Action Regarding Use of Chemical Agents on Inmates, and Civil Rights and Criminal Matters - U.S. Eleventh Circuit
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Action Regarding Use of Chemical Agents on Inmates, and Civil Rights and Criminal Matters

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.

In US v. Chirino-Alvarez, No. 09-11317, the court affirmed defendant's convictions and sentence for unlawfully smuggling three aliens into the United States, where 1) from the totality of the evidence, including defendant's conversations with and admissions to an undercover customs agent, a jury could reasonably infer that defendant was involved with the scheme throughout; and 2) when, as here, the district court correctly imposes a statutory mandatory minimum sentence that is greater than a defendant's Guidelines range, any error in the guidelines calculations is harmless.

In Eli Lilly & Co. v. Air Express Int'l. USA, Inc., No. 09-12725, an action concerning the spoliation of temperature-sensitive insulin products, which were shipped by air from France to Indiana and were exposed to sub-freezing temperatures en route, the court affirmed in part summary judgment for plaintiffs where summary judgment was appropriately granted on the issue of whether the cargo was damaged in transit.  However, the court reversed in part where the parties did not intend for the liability provision of the long-term service agreement to subject the air waybill contracts to increased limits of liability.

In Bellizia v. US, No. 09-13838, a drug prosecution, the court affirmed the grant of petitioner's habeas petition where the district court did not err in concluding that no competent counsel (that is, no counsel that was aware of the law) would have failed to argue that the weight of the heroin allegedly possessed by petitioner was illegally calculated.

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