U.S. Eleventh Circuit

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


Last February, Ashley Diamond sued the Georgia Department of Corrections in federal court. A transgender woman, Diamond was housed in a men's prison, denied medical treatment, and repeatedly sexually assaulted, she alleged -- all while the state refused to take corrective action.

This Monday, she was unexpectedly granted parole. Her release comes months before her case was scheduled for review and less than three years into her 11 year sentence. Diamond's suit  shed light on the frequent neglect and abuse transgender inmates face and it quickly became a "thorn in the side of the Georgia Department of Corrections," according to The New York Times.

A Florida law that prevents doctors from asking patients about guns in their home will soon go into effect, the Associated Press reports. The Eleventh Circuit vacated an injunction against the law last week, allowing the so-called "Docs v. Glocks" law to go ahead.

The Florida legislation, officially titled the "Firearm Owners Privacy Act," prohibits doctors from talking with their patients about guns in their homes when irrelevant to medical care. Last year, the Eleventh ruled that the Act doesn't violate doctors' rights to communicate with their patients, it "simply acknowledges that the practice of good medicine does not require interrogation about irrelevant, private matters."

Alabama can't ban consumer protection class actions, the Eleventh Circuit ruled yesterday. The state's consumer protection law prohibits deceptive practices, but doesn't allow wronged consumers to bring class actions. That put it in conflict with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which, at least in federal court, allow class action suits.

Applying highly fractured Supreme Court precedent, the Eleventh Ruled that the federal rules trump the state law. The ruling allows plaintiffs to continue to pursue their class action, in federal court, against wood manufacturers who allegedly failed to properly treat their wood.

Two Florida companies obtained a judgment of $50 million against the Dominican Republic. This was entered as a default judgment because the country failed to respond to the lawsuit. In its appeal before the Eleventh Circuit, the Dominican Republic claimed excusable neglect for failing to respond to the lawsuit.

Apparently, a low-level employee had acted on the country's behalf in deciding not to participate in the legal action. That clerical error almost cost the government $50 million. Fortunately for the Dominican Republic, they were able to raise convincing arguments on appeal before the 11th Circuit.

If you want to bring a loaded gun with you to a federal dam or reservoir, expect to be turned away. Except for hunting and target range purposes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which controls most federal water resource development projects, doesn't allow for loaded firearms on Corps lands. Explosives are banned too. Save those for the National Parks.

For Second Amendment advocates in the Eleventh Circuit, that restriction "completely destroys" their right to bear arms. The Eleventh Circuit, however, disagrees, taking a more nuanced look at the regulation's impact on Second Amendment rights.

Seven prison officers who had been accused of showing deliberate indifference to an inmate's suicide are protected by qualified immunity, the Eleventh Circuit ruled on Wednesday. After Darius James killed himself while awaiting trial, his mother sued the officers, alleging that they knew of James' suicide risk and did nothing.

James' mother had failed to show that individual officers had a subjective knowledge of the risk of suicide, the Eleventh Circuit found. While there was circumstantial evidence that prison officials generally may have been aware of James' suicide risk and may have mishandled his care, there was not enough evidence specific to the officers to counteract their qualified immunity.

If you sabotage your own trial, don't expect a successful appeal in the Eleventh. That's the lesson a Georgia man who stole over $4 million in a yearlong credit card scam learned the hard way, recently.

Jean-Daniel Perkins attempted to avoid conviction by refusing counsel and not attending his trial. Perkins thought he had found "one weird trick" to beat the legal system. And now, judges do hate him, and his tricks didn't work.


Don Siegelman, the former Governor of Alabama, lost his motion for a new trial last week. Siegelman was convicted of bribery, mail fraud and obstruction of justice in 2006, following an investigation that many Democrats argued was politically motivated, but which Republicans claimed revealed extensive corruption.

After a series of appeals, Siegelman moved for a new trial, based on allegations that U.S. Attorney Leura Canary participated in his prosecution after she had disqualified herself due to conflicts of interest. The Eleventh Circuit rejected his claims, finding that Canary's involvement did not deprive him of his right to a disinterested prosecutor.

A Clearwater police officer who pulled a woman from her car, resulting in significant injury, after she refused to allow him to search wasn't acting outside clearly established law, the Eleventh Circuit has ruled. The decision overturns a district court ruling that the officer used excessive force and was not entitled to qualified immunity.

The incident began when Officer Jeffery Adkisson, of Clearwater, Florida, pulled Sarita Merricks over after he suspected her car's windows were illegally tinted. He claimed to have smelled marijuana smoke, though Merricks denied that she or anyone else in the car had smoked. When Adkisson asked if he could search, Merricks repeatedly refused.

11th Cir. Affirms Restitution for Minor Sexual Abuse Victim

Over the course of a few years, a high school student named J.S. began having a sexual relationship with his teacher, Thomas Keelan. Suspecting an inappropriate relationship, J.S.'s parents enrolled him in a treatment program. After completing the program, J.S. decided to cooperate with law enforcement.

J.S. made a wiretapped phone call to Keelan, who then drove down to Florida to have sex. Guess what? Busted!