Justia Business Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
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Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Jared Wheat, and Stephen Smith appealed the district court’s denial of their request for relief from contempt sanctions. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued them for violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act, alleging they had misrepresented their weight-loss products to consumers. The agency sought equitable monetary remedies and an injunction against future unlawful trade practices. The district court granted injunctive relief and ordered them to pay $16 million in equitable monetary relief. Years later, the district court found that they had violated the injunction, held them in civil contempt, and ordered them to pay an additional $40 million in contempt sanctions. Before the $40 million contempt judgment was collected, the United States Supreme Court decided AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission. Invoking Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), Defendants returned to the district court to request relief from the contempt judgment, arguing that continued enforcement of the judgment was no longer equitable after AMG. The district court denied the motion.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying relief under Rule 60(b)(5). The court explained that because AMG did not address the district court’s inherent authority to sanction contempt, the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendants’ request for relief under Rule 60(b)(5). Further, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying relief under Rule 60(b)(6). The court reasoned that Defendants have failed to show extraordinary circumstances justifying relief under Rule 60(b)(6). View "Federal Trade Commission v. National Urological Group, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Appellant informed the court that its case was moot and that it had been moot at the time of our decision. Appellee has since confirmed that had dissolved its limited liability company seven weeks before we decided the case, thereby eliminating any possibility of redress. The Eleventh Circuit, thus, granted Appellant’s motion to dismiss the appeal. The panel vacated its March 31, 2023 order staying the issuance of the mandate. View "Deborah Laufer v. Arpan LLC" on Justia Law

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Two companies filed a lawsuit in federal court against two of their former employees, who had served in executive positions. The former executives responded by suing the companies in Florida state court. They later moved for summary judgment in the federal action. While that motion was pending, the companies moved for a voluntary dismissal without prejudice of their federal action, which the executives opposed. The district court granted the companies’ motion for voluntary dismissal, and it denied the executives’ request for attorney’s fees and costs incurred in defending the federal lawsuit to that point. On remand, the district court again granted the voluntary dismissal. The executives moved to alter or amend that judgment and be awarded fees and costs immediately, which the court denied. The executives appealed.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the district court sufficiently protected the executives from the prejudice of duplicative litigation by essentially inviting them to move for payment of their costs and fees if the companies ever refiled their federal lawsuit. The court adequately explained its reasoning for granting the dismissal without prejudice on that condition. In all aspects of the decision, the court acted within its discretion. View "Emergency Recovery, Inc., et al v. Bryan Hufnagle, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s employee opened, in Plaintiff’s name, a credit card with Chase and ran up tens of thousands of dollars in debt. The employee also illegally accessed Plaintiff’s bank accounts and used them to partially pay off the monthly statements. When she discovered the scheme, Plaintiff reported the fraud to Chase, but Chase refused to characterize the charges as illegitimate. Plaintiff sued Chase under the Fair Credit Reporting Act for not conducting a reasonable investigation into her dispute. The district court granted summary judgment for Chase because it concluded that Chase’s investigation into Plaintiff’s dispute was “reasonable,” as the Act requires.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff hasn’t shown a genuine dispute of fact whether Chase’s conclusion was unreasonable as a matter of law. The court explained that Chase didn’t need to keep investigating. Nor has Plaintiff explained what Chase should have done differently: whom it should have talked to or what documents it should have considered that might have affected its apparent-authority analysis. That omission dooms Plaintiff’s claim because “a plaintiff cannot demonstrate that a reasonable investigation would have resulted in the furnisher concluding that the information was inaccurate or incomplete without identifying some facts the furnisher could have uncovered that establish that the reported information was, in fact, inaccurate or incomplete.” View "Shelly Milgram v. Chase Bank USA, N.A., et al" on Justia Law

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This diversity case arises out of the theft—possibly by a group of third-party contractors—of 1,380 memory cards that belonged to Global Network Management, LTD., and were stored in a data center operated by Centurylink Latin American Solutions, LLC. Global Network sued Centurylink for implied bailment, breach of contract implied in law, and breach of contract implied in fact to hold Centurylink liable for the theft of the memory cards. The district court dismissed all of the claims with prejudice, and Global Network now appeals.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. The court held that the district court correctly dismissed the contract implied in law and contract implied in fact claims. But Global Network plausibly alleged that Centurylink possessed the memory cards at the time of the theft, and as a result, the implied bailment claim survives at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage. The court explained that according to Centurylink, Global Network’s ability to visit the servers means that it did not possess the servers exclusively, and as a result, no bailment relationship was formed. But this argument does not carry the day at this stage of the proceeding, where the standard is plausibility and not probability. The court noted that it does not hold there was an implied bailment as a matter of fact or law; it only held that Global Network plausibly alleged an implied bailment. View "Global Network Management, Ltd. v. CenturyLink Latin American Solutions, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Federal Trade Commission (the “Commission”) alleges that Defendant and his six companies engaged in unfair or deceptive business practices in violation of Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Relying on its authority under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act, the Commission obtained a preliminary injunction that included an asset freeze and the imposition of a receiver. Defendant argued that the preliminary injunction must be dissolved because a recent Supreme Court decision undermines the Commission’s Section 13(b) authority.
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the order denying Defendant’s emergency motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction. The court explained that Defendant urged the court to read AMG Capital as a signal to interpret the FTC Act with a view to “reigning in the FTC’s power.” But, the court wrote, that AMG Capital teaches the court to read the FTC Act to “mean what it says.” 141 S. Ct. at 1349. In AMG Capital, that meant limiting Section 13(b)’s provision for a “permanent injunction” to injunctive relief. Here, that means recognizing the broad scope of relief available under Section 19. When the Commission enforces a rule, Section 19 grants the district court jurisdiction to offer relief “necessary to redress injury to consumers.” To preserve funds for consumers, the Commission sought to freeze Defendant’s assets and impose a receivership over his companies. Section 19 allows such relief. View "Federal Trade Commission v. Steven J. Dorfman" on Justia Law

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The case arises out of the insolvency of the Crescent Bank and Trust Company (“Crescent”) and the conduct of its customer lawyer, a manager of his law firm, Morris Hardwick Schneider, LLC (“Hardwick law firm”). In 2009, Crescent, a Georgia bank, made the lawyer a loan for $631,276.71. The lawyer, as his law firm’s manager, signed a security agreement that pledged, as collateral, his law firm’s certificate of time deposit (“CD”) for $631,276.71. When Crescent failed, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”), as receiver, took over and sold the lawyer’s loan and CD collateral to Renasant Bank. The lawyer then made loan payments to Renasant, and Renasant held the CD collateral. Landcastle sued Renasant (as successor to the FDIC and Crescent), claiming Renasant was liable for $631,276.71, the CD amount. Landcastle’s lawsuit seeks to invalidate the Hardwick law firm’s security agreement.   The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling. The court explained that Landcastle’s lack-of-authority claims are barred under D’Oench because they rely on evidence that was outside Crescent’s records when the FDIC took over and sold the lawyer’s loan and CD collateral to Renasant. The court concluded that the lawyer’s acting outside the scope of his authority did not render the security agreement void but, at most, only voidable. A voidable interest is sufficient to pass the CD security agreement to the FDIC and to trigger the D’Oench shield View "Landcastle Acquisition Corp. v. Renasant Bank" on Justia Law

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Just before the Chapter 11 reorganization plans of Caribevision Holdings, Inc. and Caribevision TV Network, LLC was set to be confirmed, the debtors filed an emergency motion to modify the plans under 11 U.S.C. Section 1127(a). The initial plans called for equity in the reorganized companies to be split between four shareholders: R.D.B., Pegaso Television Corp., E.B., and Vasallo TV Group. The modification, after being approved by the bankruptcy court, stripped the first three of their equity and allocated full ownership to the fourth—a company controlled by the debtors’ Chief Executive Officer. the three ousted shareholders, who collectively call themselves the Pegaso Equity Holders, now challenge the bankruptcy court’s order granting the debtors’ emergency motion to modify the reorganization plans. They contend that they were entitled to a revised disclosure statement and a second opportunity to vote on the plans under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 3019(a)—a procedural protection the bankruptcy court did not provide them.   The Eleventh Circuit reversed the order granting the debtor’s emergency motion to modify the reorganization plans, reversed in part the bankruptcy court’s order confirming the reorganization plans to the extent that it adopts the modification, and remanded to the bankruptcy court to fashion an equitable remedy. The court held that the bankruptcy court erred in granting the debtor’s modification without first requiring that the debtor provide the Pegaso Equity Holders with a revised disclosure statement and a second opportunity to cast a ballot. View "Emilio Braun, et al. v. America-CV Station Group, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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Norwegian Cruise Lines Ltd. obtained the injunction barring the Florida Surgeon General from enforcing a prohibition against businesses requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of service. But Norwegian recently filed a suggestion of mootness stating that it no longer requires proof of vaccinations on its cruises. Yet, Norwegian’s filings make clear that it has not suspended its vaccination requirements permanently or categorically. It also continues to defend its entitlement to equitable relief by asking us to leave the preliminary injunction intact.   The Eleventh Circuit denied Norwegian’s motion to dismiss the appeal as moot. The court explained that it agrees with the Surgeon General that a “live dispute” exists because Norwegian has not established that it has relaxed its vaccination requirements permanently or categorically. “The possibility that a party may change its mind in the future is sufficient to preclude a finding of mootness.” The court explained Norwegian has offered no evidence of its vaccine policies or its intentions for the future beyond the boilerplate statement that it is not requiring COVID-19 vaccination for now and for the foreseeable future. Indeed, Norwegian appears to concede that it has not abolished its policy forevermore.’The court saw no reason to believe that Norwegian will not seek to reinstate its policy given its continued insistence that the Florida law is unconstitutional. View "Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, et al. v. State Surgeon General" on Justia Law

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The case-at-hand returned to the Eleventh Circuit for disposition from the Florida Supreme Court, to which the court certified three questions of Florida law. In considering the court’s certified questions, the Florida Supreme Court found dispositive a threshold issue that the court did not expressly address: “Is the filing office’s use of a ‘standard search logic’ necessary to trigger the safe harbor protection of section 679.5061(3)?”   The Florida Supreme Court answered that question in the affirmative. And the court further determined that Florida does not employ a “standard search logic.” The Florida Supreme Court thus concluded that the statutory safe harbor for financing statements that fail to correctly name the debtor cannot apply, “which means that a financing statement that fails to correctly name the debtor as required by Florida law is ‘seriously misleading’ under Florida Statute Section 679.5061(2) and therefore ineffective.   The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s order affirming the bankruptcy court’s grant of Live Oak Banking Company’s cross-motion for summary judgment and remand for further proceedings. The court held that Live Oak did not perfect its security interest in 1944 Beach Boulevard, LLC’s, assets because the two UCC-1 Financing Statements filed with the Florida Secured Transaction Registry (the “Registry”) were “seriously misleading” under Florida Statute Section 679.5061(2), as the Registry does not implement a “standard search logic” necessary to trigger the safe harbor exception set forth in Florida Statute Section 679.5061(3). View "1944 Beach Boulevard, LLC v. Live Oak Banking Company" on Justia Law