Justia Constitutional Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
Wollschlaeger, et al. v. Governor State of FL, et al.
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
Cummings v. Dept. of Corrections, et al.
Plaintiff filed suit against four prison officials under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights and seeking money damages. The jury returned a verdict for the defense and plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial, arguing that a sleeping juror should have been removed from the jury. The Magistrate Judge granted the motion and defendants moved for reconsideration. The Magistrate Judge then granted the motion for reconsideration and denied plaintiff's motion for a new trial. The court affirmed, concluding that plaintiff could not get a "second bite of the apple" after the jury returned an unfavorable verdict when he was aware of the juror's purported misconduct and declined to object to her retention on the jury at trial. View "Cummings v. Dept. of Corrections, et al." on Justia Law
Booth, et al. v. Pasco Cty., FL, et al.
Plaintiffs filed suit against the County and Union, alleging violations of federal and state civil rights statutes. The jury found that the County subjected plaintiffs to fitness-for-duty examinations because of their grievances and charges against the County. The district court held that there was insufficient evidence to support this finding. The court disagreed, concluding that the jury was permitted to find that the desire to retaliate was a "but-for" cause of the County's decision; the district court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting plaintiffs' proposed jury instructions; and, even assuming that the restriction on the Union's speech was content-based, the court nevertheless rejected the Union's argument that the First Amendment immunizes it under the facts of this case. The court reversed the entry of judgment in favor of the County and ordered that judgment be entered against the County on the verdicts as returned. The court affirmed the judgment in all other respects. View "Booth, et al. v. Pasco Cty., FL, et al." on Justia Law
R.L., et al. v. Miami-Dade Cty. Sch. Bd.
The Board challenged the district court's decision to award O.L.'s parents reimbursement for one-on-one instruction outside the school setting as well as some of their attorney's fees. The parents cross-appealed the district court's decision not to award O.L. compensatory education. The court concluded that the parents were eligible for reimbursement; the district court was right to find that the alternative program was proper under the standard set forth in Bd. of Educ. of Hendrick Hudson Centr. Sch. Dist., Westchester Cnty. v. Rowley; even if the alternative program has its shortcomings, it was reasonably calculated to permit the child to obtain some educational benefit; the district court's reimbursement award was appropriate; the district court did not abuse its discretion when it took the quality of the chosen alternative into consideration; it was clear on the record that the district court properly weighed the evidence and did not abuse its considerable discretion when it denied the request for compensatory education; and there was no need to reverse the attorney's fee award since the court affirmed the district court's decision in all respects. View "R.L., et al. v. Miami-Dade Cty. Sch. Bd." on Justia Law
Hubbard v. Clayton Co. Sch. Dist., et al.
Plaintiff filed suit against the school district, claiming that he was retaliated against by the school district because he made public statements to the press regarding the accreditation investigation of the school district. Because plaintiff was not speaking pursuant to any official duties for the school district, bur rather was speaking in his capacity as president of the Georgia Association of Educators, the district court erred when it held that plaintiff's speech fell under the rule announced in Garcetti v. Ceballos. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the school district and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hubbard v. Clayton Co. Sch. Dist., et al." on Justia Law
United States v. Serrapio, Jr.
Defendant was sentenced to three years probation for threatening to shoot President Obama on defendant's Facebook page. Afterwards, defendant spoke to a reporter for his college newspaper, saying that his ordeal was "pretty funny," that he could not be imprisoned in his "own house," and that a lot of good had come out of his case, including his rock band because a "lot of people showed up [to one of his shows] to see the kid who threatened to kill the [P]resident." The district court, upon learning of these comments, modified the conditions of probation to include 45 days in a halfway house and one year of home confinement with electronic monitoring. Defendant appealed. The court concluded that defendant's appeal was moot to the extent that it challenged the district court's modification of the conditions of probation to include a 45-day term in a halfway house; the appeal was not moot with respect to the district court's modification of the conditions of probation to include an additional eight months in home confinement with electronic monitoring; where 18 U.S.C. 3563(c) permits modification when a defendant's post-sentencing conduct shows that the original conditions were not sufficient to accomplish the purposes of probation, the home confinement modification did not violate defendant's rights under the Double Jeopardy Clause; the home confinement modification did not violate the Due Process Clause where, assuming there was any error, it did not seriously affect the fairness of the proceedings; and the home confinement modification did not violate the First Amendment where defendant's post-sentencing comments were relevant to the conditions of probation because they indicated that defendant did not grasp the seriousness of his conduct and did not think much of the probationary sentence he had received, and defendant was not punished for any abstract beliefs. Accordingly, the court dismissed in part and affirmed in part. View "United States v. Serrapio, Jr." on Justia Law
Jarvela v. Crete Carrier Corp.
Plaintiff filed suit against his employer, alleging that the employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601, by terminating him based on his diagnoses of alcoholism. The court agreed with the employer that plaintiff was not qualified under DOT regulations to drive a commercial truck because he had a current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism. Because the court determined that plaintiff was not entitled to drive a commercial truck under the DOT regulations, the court need not address whether the employer's company policy also supported that determination. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer on the ADA claim. In regards to the FMLA claims, the court agreed with the district court's determination that plaintiff's interference claim failed because the employer would have discharged plaintiff regardless of his FMLA leave, and plaintiff's retaliation claim failed because he could not show that the employer's decision to terminate him was causally related to his FMLA leave. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the FMLA claims. View "Jarvela v. Crete Carrier Corp." on Justia Law
Brannon, et al. v. Finklestein
Plaintiff filed suit alleging that defendant reduced and ultimately terminated plaintiff's consulting work as a forensic psychologist for the Broward County Public Defender's office in retaliation for plaintiff's constitutionally protected testimony about a Florida state court judge. The court vacated the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to defendant where a reasonable fact-finder could find that defendant was subjectively motivated to reduce and did reduce plaintiff's work because of his testimony and plaintiff's testimony was also a motivating factor behind defendant removing him from the wheel rotation system; affirmed the judgment of the district court granting qualified immunity to defendant in his individual capacity where there was evidence of both lawful and unlawful motivations for defendant's actions and preexisting law did not dictate that the merits of the case must be decided in plaintiff's favor; and remanded for further proceedings. View "Brannon, et al. v. Finklestein" on Justia Law
Hillcrest Property, LLP v. Pasco County
Hillcrest filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, challenging a Right-of-Way Preservation Ordinance. The court concluded that Hillcrest's facial substantive due process claim accrued when the Ordinance was enacted on November 22, 2005, and was time-barred when Hillcrest filed this action more than five years later. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order to the extent that it granted summary judgment and a permanent injunction in favor of Hillcrest on its facial substantive due process claim. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Hillcrest Property, LLP v. Pasco County" on Justia Law
Adams, et al. v. Austal, U.S.A., L.L.C.
This appeal involved complaints of a racially hostile work environment at a shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, owned by Austal. At issue on appeal was whether an employee may rely on evidence of racial harassment of which he is not personally aware to prove that his work environment was objectively hostile. The court held that an employee alleging a hostile work environment cannot complain about conduct of which he was oblivious for the purpose of proving that his work environment was objectively hostile. In this instance, the court concluded that seven of the employees presented sufficient evidence that their work environments were objectively hostile, and vacated the summary judgment against them. The court affirmed the summary judgment against the remaining six employees and affirmed the two jury verdicts. View "Adams, et al. v. Austal, U.S.A., L.L.C." on Justia Law