Articles Posted in U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiff and her husband filed suit against LabCorp, alleging that its cytotechnicians were negligent in failing to identify abnormalities in plaintiff's Pap smears and that this negligence caused a delay in her cancer diagnosis. The district court granted LabCorp's motion to exclude plaintiff's expert's testimony based on its conclusion that her methodology did not meet the reliability requirements under Federal Rule of Evidence 702. The district court then granted LabCorp's motion for summary judgment. The court concluded, however, that the expert was qualified to testify about cytotechnologists' standard of care, her methodology was reliable, and her testimony would assist the trier of fact. Therefore, the district court abused its discretion in excluding her testimony. The court reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Adams, et al. v. Laboratory Corp. of America" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Chiquita under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. 1350, and the Torture Victims Protection Act (TVPA), 28 U.S.C. 1350, alleging that the company engaged in concert of action with paramilitary forces in Colombia, including acts that plaintiffs alleged to constitute torture and to have resulted in personal injury and death. The court held that, under Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority, the TVPA authorizes liability solely against natural persons. The court also held that, under Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., the ATS does not apply extraterritorially. In this case, there is no allegation that any torture occurred on U.S. territory, or that any other act constituting a tort in terms of the ATS touched or concerned the territory of the United States with any force. Accordingly, the court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction and reversed the orders denying the motions to dismiss, remanding for dismissal. View "Cardona, et al. v. Chiquita Brands Int'l, et al." on Justia Law

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Wellcare sought a writ of mandamus declaring it a "victim" within the meaning of the Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3771, and the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996 (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3663A, and directing the district court to act accordingly. The court concluded that, given Wellcare's admitted role in a criminal conspiracy to defraud Florida healthcare programs, the district court did not clearly abuse its discretion in denying Wellcare's motion to be recognized as a crime victim and to be awarded restitution. Accordingly, the court denied the petition. View "In re: Wellcare Health Plans, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, chief mate of the "Sealand Pride," filed suit under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 30104, alleging that his employer, Maersk, negligently saddled him with excessive duties and duty time such that he was overworked to the point of fatigue. The court concluded that the Jones Act does not allow seaman to recover for injuries caused by work-related stress because work-related stress is not a physical peril. Therefore, the district court erred when it denied the motion of Maersk for a judgment in its favor as a matter of law. Under Consolidated Rail Corp. v. Gottshall, plaintiff's complaint of an injury induced by overwork was not cognizable under the Jones Act. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment awarding plaintiff damages. The court reversed the denial of the motion of Maersk for a judgment as a matter of law and rendered the judgment in favor of Maersk. View "Skye v. Maersk Line" on Justia Law

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After Charles Eugene Becker died from falling from a two-story home after the ladder he was climbing detached from the house, his estate filed a wrongful death suit. This appeal stems from plaintiff's claims against Anchorage Homes LLC, another contractor working on the home construction project. At the time, Anchorage held a commercial general liability insurance policy with Mid-Continent. The district court reasoned that the state court pleadings and the record evidence established that Becker was exempted from Anchorage's insurance policy with Mid-Continent under the policy's employee exclusion clause. The court concluded that the district court correctly concluded that Florida's law requires that the employee exclusion clause in Anchorage's insurance policy be construed as applying both to actual and statutory employees of Anchorage. Because Anchorage was the statutory employer of Becker, Team Fritz's employee, Anchorage was not entitled to indemnification under its general liability insurance policy for damages arising from Becker's death on the job. Therefore, plaintiff could not establish that Mid-Continent had a duty to indemnify Anchorage in the underlying suit in order to enforce the settlement agreement against Mid-Continent. There were no genuine issues of material fact and Mid-Continent was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court and affirmed the district court's fee and cost order. View "Stephens v. Mid-Continent Casualty Co." on Justia Law

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The United States investigated Jeffrey Epstein's sexual abuse of minors, but failed to confer with the victims before entering a non-prosecution agreement with Epstein. Two victims filed suit under the Crime Victims' Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. 3771, to enforce their rights and sought to discover the correspondence between Epstein's attorneys and the United States regarding the non-prosecution agreement. Epstein and his attorneys intervened to object to that discovery as privileged. The district court overruled the objection and ordered disclosure. Intervenors appealed and the victims moved to dismiss. The court concluded that it had jurisdiction over this interlocutory appeal and that the plea negotiations were not privileged from disclosure where Federal Rule of Evidence 410 provided no privilege for plea negotiations, the intervenors waived any work-product privilege, and the court declined to recognize a common-law privilege for plea negotiations. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Doe v. Black" on Justia Law

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David Knowlton, a property owner at the Abaco Club, fell to his death from a rocky cliff (the Point) adjacent to defendant's Abaco Club property on the island of Abaco in the Bahamas. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that defendants breached their duty to exercise reasonable care to protect the safety of Knowlton as an invitee while on defendants' property. The district court granted defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law and denied defendants' motion for a new trial. The court concluded that the district court failed to consider defendants' separate duty to use ordinary care to maintain the Abaco Club property in a reasonably safe manner to protect against foreseeable dangers on the Point by means other than posting a warning. Therefore, the district court erred in granting judgment as a matter of law to defendants on the duty owed to Knowlton as an invitee. The district court's instructions to the jury were also erroneous in a similar respect. The court also concluded that the district court erred in granting defendants judgment as a matter of law following trial; admitting toxicology evidence was not error; the district court abused its discretion in not finding that the verdict was the result of an impermissible compromise; and plaintiff was entitled to a new trial on both liability and damages. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Collins v. Marriott Int'l, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff (the customer) filed suit against State Street (the custodian bank), alleging in essence that it had a duty to notify him that the securities in his account were worthless. The district court granted State Street's motion to dismiss the contract claims on the ground that State Street had a merely administrative role in managing plaintiff's accounts and thus owed him no duty to guard against his investment advisor's misconduct. The district court concluded that plaintiff's negligence claims were barred by Florida's economic loss rule and plaintiff had not sufficiently alleged knowledge on the part of State Street in regards to the aiding and abetting claims. The court affirmed, holding that, under these facts, the custodian bank breached no duty, contractual or otherwise, by accepting on behalf of its customer securities that later turn out to be fraudulent and listing those securities on monthly account statements issued to the customer. Plaintiff's allegations failed to state claims for breach of contract; plaintiff failed to establish that State Street owed him an independent duty to monitor the investments in his account, verify their market value, or ensure they were in valid form; therefore, he failed to state valid negligence claims; plaintiff's allegations were insufficient to state a claim for aiding and abetting; and plaintiff's claims for breach of fiduciary duty and negligent misrepresentation also failed. View "Lamm v. State Street Bank and Trust" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a Honduran citizen who suffered a back injury while employed as a mason aboard one of Carnival's ships, filed suit against Carnival in state court asserting claims of Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 30104, negligence, unseaworthiness, and failure to provide adequate maintenance and cure. Plaintiff alleged that the physician chosen and paid by Carnival negligently performed his back surgery. Carnival removed to federal court. On appeal, plaintiff appealed the district court's order compelling arbitration of his claims under the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (CREFAA), 9 U.S.C. 201-208. Plaintiff argued that his Jones Act claim did not fall within his employment contract ("Seafarer's Agreement") with Carnival and, therefore, was not within the scope of the contract's arbitration clause. The court concluded that the order compelling plaintiff to arbitrate his claims was "a final decision with respect to arbitration," and the court had appellate jurisdiction. The court also concluded that plaintiff's dispute with Carnival clearly arose out of or in connection with the Seafarer's Agreement and was subject to arbitration. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order. View "Martinez v. Carnival Corp." on Justia Law

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Offshore appealed the district court's order permitting a lone claimant to pursue personal injury claims in state court after Offshore had invoked the Limitation of Liability Act (Limitation Act), 46 U.S.C. 30501. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its considerable discretion in determining that the claimant could proceed first in state court with her tort claim before the district court adjudicated the boat owner's efforts to limit its liability to the value of the vessel. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Offshore of Palm Beaches, Inc. v. Lynch" on Justia Law