U.S. Eleventh Circuit

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


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.

A police officer in Georgia, who claims he was punished for reporting racial profiling, can pursue his section 1983 and defamation suit against the local sheriff's department, the Eleventh Circuit ruled last week.

Derrick Bailey, a law-enforcement officer with more than 17 years of experience, alleges that he was terminated and harassed for reporting racial profiling and constitutional violations in the Douglasville police department and Douglas County sheriffs office. That retaliation included a "BOLO," or "be-on-the-lookout" advisory to all law enforcement in the county, describing Bailey as a "loose cannon" and danger to any cop -- a warning the Eleventh Circuit notes could have left him dead at the hands of his fellow officers.

In Miami-Dade County, sex offenders who have been convicted of crimes involving victims under the age of 16 cannot live within 2,500 feet of any school, with few exceptions. Now, two sex offenders say that the restrictions were so harsh they were driven to homelessness. Miami-Dade's law so limited housing options that both offenders had nowhere left to live but a homeless encampment, they claim.

Those offenders sued, alleging that the law, adopted in 2005 and after their convictions, was so punitive that it violated the ex post facto clause of the federal and Florida constitutions. Though their claims were initially tossed out, the Eleventh Circuit revived their suit on Monday, finding that the offenders had sufficiently alleged that Miami-Dade County had violated their constitutional rights.

Does a prohibition on employee dreadlocks amount to racial discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act? Not according to the Eleventh Circuit. Though dreads may be closely associated with African American race and culture, a ban on the hairstyle doesn't amount to racial discrimination, the court ruled last Thursday.

The ruling came after the EEOC brought a lawsuit on behalf of Chastity Jones, an applicant who was offered a job at a customer service call center, on the condition that she chop off her dreadlocks.

11th Circuit to Drunken, Randy Player-Types: Caveat Emptor

This next question is going to smack some readers as being highly chauvinistic, but what does a rich man in a bar expect when beautiful young girl asks him to buy her a drink? This question, believe it or not, is at the heart of a recent Eleventh Circuit case that reversed several criminal convictions against some enterprising businesses in Miami.

The opinion is colorful, offering a dose of booze, Star Trek, film-noir, and theology in such an efficient bundle -- all of which help lead the court to answer the "what are you expecting" question with "not much."

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