Injury & Tort Law News - U.S. Eleventh Circuit
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Vicki and Danny Weeks sued five drug companies in federal court over injuries Danny Weeks suffered after years of taking metoclopramide, the generic version of Reglan. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, in turn, certified to the Alabama Supreme Court the question of whether brand-name manufacturers can be held liable for fraudulent misrepresentation due to injuries sustained from generics.

Last week, in an opinion following a rehearing of this case, the court ruled 6-3 that they can.

Since the inception of the United States, the Alien Tort Claims Act has given a forum in U.S. courts to aliens harmed in violation of U.S. treaties or international law. To that end, more than 4,000 Colombians sued Chiquita (the North Carolina-based banana company) in the United States, alleging that Chiquita acted in concert with paramilitary forces in Colombia, resulting in injury and death.

The cases came to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals to decide some concerns over the plaintiffs' pleadings, but the Eleventh Circuit dismissed the lawsuits, finding that U.S. courts were not the place to litigate claims where foreign nationals alleged they were being harmed by other foreign nationals.

In 1994, a class-action lawsuit was brought against Big Tobacco, including R.J. Reynolds, in Florida state court on behalf of all Florida citizens and resident who have suffered or died as a result of medical conditions caused by their addiction to cigarettes. The trial court, realizing the enormity of the task at hand, split the trial into three phases:

  • Phase I "consisted of a year-long trial to consider the issues of liability and entitlement to punitive damages for the class as a whole;"
  • Phase II was a determination of the liability of the tobacco companies to three
    individual class representatives, compensatory damages for those
    individuals, and a determination of class-wide punitive damages;
  • Phase III would evaluate the individual claims of the remaining class members.

Perhaps the oddest thing about the American legal system is the separate state, federal, and administrative courts. The law in federal court can be completely different than the law in the state courthouse next door. And on that same note, an antitrust lawsuit that would be a guaranteed failure in federal court might have a fighting chance in a Florida state court.

Major League Baseball's antitrust exemption is common knowledge by now. In 1922, the Supreme Court declared baseball a game, not a business, and therefore exempt from antitrust provisions. In 1953, SCOTUS compounded the error by upholding their prior ruling, citing Congress' inaction to remedy the problem as justification for continuing preferential treatment. Nearly 20 years later, Justice Blackmun wrote an odd ode to baseball in another upholding of the exemption, this time justified by stare decisis.

Don't Wait to Object to Jury Verdict Inconsistency

Megan Sands was seriously injured in a jet ski accident in 2006 while in the Bahamas.

Sands filed a products liability action against Kawasaki, the jet ski manufacturer, under maritime law. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Sands on her design defect claim, and awarded her $3 million, The Nassau Guardian reports. The district court ultimately entered judgment for $1.5 million because the jury found that she was 50 percent responsible for her injuries. Sands appealed, arguing that the jury’s award of $0 for pain and suffering was legally inadequate and against the “manifest weight” of the evidence.

Reviewing the facts of the case, it seems that she has a point. But the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s verdict this week. Let’s discuss where Sands’ case went wrong.

Court opinions can be dry, making reading through a stack of them an arduous task. That’s why we’re thankful for judges like Ed Carnes who constantly spice up their opinions with inspired, sometimes bizarre, quotes and references.

This year, our favorite Eleventh Circuit jurist quoted Bob Dylan, added a new line to a Jim Croce song, and made a particularly apt reference to turducken. To wit: Judge Carnes’ top three quotes of 2012.

Blondes Don't Have More Fun When Their Scalps Are Burning

As Judge Ed Carnes notes this week, "behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain."

That's right: Our favorite Eleventh Circuit jurist is quoting Bob Dylan as he gives a dissatisfied bottle blonde another shot at her products liability claim.

Eleventh Circuit: Concepcion Established No New Law

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that Wells Fargo is stuck litigating overdraft fee class actions because it didn't move to compel arbitration when it had the chance to do so.

While Wells Fargo argued that it was justified in holding its arbitration motion until the Supreme Court decided AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, the Eleventh Circuit decided that Concepcion wasn't such a big deal in Wells Fargo's case.

It was simply a case of move it or lose it.

Cop Who Accidentally Shot Bystanders Gets Qualified Immunity

Joann Cooper and her two-year-old son, Daniel, were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Both were seriously injured when an armed bank robber attempted to elude the police by attempting to steal the car in which they were riding. Rather than allow the armed bank robber to escape with hostages, the officers on the scene fired their weapons at the suspect until he was neutralized.

Unfortunately, Cooper and her son were both hit by bullets intended for the bank robber. They later sued the Jacksonville Sheriff's Department and the individual officers.

Check the Venue Before You File a Cruise Ship Claim

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reviews a lot of cruise line lawsuits, thanks to the volume of ships going in and out of Florida. Most of the time, the appellate court seems to favor the plaintiffs in these cases. Most of the time, the cruise lines are arguing that liability waivers preclude claims.

A cruise line fares better when it argues improper venue based on the passage contract.