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

Nonparty Not Bound by an Injunction as a Successor in Interest

Company A obtains an injunction against Company B, which sells its assets to Company C. Is Company C bound by the injunction?

The simple answer is "no" because Company C was not in privity with the parties to the A-B injunction. That's the basic rule of ADT v. NorthStar Alarm Systems.

The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said that NorthStar Alarm Services was not bound by an injunction because it was not in privity with the parties to the injunction. Also, the appeals court said, the company had no notice that there was an injunction against Vision Security when it purchased the company.

"In the absence of a finding that NorthStar knew about the injunction against Vision Security, the district court erred when it ruled that NorthStar was bound by the injunction under a theory of de facto merger," the appellate panel said. "A court cannot bind a party whose 'rights have not been adjudged according to law.'"

State Violated Dairy's Free Speech Right to Advertise 'Skim Milk'

Mooooove over, Florida oranges. All-natural skim milk is about to be a little more famous in the Sunshine State.

A federal appeals court has ruled that a Florida dairy producer has a free speech right to advertise its natural "skim milk," even though the state prohibited the description. The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said the advertisement was truthful and entitled to First Amendment protection.

"The State was unable to show that forbidding the OCheesee Creamery from using the term 'skim milk' was reasonable," the court said.

Death Row Inmate Ruled Incompetent

Vernon Madison, one of the longest-tenured tenants on Alabama's death row, has cheated death again.

Seven hours before his scheduled date with death last year, an appellate court stayed his execution. A new U.S. Supreme Court case gave him a chance to challenge the constitutionality of the ultimate sentence.

Then last week, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said he was incompetent to be executed because strokes have left him unable to understand why he was sentenced to die.

"Mr. Madison may have been told that he is being executed because of the murder he committed, but he doesn't remember his capital offence, and according to his perception of reality he never committed murder," the federal appeals court said.

A recent Florida Supreme Court case went a bit beyond the regular euphemisms about the birds and the bees into a straight up, in your face, hardcore examination of sexual intercourse.

The definition of sexual intercourse, that is. Examining a Florida law criminalizing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, the court was forced to determine just what counted as "sexual intercourse." Was it limited to old-fashioned, Church-approved, when-a-man-loves-a-woman-very-much stuff, or could it be read to include some man-on-man action?

The Civil Rights Act's protections against discrimination 'on the basis of sex' do not protect gay and lesbian workers who face discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, the Eleven Circuit ruled on Friday.

That wouldn't be a terribly noteworthy outcome, if this were still the 1970s, or even the early 2000s. During those periods of civil rights litigation, courts routinely refused to extend employment protections to gay, lesbian, and transgender employees. But in recent years, the consensus has started to shift. The EEOC has interpreted the Civil Rights Act to protect gay workers, for example, and the Eleventh itself has extended protections to transgender employees.

But those earlier cases still stand, the Eleventh ruled, and they still bind the court's interpretation of civil rights laws today.

An en banc Eleventh Circuit yesterday struck down a Florida law that prevented doctors generally from asking their patients about gun ownership. The law was an unconstitutional restriction on the doctors' free speech, the court ruled.

The legal battle over that law, Florida's Firearms Owners' Privacy Act, earned the moniker Docs v. Glocks, after doctors complained that the law prevented them from properly screening patients and discussing possible health risks.

No Police Liability for Flashbang Grenade Injuries, 11th Cr. Rules

A SWAT team gathered before dawn to plot their attack on a suspected drug dealer in Clayton County, Georgia.

Police knew Jason Ward had a nine-millimeter handgun, so the officers had obtained a "no-knock" warrant that allowed them to break into Ward's apartment without notice. They would use flashbang grenades to disorient him and break through a glass window as a distraction.

Ward and his girlfriend, Treneshia Dukes, were asleep in the bedroom when Ward was awakened by a "boom" and then heard his "window break and shattering," a court record said. "Next, he remembered 'Treneshia screaming,' telling 'her to get down,' then grabbing the 'pistol up under my head -- up under my pillow,' and 'kicking it into the hallway.'

Dukes heard a "boom, and then the window like rattling and shattering ..., and like as I'm waking up I just seen an object coming towards me."

Lesson From Employee Hacking Case: Don't Use 'Password' for a Password

In the fast-paced computer world, people occasionally use "password" as a default password on their accounts. Bad idea.

It was an expensive lesson learned for furniture company Brown Jordan and one of its top executives. Christopher Carmicle used the password to access email of other employees, including superiors, leading to costly litigation and termination.

According to the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Brown Jordan rightfully terminated Carmicle for hacking into the email. The judges probably would have affirmed the judgment against him for other reasons, too, if the company had acted sooner.

ADA Doesn't Require Reassignment of a Disabled Employee

An employer does not have to reassign a disabled employee to a vacant position ahead of more qualified, non-disabled employees, a federal appeals court said.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said the American with Disabilities Act "only requires an employer allow a disabled person to compete equally with the rest of the world for a vacant position" as a reasonable accommodation.

"The ADA does not require reassignment without competition for, or preferential treatment of, the disabled," the panel said.

ACLU Wins Appeal for LGBT Club Against Middle School

A federal appeals court has ruled that LGBT students may proceed against a Florida middle school that denied its application for a student club.

In reversing the dismissal of the club's lawsuit, the Eleventh Circuit said that Florida law gives middle school and high school students the same rights to form extra-curricular clubs. The justices said Florida's law inconsistently defines "secondary education," but concluded that a middle school is a secondary school for equal access purposes.

"We conclude that 'secondary education,' under Florida law, means at least 'courses through which a person receives high school credit that leads to the award of a high school diploma,'" the justices said in reversing and remanding the case.

Unless the school district appeals, the district court will now decide whether Carver Middle School must accept the club. The appellate court decision has far-reaching implications, however.