Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
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The Department of Justice filed suit against the State of Florida, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and 28 C.F.R. 35.130(d). The Department alleged that Florida was failing to meet its obligations under Title II by unnecessarily institutionalizing hundreds of children with disabilities in nursing facilities. The Department also alleged that Florida's Medicaid policies and practices placed other children who have "medically complex" conditions, or who are "medically fragile," at risk of unnecessary institutionalization. The Eleventh Circuit held that the Attorney General has a cause of action to enforce Title II of the ADA. The court held that when Congress chose to designate the "remedies, procedures, and rights" in section 505 of the Rehabilitation Act, which in turn adopted Title VI, as the enforcement provision for Title II of the ADA, Congress created a system of federal enforcement. The court also held that the express statutory language in Title II adopts federal statutes that use a remedial structure based on investigation of complaints, compliance reviews, negotiation to achieve voluntary compliance, and ultimately enforcement through "any other means authorized by law" in the event of noncompliance. Therefore, courts have routinely concluded that Congress's decision to utilize the same enforcement mechanism for Title II as the Rehabilitation Act, and therefore Title VI, demonstrates that the Attorney General has the authority to act "by any other means authorized by law" to enforce Title II, including initiating a civil action. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded. View "United States v. State of Florida" on Justia Law

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The EPA has discretion not to commence withdrawal proceedings under 40 C.F.R. 123.64(b) even if it finds that a state's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program has not always complied with the requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the EPA's decision affirming its previous refusal to commence withdrawal proceedings against Alabama. In regard to the four alleged violations, the court held that the EPA reasonably construed the statutory and regulatory text. The court also held that the EPA's decision not to commence withdrawal proceedings in the face of these alleged violations was not arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law. View "Cahaba Riverkeeper v. Environmental Protection Agency" on Justia Law

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This case arose from the FDA's seizure from Hi-Tech a substantial quantity of products containing 1,3-dimethylamylamine or DMAA, which is used in fitness products aimed at bodybuilders and other athletes. The district court granted the FDA's motion for summary judgment, holding that the seizure of DMAA was both substantively and procedurally proper. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed and held that DMAA is not an "herb or other botanical" and is not a "constituent" of an herb or other botanical under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. Furthermore, the court held that DMAA is not generally recognized by qualified experts, as adequately shown through scientific procedures, to be safe under the conditions of its intended use. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it declined to reopen discovery, and Hi-Tech was afforded the full range of procedural due process available in federal court. View "United States v. Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the denial of his application for Social Security disability benefits, claiming that he had various physical impairments and that he suffered from bipolar disorder. The Eleventh Circuit held that, although plaintiff's claim of bias was forfeited, the ALJ's conclusion contained errors that must be addressed. In this case, the ALJ failed to articulate good cause for discounting two treating physicians' opinions; substantial evidence does not support the finding that plaintiff's bipolar disorder was non-severe; and the ALJ failed to consider plaintiff's mental impairments when assessing his residual functional capacity. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded with instructions. View "Schink v. Commissioner of Social Security" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that the City of LaGrange did not enjoy state-action immunity when it ties its water-utility service to its natural-gas service for customers in unincorporated Troup County, Georgia. In this case, the Georgia legislature could have foreseen that cities would use their water monopoly to increase their share of an unrelated market and that such an anticompetitive move was not the inherent, logical, or ordinary result of the legislative scheme. Therefore, the district court correctly denied the City's motion to dismiss for state-action immunity and the court affirmed the district court's judgment in this interlocutory appeal. View "Diverse Power, Inc. v. City of LaGrange" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the city's red light ordinance, which permitted the installation and operation of cameras to enforce traffic-control-device violations at certain intersections. The district court dismissed the case based on lack of Article III standing. Although the Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiffs had standing to bring their damages claims, their constitutional claims must nonetheless be dismissed because they failed to sufficiently allege that they suffered a violation of their constitutional rights.The court held that the dismissal of plaintiffs' federal claims was warranted because the complaint failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted. In this case, plaintiffs alleged that the ordinance imposed a criminal penalty without providing constitutionally sufficient procedural safeguards. However, the ordinance imposed a civil penalty, and thus the procedures prescribed by the ordinance were constitutionally sufficient. Because the court held that plaintiffs have not stated any federal claims, it declined to consider the state law claims. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded with instructions. View "Worthy v. Phenix City" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of Secular Humanists and atheists, filed suit challenging the county's practice of opening its meetings with a religious invocation. Plaintiffs alleged that the opening prayers violated the Establishment Clause, and the county wrongfully barred plaintiffs from offering invocations of their own. The Eleventh Circuit held that the county's process of selecting invocation speakers violated the Establishment Clause because it selected invocation speakers in a way that favors certain monotheistic religions and categorically excludes from consideration other religions solely based on their belief systems. In this case, members of the county board of commissioners have plenary authority, on a rotating basis, to invite whomever they want to deliver invocations, with no consistent standards or expectation of inclusiveness. View "Williamson v. Brevard County" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a petition for habeas relief and partial grant of summary judgment for the Government regarding petitioner's claim that USCIS should have exercised jurisdiction over his application for asylum. The court held that the improper inclusion of irrelevant documents in the administrative record and its subsequent supplementation with relevant documents did not prejudice petitioner and any errors on the part of the Government in this respect were harmless; USCIS's decision not to exercise jurisdiction over petitioner's asylum claim was not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law; and petitioner's habeas petition was moot because he did not otherwise argue that any meaningful relief could be granted to him via a habeas petition. View "Salmeron-Salmeron v. Spivey" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of S&M's complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the State of Georgia. S&M alleged several constitutional and state-law violations based on Georgia's scheme of tobacco regulation. S&M sought to enjoin the Attorney General from requiring it to use a revised escrow agreement. The court held that S&M has not plausibly alleged a Contract Clause violation where S&M's escrow agreement did not give rise to any reasonable contractual expectations that implicate the Contract Clause; S&M has not plausibly alleged an Equal Protection violation where the provisions that it challenges are not provisions with respect to which participating manufacturers (PMs) and non-participating manufacturers (NPMs) are similarly situated; and S&M's state law claim was barred by sovereign immunity. View "S&M Brands, Inc. v. State of Georgia ex rel Carr" on Justia Law

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Flat Creek filed suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had unfairly targeted it for compliance reviews and used an unsound methodology in doing so. The district court concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, but held that Flat Creek failed to establish the requisite standing to sue under Article III. In this case, Flat Creek has shown neither concreteness nor imminence. View "Flat Creek Transportation, LLC v. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration" on Justia Law