeas relief on the merits. View "Thomas v. Attorney General, State of Florida" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's order of removal of petitioner as an alien convicted of aggravated felonies after his admission to the United States. In this case, petitioner was a citizen when he was convicted. At issue is whether a denaturalized alien is removable as an aggravated felon based on convictions entered while he was an American citizen.The court explained that, by its plain terms, 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii) does not apply to aliens who were citizens when convicted. Therefore, the court held that the plain meaning of section 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii) forecloses the BIA's interpretation. Furthermore, binding precedent, Costello v. Immigr. & Naturalization Serv., 376 U.S. 120 (1964), forecloses treating petitioner's denaturalization as retroactive for removal purposes. Accordingly, the court vacated the BIA's decision and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hylton v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against NCL, alleging that its medical staff failed to diagnose and properly manage his status and failed to evacuate him from a cruise ship he was aboard. The district court granted NCL's motion for a directed verdict and the jury found NCL negligent, awarding non-economic damages, future medical expenses, and lost services.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed and concluded that the cruise-line medical negligence claims are cognizable in admiralty jurisdiction; the district court did not err by excluding testimony from plaintiff's expert economist and granting a directed verdict on loss earning capacity where the testimony was unreliable and plaintiff failed to prove the amount of his loss-earning-capacity damages; NCL is not entitled to a new trial where the district court correctly instructed the jury and sufficient evidence supported the verdict against NCL. View "Buland v. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd." on Justia Law

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McKiver is serving a mandatory 25-year sentence for a crime he committed shortly after he graduated high school. He admitted to stealing oxycodone pills from his neighbor; the state never disputed that he consumed those pills within 48 hours of acquiring them. A state postconviction court granted McKiver a new trial based on allegations of ineffective assistance. An appellate court reversed in a one-sentence order. McKiver filed a federal habeas petition that argued his trial counsel failed to investigate and present certain witnesses who would cast doubt on the state’s case and the criminal history of a key state witness.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the denial of relief. The state court did not unreasonably apply "Strickland" in rejecting the witness-testimony claim. The only evidence before that court was McKiver’s own conclusory testimony about what the witnesses would have said and whether they would have been available and willing to testify. Fair-minded jurists could agree that McKiver’s evidentiary presentation failed to establish that he met Strickland’s test, especially with respect to its prejudice prong. McKiver cannot surmount the procedural default of his criminal-history claim. There is no reasonable probability that McKiver’s trial would have reached a different conclusion if his trial counsel had investigated the criminal history of the witness. View "McKiver v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued Morrison in Alabama state court in 2006, alleging common-law fraud and Alabama Securities Act violations, later adding claims under the Alabama Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, alleging that Morrison had given property to his sons to defraud his creditors. Morrison filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court allowed the Alabama case to proceed but stayed the execution of any judgment. Plaintiffs initiated a bankruptcy court adversary proceeding, seeking a ruling that their state-court claims were not dischargeable. The bankruptcy court entered Morrison’s discharge order with the adversary proceeding still pending. In 2019, the Alabama trial court entered judgment ($1,185,176) against Morrison on the common-law fraud and Securities Act claims but rejected the fraudulent transfer claims.In the adversary proceeding, the bankruptcy court held that the state-court judgment was excepted from discharge, 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(19), as a debt for the violation of state securities laws, and later ruled that the discharge injunction barred appeals against Morrison on the fraudulent transfer claims. The court found the "Jet Florida" doctrine inapplicable because Morrison would be burdened with the expense of defending the state-court suit. The district court and Eleventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the fraudulent transfer suit is an action to collect a non-dischargeable debt (securities-fraud judgment) or that Plaintiffs should be allowed to proceed against Morrison as a nominal defendant, to seek recovery from the fraudulent transferees. The bankruptcy court has discretion in deciding whether to allow a suit against a discharged debtor under Jet Florida. View "SuVicMon Development, Inc. v. Morrison" on Justia Law