Articles Posted in U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals

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This dispute arose from violations issued by the Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration. At issue was whether the word "corporation" includes limited liability companies (LLCs) for purposes of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (the Mine Act), 30 U.S.C. 801 et seq. The court concluded that the terms "corporation" and "corporate operator" in the Mine Act are ambiguous. Applying Chevron deference, the court concluded that the Secretary's interpretation is reasonable where, most importantly, construing section 110(c) to include agents of LLCs is consistent with the legislative history. Therefore, the court held that an LLC is a corporation for purposes of the Mine Act and that section 110(c) can be used to assess civil penalties against agents of an LLC. Because substantial evidence supported the ALJ's decision to hold petitioners personally liable for the order at issue, the court affirmed on this issue. Finally, the order underlying their civil penalties was not duplicative. Accordingly, the court affirmed the ALJ's decision. View "Sumpter, et al. v. Secretary of Labor, et al." on Justia Law

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The Hospital filed suit against various federal agencies and officials, seeking a declaratory judgment that 18 U.S.C. 4006(b)(1), where Congress has elected to impose the Medicare rate as full compensation for medical services rendered to federal detainees, is unconstitutional as applied. The court concluded that the Hospital voluntarily opted into the Medicare program and is, as a result, required to provide emergency services to federal detainees. Consequently, the Hospital was foreclosed from challenging this compensation scheme as an unconstitutional taking under the Fifth Amendment. The court noted that the Hospital's most effective remedy may lie with Congress rather than the courts. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action. View "Baker County Medical Services v. U.S. Attorney General, et al." on Justia Law

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The State appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment and an injunction in favor of plaintiffs, enjoining enforcement of Florida's Firearm Owners Privacy Act, Fla. Stat. 381.026, 456.072, 790.338, on First and Fourteenth Amendment grounds. The Act seeks to protect patients' privacy by restricting irrelevant inquiry and record-keeping by physicians regarding firearms. The court concluded that plaintiffs have standing to challenge the Act and plaintiffs' claims are ripe for adjudication; the Act is a legitimate regulation of professional conduct where the Act simply codifies that good medical care does not require inquiry or record-keeping regarding firearms when unnecessary to a patient's care, and any burden the Act places on physician speech is incidental; and the Act is not unconstitutionally vague when the Act is properly understood as a regulation of physician conduct intended to protect patient privacy and curtail abuses of the physician-patient relationship, and it is readily apparent from the language of the Act the type of conduct the Act prohibits. Accordyingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment and vacated the injunction. View "Wollschlaeger, et al. v. Governor State of FL, et al." on Justia Law

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The Tribe filed suit contending that a Florida tax on motor and diesel fuel purchased off tribal lands violated the Indian Commerce Clause, the Indian sovereignty doctrine, and the Equal Protection Clause. The court concluded that Florida has not waived its sovereign immunity from this federal suit. Without a valid abrogation by Congress, Florida was immune from suit regardless of the nature of the relief sought. Further, the Tribe could not circumvent the sovereign immunity of Florida by suing the Director of the Department based on the decision in Ex parte Young where the Department, not the Director, is the real, substantial party in interest in this suit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. View "Seminole Tribe of Florida v. State of FL Dept. of Revenue, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against BHDR under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., alleging that by failing to remedy certain flaws in the design and construction of the District Universal Boulevard Apartments (the District), BHDR discriminated against people with handicaps in violation of 42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(1)-(2). The court held that the FHA's design-and-construction guidelines do not provide a standard for determining whether discrimination under section 3604(f)(1) and (f)(2) exists outside of the design and construction contexts. Despite the fact that BHDR was not involved in the design or construction of the District, all of plaintiff's claims that BHDR violated subsections (f)(1) and (f)(2) were alleged through the lens of the design-and-construction guidelines in subsection (f)(3). The court held that an FHA plaintiff cannot establish the discrimination of a defendant who was uninvolved in the design or construction of a dwelling by reference to the guidelines at section 3604(f)(3)(C). Therefore, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to BHDR. View "Harding v. Orlando Apartments, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Alabama Power on their complaint alleging that Alabama Power unreasonably lowered the water levels of Smith Lake. Determining that Article III's standing requirements have been met, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to issue a declaratory judgment concerning plaintiffs' purported riparian rights. Plaintiffs did not have a right to a declaratory judgment and the district court did not abuse its substantial discretion by assuming plaintiffs had riparian rights and then resolving their claims on an alternative basis. The court agreed with the district court that plaintiffs' claims were a collateral attack on the FERC's final relicensing determination. Plaintiffs' argument that they were not subject to the exclusive judicial review provision of section 825l(b) of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 825l(b), because they are distinct parties from Smith Lake Improvement and Stakeholders Association (SLISA) and did not participate in the proceedings before the FERC was unavailing. Section 821 of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 821, did not allow plaintiffs to veto the operation of a project that was approved and licensed by the FERC. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment denying plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment and granting summary judgment to Alabama Power. View "Otwell, Sr., et al. v. Alabama Power Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the Florida Secretary of State, arguing that Florida was violating the 90 Day Provision of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), 42 U.S.C. 1973gg-6(c)(2)(A), by conducting a program to systematically remove suspected non-citizens from the voter rolls within 90 days of a federal election. The 90 Day Provision requires states to "complete, not later than 90 days prior to the date of primary or general election for Federal office, any program the purpose of which is to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters." Concerned about people who are not citizens casting ballots in Florida elections, the Secretary engaged in two separate programs to identify and remove non-citizens from the Florida voter rolls. Determining that the issue was not moot even if the 2012 elections have passed, the court concluded that the plain meaning of the 90 Day Provision indicates that the Secretary's actions fall under the category of "any program...to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters." Further, the statutory context and policy of the NVRA supported the court's conclusion that the plain meaning of "any program...to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters" was intended by Congress to include programs like the Secretary's. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Arcia, et al. v. Florida Secretary of State" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the City's Ordinance No. 2886-12, which generally prohibits targeted picketing within 50 feet of a residential dwelling. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's grant of the City's motion to dismiss. At issue are sections 62-79 and 62-77. The court concluded that the Ordinance's ban on targeted picketing, section 62-79, was content-neutral, furthered a significant government interest, was narrowly tailored, and left open ample alternate channels for speech. Therefore, section 62-79 was facially constitutional and the district court dismissed plaintiff's challenge as to section 62-79. The court concluded however, that section 62-77 granted private citizens unbridled discretion to invoke the City's power to regulate speech in public fora abutting private residences. Accordingly, the court concluded that the loitering provision was facially unconstitutional and invalid. The court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Bell, et al. v. City of Winter Park, FL, et al." on Justia Law

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Relator filed a qui tam action under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, against the District, alleging that the District violated the FCA by fraudulently claiming FEMA reimbursements for ineligible canal repairs. The court held that, as an arm of the State of Florida, the District was not a "person" that could be subjected to suit by a qui tam relator under the FCA. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of relator's claims. View "Lesinski v. South Florida Water Mgmt." on Justia Law

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This appeal concerned the district court's summary judgment order validating a majority of the water nutrient standards established by the EPA's rule and setting a deadline for the EPA to publish new rules, or explain its reasons for not doings so, pursuant to the terms of an existing consent decree. The court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to review the order because it was not a final judgment under Rule 54(b); the collateral order doctrine did not apply; and the order was not an immediately appealable injunction under 28 U.S.C. 1292(a)(1). Accordingly, the court granted the EPA's motion to dismiss and dismissed this appeal with prejudice for lack of appellate jurisdiction. View "Gulf Restoration Network, Inc., et al. v. Administrator, EPA" on Justia Law