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Facing federal charges for reselling used medical equipment that may have belonged to Kerri Kaley's employer, Kerri and her husband, Brian Kaley, took out a home equity loan worth $500,000 in order to cover their legal defense costs. The money was then seized under asset forfeiture laws, with the district court refusing to grant so much as a hearing.

That was certainly a mistake, and the Eleventh Circuit agreed, reversing and remanding to the district court in Kaley I. Instead of a full hearing, where the Kaleys could challenge the indictment, the district court limited the issue to only whether the assets seized could be traced to the alleged offenses. The Kaleys presented no evidence (their defense isn't that they didn't do it -- it's that it wasn't illegal), and later appealed, arguing that a full hearing on the validity of the indictment was required.

The Eleventh Circuit disagreed in Kaley II, stating that the Due Process Clause does not "require the district court to try the case twice."

Supreme Court Won't Answer Odyssey Marine's Booty Call

The Supreme Court denied certiorari in a dispute over sunken treasure on Monday. The High Court's refusal to reconsider the issue closes a case that was over 200 years in the making. The district court and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decisions, finding that Spain was entitled to the loot under sovereign immunity, are now final.

Let's go back to the beginning to see how this case began its journey.

Alabama, Florida Ask SCOTUS for Lake Lanier Water Rights Ruling

If the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals doesn’t want to wade into the interstate Lake Lanier water rights dispute, maybe the Supreme Court will.

In September, the Eleventh Circuit rejected a request from Florida and Alabama to vacate a three-judge panel’s unanimous decision regarding the long-running water rights dispute between Florida, Alabama, and Georgia over Lake Lanier water withdrawal. Florida and Alabama asked the Supreme Court to resolve the Lake Lanier dispute on Monday.

Odyssey's Booty Plundered? Spain Wins Sovereign Immunity Appeal

Plundering was once the exclusive purview of pirates and scoundrels.

Then, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals realized that, as a coastal appellate district, it too was ripe for some plundering fun. And so the Eleventh Circuit decided to get in the pirate game, pillaging appellants' somewhat-stolen splendors of the seas.

But, as facts are never quite as simple as alliteration allows, we have to go back to 2007 to see how the Eleventh Circuit's plundering proclivities developed.

Circuit Won't Re-Hear Lake Lanier Water Withdrawal Dispute

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals will not issue further opinions in a decades-long water dispute between Florida, Alabama, and Georgia unless the Supreme Court intervenes. On Monday, the court rejected a request from Florida and Alabama to vacate a unanimous water rights decision from a three-judge panel.

The source of the controversy? Atlanta-area death trap Lake Lanier, better known for summer drowning accidents than for its water supply.

Anthony v. Am. Gen'l. Fin. Servs., Inc., No. 08-15983

Mortgage Notary Fee Assessment Action

In Anthony v. Am. Gen'l. Fin. Servs., Inc., No. 08-15983, an action challenging defendant American General Financial Services's assessment of mortgage notary fees that exceeded the statutory maximum set by OCGA section 45-17-11(b), the court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint in part where 1) the district court properly dismissed the plaintiffs' private civil claim under the Georgia notary fee statute; and 2) the district court did not err by dismissing plaintiffs' fraud and "money had and received" claims as filed outside the statute of limitations.  However, the court vacated in part where defendant possessed an express and affirmative statutory duty to disclose the maximum statutory notary fee of $4.00.

Wooten v. Quicken Loans, Inc., No. 08-11245

Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act Action Dismissed

In Wooten v. Quicken Loans, Inc., No. 08-11245, an action for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint where, in connection with a residential mortgage loan, charging a loan discount payment -- otherwise known as "points" or "discount points" -- to provide a specific, below-market interest rate did not constitute the "rendering of a real estate settlement service" within the meaning of 12 U.S.C. section 2607(b).

  • Alvarez v. Royal Atlantic Developers, Inc., No. 08-15358, concerned a national origin discrimination action under Title VII claiming that defendant terminated plaintiff because she was Cuban-American.  The Eleventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for defendant in part on the ground that Title VII did not require the employer's needs and expectations to be objectively reasonable; it simply prohibited the employer from discriminating on the basis of membership in a protected class.  However, the court reversed in part, holding that plaintiff's letter to management contained no threats against the company or anyone else, nor did it provide a reasonable basis for inferring that she would try to disrupt operations.

    Neumont v. Fla., No. 04-13610, involved an action by a class of property owners in Monroe County, Florida, seeking to stop enforcement of an ordinance restricting vacation rentals.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, holding that 1) the Florida Supreme Court advised the Eleventh Circuit that the ordinance was not unlawfully enacted; and 2) plaintiffs had an obligation to exhaust their state remedies for the specific ordinance and its application before they could challenge a taking under that ordinance in federal court.

    Related Resources

    Old West Annuity & Life Ins. Co. v. Apollo Grp., No. 09-10994, concerned the government's appeal from the district court's allocation of surplus proceeds from the sale of real property in a foreclosure action.  The court of appeals affirmed, on the grounds that 1) the district court correctly concluded that Florida law supplied the pertinent alter ego test; 2) even if the government was correct that the district court should have transferred the surplus proceeds to the trustee to distribute according to the Bankruptcy Code or that the district court itself should have applied the Bankruptcy Code's priorities, a creditor would be entitled to the disputed proceeds actually awarded to it by the district court; and 3) even assuming that the trustee of the estate at issue had a hypothetical lien that took priority over the two secured creditors' liens, the secured creditors' liens could not be avoided by the trustee.

    Penley v. Eslinger, No. 09-13092, involved a civil rights action alleging excessive force by police.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant-officers, on the ground that the decedent's act of bringing a firearm to school, threatening the lives of others, and refusing to comply with officers' commands to drop the weapon were undoubtedly serious crimes, and thus the officer who shot the decedent reasonably believed he was in danger.

    Related Resources

    Equity Inv. Partners, LP v. Lenz, No. 09-11887

    In an action to foreclose defendants' mortgage and to establish the priority of plaintiff's security interest over a federal tax lien, summary judgment for the IRS is vacated where plaintiff was not required to show that the parties contemplated future execution of a security agreement at the time the loans were issued.  Rather, to show past consideration, plaintiff needed to present evidence that the security agreement was executed for the purpose of repaying the loans.

    Read Equity Inv. Partners, LP v. Lenz, No. 09-11887

    Appellate Information

    Filed February 1, 2010

    Judges

    Opinion by Judge Cox