Justia Injury Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Andrez Marquez, et al v. Amazon.com, Inc.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”) stopped providing “Rapid Delivery”1 to Amazon Prime (“Prime”) subscribers. Because Prime subscribers were not notified of the suspension and continued to pay full price for their memberships, Plaintiff and others brought a putative class action against Amazon alleging breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act (“WCPA”), and unjust enrichment. The district court granted Amazon’s motion to dismiss the First Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim with prejudice because it found that Amazon did not have a duty to provide unqualified Rapid Delivery to Prime subscribers. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court first wrote that it is allowed to use its “experience and common sense” to acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic even though it was not included as a factual allegation in the First Amended Complaint. The court dispensed with this argument because Amazon’s prioritization of essential goods during the COVID-19 pandemic obviously did not harm the public interest. Further, the court explained that Plaintiffs specifically incorporated the terms of their contract with Amazon as part of their unjust enrichment count. So, while Plaintiffs may plead breach of contract and unjust enrichment in the alternative, they have not done so. Instead, Plaintiffs pleaded a contractual relationship as part of their unjust enrichment claim, and that contractual relationship defeats their unjust enrichment claim under Washington law. View "Andrez Marquez, et al v. Amazon.com, Inc." on Justia Law
April Myrick, et al v. Fulton County, Georgia, et al
This appeal arises from the tragic death of a man who died while in custody. Appellants appealed the district court’s orders dismissing their claims against the Sheriff and granting summary judgment to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department Officers, NaphCare, and a NaphCare employee. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the claims against the Sheriff and its grant of summary judgment to both the Officers and the employee. However, the court vacated and remanded the district court’s summary judgment in favor of NaphCare. The court explained that in Appellants’ response to NaphCare’s motion for summary judgment, Appellants relied mainly on the medical report and deposition of Dr. Timothy Hughes but also referred to the report and deposition of two other witnesses, as required by O.C.G.A. Section 9-11-9.1. Dr. Hughes’s report concluded the failure of NaphCare medical staff to properly screen, examine, and treat the decedent was the proximate cause of his death. This testimony is supported by the other witnesses. The court agreed with Appellants that, based on Dr. Hughes’s testimony, there is enough of a genuine issue of material fact for NaphCare’s liability to reach a jury. Dr. Hughes did not solely rest his argument on NaphCare’s failure to sedate the decedent. It was the failure of the staff to follow through with the decedent at all that was the problem. While this included the need for sedation, it also included immediate classification to suicide watch and observation. View "April Myrick, et al v. Fulton County, Georgia, et al" on Justia Law
Carlos Ramirez v. The Paradies Shops, LLC
Plaintiff worked for a company later acquired by the Paradies Shops. He, like many employees, entrusted his employer with sensitive, personally identifiable information (PII). In October 2020, Paradies suffered a ransomware attack on its administrative systems in which cybercriminals obtained the Social Security numbers of Plaintiff and other current and former employees. Shortly after learning of the data breach, Plaintiff brought claims for negligence and breach of implied contract on behalf of himself and those affected by the data breach, arguing Paradies should have protected the PII. He now appeals from the district court’s order granting Paradies’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. He contends the district court demanded too much at the pleadings stage. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the breach of implied contract claim and reversed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s negligence claim, and remanded for further proceedings. The court explained that, as the Georgia Supreme Court has noted, “traditional tort law is a rather blunt instrument for resolving all of the complex tradeoffs at issue in a case such as this, tradeoffs that may well be better resolved by the legislative process.” Nevertheless, having applied Georgia’s traditional tort principles, the court concluded Plaintiff has pled facts giving rise to a duty of care on the part of Paradies. Getting past summary judgment may prove a tougher challenge, but Plaintiff has pled enough for his negligence claim to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. View "Carlos Ramirez v. The Paradies Shops, LLC" on Justia Law
Elkin King v. Forrest King, Jr.
Plaintiff brought a diversity suit against his former stepfather, Defendant, alleging that Defendant owed him a fiduciary duty to disclose the existence of certain Settlement Funds arising from the wrongful death of Plaintiff’s biological father. The Eleventh Circuit previously certified three questions to the Supreme Court of Georgia regarding breach of fiduciary duty for failure to disclose a claim. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendant on the failure to disclose claim and remanded the matter for further proceedings. The court explained that the district court should only have granted Defendant summary judgment if there was no genuine dispute as to any material fact regarding the tort claim and Defendant was entitled to judgment as a matter of law, viewing all evidence and making all inferences in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. Here, a reasonable jury could find the following facts at trial:4 (1) Plaintiff and Defendant were in a confidential or fiduciary relationship such that, under Georgia law, the statute of limitations could be tolled, and a claim for breach of fiduciary duty could be supported; (2) at the time Plaintiff turned 18, at least $50,000 of the Settlement Funds remained in the Charles Schwab account; (3) Plaintiff had a right to take control of the Settlement Funds when he turned 18; (4) Defendant had a duty to disclose the existence of the Settlement Funds and turn over control of those funds to Plaintiff when he turned 18; (5) Defendant failed to do so, and (6) Plaintiff would have taken control of the funds when he turned 18. View "Elkin King v. Forrest King, Jr." on Justia Law
Adriana Mendez v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP
Plaintiff appealed (“Walmart”) in her “slip and fall” negligence suit under Georgia law. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred in (1) analyzing her slip and fall claim under a premises liability theory instead of an active negligence theory and (2) denying her spoliation of evidence claim and related sanctions request. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court wrote that Plaintiff failed to cite any binding authority under Georgia law supporting an active negligence theory in a slip and fall case. And the persuasive value of the non-binding cases she cites is limited because they have either been rejected by the Georgia courts as a basis for active negligence in the slip and fall context or are fully distinguishable. More importantly, the allegations in her complaint clearly involve a condition of the premises. Plaintiff alleged that she was shopping at Walmart when “she slipped and fell from liquid that was on the floor” and that Walmart “had a duty to inspect the Premises to discover dangerous and hazardous conditions . . . and to either eliminate such . . . conditions or to warn its invitees.” Thus, the district court did not err in analyzing her claim under the framework of traditional premises liability. View "Adriana Mendez v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP" on Justia Law
David Williams, et al v. Reckitt Benckiser LLC, et al
This is an appeal from a district court order approving a class-action settlement that purports to provide injunctive relief and up to $8 million in monetary relief to a class of individuals (the “Class”) who purchased one or more “brain performance supplements” manufactured and sold by Defendants Reckitt Benckiser LLC and RB Health (US) LLC (together, “RB”) under the brand name “Neuriva.” Five Plaintiffs (together, the “Named Plaintiffs”) who had previously purchased Neuriva brought a putative class action, alleging that RB used false and misleading statements to give consumers the impression that Neuriva and its “active ingredients” had been clinically tested and proven to improve brain function. The parties promptly agreed to a global settlement (the “Settlement” or “Settlement Agreement”) that sought to resolve the claims of all Plaintiffs and absent Class members. The current appeal involves one unnamed Class member, an attorney and frequent class-action objector, who objected in district court and subsequently appealed the district court’s approval order. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court’s order and remanded. The court concluded that the Named Plaintiffs lack standing to pursue their claims for injunctive relief. The court explained that Plaintiffs seeking injunctive relief must establish that they are likely to suffer an injury that is “actual or imminent,” not “conjectural or hypothetical.” But none of the Named Plaintiffs allege that they plan to purchase any of the Neuriva Products again. The district court, therefore, lacked jurisdiction to award injunctive relief to the Named Plaintiffs or absent Class members, and its approval of the Settlement Agreement was an abuse of discretion. View "David Williams, et al v. Reckitt Benckiser LLC, et al" on Justia Law
SE Property Holdings, LLC v. Neverve LLC
SE Property Holdings, LLC (“SEPH”) obtained a deficiency judgment against Neverve LLC (“Neverve”) after Neverve defaulted on loans secured by a mortgage on its property. Following this judgment, Neverve received the proceeds from an unrelated settlement. But Neverve transferred those proceeds to attorneys representing Neverve’s principal in payment of attorney’s fees relating to the principal’s personal bankruptcy proceedings. SEPH then sued Neverve based on Neverve’s allegedly fraudulent transfer of those settlement proceeds. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Neverve, finding that the Florida Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act’s (“FUFTA”) “catch-all” provision did not allow for (1) an award of money damages against the transferor, (2) punitive damages, or (3) attorney’s fees. The court also granted summary judgment in favor of Neverve on SEPH’s equitable lien claim, as Neverve no longer possessed the settlement proceeds at issue. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court held that based on the narrow interpretation of FUFTA in Freeman v. First Union National Bank, 865 So. 2d 1272 (Fla. 2004), the court believes the Florida Supreme Court would determine that FUFTA’s catch-all provision does not allow for an award of money damages against the transferor, an award of punitive damages, or an award of attorney’s fees. Thus, the district court was correct in granting summary judgment in favor of Neverve on SEPH’s FUFTA claims. And the court concluded that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of Neverve on SEPH’s equitable lien claim. View "SE Property Holdings, LLC v. Neverve LLC" on Justia Law
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Anna Bevilacqua Spangler, et al.
Defendant and his spouse maintained a car insurance policy (the “Policy”) with State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. While the Policy was in force, Defendant’s wife was involved in an accident in which she was struck and injured by an uninsured driver of an electric motorized scooter. Defendants made a claim for her injuries under the Policy’s Uninsured Motor Vehicle (“UM”) coverage. State Farm denied the claim on the ground that under the Policy, the scooter was neither a “motor vehicle” nor an “uninsured motor vehicle,” which the Policy defined as a “land motor vehicle.” State Farm sued Defendants, seeking a declaratory judgment that the Policy provided no coverage. Both parties moved for summary judgment. The district court denied Defendant’s motion, granting summary judgment in part to State Farm. Defendants argued that because the Policy defines “uninsured motor vehicle” as a “land motor vehicle,” the plain and ordinary meaning of the term “land motor vehicle” dictates the scope of the Policy, and under the plain and ordinary meaning of the term, the scooter is a covered uninsured motor vehicle. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to State Farm. The court concluded that the Policy defines “uninsured motor vehicle” more broadly than Florida insurance law requires. Because an insurer can provide more UM coverage than the law requires, we decline to disregard the Policy’s broader definition of uninsured motor vehicle in favor of a more limited statutory definition of motor vehicle. View "State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Anna Bevilacqua Spangler, et al." on Justia Law
Vanessa Sutton v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP
Plaintiff slipped in a Wal-Mart, fell to the ground, and injured her back and shoulder. While lying on the floor, she saw the culprit: a squished grape, accompanied by juice, a track mark, and footprints. No witnesses saw the grape before her fall, and a video in the record does not offer a clear picture of when the grape might have landed there. Plaintiff sued Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, for her injuries. The district court granted summary judgment in Wal-Mart’s favor, determining that there was no genuine dispute of material fact that Wal-Mart had actual or constructive knowledge of the grape before the accident, as required by Florida law. The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that there is a genuine dispute of material fact about Wal-Mart’s constructive knowledge. The court explained that here, Plaintiff unambiguously testified that there was a track mark and footprints through the grape. Thus, this case falls cleanly into the set of Florida cases that require a jury to decide whether the substance sat on the floor long enough to establish constructive notice. The court found that though a jury might eventually decide that the footprints belonged to Plaintiff, “an equally compelling inference from the dirty appearance of the [grape] is that it had gone undetected on the floor for a sufficient period of time to place [Wal-Mart] on constructive notice. View "Vanessa Sutton v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP" on Justia Law
Daniel Ilias v. USAA General Indemnity Company
S.D. lost control of his van while driving on a divided highway in Pasco County, Florida. The van jumped the center median and landed directly on top of an oncoming car driven by Plaintiff. Plaintiff was seriously injured in the resulting wreck. S.D.’s insurer, USAA General Indemnity Company, immediately began investigating. But despite learning that Plaintiff had suffered grievous injuries so that his damages would almost surely exceed S.D.’s $10,000 policy limit, and despite determining that S.D. was solely at fault for the accident, USAA delayed initiating settlement negotiations for over a month. Then, USAA failed to confirm for Plaintiff’s attorney that S.D. lacked additional insurance coverage with which to satisfy a judgment. Plaintiff then commenced this action to hold USAA responsible for the judgment, bringing a single claim for bad faith under Florida common law. USAA moved for summary judgment, arguing that no reasonable jury could find that its conduct amounted to bad faith. The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded. The court held that the district court improvidently granted summary judgment to USAA. Material issues of fact as to bad faith and causation remain in dispute, and Plaintiff is entitled to have a jury resolve them. The court explained had USAA complied with its “duty to initiate settlement negotiations” sooner or provided Plaintiff’s attorney with a coverage affidavit before Plaintiff filed suit, the case may have settled before rising costs changed the calculus. View "Daniel Ilias v. USAA General Indemnity Company" on Justia Law