Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
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The Eleventh Circuit vacated its previous opinion and replaced it with the following opinion.Relators filed a qui tam action against MIC under the False Claims Act (FCA), seeking to recover the money the VA had paid when borrowers defaulted on MIC-originated loans. Relators then amended the complaint, adding a state law fraudulent transfer claim against MIC executive William L. Edwards, as well as a corporate veil-piercing theory of liability, which made Edwards a defendant to the FCA claim. The district court granted Edwards's motion to dismiss the fraudulent transfer claim based on lack of standing and granted MIC's motion for summary judgment on the FCA claim.The court concluded that summary judgment was improper on relators' FCA claim because genuine issues of material fact remain as to whether MIC's alleged false certifications were material. The court agreed with the district court that relators' claim is not barred by previous public disclosure. The court held that the district court has personal jurisdiction over Edwards. Finally, the court held that relators lack standing on the fraudulent transfer claim because their pre-judgment interest in preventing a fraudulent transfer is a mere byproduct of their FCA claim and cannot give rise to an Article III injury in fact. View "Bibby v. Mortgage Investors Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against ATS, a red light camera vendor, alleging three counts of unjust enrichment after ATS charged plaintiff a fee for processing his payment of a traffic ticket issued through an ATS red light photo enforcement system used in the City of North Miami Beach.The Eleventh Circuit certified the following questions to the Supreme Court of Florida: (1) Did ATS violate Florida law when it imposed a five percent fee on individuals who chose to pay their red light traffic ticket with a credit card? In particular: a. Does the challenged fee constitute a "commission from any revenue collected from violations detected through the use of a traffic infraction detector" under Fla. Stat. 316.0083(1)(b)(4)? b. Was the fee assessed under Chapter 318 and therefore subject to section 318.121's surcharge prohibition? c. Was ATS a "money transmitter" that was required to be licensed under Fla. Stat. 560.204(1)? (2) If there was a violation of a Florida statute, can that violation support a claim for unjust enrichment? In particular: a. Does plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim fail because the statutes at issue provide no private right of action? b. Does plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim fail because he received adequate consideration in exchange for the challenged fee when he took advantage of the privilege of using his credit card to pay the penalty? View "Pincus v. American Traffic Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit denied a petition for review of the MSHA's final rule entitled "Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines," which enhances mine operators' obligations with an aim toward augmenting miner safety. The court held that the Mine Act does not contain the "significant risk" threshold requirement that petitioners would import from the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970; the Final Rule satisfies the requirement that any rule "improve" upon the prior standard; the pre-shift examination requirement, the notification requirement, and the recording requirements in the Final Rule are not arbitrary and capricious; and MSHA sees the examination requirement, the notification requirement, and the recordkeeping requirement as operating collectively to spur more timely corrections of hazardous conditions. The court rejected petitioner's remaining contentions as lacking merit. View "National Mining Ass'n v. U.S. Department of Labor" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' False Claims Act (FCA) retaliation claim. Plaintiffs, employees of a nonprofit, suspected that their employer was committing fraud and alleged that they were terminated based on their attempt to uncover the fraud. However, in this case, the employees never had reason to believe that their employer made any false claims to the federal government. Therefore, without any reason to believe that their employer had filed a false claim against the government, they did not have any reason to believe that they were investigating a FCA violation, rather than a garden-variety fraud. The court explained that the employees may well have acted in good faith to attempt to uncover what they feared were shady practices, but the FCA is not a general anti-fraud statute. View "Hickman v. Spirit of Athens, Alabama, Inc." on Justia Law

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Relators filed a qui tam action against MIC under the False Claims Act (FCA), seeking to recover the money the VA had paid when borrowers defaulted on MIC-originated loans. Relators then amended the complaint, adding a state law fraudulent transfer claim against MIC executive William L. Edwards. The district court granted Edwards's motion to dismiss based on lack of standing and granted MIC's motion for summary judgment on the FCA claim.The Eleventh Circuit held that summary judgment was improper on relators' FCA claim because genuine issues of material fact remain as to whether MIC's alleged false certifications were material. Furthermore, relators' claim is not barred by previous public disclosure. The court also held that relators lack standing on the fraudulent transfer claim because their pre-judgment interest in preventing a fraudulent transfer is a mere byproduct of their FCA claim and cannot give rise to an Article III injury in fact. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Bibby v. Mortgage Investors Corp." on Justia Law

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Gateway is a small business debtor in an active Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding seeking a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Gateway applied for a PPP loan and falsely stated that it was not in bankruptcy in order to be eligible for the program. When Gateway filed a motion for approval in the bankruptcy court, the SBA objected that Gateway was ineligible for a PPP loan because it was in bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court granted Gateway's motion anyway, concluding that the SBA's rule rendering bankruptcy debtors ineligible for PPP loans was an unreasonable interpretation of the statute, was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act, and as a result was unlawful and unenforceable against Gateway.The Eleventh Circuit vacated the bankruptcy court's approval order, concluding that the SBA's rule is neither an unreasonable interpretation of the relevant statute nor arbitrary and capricious. The court concluded that the SBA did not exceed its authority in adopting the non-bankruptcy rule for PPP eligibility; the rule does not violate the CARES Act, is based on a reasonable interpretation of the Act, and the SBA did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in adopting the rule; and the bankruptcy court committed an error of law in concluding otherwise in its approval order and its preliminary injunction order. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. The court dismissed the appeal from the memorandum opinion for lack of jurisdiction. View "USF Federal Credit Union v. Gateway Radiology Consultants, P.A." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit vacated its previous opinion and issued the following opinion.Plaintiff and the Association filed suit under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act against several Florida entities and officials, challenging defendants' failure to provide captioning for live and archived videos of Florida legislative proceedings.The court affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to dismiss, holding that it has jurisdiction to hear defendants' interlocutory appeal. The court affirmed the district court's alternative holding that Congress validly abrogated defendants' Eleventh Amendment immunity for these claims under Title II regardless of whether a fundamental right is implicated. Because the court affirmed on this basis, it did not reach the question of whether the ability to participate in the democratic process is a fundamental right. The court stated that Congress validly abrogated sovereign immunity for this claim under the standard for important rights that nonetheless receive only rational basis review.The court also affirmed the district court's holding that plaintiffs were entitled to pursue injunctive relief under the doctrine of Ex parte Young for allegedly ongoing violations of Title II. Finally, given the substantial overlap between plaintiffs' ADA and Rehabilitation Act claims, the court held that the district court did not encroach on the Legislative Defendants' immunity. View "National Association of the Deaf v. Florida" on Justia Law

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The City of Miami moved to terminate a consent decree that regulated how the City of Miami treats its homeless residents twenty years after its adoption based on changed circumstances, fulfillment of its purpose, and substantial compliance with its requirements. The district court ruled that the City had not violated the consent decree, granted its motion for termination, and denied the opposing motion for contempt. The district court terminated the decree because the City had substantially complied with the core purpose of the settlement agreement, that is, to stop the criminalization of homelessness. Furthermore, the district court found no evidence that would negate a finding of substantial compliance. The district court also found changed circumstances in Miami, but did not rely on those findings as a basis for termination.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the termination of the consent decree and the denial of the contempt motion, holding that the district court correctly interpreted the decree and did not abuse its discretion by terminating the decree. Applying Florida contract law, the court held that, although the homeless identify one misinterpretation of the consent decree, they failed to identify any errors that establish noncompliance by the City. The court also held that the district court correctly applied the burden of proof on the City's motion for termination by bifurcating its analyses; did not abuse its discretion by granting the motion for termination; and did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion for contempt. View "Peery v. City of Miami" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit certified the following questions of law to the Alabama Supreme Court under Alabama Rule of Appellate Procedure 18: (1) Can property owned by a solid waste disposal authority "belong[] to" a county or municipality for purposes of section 6-10-10? (2) If so, what factors should courts consider when making such a determination? (3) If section 6-10-10 can apply to property owned by a solid waste disposal authority, is such property "used for county or municipal purposes" when the authority has not used the property but is holding it for a future use? (4) Does Alabama continue to recognize a common law exemption from execution for property used for public purposes as described in Gardner v. Mobile & N.W.R. Co., 15 So. 271 (Ala. 1894)? (5) If so, does that exemption apply to public corporations like the Authority, and what standards should courts employ in applying this common law exemption? View "WM Mobile Bay Environmental Center, Inc. v. The City of Mobile Solid Waste Authority" on Justia Law

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American Guarantee appealed the district court's dismissal of their complaint for lack of jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). The complaint identifies the challenged conduct as the Forestry Branch's negligent failure to observe, monitor, and maintain a controlled burn once the fire was started.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of American Guarantee's negligence claims against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The court assumed at this stage that the Forestry Branch officials were negligent in their observation, monitoring, and maintenance during the controlled burn itself as alleged in the complaint, but held that the alleged conduct by its nature, involves an exercise of discretion and considerations of social, economic, political, and public policy. Because the government's decisions about how to monitor and maintain a controlled burn are shielded from judicial second-guessing by the discretionary function exception to the FTCA, the court held that plaintiffs failed to allege a plausible claim that falls outside the discretionary function exception. Because the discretionary-function exception applies in this case, the court held that the United States has not unequivocally waived its sovereign immunity. Therefore, the district court lacked jurisdiction over plaintiffs' FTCA claim. View "Foster Logging, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law