Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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Fla. Stat. 95.231, which operates to cure certain defective deeds after the passage of five years, applies to a parcel on which the United States has asserted a federal estate-tax lien. The Eleventh Circuit held that section 95.231(1) cured the deed by operation of law in December 2003, and the property was at that point validly transferred to the trust. Furthermore, the court held that United States v. Summerlin, 310 U.S. 414, 416 (1940), was inapplicable here because, by the time the United States asserted its tax lien, the property no longer remained in the estate. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the United States' foreclosure claim and remanded for further proceedings. View "Saccullo v. United States" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated cases, plaintiffs alleged that their mortgage servicers, SLS and Caliber, breached plaintiffs' loan contracts, as well as an implied coverage of good faith and fair dealing, by charging inflated amounts for force-placed insurance. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the cases under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, holding that the filed-rate doctrine applied because plaintiffs challenged a rate filed with regulators. Therefore, plaintiffs' claims were barred because the filed-rate doctrine precluded any judicial action which undermined agency rate-making authority. View "Patel v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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12 U.S.C. 1715z-20(j) can not be read to prevent foreclosure pursuant to a reverse-mortgage contract that, by its terms, permits the lender to demand repayment immediately following a borrower's death, even if his or her non-borrowing spouse continues to live in the mortgaged property. The Eleventh Circuit held that the statute addressed and limited only the Secretary's authority—specifying the types of mortgages that HUD "may not insure"—and thus did not alter or affect the rights that a lender independently possessed under a reverse-mortgage contract. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's grant of Live Well's motion to dismiss because, even if HUD should not have insured the mortgage at issue, section 1715z-20(j) did not alter or limit Live Well's right to foreclose under the terms of its valid mortgage contract. View "The Estate of Caldwell Jones, Jr. v. Live Well Financial, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying the motion for a new trial filed by American Home Mortgage Servicing, now known as Homeward, the defendant in this action brought by Jane McGinnis alleging, among other claims, wrongful foreclosure, holding that Homeward was not entitled to relief on its claims of error related to the jury’s punitive damages award. McGinnis, the owner of several rental properties, brought this action against Homeward, the servicer of seven of her properties’ mortgages, alleging wrongful foreclosure, conversion, interference with property, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury found in favor of McGinnis on all claims and awarded $3,506,000 in damages, including $3,000,000 in punitive damages. In this appeal, Homeward argued that the punitive damages award was unconstitutionally excessive under the Due Process Clause and that the punitive damages award exceeded Georgia’s $250,000 cap on punitive damages. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the punitive damages award was not unconstitutionally excessive; and (2) the punitive damages award did not unlawfully exceed the $250,000 statutory cap in O.C.G.A. 51-12-5.1(g) because there was no evidence from which a jury could conclude that it acted with the specific intent to harm McGinnis. View "McGinnis v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether a conservation restriction imposed in 2013 on a property owned by the Frank Sawyer Revocable Trust restarted the 12-year statute of limitations of the Quiet Title Act, 28 U.S.C. 2409a, so that NE 32nd Street, LLC, as agent for the trust, can sue to extinguish a spoilage easement granted to the federal government in 1938. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint and held that the statute of limitations barred a challenge to the 80 year old easement and the 2013 permit did not change the terms of that easement to the detriment of the trust. View "NE 32nd Street, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the República Bolivariana de Venezuela and Petroquimica de Venezuela, S.A., alleging unlawful expropriation of their property in violation of international law. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and denied their motion for leave nunc pro tunc to file an amended complaint. While the case was pending, the Supreme Court issued Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, et al. v. Helmerich & Payne Int'l Drilling Co., 137 S. Ct. 1312 (2017), which detailed the showing that plaintiffs such as the ones in this case must make in order to have jurisdiction over a foreign state in United States courts under the expropriation (i.e., takings) exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3). The court remanded for the district court to permit plaintiffs to file an amended complaint and, after defendants have responded, to address whether the domestic takings rule applied and whether jurisdiction existed under the FSIA's expropriation exception. View "Comparelli v. Republica Bolivariana De Venezuela" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the República Bolivariana de Venezuela and Petroquimica de Venezuela, S.A., alleging unlawful expropriation of their property in violation of international law. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and denied their motion for leave nunc pro tunc to file an amended complaint. While the case was pending, the Supreme Court issued Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, et al. v. Helmerich & Payne Int'l Drilling Co., 137 S. Ct. 1312 (2017), which detailed the showing that plaintiffs such as the ones in this case must make in order to have jurisdiction over a foreign state in United States courts under the expropriation (i.e., takings) exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3). The court remanded for the district court to permit plaintiffs to file an amended complaint and, after defendants have responded, to address whether the domestic takings rule applied and whether jurisdiction existed under the FSIA's expropriation exception. View "Comparelli v. Republica Bolivariana De Venezuela" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the denial of the City's motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial in an inverse condemnation action. In this case, the underlying dispute involved a beachfront parcel owned by plaintiffs, which experienced significant public usage. The court held that the evidence at trial supported the jury's finding that a physical taking occurred through the continuous occupation of plaintiffs' property by members of the general public where the City encouraged public occupation by placing beach access signs, clearing vegetation, creating nearby parking spaces, hosting events at the property, and refusing to remove trespassers. The court also held that there was no basis to grant a new trial. Finally, on the City's request for fee simple ownership of the beach parcel upon payment of the judgment—the court held that such relief was not warranted under Florida law and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the City's request to transfer title. The court held that the City has paid for, and was entitled to, a permanent easement across plaintiffs' beach property for the benefit of the public and directed the district court to amend its judgment to reflect this permanent easement. View "Chmielewski v. City of St. Pete Beach" on Justia Law

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In an in rem admiralty proceeding involving the wreckage of Spanish galleons, Fleet-Queens recovered approximately four hundred gold coins, among other treasures, from an area that Gold Hound had allegedly been salvaging while acting as a subcontractor for Fleet-Queens. Gold Hound filed suit claiming that this discovery was made using its proprietary maps and software, seeking to intervene in the in rem action to assert a maritime lien over some of these artifacts and to assert state law claims. The district court denied the motion to intervene and concluded that Gold Hound was not entitled to a maritime lien. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court properly determined that it had and continues to have subject-matter jurisdiction over the res; Gold Hound should be granted leave to intervene in this proceeding to assert its in rem claims; and, on remand, the court deferred to the district court's discretion to determine whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Gold Hound's state law claims. The court vacated the district court's denial of Gold Hound's motion to intervene and its denial of Gold Hound's claim to a maritime lien and remanded, because the court could not decide on the record whether Gold Hound may succeed because basic facts remain in dispute. View "Salvors, Inc. v. Unidentified Wrecked & Abandoned Vessel" on Justia Law