Justia Constitutional Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

by
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

by
A fully nude strip club filed suit challenging the administrative action the city had taken against the club, the laws authorizing that action, and ordinances the city later enacted that regulated the fully nude strip club business. The district court dismissed all sixteen claims. The Eleventh Circuit held that counts III through VI failed to state claims and that one of the remaining claims was not ripe. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of one more of those claims because the club lacked standing to pursue it. However, the court held that the eight remaining appealed claims were ripe for the district court's review. In this case, counts XIII, XIV, and XV assert that the Ordinance was preempted by state and federal law; further factual development cannot assist in resolution of these facial challenges, which raise purely legal issues; and no institutional concerns of the court or the city render the issues unfit for review. Furthermore, the club's as-applied challenges, asserting an unconstitutional burden and tax on speech, an equal protection violation, and a contract clause violation, required no more factual development to be ripe for review. Finally, count XVI, challenging the ordinance under the Fourth Amendment, was also fit for review. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded in part. View "Club Madonna, Inc. v. City of Miami Beach" on Justia Law

by
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas relief. The district court granted petitioner a certificate of appealability (COA) on whether he is intellectually disabled and thus ineligible for the death penalty under Atkins v. Virginia, and the court granted petitioner's request to expand the COA to include a Batson challenge. The court held that the Supreme Court's recent holding in Moore v. Texas did not apply retroactively to petitioner's intellectual disability claim, and that the state court's denial of his intellectual disability claim was not an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. In this case, the state court considered petitioner's ability to conceal his crime, ability to take care of his mother, and his scores on certain mathematics and reading tests as adaptive strengths that outweighed his apparent deficits. The court held that this approach was acceptable at the time. The court also held that the state court's denial of petitioner's claims that the prosecutor at his state trial struck jurors on the basis of gender and national origin in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments was not contrary to Batson v. Kentucky and its progeny, an unreasonable application of Batson, or an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented to the state courts. View "Smith v. Commissioner, Alabama Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

by
After Ricky Hinkle died in the Birmingham City Jail after being shocked with a taser, his son filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging several claims on Hinkle's behalf. The district court denied the officers' motion for qualified immunity. The Eleventh Circuit held that the facts as pleaded showed that Deputy Dukuzumuremyi violated Hinkle’s clearly established constitutional right to be free from excessive force. In this case, Dukuzumuremyi clearly crossed the constitutional line, when, having already tased Hinkle once —dropping him to the floor, rendering him motionless, and causing him to urinate on himself—Dukuzumuremyi shocked him again a full eight seconds later. However, the court held that plaintiff's allegations did not show a causal connection between either the use of force against Hinkle or any deliberate indifference to Hinkle's serious medical needs, on the one hand, and any policy or custom implemented by Sheriff Hale or Captain Eddings, on the other. Accordingly, the court affirmed as to Dukuzumuremyi but reverse as to Sheriff Hale and Captain Eddings. View "Hunter v. Hale" on Justia Law

by
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

by
The City of Miami filed suit alleging that defendant institutions, major nationwide banks, carried on discriminatory lending practices that intentionally targeted black and Latino Miami residents for predatory loans. The City alleged that this resulted in disproportionate foreclosures on homeowners of those races, diminished property values in predominantly minority neighborhoods, substantially reduced tax revenue for the City, and increased expenditures by the City for municipal services. On remand from the Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit held that the City has adequately pled proximate cause in relation to some of its economic injuries when the pleadings are measured against the standard required by the Fair Housing Act. Considering the broad and ambitious scope of the FHA, the statute's expansive text, the exceedingly detailed allegations found in the complaints, and the application of the administrative feasibility factors laid out by the Supreme Court in Holmes v. Securities Investor Protection Corp., 503 U.S. 258 (1992), the court was satisfied that the pleadings set out a plausible claim. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the FHA claims and remanded for further proceedings. View "City of Miami v. Wells Fargo & Co." on Justia Law

by
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition. The court rejected petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim and held that counsel's performance in presenting petitioner's case in mitigation was not objectively unreasonable where counsel's decisions were strategic and did not fall outside the wide range of reasonable professional assistance the Sixth Amendment required. The court also held that the trial court did not err in requiring petitioner to wear a stun belt during the resentencing trial where the stun belt was not visible to the jury or the public, and the state trial court's opinion was not contrary to and did not involve an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court. View "Nance v. Warden, Georgia Diagnostic Prison" on Justia Law

by
The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of correctional officers in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action brought by plaintiff, alleging excessive force and deliberate indifference claims. Plaintiff, a Florida inmate, alleged that the officers physically assaulted him and that one of them sprayed a chemical agent on him for 16 minutes after he was handcuffed and compliant. Plaintiff also alleged that three supervisory officers watched the attack without doing anything to intervene. The court held that the district court may have mistakenly relied on O'Bryant v. Finch, 637 F.3d 1207 (11th Cir. 2011), to exclude plaintiff's statements from consideration, or it may have viewed the evidence submitted by the officers as establishing the kind of record that no reasonable jury could disbelieve regardless of sworn statements to the contrary. Regardless, the district court erred in not accepting plaintiff's version of events as true for purposes of summary judgment. View "Sears v. Roberts" on Justia Law

by
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Hard Candy's request for a jury trial in an action under the Lanham Act. In this case, Hardy Candy sought every remedy permitted by the Act besides actual damages: an injunction to prevent future infringement, an accounting and the disgorgement of profits that the defendant made from the allegedly infringing goods, and declaratory relief, along with fees and costs. The court held that the remedy of an accounting and disgorgement of profits for trademark infringement is equitable in nature and has long been considered that way, and thus a plaintiff seeking the defendant's profits in lieu of actual damages is not entitled to a jury trial. The panel also held that the district court did not err in its merits determinations on infringement and fair use. View "Hard Candy, LLC v. Anastasia Beverly Hills, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Eleventh Circuit dismissed this insurance dispute case, holding that Gerber, as assignee of the insured, did not have standing to bring a declaratory judgment class action against GEICO. In this case, the action did not assert any claims for money damages and there was no substantial likelihood that the insured would suffer a future injury. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded with instructions to dismiss the complaint for lack of standing. View "A&M Gerber Chiropractic LLC v. Geico General Insurance Co." on Justia Law