U.S. Eleventh Circuit

U.S. Eleventh Circuit - The FindLaw 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


Back in August, a federal district judge in Florida held that the state's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. That was, of course, a lifetime ago in light of what's happened since: The Supreme Court punted, the Sixth Circuit upheld, and same-sex marriage is the law in 33 states (for now).

Well, the State of Florida isn't taking this lying down. Attorney General Pamela Bondi is appealing the district court's order. Does Florida's brief to the Eleventh Circuit have anything new that hasn't been dismissed by four other circuit courts already?

It's well established that there's no respondeat superior liability levied on ship owners for the negligent medical care of the ship's crew, no matter how negligent they are. But what about an agency theory? That was an issue of first impression for the Eleventh Circuit in Franza v. Royal Caribbean Cruises.

The short, short version: Pasquale Vaglio fell, hitting his head while Royal Caribbean's "Explorer of the Seas" was docked in Bermuda. The ship's nurse failed to correctly diagnose his head trauma, had him wait for four hours, then "released him with no treatment to speak of." Vaglio died a week later.

We were just talking about junk faxes, largely because our office keeps getting them. (And no, fool, I don't want to hire someone who uses a fax machine to design a mobile app for my company.) They're annoying as heck, and they're also prohibited by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

The case of Palm Beach Golf Center-Boca Inc. v. John G. Sarris, DDS, involves a junk fax, sent by a dentist, that a golf club probably received -- the fax logs say that it was successfully transmitted and that the two fax machines connected for over a minute -- but nobody seems to have seen. Nonetheless, the Eleventh Circuit has revived the putative class-action lawsuit and will allow it to proceed on two grounds: the TCPA and common law conversion.

In June, Cameron Bates, a former Florida sheriff's deputy, was convicted of possessing child pornography. But Bates also had sexual relationships with adult men, and he figured this information would be used at trial (which it was). Bates tried to head the problem off during voir dire by seeking to exclude potential jurors who were prejudiced against men who had sex with men.

The trial court denied the request. As expected, evidence of Bates' sexual relationships with adult men "was repeatedly paraded before the jury, over several objections from Mr. Bates." He was convicted of all counts.

If you attended college at least after the late 1990s, you probably remember that one or more of your professors made excerpts from books available in "electronic reserve" by scanning the relevant pages and turning them into PDFs that only students enrolled in the course could access.

At the time, you might not have wondered whether the practice was lawful. Well, even if you didn't wonder that, the Eleventh Circuit has your answer in a 129-page opinion: "Maybe."

We've talked before about the ongoing "Engle-progeny" cases in Florida: The state supreme court decertified the Engle class but gave res judicata effect to a jury's determinations on causation, negligence, breach of warranty, concealment, and conspiracy findings. The individual members of the class would then have to file their own claims to determine "individual issues such as legal causation, comparative fault, and damages." The Eleventh Circuit upheld this "novel" approach last year.

Thelma Aycock brought this suit on behalf of her late husband, Richard Aycock, a chain smoker with a bit of a drinking problem. A jury found R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company 72.5 percent at fault, leading to a net award of $4.28 million. Reynolds appealed, arguing that a denied continuance cost it its choice of counsel and more importantly, that exclusion of evidence of Richard's alcoholism was improper.

The Eleventh Circuit didn't touch the counsel issue, reversing the verdict on the evidentiary issue alone.

Earlier this year, we picked Lane v. Franks as our "SCOTUS sleeper" -- a case nobody was talking about, but one that was extremely important for whistleblowers and workers' speech rights. Edward Lane, the director of a state program for at-risk youth, noticed that a politician held a no-show gig at the local community college and fired her. He was subpoenaed to give testimony in her criminal trial.

Lane was then laid off. Fortunately for him, the Supreme Court came to his rescue somewhat, by holding that his speech was protected. Now that he's been vindicated in the eyes of the law, all that is left is to get his job back, assuming the courts even have the power to issue such an order.

But here's the punch line: The program Lane worked for doesn't even exist anymore.

We could start with cell towers disguised as trees. Or railroad fuel tax. But no, the case we really want to talk about, and the first case out of the Eleventh Circuit that will be argued this year, is the "One fish, two fish, red fish, short fish" case, where a guy, who was debating the size of his red grouper, tossed the fish overboard and was prosecuted under a banking statute (Sarbanes-Oxley) for destroying the evidence.

Only then will the Court will get to the Monopine, and what a city must do to keep these man-made mockeries of nature out of their neighborhood. And after that? Whether Alabama can gouge rail carriers for a sales-and-use tax while exempting trucks and boats.

The Federal Arbitration Act comes into play once again, this time in a case from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Last month, you'll recall, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck an arbitration agreement that wasn't mutual -- the phone company, Alltel, could enforce the arbitration clause against customers, but not the other way around.

The Eleventh Circuit in Inetianbor v. CashCall, Inc. affirmed the district court's refusal to compel arbitration due to a forum selection clause and a forum that was unavailable.

Why is an Italian restaurant suing a bagel company in federal court? Sure, you can chalk it up to it being Florida, but it turns out the dispute is unrelated to the vortex of sanity that seems to exist down there.

The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. advertises that its bagels are so awesome because it utilizes a "patented 14-stage water treatment process" designed to mimic the water in Brooklyn. As everyone knows, New York bagels are considered the best bagels because of the water in New York City.