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

January 2018 Archives

Court Affirms $620,000 in Damages for Smoker

When it comes to fault in a smoking-death case, there is no mystery.

Tobacco companies and smokers are both blameworthy. But in Florida there was some confusion about liability and damages in Smith v. R.J. Reynolds Company.

A jury said the smoker was partially responsible for her death, and awarded $620,000 against R.J. Reynolds. The U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, but said the company was 100 percent responsible for fraudulently concealing the dangers of smoking.

When most people envision First Amendment civil rights challenges against college campuses, student protest groups come to mind. However, the University of Alabama just fought off a seemingly random Evangelical preacher's federal First Amendment lawsuit, and Eleventh Circuit appeal.

Fortunately for UA, both the district and appellate courts agreed that the preacher's case did not merit granting a preliminary injunction against the campus. Whether or not the case will get much further is a different story, but the facts are rather curious, and don't seem to bode well for the well-meaning plaintiff preacher.

PETA Fails in Suit to Release Captive Orca

Lolita, the killer whale, will remain in captivity.

That's the decision of the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Miami Seaquarium. The animal rights group and others claimed that Lolita should be freed under the Endangered Species Act.

The appeals court said PETA did not prove that captivity posed a serious threat to the whale. It will not be a sequel to "Free Willy."

A year and a half after losing a four-day trial, former Commodores guitarist, and founding member, Thomas McClary was dealt a blow by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

McClary used the Commodores name for his band in 2014. Not surprisingly, the surviving members of the Commodores (that never left the band) filed a lawsuit against McClary claiming trademark infringement, and were awarded a permanent injunction. On appeal, the permanent injunction was affirmed.

The Sovereign, Not the Plaintiff, Is King

John D. King was mad when he discovered the government had settled a case for $7.5 million -- because it was his case!

Or so he alleged in King v. United States Government. King said the government secretly settled his qui tam action, which he had initiated on behalf of the federal government.

In that underlying case, he claimed several corporations violated the False Claims Act. But to get a share of the recovery, he had to get around the United States' sovereign immunity.