Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
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Intervenor is a former commercial pilot who now flies a small Cessna jet for his own personal use. The intervenor landed his Cessna at the Lantana Airport. A Palm Beach County ordinance prohibits “pure turbo-jet aircraft” and cargo-carrying aircraft that weigh more than 12,500 pounds from using Lantana Airport, and Palm Beach County enforces the ordinance in a way that actually bans all jets, not just the “pure turbo” variety. The intervenor complained to the Federal Aviation Administration that the ordinance’s jet restriction violated a grant assurance the County had made to the FAA in exchange for federal airport improvement money. The FAA agreed with the Intervenor and ordered the County to rescind the restriction. The County and the City of Atlantis, which borders Lantana Airport, have petitioned us for review of the FAA’s final agency decision.   The Eleventh Circuit denied the petition for review. The court explained that the FAA has exclusive authority over our national navigable airspace, which means it’s responsible for “developing plans and policy . . . necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use” of that space. It “may modify or revoke an assignment of airspace when required in the public interest.” As long as any change in the FAA’s position on an airport restriction isn’t based on an impermissible bias, it has the authority to make that change. The Associate Administrator’s conclusion that Lantana Airport’s jet restriction violates Grant Assurance wasn’t arbitrary and capricious but instead was supported by substantial evidence. View "Palm Beach County, et al. v. Federal Aviation Administration" on Justia Law

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After Wisteria Island’s birth, Congress ceded title to all lands within three miles of the United States’s coast to the states, except for lands that were (1) “built up,” “filled in,” “or otherwise reclaimed” (2) by the United States (3) for the United States’s use. We must determine whether Wisteria Island satisfies this exception. Only the third requirement is at issue in this appeal: whether the United States created Wisteria Island for its “use.” Plaintiff-Counterdefendant-Appellee United States says that it created Wisteria Island to store dredged soil. Defendant-Counterclaimant-Appellant F.E.B., which claims to own the island, rejects the United States’s assertion that it built Wisteria Island for its “use.” According to F.E.B., the island arose simply as a result of the United States’s discarding of the soil it dredged from the channel.   The Eleventh Circuit agreed with the United States that, if it created Wisteria Island as a place to store dredged soil, then the United States built up or filled in Wisteria Island for the United States’s use. But on this record, the court found a genuine issue of material fact exists as to why the United States created the island. So after a thorough review of the record and with the benefit of oral argument, the court affirmed in part and vacate in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the United States and denial of summary judgment to F.E.B., and remanded this case for a factual determination of why the United States created Wisteria Island. View "USA v. F.E.B. Corp." on Justia Law

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Appellant was sexually assaulted by a deputy sheriff in Harris County, Georgia, who’s now serving an eight-year prison term. In the part of this civil-rights lawsuit, Appellant sued Harris County and the Sheriff of Harris County (Sheriff), alleging that the Sheriff failed in various ways to prevent the deputy from assaulting her. The district court found that the Sheriff was entitled to qualified immunity, and granted summary judgment.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Appellant fails the first prong of the court’s analysis because she cannot show that, in the course of supervising the deputy, the Sheriff violated her constitutional rights. The court reasoned that “It is well established in this Circuit that supervisory officials are not liable under Section 1983 for the unconstitutional acts of their subordinates on the basis of respondeat superior”. Accordingly, the court concluded that because the Sheriff had no notice of the deputy’s tendency to sexually assault civilians in his custody—he cannot be held responsible for the unpredictable acts of his subordinate View "Lynette Christmas v. Harris County, Georgia, et al" on Justia Law

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After a series of prolonged airport security screenings, Plaintiff filed Bivens claims against the Customs and Border Protection officers who detained him. The district court found that the officers had qualified immunity and dismissed the complaint. Plaintiff then filed a new complaint, under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The district court dismissed the new complaint for failure to state a claim, and Plaintiff appealed.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiff's claims on grounds of collateral estoppel. Applying the four elements of collateral estoppel from Miller’s Ale House, Inc. v. Boynton Carolina Ale House, LLC, 702 F.3d 1312, 1318 (11th Cir. 2012), the court held that Plainitff's claims against the federal officers were barred due to the determinations made in the prior Bivens action. View "Daniel Kordash v. USA" on Justia Law

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Over the past 25 years, Florida lawmakers have amended the state's sex-offender registration law dozens of times, making them increasingly more burdensome. Following the state's 2018 amendments to the law, Plaintiffs, a group of men who were subject to the law based on convictions occurring before the amendment, challenged the constitutionality of the law. Finding that Plaintiffs' injuries all accrued in 2018, the district court dismissed all of Plaintiffs' claims as untimely under the applicable four-year statute of limitations.The Eleventh Circuit reversed in part. Reviewing each of Plaintiffs' claims individually, the court found that while Plaintiff's injuries originated in 2018; they were ongoing. Thus, applying the continuing violation doctrine, the court reversed the district court's holding on several of Plaintiffs' claims, dismissing the remaining claims as untimely. View "Jane Doe, et al. v. Richard L. Swearingen" on Justia Law

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P.S.  cryopreserved several sperm samples before his death. His surviving wife, Plaintiff, relied on those sperm samples and in vitro fertilization to conceive a child, P.S.S. She then sought child’s insurance benefits (“CIB”) under the Social Security Act on behalf of P.S.S. The Social Security Administration (the “Administration”) denied the claim for CIB, and the administrative law judge, the magistrate judge, and the district court all upheld the Administration’s denial of the claim. The central issue in this appeal is whether P.S.S. is entitled to recover CIB under the Social Security Act.   Because the Florida Supreme Court, which is the final arbiter of Florida law, has not published a decision addressing this question, principles of comity and federalism suggest that the Florida Supreme Court should decide this issue. Thus, the Eleventh Circuit deferred a decision in this case until the Florida Supreme Court has had the opportunity to consider and determine whether to exercise its discretion in answering the court’s certified question: (1) Under Florida law, is P.S.S. “provided for” in the decedent’s will within the meaning of Fla. Stat. Section 742.17(4)? (2) If the answer is yes, does Florida law authorize a posthumously conceived child who is provided for in the decedent’s will to inherit intestate the decedent’s property? View "Kathleen Steele v. Commissioner of Social Security" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff s required to register as a sex offender under the Alabama Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act (“ASORCNA” or the “Act”). Plaintiff sued the Alabama Attorney General and others, claiming that some provisions of ASORCNA impose retroactive punishment in violation of the Constitution’s Ex Post Facto Clause. After a bench trial, the district court entered judgment against Plaintiff, concluding that the retroactive application of these provisions did not amount to punishment.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part and vacated and remanded in part. The court vacated the district court’s judgment insofar as it involves Plaintiff’s claims that it is unconstitutional to apply retroactively the following provisions of the ASORCNA, and remanded with instructions that it dismiss those claims as moot: (1) the identification-labeling requirement and (2) the dual registration requirements for homeless registrants and for registrants providing travel notification.   The court affirmed the district court’s judgment insofar as it rejects Plaintiff’s claims that it is unconstitutional to apply retroactively the following provisions of ASORCNA: (1) the residency and employment restrictions, (2) the homeless registration requirement, (3) the travel notification requirement, and (4) the community notification requirement. View "Michael A. McGuire v. Steven T. Marshall, et al" on Justia Law

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This appeal arises from a legislative invocation given by an invited, guest speaker before the opening of a Jacksonville City Council meeting. A City Council member  Anna Brosche, and a then-mayoral candidate, invited Plaintiff to give the invocation at the March 12, 2019, City Council meeting. When Plaintiff transitioned to levying criticisms against the City’s executive and legislative branches, the president of the City Council at the time, A.B., interrupted Plaintiff and later cut off his microphone.  Plaintiff brought suit against both the City and A.B. in his personal capacity. In his first two counts, actionable under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, Plaintiff alleged that both the City and Mr. Bowman violated his First Amendment rights under the Free Exercise Clause (Count I) and the Free Speech Clause (Count II) of the United States Constitution. The district court granted the Defendants’ motion to dismiss in part and denied it in part.   The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court erred in deeming Plaintiff’s invocation to be private speech in a nonpublic forum, the court affirmed the district court’s orders on the alternative ground that the invocation constitutes government speech, not subject to attack on free speech or free exercise grounds. The court explained that he did not bring a claim under the Establishment Clause. And since his invocation constitutes government speech, his speech is not susceptible to an attack on free speech or free-exercise grounds. View "Reginald L. Gundy v. City of Jacksonville, Florida, et al" on Justia Law

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The government filed a complaint against Defendant, alleging that he promoted a tax evasion scheme in which he advised his clients to claim unwarranted federal income tax deductions for bogus charitable donations. The government sought to enjoin him from operating his business, as well as disgorgement of all of the proceeds from his scheme.   The question before the Eleventh Circuit was whether the Act bars a defendant from moving—in an action initiated by the government—for a protective order to restrain the government from using his responses to requests for admission when assessing a tax penalty in a separate administrative proceeding.   The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court’s dismissal of Defendant’s motion under the Anti-Injunction Act and remanded for further proceedings. The court explained that because moving for a protective order in an action filed by the government does not amount to the maintenance of a “suit,” the Act does not apply. View "USA v. Michael L. Meyer" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, a group comprised of municipalities, individuals, and a nonprofit organization all based in South Florida, filed this petition for review, claiming that the FAA violated the National Environmental Protection Act (“NEPA”), the Clean Air Act, the Department of Transportation Act, and the U.S. Constitution’s Due Process Clause. Among other things, Petitioners say the FAA’s Purpose and Need Statement was seriously deficient in violation of NEPA; its Cumulative Impact Assessment was improper and violated NEPA.   The Eleventh Circuit denied the petitions for review concluding that none of the Petitioners’ claims have merit. The court held that the FAA scrupulously adhered to the requirements of the relevant statutes and afforded the public numerous opportunities to comment on the proposed changes. The court explained that the FAA engaged in an exhaustive study of the South-Central Florida Metroplex Project’s impact on the environment and noise levels in the affected area, and it found no significant impact. It also provided ample opportunity for the various stakeholders to learn about and comment on the project and complied with all procedural requirements. View "City of North Miami v. FAA, et al." on Justia Law