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

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Wellness filed a putative class action in state court seeking a declaration that the form language Allstate used in the class members' personal injury protection insurance policies did not clearly and unambiguously indicate that payments would be limited to the levels provided for in Fla. Stat. 627.736(5)(a). The district court subsequently granted Wellness' motion to remand, concluding that the value of the declaratory relief was too speculative for purposes of satisfying the Class Action Fairness Act's (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2), amount-in-controversy requirement because Allstate had failed to show that declaratory judgment in this case necessarily triggered a flow of money to plaintiffs. The court concluded, however, that Allstate had carried its burden of establishing an amount in controversy that exceeded $5 million and Wellness did not provide any evidence to rebut Allstate's affidavit or controvert its calculations. Here, the amount that would be put at issue is the amount that the putative class members could be eligible to recover from Allstate in the event that they obtain declaratory relief. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "South Florida Wellness, Inc. v. Allstate Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against debt management businesses and individual employees of those businesses on behalf of herself and a statewide class of about 10,000 consumers. The parties agreed to allow a magistrate judge to enter a final judgment in the class action. The parties then reached a settlement agreement. Five class members and the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Florida, Maine, New York, and West Virginia objected to the settlement agreement. The court concluded that the magistrate judge had subject-matter jurisdiction to enter a final judgment because absent class members were not parties whose consent was required for a magistrate judge to enter a final judgment under 28 U.S.C. 636(c). However, the court vacated the judgment because the magistrate judge abused his discretion when he found, without adequate evidentiary support, that defendants could not satisfy a significant judgment. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Day v. Persels & Assoc., LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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R.J. Reynolds appealed money judgments in favor of the survivors of two smokers. At issue was whether a decision of the Supreme Court of Florida in an earlier class action was entitled to full faith and credit in federal court. The court affirmed the judgments in favor of the survivors because R.J. Reynolds had a full and fair opportunity to be heard in the Florida class action and the application of res judicata under Florida law did not cause an arbitrary deprivation of property. View "Walker, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co." on Justia Law

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This case involved arbitration proceedings stemming from plaintiff's class action suit alleging, among other things, that SouthernLINC's termination fees were unlawful penalties under Georgia law. SouthernLINC, a wireless provider, appealed the district court's denial of its motion to vacate two arbitration awards. Under the standard set forth by the Supreme Court in Oxford Health Plans LLC v. Sutter, the court concluded that the arbitrator did not exceed his powers under section 10(a)(4) of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq., either in construing the arbitration clause as he did or in certifying a class. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Southern Communications Serv. v. Thomas" on Justia Law

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After Carnival's cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, ran aground off the coast of Italy, two separate actions were filed by groups of 56 and 48 plaintiffs in the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida. Carnival removed both actions to district court, claiming that the district court had subject-matter jurisdiction under the mass-action provision of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), Pub. L. 109-2, 119 Stat. 4. Plaintiffs moved for remand to state court on the ground that the district court lacked jurisdiction and the district court granted the motion. The court affirmed, concluding that the cases were improvidently removed and should have been remanded where, under the plain language of CAFA and 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(11), the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over plaintiffs' two separate actions unless they proposed to try 100 or more persons' claims jointly. View "Scimone, et al. v. Carnival Corp., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued Sentinel for criminal contempt of court for resisting the Superior Court's order granting him a writ of habeas corpus and "using its position as a probation company to attempt to collect a debt that is not owed or due by threatening to have [plaintiff] jailed without bond." Plaintiff also alleged that Sentinel engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity under O.C.G.A. 16-14-1 et seq. Sentinel removed the suit to the district court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2). The court rejected plaintiff's arguments under CAFA; concluded that the district court did not err in shifting the burden of production to plaintiff in response to Sentinel's testimonial evidence; and concluded that plaintiff offered no citation to support the theory of corporate liability. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Sentinel. View "McGee v. Sentinel Offender Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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Southfield appealed the dismissal of its consolidated class-action securities fraud complaint against St. Joe and St. Joe's current and former officers for alleged violations of sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 78j(b), 78t(a), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 10b-5, 17 C.F.R. 240.10b-5. Southfield argued that the district court erred in holding that they failed to adequately plead loss causation, actionable misrepresentation, or scienter, and also by denying their post-judgment motion to alter or amend. The court held that the complaint as framed by Southfield failed to adequately allege loss causation and the district court was therefore correct to dismiss Southfield's complaint for failure to state a claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "City of Southfield Fire & Police Retirement System v. Greene, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs in these five separate putative class actions alleged that Wells Fargo and Wachovia Bank unlawfully charged them overdraft fees for their checking accounts, which were governed by agreements that provided for arbitration of disputes on an individual basis. On appeal, Wells Fargo argued that it did not waive its right to compel arbitration because it would have been futile to move to compel arbitration before the Supreme Court decided AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion. The court concluded that Concepcion established no new law. Because the court concluded that it would have been futile for Wells Fargo to argue that the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq., preempted any state laws that purported to make the classwide arbitration provisions unenforceable, the court affirmed the denial of its motion to compel arbitration. View "Garcia v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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Objectors appealed the district court's approval of a class action settlement. The underlying case involved allegations that Disney violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12182 et seq., by implementing a policy that banned the use of two-wheeled vehicles, including Segways, by customers within its park and hotels, without exception. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class and in approving the settlement. Accordingly, the court affirmed the settlement orders. View "Ault, et al. v. Walt Disney World Co., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's order denying class certification of their proposed class action against T-Mobile, contending that the district court erred in concluding that T-Mobile did not waive its right to assert arbitration and class-action defenses. The court held, however, that plaintiffs failed to challenge in their opening brief the district court's ruling that they failed to establish the predominance of common issues because of variations in damages. Therefore, plaintiffs have abandoned any contention that the district court erred in denying class certification. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Robinson, et al. v. T-Mobile USA, Inc." on Justia Law