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

August 2010 Archives

Bankston v. Then, No. 10-10750

Bankston v. Then, No. 10-10750, concerned a petition for review of a fine imposed on a firearms dealer by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms.  The court affirmed the denial of the petition on the ground that the accuracy of the information at the time of a background check was irrelevant for purposes of 18 U.S.C. section 922(t), and the government need only prove the licensee acted knowingly.

Advanced Body Care Solutions, LLC v. Thione Int'l., Inc.

Advanced Body Care Solutions, LLC v. Thione Int'l., Inc., No. 09-13151, involved an action arising out of a contract that required a company to make minimum purchases of products in exchange for an exclusive license to market and distribute them.  The court affirmed judgment for defendant on the grounds that 1) the district court properly rejected plaintiff's argument that defendant's shipment of the defective ampoules breached the entire Licensing Agreement; 2) because the Licensing Agreement did not clearly express that the listed remedies were the exclusive remedies available to defendant, regardless of what the parties' intentions may have been, the Agreement did not effectively limit defendant's remedies; and 3) the jury's verdict, which did not exceed the amount of defendant's expert's calculations, was neither against the great weight of the evidence nor excessive.

Denial of Capital Habeas Petition, and Criminal Matter

In Johnson v. Upton, No. 09-16090, a capital habeas matter, the court affirmed the denial of petitioner's habeas petition, holding that 1) it was not objectively unreasonable for an attorney to assume that if there were some powerful reason for his client's escape from pretrial detention other than the usual reason for escapes (not wanting to be convicted and in jail), the client would have told him that reason when they discussed the impact the escape evidence would have at trial; 2) the victim's death certificate would not put a reasonably competent attorney on notice of a need to do more discovery or to obtain testimony from a medical expert; and 3) trial counsel's investigation into mitigating circumstances was not objectively unreasonable.

Thomas v. Bryant, No. 09-11658, involved an action by ten inmates incarcerated at Florida State Prison against various officers and employees of the Florida Department of Corrections, alleging that the use of chemical agents on inmates with mental illness and other vulnerabilities violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.  The court affirmed judgment for plaintiffs, holding that 1) a deceased plaintiff may still be a "prevailing party" entitled to attorneys' fees for the costs of the district court litigation notwithstanding his untimely death and the subsequent mootness of his lawsuit pending appeal; 2) defendants waived any challenge to the district court's use of the deliberate-indifference standard; and 3) the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant had decompensated at times that he was sprayed with chemical agents and that he suffered psychological injury from these sprayings.

Coast Guard Tort Action, Government Benefits Matter

Uralde v. US, No. 09-13845, involved an action against the U.S. claiming that plaintiff's wife died as a result of the Coast Guard's failure to provide her access to timely medical treatment after she was injured during the Coast Guard's interdiction of their vessel.  The court reversed the dismissal of the action on the ground that, because the Suits in Admiralty Act did not include a reciprocity requirement, plaintiff had no obligation to demonstrate that Cuba would allow Americans to sue its government on similar claims.

US v. Kottwitz, No. 08-13740

In US v. Kottwitz, No. 08-13740, the court affirmed in part defendants' convictions for tax fraud-related charges, holding that the circumstantial evidence was sufficient for the jury to have concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that defendants entered into the charged conspiracy.  However, the court vacated the convictions in part on the grounds that 1) the district court erred in refusing to give defendants' requested special instruction to the jury on their good faith reliance on their accountant's advice; and 2) the evidence was insufficient for a properly instructed jury to convict on the charge of aiding and assisting in the filing of a materially false corporate tax return.

US v. Newman, No. 09-14557

In US v. Newman, No. 09-14557, the court reversed defendant's sentence for violating the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act, the district court clearly erred in finding that the offense was "otherwise extensive in scope, planning, or preparation" and thus enhancing the sentence.

Like-Kind Exchange Tax Issue, and Criminal Matter

Ocmulgee Fields, Inc. v. Comm'r of Int'l. Rev., No. 09-13395, involved a petition for review of the tax court's determination that the taxpayer's like-kind exchange that interposed an intermediary between itself and a related party was not entitled to nonrecognition treatment.  The court affirmed on the ground that the record adequately supported the tax court's finding that the taxpayer structured its transactions to avoid the purposes of 26 U.S.C. section 1031(f).

Bankruptcy Matters

In re: Celotex Corp., No. 09-12000, involved adversary proceedings in bankruptcy court concerning creditors' property damage claims against debtor.  The court affirmed the dismissal of the action on the ground that the express provisions of the bankruptcy plan documents and the fundamental purpose of the trust did not establish that creditors were entitled to judgment-rate interest.

Underwriters at Lloyd's v. Osting-Schwinn, No. 08-15809

In Underwriters at Lloyd's v. Osting-Schwinn, No. 08-15809, a negligence action by Lloyd's syndicates against a policyholder, the court reversed summary judgment for plaintiff on the ground that the syndicates, as unincorporated associations, must plead the citizenship of each of their members for diversity jurisdiction purposes.

German Bond Recovery Action, and Criminal Cases

In US v. Epps, No. 09-12285, the court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for armed bank robbery and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, holding that 1) the contents of a pillowcase carried by defendant could be inferred from its outwardly visible stains and the circumstances under which the police obtained it, and thus defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in it; and 2) alleged prosecutorial misconduct did not affect defendant's substantial rights.

Railroad-Related Nuisance Case, and Criminal Matter

Pace v. CSX Transp., Inc., No. 09-16079, involved a nuisance claim stemming from defendant's construction and use of a side track adjacent to property owned by plaintiffs.  The court affirmed summary judgment for defendant on the ground that the language of 49 U.S.C. section 10501(b) plainly conveyed Congress's intent to preempt all state law claims pertaining to the operation or construction of a side track.

US v. Mills, No. 08-11760, concerned defendants' appeal from the denial of their motions for reduction of sentence under 18 U.S.C. section 3582(c)(2).  The court affirmed the order on the grounds that 1) the operative provision in determining defendants' applicable sentencing range was the statutory mandatory minimum, 21 U.S.C. section 841(b)(1)(A)(iii), not the crack cocaine Guideline, U.S.S.G. section 2D1.1; and 2) the provision governing the defendants' sentences, and the provision from which the district courts granted substantial assistance departures, was the range set by the statutory mandatory minimum, not the Guidelines sentencing range for crack cocaine offenses that was subsequently changed by Amendment 706.

Related Resources

Roe v. Michelin N. Am., Inc., No. 09-15141

Roe v. Michelin N. Am., Inc., No. 09-15141, involved a wrongful death action against a tire company based on a car accident.  The court affirmed the denial of plaintiff's motion to remand to state court, holding that courts may use their judicial experience and common sense in determining whether the case stated in a complaint meets federal jurisdictional requirements.

Badger v. Southern Farm Bureau Life Ins. Co., No. 09-12999, concerned a shareholders' derivative action stemming from defendant-corporation's purchase of a debenture held by plaintiff shareholders, which was their corporation's primary asset.  The Eleventh Circuit reversed judgment for plaintiff on the grounds that 1) any duty to disclose would have been satisfied by disclosure to the corporation's officers or directors; and 2) there was no suggestion that defendant exerted improper control over the company's officers or board of directors, or that defendant conspired with company's agents to deprive company shareholders of material information.

Osmose, Inc. v. Viance, LLC, No. 09-15563, involved a false advertising action based on defendant's release of several advertising statements expressing serious safety concerns regarding the use of wood treated with plaintiff's copper-based wood preservative.  The court of appeals affirmed an injunction in favor of plaintiff in part on the grounds that 1) defendant's statements regarding serious safety concerns arguably could be construed as more than general statements of opinion; and 2) the district court did not clearly err in finding that the tests performed did not support defendant's conclusions regarding the safety and efficacy of the preservative.  However, the court vacated in part on the ground that the district court abused its discretion by enjoining defendant regarding plaintiff's environmental advertisements because the court neither identified nor analyzed any statements by defendant to that effect.

Related Resources

Scott v. Roberts, No. 10-13211, concerned an emergency appeal from the denial of a motion for a preliminary injunction by Richard Scott, a candidate for the Republican Party for Governor of the State of Florida, against the Florida Election Campaign Financing Act.  The court of appeals reversed on the ground that Davis required Florida to justify its excess spending subsidy by reference to an anticorruption interest, but Florida could not satisfy its burden of establishing that its subsidy furthered that interest in the least restrictive manner possible.

As the court wrote:  "In this emergency appeal from the denial of a motion for a preliminary injunction, Richard Scott, who is a candidate for the Republican Party for Governor of the State of Florida, asks that we preliminarily enjoin the enforcement of a provision of the Florida Election Campaign Financing Act that he contends violates his rights, under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, to spend unlimited sums of his personal funds and private donations to his campaign in furtherance of his candidacy."

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