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

by
Plaintiffs, property owners in the City of Sanibel, filed suit against the city challenging a municipal ordinance that prohibits them from building a boat dock or accessory pier on their properties. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the dismissal of their substantive due process claims. The court rejected plaintiffs' argument that Lingle v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc. created a new "substantial advancement" test for substantive due process claims based on state-created property rights. The district court correctly concluded that the riparian rights asserted by plaintiffs were state-created rights, not fundamental rights. Because plaintiffs challenged the ordinance on its face rather than contesting a specific zoning or permit decision made under the auspices of the ordinance, the court concluded that they were challenging a legislative act. Under the court's existing precedent, the court concluded that plaintiffs could not show that the ordinance lacked a rational basis and the court declined to adopt a new standard of review. Plaintiffs themselves plead at least two rational bases for the ordinance in their Amended Complaint: protection of seagrasses and aesthetic preservation. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Kentner, et al. v. City of Sanibel" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against BHDR under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., alleging that by failing to remedy certain flaws in the design and construction of the District Universal Boulevard Apartments (the District), BHDR discriminated against people with handicaps in violation of 42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(1)-(2). The court held that the FHA's design-and-construction guidelines do not provide a standard for determining whether discrimination under section 3604(f)(1) and (f)(2) exists outside of the design and construction contexts. Despite the fact that BHDR was not involved in the design or construction of the District, all of plaintiff's claims that BHDR violated subsections (f)(1) and (f)(2) were alleged through the lens of the design-and-construction guidelines in subsection (f)(3). The court held that an FHA plaintiff cannot establish the discrimination of a defendant who was uninvolved in the design or construction of a dwelling by reference to the guidelines at section 3604(f)(3)(C). Therefore, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to BHDR. View "Harding v. Orlando Apartments, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

by
Heatherwood and FCB appealed the district court's affirmance of a final amended judgment entered by the bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy court determined that there was an implied restrictive covenant limiting the use of real property at issue to a golf course. As a preliminary matter, the court concluded that, because FCB satisfied the person-aggrieved doctrine, FCB also met Article III standing requirements. On the merits, the court concluded that the bankruptcy court did not err when it held that FCB and Heatherwood had actual, constructive and inquiry notice of the implied restrictive covenant; the bankruptcy court did not err in finding that most, if not all, of the homeowners within the Heatherwood subdivision bought their home with the expectation that the golf course property would remain a golf course; the bankruptcy court did not err in holding that the doctrine of estoppel by deed precluded the enforcement of the covenant; with respect to FCB and Heatherwood's argument that the doctrine of integration in the Agreement between HGC and Heatherwood served to destroy an implied covenant, the bankruptcy court did not err in finding integration did not apply under the facts of the case; in considering the doctrine of changed circumstances, the bankruptcy court relied on various factual findings in determining that the homeowners' benefit from the continued existence of the covenant outweighed the detriment borne by FCB and Heatherwood; and the court rejected FCB and Heatherwood's argument that HGC had no standing to enforce the implied restrictive covenant because HGC owned no property. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Heatherwood Holdings, LLC v. HGC, Inc." on Justia Law

by
This appeal concerned the City of Milton's decision to deny T-Mobile's applications for permits to build three cell phone towers. At issue was the writing requirement of the Telecommunications Act, 47 U.S.C. 332(c)(7)(B)(iii), which stated that "[a]ny decision by a State or local government or instrumentality thereof to deny a request to place, construct, or modify personal wireless services shall be in writing and supported by substantial evidence contained in a written record." The court concluded that T-Mobile had access to documents - including transcripts of the planning commission's hearings, letters the city sent to T-Mobile, and detailed minutes of the city council hearings- before its deadline for filing the lawsuit and collectively, these documents they were enough to satisfy the writing requirement of section 332(c)(7)(B)(iii). Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded for further proceedings. View "T-Mobile South, LLC v. City of Milton, Georgia" on Justia Law

by
Wilson Lucom was an American expatriate who wished to bequeath assets worth more than $200 million to a foundation established for impoverished children in Panama. Plaintiff, Lucom's attorney, filed suit against the Arias Group/Arias Family, Lucom's wife and step-children, under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961-1968, alleging that the Arias Group participated in a criminal conspiracy to thwart plaintiff through acts of intimidation, extortion, corruption, theft, money laundering, and bribery of foreign officials, so that the Arias Group could steal the Estate assets for themselves. At issue on appeal was RICO's four-year statute of limitations on civil actions and the "separate accrual" rule. Under the rule, the commission of a separable, new predicate act within a 4-year limitations period permitted a plaintiff to recover for the additional damages caused by that act. The court concluded that none of the injuries in plaintiff's complaint were new and independent because all of his alleged injuries were continuations of injuries that have been accumulating since before September 2007. The court agreed with the district court that plaintiff had done little more than repackage his 2007 abuse of process complaint. Therefore, plaintiff's civil RICO complaint was untimely, and the district court did not err when it granted summary judgment in favor of the Arias Group. View "Lehman, et al. v. Lucom, et al." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs each filed suit against Darby Bank and various real estate developers and contractors (collectively, the Drayprop Defendants) in state court alleging negligent misrepresentation, fraud, beach of contract, and breach of warranty. Subsequently, the FDIC was appointed receiver of Darby Bank. In consolidated appeals, plaintiffs challenged the denial of their motions for remand to state court after the FDIC removed to federal court, the district court's grant of summary judgment to the FDIC on federal claims, and the district court's refusal to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over remaining state law claims against other defendants. The court concluded that the district court properly granted summary judgment to the FDIC on plaintiffs' claims against Darby Bank. The court concluded, however, that the district court improperly dismissed the remaining claims against the non-FDIC defendants because 12 U.S.C. 1819(b)(2)(A) operated to create original jurisdiction over those claims. Therefore, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Lindley v. FDIC, et al." on Justia Law

by
These consolidated appeals concerned segments of two Georgia waterways, the Flint River and Spring Creek. Aqua Log, a company that finds, removes, and sells submerged logs, brought three in rem actions seeking a salvage award for the logs submerged at the bottom of the waterways or, in the alternative, an award of title to the logs based on the American Law of Finds. Because the segments of the Flint River and Spring Creek at issue in these cases were capable of supporting commercial activity, they were navigable waters for admiralty-jurisdiction purposes. The court therefore held that the district court erred in concluding that the waterways were not navigable and dismissing the cases for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Aqua Log Inc. v. Lost and Abandoned Pre-Cut Logs and Rafts of Logs" on Justia Law

by
This case arose from a land development project dispute where the Retreat took out a short-term purchase loan from a Georgia bank to finance the acquisition of the land. At issue was the district court's interpretation of an exclusion in a title insurance policy issued by First American to the bank and the district court's decision that First American was entitled to summary judgment based on that exclusion. The court held that the district court correctly interpreted the terms of the title insurance contract; the district court's conclusion that the affidavit at issue would be admissible at trial was not an abuse of discretion; and the evidence demonstrated that the bank was fully aware of the Retreat property's lack of dedicated access when it extended the purchase loan and took out the insurance policy from First American. Because there were no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and because First American was entitled to judgment as a matter of law, summary judgment was appropriate. View "Cynergy, LLC v. First American Title Ins. Co." on Justia Law

by
Buyers sued Bahamas Sales, and others associated with Bahamas Sales, alleging that they engaged in appraisal fraud. Buyers purchased undeveloped lots in a planned resort in the Bahamas where the purchase contracts contained a provision that required all disputes to be litigated in the Bahamas. The district court dismissed for improper venue. The court held that the district court erred when it determined that Buyers' claims fell within the scope of the lot purchase contracts' forum-selection clauses; the district court erred in applying equitable estoppel to allow the Mortgage Entities and the Credit Suisse Entities (nonsignatories to the lot purchase contracts) to invoke the lot purchase contracts' forum-selection clauses; and reversed the district court's judgment granting the motions to dismiss for improper venue and remanded for further proceedings. View "Bailey, et al v. ERG Enterprises, LP, et al" on Justia Law

by
This dispute stemmed from WaMu's lease agreement with Interface, the lessor. WaMu subsequently closed as a "failed bank" and entered into receivership under the direction of the FDIC. The FDIC then entered into a Purchase and Assumption Agreement (P&A Agreement) with JPMorgan, which set forth the terms and conditions of the transfer of WaMu's assets and liabilities to JPMorgan. Interface filed a breach of lease claim against JPMorgan. On appeal, Interface challenged two district court orders that granted JPMorgan's motion for summary judgment, denied Interface's motion for summary judgment, and granted the FDIC's, the intervenor, request for declaratory relief. The court concluded that Interface was not an intended third-party beneficiary of the P&A Agreement executed between FDIC and JPMorgan, and, as a result, Interface lacked standing to enforce its interpretation of that agreement. The court also concluded that the district court lacked jurisdiction to award declaratory relief to the FDIC. Consequently, the court vacated and remanded the judgment. View "Interface Kanner, LLC v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., et al" on Justia Law