Monday, July 15, 2013

arbitration, wrongful death, trademark infringement, and corned beef, red cabbage, and purple potatoes with fresh mustard seed and thyme

Leslie, et al. v. Hancock County Board of Education, et al.
Docket: 12-13628
Opinion Date: July 12, 2013
Judge: Pryor
Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Labor & Employment Law
Plaintiffs, the superintendent of education and her assistant superintendent, filed suit claiming that the board and its members in both their official and individual capacities terminated the superintendent and demoted the assistant superintendent in retaliation for public comments plaintiffs made about local tax policy. The court concluded that it had jurisdiction over the appeal of the denial of qualified immunity, but lacked jurisdiction over the appeal of the board and its officials. Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal of the board and its officials for lack of jurisdiction and reversed the denial of qualified immunity for the individual members of the board.

Southern Communications Serv. v. Thomas
Docket: 11-15587
Opinion Date: July 12, 2013
Judge: Tjoflat
Areas of Law: Arbitration & Mediation, Class Action, Consumer Law
This case involved arbitration proceedings stemming from plaintiff's class action suit alleging, among other things, that SouthernLINC's termination fees were unlawful penalties under Georgia law. SouthernLINC, a wireless provider, appealed the district court's denial of its motion to vacate two arbitration awards. Under the standard set forth by the Supreme Court in Oxford Health Plans LLC v. Sutter, the court concluded that the arbitrator did not exceed his powers under section 10(a)(4) of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq., either in construing the arbitration clause as he did or in certifying a class. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.

U.S. Steel Mining Co., LLC v. Director, OWCP, et al.
Court: U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
Docket: 11-14468
Opinion Date: June 27, 2013
Judge: Cox
Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Health Law, Labor & Employment Law
U.S. Steel appealed the award of benefits to plaintiff, the widow of a deceased miner, under the black lung benefits program. The Benefits Review Board affirmed the award, concluding that plaintiff did not need to show the cause of her husband's death. The court concluded that 30 U.S.C. 932(l), as amended by section 1556(b) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Pub. L. No. 111-148, 1556(b), 124 Stat. 119, 260, eliminated the need for survivors who could meet its requirements to prove that their associated miners died due to black lung disease; it applied retroactively to survivors' claims filed in the specified period; and this retroactive application did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Accordingly, the court denied U.S. Steel's petition to review the Board's ruling.

Bankruptcy -- Adversary proceedings -- Investment fund that had control over original lenders of loan to defendant company to obtain a lottery and gaming license in Jamaica and entity that entered into forward share sale agreement for future right to purchase up to 17% of shares in defendant company filed multi-count complaint against 31 defendants, including debtor and five relief defendants, seeking determination that debts and claims against debtor were nondischargeable and seeking recovery from a variety of defendants based primarily on Federal and Florida racketeering laws -- Jurisdiction -- Related-to -- Severed counts asserting claims against defendants other than debtor should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction -- It is not possible to determine either aspect of related-to jurisdiction in absence of an amended complaint, at which time reviewing court will be able to determine what causes of action survive and whether such actions are sufficient to trigger related-to jurisdiction, either by impact or common nucleus of facts -- Motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction are granted -- Plaintiffs failed to adequately allege personal jurisdiction over foreign defendants on basis that they are each co-conspirators and part of one or more of alleged criminal enterprises described in complaint where complaint fails in its description and allegations of their conspiracy or enterprise -- Standing -- Investment fund lacks standing to bring any action arising under Federal RICO and Florida RICO or the conspiracy claims associated with those actions because, even though RICO claims can be assigned, the assignment of such claims must be specific and complaint does not include any allegations that claims were assigned to investment fund -- Res judicata -- Claims relating to plaintiff's assertion of ownership right to, or interest in, stock and dividends derived therefrom are barred by res judicata with respect to certain defendants and barred by collateral estoppel with respect to other parties to complaint -- Jamaican judgment must be given full comity and recognition where plaintiffs have not argued that Jamaican court was incompetent or that its proceedings were not civilized or that Jamaican judgment violates American public policy notions of what is decent and just, and where allegations of fraud on Jamaican court were not brought before Jamaican courts and plaintiff has not complained that it could not bring this issue before such court -- Extraterritoriality -- Severed counts should be dismissed because there is no basis upon which any of counts, as described, would trigger application of any of Federal or Florida RICO laws or support any Florida state-law claims, where complaint does not allege a significant relationship between Florida or United States and any of the harm allegedly suffered by either plaintiff -- Plaintiffs cannot rely only on money, faxes, and copies of loan documents passing through Florida to overcome problems of extraterritoriality -- Relief defendants -- Claims against relief defendants should be dismissed with prejudice, because no court has recognized that a private party litigant has the right to include relief defendants in a lawsuit and, even if there was such a recognized concept, any cognizable claim against a relief defendant arises only from the claim that such defendant is holding something over which the relief defendant has no legitimate claim -- Claims asserted against relief defendants all relate to stock to which Jamaican court has already ruled plaintiff has no right -- Counts seeking imposition of constructive trusts on all of assets of relief defendants describe actual claims against relief defendants, but complaint fails to state a cause of action for assertion of constructive trust against general assets of relief defendants -- Pleading requirements -- Shotgun pleading -- Complaint fails to comply with requirements of Rule 8, where complaint's use of similar defined terms, and its conflation of facts, defendants, and claims in its various factual recitals, makes it virtually impossible to figure out who is alleged to have done what to whom, when and where -- Racketeering -- Pleading requirements -- Federal and Florida RICO claims and RICO conspiracy claims, which are based on mail and wire fraud, fail to comply with pleading requirements of Rules 8, 9 and 12 -- State law tort claims -- Claims for conversion, civil theft, common law conspiracy, common law fraud, and fraud in the inducement are dismissed with prejudiced, or dismissed with opportunity to amend -- Dischargeable debts -- Claims seeking determination that debts owed by debtor are non-dischargeable based on 11 U.S.C. §523(a)(2) as debt arising from false representation or fraud by debtor, §523(a)(4) as debt arising from embezzlement or larceny, and §523(a)(6) as debt arising from willful and malicious injury by debtor are dismissed, some with leave to amend and others with prejudice
In re: PAUL G. MOUTTET, Debtor. U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Florida.

Bankruptcy -- Claims -- Administrative expenses -- Priority -- Conversion of bankruptcy case from chapter 11 case to chapter 7 case does not impact the priority of a chapter 11 super-priority claim granted under Section 364(c)(1) of Bankruptcy Code, whether or not that claim is viewed as administrative claim
In re: NATIONAL LITHO, LLC, Debtors. U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Florida, Miami Division.

Civil rights -- Attorney's fees -- Prevailing party -- District court abused discretion by awarding prevailing party attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. section 1988 to plaintiff who was awarded $1.00 in nominal damages for violation of her Fourth Amendment right to be free from illegal seizure, given the de minimis nature of plaintiff's victory -- Plaintiff's victory is not substantial enough to justify award of attorney's fees, given degree of success obtained, significance of legal issue on which plaintiff prevailed, and public purposes served -- For purposes of measuring degree of success obtained, substantial difference between $25,000 judgment sought and nominal award received suggests that plaintiff's victory is in fact purely technical -- Plaintiff's victory carries very little legal significance, if any at all, given that plaintiff's litigation did not “change the law”, will not aid qualified immunity ligation in future cases, and did not alter landscape of civil rights law in public schools -- Plaintiff's litigation did not serve public purpose where examination of relief sought and obtained makes clear that litigation was commenced to redress private injury -- District court applied improper legal standard in making the determination to award attorney's fees when it misstated potential deterrent effect of plaintiff's litigation, by actually using attorney's fees as the deterrent to future civil rights violations
LAQUARIUS GRAY, a minor, by and through her mother and next friend, Toniko L. Alexander, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ANTONIO BOSTIC, Defendant-Appellant. 11th Circuit.

Contracts -- Licensing agreement -- Appeals -- Jurisdiction -- Eleventh Circuit has jurisdiction over appeal of breach of contract claim that would also require resolution of a claim of patent infringement for the complainant to succeed where the patent infringement issue is heavily fact-bound and is not a “substantial question” of federal law -- Licensing agreement in instant case unambiguously granted plaintiff/licensee the exclusive right to use defendant's patents for blood irradiation system, preserved rights of defendant to exploit patents for products other than the system at issue, and prohibited defendant from infringing patented technology to create a directly competing medical device -- Language prohibiting defendant, during term of the agreement, from developing, manufacturing, distributing, promoting, marketing, selling, or leasing competing medical device embodying, in whole or in part, the patents at issue is not unenforceable restrictive covenant under Florida law -- District court did not clearly err in finding that subsequent medical device developed by defendant did not infringe patent, in whole or in part -- Failure to maintain patent -- District court did not err in finding that, although defendant breached agreement by failing to pay maintenance fees on one of the patents at issue, it was not a material breach because plaintiffs did not show that they suffered any harm -- District court did not clearly err in finding that defendant's refusal to consent to assignment of agreement to licensee's successor was not unreasonable -- Damages -- Although district court held that plaintiff committed first material breach of license agreement by assigning its interests without obtaining required consent of defendant, and assuming this ruling is correct under Florida law, it did not err in concluding that defendant was not entitled to any damages on its counterclaim because defendant/counterclaimant, with knowledge of breach, unreasonably delayed sending default notice and notice of termination until over a year after plaintiffs filed suit; or in finding that, although defendant had breached provision of license agreement which prevented it from competing with plaintiff for seven years, that breach was excused because of plaintiff's previous, first material breach -- Whether plaintiff's sublicense agreement with another entity was tantamount to an unconsented-to assignment under Florida law is unclear -- Question certified to Supreme Court of Florida: When a licensee enters into a contract to transfer all of its interests in a license agreement for an entire term of a license agreement, save one day, but remains liable to the licensor under the license agreement, is the contract an assignment of the license agreement, or is the contract a sublicense?
MDS (CANADA) INC., a Canadian corporation, BEST THERATRONICS, LTD., a Canadian corporation, BEST MEDICAL INTERNATIONAL, INC., a.k.a. Beast Medical International, Inc., Plaintiffs - Counter Defendants - Appellants, v. RAD SOURCE TECHNOLOGIES, INC., a Florida corporation, Defendant - Counter Claimant - Appellee. 11th Circuit.

Trademarks -- Infringement -- Appeals -- Jurisdiction -- Where district court ruled in favor of defendant on charge of trademark infringement but ruled against defendant on its affirmative defense that trademark was not enforceable, defendant is entitled to vacatur of portion of order adverse to him -- Supreme Court precedent clearly prescribes vacatur of district court's jurisdiction on question of validity, as the legal consequences of an appeal by an otherwise successful defendant in an infringement suit on merits of that question
UNIQUE SPORTS PRODUCTS, INC., Plaintiff - Appellee, v. FERRARI IMPORTING COMPANY, d.b.a. Gamma Sports, Defendant - Appellant. 11th Circuit.

Wrongful death -- State sovereign immunity -- Appeal from denial of state sovereign immunity to corrections personnel working at county jail as to state-based wrongful death claims from commission of suicide by inmate while in custody at jail -- Questions certified to Alabama Supreme Court: Whether the immunity granted to sheriffs' jailers pursuant to Alabama Code Section 14-6-1 applies where the conduct at issue occurred before Section 14-6-1's effective date, but the complaint was filed after the statute took effect? Whether Alabama Code Section 14-6-1's requirement that jailers act “in compliance with the law ” in order to receive immunity is intended to encompass only violations of the criminal code or all violations of Alabama law?
SHERRIE JOHNSON, as administratrix of the Estate of Alquwon Johnson deceased, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. RYAN CONNER, SONYA MAYO, GEORGE PARHAM, Captain, Defendants-Appellants, BARBOUR COUNTY, et al., Defendants. 11th Circuit.

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