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Bankruptcy -- Claims -- Leases -- Chapter 11 debtor objected to proof of claim filed by its commercial landlord for amounts allegedly due under lease, including unpaid prepetition and postpetition rent, repairs to leased premises caused by flood damage, rejection damages for future rent, and breach of purchase obligation -- Landlord bears burden of proof on his proof of claim because it would bear that burden outside bankruptcy, since its claims are largely for breach of parties' lease agreement and, under Florida law, a party suing on a contract bears burden of proof -- Landlord failed to meet its burden of proof on each of elements of proof of claim, except with respect to its prepetition and postpetition rents claims -- While landlord breached lease agreement by failing to make insurance proceeds available to debtor to repair flood damage to leased premises, landlord's breach was not so material that it excused, as a whole, debtor's performance of its obligation to pay rent, where flood affected less than 4% of premises and debtor continued to use premises for another eight months -- While landlord's breach did not excuse debtor's performance, debtor is entitled to abate a portion of unpaid prepetition rent -- Landlord failed to prove its damages for cost of repairing and cleaning up premises after debtor moved out, given lack of evidence that any of damage was caused by debtor, that proposed repairs were necessary to restore property to preexisting condition, and that proposed repairs had been performed or would ever be performed -- Landlord failed to prove entitlement to rejection damages, where debtor presented compelling evidence at trial that it was forced to reject the lease because landlord breached its obligation to make insurance proceeds available to repair flood damage -- Landlord waived any claim that debtor breached alleged purchase obligation where landlord continued to negotiate with debtor about scope of repairs to premises, never made any demand that debtor actually purchase the premises, and took other action inconsistent with debtor's alleged obligation to purchase premises -- Landlord is entitled postpetition rents as an administrative expense, reduced by an abatement for flood damage -- Landlord failed to prove administrative expense claims for removal of environmentally sensitive materials and clean-up
VIEW OPINION

Attorney's fees -- Civil rights action -- Prisoners -- Prison conditions -- Consent decree -- Compensable hours -- Plaintiffs are entitled to attorneys' fees for work related to overcrowding issue under 42 U.S.C. §1988, Prison Litigation Reform Act, and parties' stipulation for settlement where plaintiff prevailed on overcrowding claim via Consent Decree and counsel's subsequent work was “directly and reasonably incurred in enforcing the relief ordered for the violation”as required by PLRA -- Hours spent are reasonable -- Hourly rates -- Applicable hourly rate for attorneys under PLRA should be based on 150 percent of rate set forth in current Federal Judiciary Congressional Budget Summary -- PLRA-capped rate of $219 for attorneys is a reasonable rate -- Relevant market rates and Johnson factors support reasonableness of requested rate of $219 -- Hourly rate of $160 for law services provided by law clerks is reasonable -- Defendants' argument for proportional reduction in rate for law clerks based on the attorney hourly rate is moot and not required by PLRA -- Lodestar adjustments -- No downward adjustment in hours expended is warranted, given that the successful elimination of the overcrowding issue and negotiation of a settlement to address ongoing issues related to facility operations reflect an excellent result -- In determining whether to adjust the lodestar, if the result was excellent, then court should compensate for all hours reasonably expended -- Costs -- Plaintiffs are entitled to requested costs which were directly and reasonably incurred in proving and enforcing an actual violation of plaintiffs' rights
VIEW OPINION

Consumer law -- Debt collection -- Telephone Consumer Protection Act -- Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act -- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act -- Default judgment -- Plaintiffs are entitled to final default judgment under FCCPA -- Where plaintiffs alleged that defendants placed telephone calls to plaintiffs during which defendant threatened to send documentation regarding the debt to plaintiff's place of employment without first obtaining a final judgment and express written consent to contact plaintiff's employer; that defendants called plaintiffs numerous times both prior to and after plaintiffs told defendants they did not consent to receiving further telephone calls; that defendants threatened to take legal action against plaintiffs despite fact that their claims were barred by applicable statute of limitations; and that defendants communicated with them despite knowing that they were represented by legal counsel with respect to underlying debt, allegations, taken together, are sufficient to state claims under FCCPA -- Plaintiffs are entitled to final default judgment on alleged violations of FDCPA -- Where plaintiffs alleged that defendants communicated with them despite knowing that they were represented by counsel; that defendants called them numerous times, both prior to and after they told defendants they did not consent to receiving further telephone calls; and that defendants threatened to take legal action against plaintiffs despite fact that their claims were barred by applicable statute of limitations, allegations, taken together, are sufficient to state claims under FDCPA -- Plaintiffs are entitled to default final judgment on count for violations of TCPA where allegations are sufficient to state a claim under Act and nothing in record indicates that any calls fall within an exception to TCPA or that plaintiffs consented to receiving automated calls -- Where plaintiffs alleged that defendants made at least five calls to plaintiffs' cellular telephone using automatic telephone dialing system or artificial or prerecorded voice and at least 20 additional unlawful calls, allegations are sufficient to state a TCPA claim -- Damages -- Defaulting defendants are liable for maximum award of statutory damages pursuant to Section 559.77(2), Florida Statutes and Section 1692k of FDCPA -- Plaintiffs failed to adequately prove entitlement to actual damages for “stress, anxiety, loss of sleep, and deterioration of relationships”under FCCPA or FDCPA -- Plaintiffs are entitled to award of statutory damages against defendants in amount of $500 for each of calls placed to their cellular telephones in violation of TCPA -- Award of minimum statutory damages, or $500 per violation, is appropriate, rather than award of treble damages, given lack of record evidence regarding alleged willfulness of defendants' conduct
VIEW OPINION

Antitrust -- Restraint of trade -- Torts -- Automobile body shops pleaded sufficient facts to plausibly support their federal antitrust and state tort claims against insurance companies alleging that insurance companies, with a goal of depressing the shops' rates for automobile repairs, engaged in tactics designed to set a “market rate” for labor which reflected an artificial rate that would benefit only the insurance companies and tactics designed to pressure body shops into accepting the artificial market rate by steering insureds away from non-compliant shops that charged more than that rate -- Horizontal price fixing -- A price fixing agreement can be inferred in absence of direct evidence of an agreement -- A party claiming horizontal price fixing based on inferred agreement must show not only parallel conduct but also “further factual enhancement” -- Body shops' allegations of horizontal price fixing based on inferred agreement readily and plausibly establish both parallel conduct and “further factual enhancement” needed to support a plausible inference of an agreement -- Body shops plausibly establish parallel conduct by alleging that insurance companies adopted the same labor rate and materials costs and employed the same line of tactics to depress the rate and costs -- Body shops plausibly establish further factual enhancement by identifying two plus factors that together support a plausible inference of an illegal agreement -- Arguments against the plausible inference of an illegal agreement fail -- Boycotting -- Allegations readily and plausibly establish the per se violation of boycotting where body shops allege that insurance companies targeted non-compliant shops by keeping insureds away until those shops charged at or less than the market rate; that, in accordance with the agreement, the insurance companies used identical tactics to keep insureds away; and specifically, that the insurance companies made misleading or false statements about the body shops' business integrity and quality -- State tort claims -- Allegations readily and plausibly establish the claims of unjust enrichment where body shops allege that they conferred benefits by providing repair services at low price that insurance companies collectively selected and that insurance companies not only knew about the benefits but also forced the shops to confer the benefits with two lines of tactics: first, selecting a low market rate, and, second, pressuring the shops into accepting that rate -- Allegations sufficiently establish body shops' state tort claims of unjust enrichment, quantum meruit, and tortious interference -- Allegations readily and plausibly establish claims for quantum meruit where body shops allege that they tendered repair services, expecting compensation; that services were in fact for the insurance companies, which were obligated to pay the shops in accordance with the companies' relationship with their insureds; that insurance companies paid an artificial price, below reasonable value for services; and that companies demanded discounts and concessions for the companies' insureds -- Allegations readily and plausibly establish claims of tortious interference where body shops allege that insurance companies prevented insureds willing to use the shops from doing so with misleading and false statements about the shops' business integrity and quality and that this prevention resulted in loss of business
VIEW OPINION

Civil rights -- Employment discrimination -- Retaliation -- Judicial estoppel -- Inconsistent positions -- Omission in bankruptcy disclosures -- Failure to disclose employment discrimination claims plaintiff was pursuing in federal court -- In analyzing how doctrine of judicial estoppel should be applied when a plaintiff takes inconsistent positions by pursuing in district court a civil claim that plaintiff failed to disclose as an asset in his bankruptcy proceedings, appellate court would reaffirm that a district court may apply judicial estoppel to bar the civil claim if it finds that plaintiff intended to make a mockery of judicial system -- When determining whether a plaintiff who failed to disclose a civil lawsuit in bankruptcy filings intended to make a mockery of judicial system, a district court should consider totality of facts and circumstances of the particular case in determining whether debtor had requisite intent, such as the plaintiff's level of sophistication, explanation for the omission, whether disclosures were subsequently corrected, and any action taken by bankruptcy court concerning the nondisclosure -- Appellate court would overrule its prior precedent approving the inference that a plaintiff intended to make a mockery of judicial system solely because plaintiff failed to disclose his civil claim in bankruptcy -- Because district court, in applying judicial estoppel to bar plaintiff's discrimination and retaliation claims against her employer, relied on Eleventh Circuit precedent permitting a district court to infer from a debtor's nondisclosure of a civil claim that she intended to manipulate the judicial process, appellate court would remand instant appeal to the panel to consider whether district court abused discretion in applying judicial estoppel in light of new inquiry for evaluating intent to make a mockery of judicial system
VIEW OPINION

Civil rights -- Pregnancy discrimination -- Employment -- Family and Medical Leave Act -- Former police officer who sought accommodations for pregnancy and lactation or breastfeeding brought action against police department under Pregnancy Discrimination Act and FMLA after her reassignment and constructive discharge -- Reassignment -- Evidence taken in light most favorable to plaintiff provides ample evidence that plaintiff was both discriminated against on basis of pregnancy in violation of PDA and that she was retaliated against for taking her FMLA leave when she was reassigned only eight days after returning from FMLA leave following childbirth -- Multiple overheard conversations using defamatory language when talking about plaintiff and temporal proximity of only eight days from when plaintiff returned to work until she was reassigned support the inference that there was intentional discrimination -- Defendant's focus on comparator evidence is misplaced, as Title VII, after a jury verdict, only requires that there was sufficient evidence to infer discrimination, and does not require employees to show comparator evidence -- Constructive discharge -- Denial of accommodations for a breastfeeding employee violated PDA when it amounted to constructive discharge -- Defendant's action in refusing an accommodation afforded to other employees constituted a constructive discharge, where plaintiff showed that other employees with temporary injuries were given “alternative duty,” she requested to be granted the same alternative duty as “other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work,” and jury found that a reasonable person in plaintiff's position would have felt compelled to resign -- Lactation is a related medical condition to pregnancy and therefore covered under PDA -- A plain reading of PDA supports finding that breastfeeding is covered under PDA, such that terminations based on a woman's need to breastfeed violates PDA -- Conclusion that PDA prohibits taking adverse actions based on woman's breastfeeding does not displace case law ruling that employers are not required to provide special accommodations to breastfeeding mothers -- Arguments that plaintiff failed to mitigate damages when she failed to seek another full-time job and that district court erroneously instructed the jury are unavailing
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Gambling -- Bingo -- Indictment charging defendants, who operated a Florida business that conducted bingo games on behalf of charities, with violating the federal gambling statute is legally sufficient to state an offense because there are at least some violations of Florida bingo statute that could make defendant's business an “illegal gambling business” under federal gambling statute -- An indictment alleging that a business was in violation of Florida bingo and gambling house statutes sufficiently alleges that the business is an “illegal gambling business” as required to obtain a conviction under the federal gambling statute because a gambling business that violates the Florida bingo statutes could satisfy the essential element about state law, that the gambling business “is a violation of the law of a State” -- Appeals -- Jurisdiction -- Even if appellate court has discretionary authority to exercise pendent appellate jurisdiction over defendant's cross-appeal when government appeals from dismissal of an indictment, appellate court would decline to exercise that jurisdiction
VIEW OPINION

Civil rights -- Cruel and unusual punishment -- Death penalty -- Lethal injection -- Appeal from district court's order dismissing for failure to state a claim for relief four cases filed in Alabama by death row inmates challenging, under Section 1983, constitutionality of state's lethal injection protocol -- Law of the case -- Prior appellate decision affirming district court's dismissal of a complaint as a time-barred “general challenge” to Alabama's three-drug lethal injection protocol does not apply in plaintiffs' cases and thus does not dictate appellate court's decision in instant appeal -- Law-of-the case doctrine is inapplicable -- District court's consolidation of cases challenging Alabama's midazolam protocol for purposes of discovery and trial did not transfer the consolidated cases into a single case such that law-of-the-case doctrine applied -- Consolidating multiple cases brought by multiple parties against multiple defendants for the purpose of streamlining discovery and trial does not transform those cases into “one case” -- Even assuming prior case and instant case are one, the prior case cannot dictate the decision in instant case because district court expressly stated that its decision only applied to that single case, and not the four other cases that were filed contemporaneously with that case -- Complaint states Eighth Amendment method-of-execution claim sufficient to survive Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss where complaint alleges facts that, if proven true, would satisfy both prongs of Baze standard, requiring that a prisoner plead and prove that challenged execution protocol creates a substantial risk of serious harm and that proffered alternative procedures will significantly reduce that risk and are feasible and readily implementable -- Limitation of actions -- District court erred in concluding that inmates' Eighth Amendment claim was time-barred, where complaint specifically challenges the state's substitution of midazolam for pentobarbital as the first drug in its three-drug protocol; rather than generally challenging the three-drug protocol -- That challengers' proposed alternatives all employ a single-drug protocol does not transform a specific challenge to one drug's use in a three-drug protocol into a general challenge to three-drug protocol in all their combinations
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Dealing in firearms without a license -- Selling firearms to unlicensed residents of states other than defendant's state without a license -- Sufficiency of evidence -- Residency -- No error in denying motion for judgment of acquittal where government introduced sufficient evidence to sustain conviction of selling firearms to residents of states other than defendant's state by presenting direct evidence of defendant's state of residence at time of firearm sales and circumstantial evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that firearm recipients were not residents of defendant's state -- Federal-firearms-license status -- Conviction for selling firearms to unlicensed residents would be affirmed where defendant argued for first time on appeal that government failed to demonstrate that transferee of firearms lacked a federal firearms license at time of transfer and transferee's testimony exceeded a “paucity of evidence” that could have supported jury's finding that transferee did not possess an FFL at time of transfer -- Jury instructions -- District court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to include in pattern jury instruction on dealing in firearms without a license defendant's proposed language regarding the statutory exemption for hobby sales when defining the phrase “engaged in the business of dealing in firearms” -- Pattern instruction should not omit the phrase “or for a hobby,” but error does not warrant reversal of conviction where trial included no evidence from which a jury could have concluded that defendant was a mere hobbyist gun collector, and not a for-profit firearms seller -- Constitutionality of statute -- Right to bear arms -- Prior restraint -- Challenge to 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A), which prohibits dealing in firearms without a federal firearms license, as an impermissible prior restraint in violation of Second Amendment fails -- First Amendment prior-restraint doctrine should not be extended to cover rights protected by Second Amendment -- Substantial burden -- Section 922(a)(5), which prohibits only the transfer of firearm by an unlicensed person to unlicensed person who resides in different state than the transferor, does not substantially burden Second Amendment -- Sentencing -- Federal guidelines -- Offense level -- Increase -- Assuming without deciding that district court erroneously applied three sentencing enhancements, “error did not affect the district court's selection of the sentence imposed” and was therefore harmless, where district court announced that it considered all of Section 3553(a) factors in arriving at its 51-month sentence and specifically indicated its intention to impose the same sentence regardless of guidelines- calculation error and sentence it imposed was substantively reasonable
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Importing controlled substance -- Possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute -- Continuance -- District court did not abuse discretion in denying motion for continuance to view video given to defendant on morning of trial which was filmed during seizure of drugs defendant was carrying -- While district court would have been wiser to allow a continuance to give defendant time to view the video before starting trial, error was not fatal because video, which showed the luggage only after contents had been removed and after contraband had been removed, was not exculpatory and defendant has not established specific and substantial prejudice caused by the denial of a continuance -- Discovery -- Failure to disclose exculpatory evidence -- Delayed disclosure of video did not amount to Brady violation, where video was not material to defense and, had it been admitted, it would not have changed result of proceeding -- Video was not exculpatory because it showed that seized cocaine had already been laid out on a table; and did not show the cocaine as it was being pulled from any of bags -- Due process -- District court did not violate Due Process Clause in excluding video where video does not directly pertain to defendant's knowledge, an actual element of charged offense that was at issue at trial; does not make defendant's knowledge any more or less certain; does not pertain to collateral matters that could make the existence of defendant's knowledge more or less certain; does not place prosecution's story in significantly different light; does not substantially affect credibility of government witnesses; and does not refute any testimony that cocaine was found in several vessels secreted in defendant's carry-on bag -- Evidence -- Hearsay -- No abuse of discretion in excluding transcripts of controlled calls and text messages, as being inadmissible hearsay and otherwise irrelevant -- Transcripts were properly excluded as hearsay to extent they were offered to prove truth of statements or to illuminate then-existing state of mind -- Even if transcripts were relevant and admissible, their exclusion was harmless, where there was strong evidential, if circumstantial, foundation that defendant was transporting cocaine, and there was no reasonable likelihood that outcome would have been different -- Witnesses -- Confrontation -- Trial court did not abuse discretion by limiting defendant's cross- and recross-examination of two government witnesses; and any error was harmless -- Lay testimony -- Testimony of witness showing his familiarity with narcotics investigations and his experience interviewing drug couriers, developed during his tenure as a law enforcement officer, was not improper expert testimony -- Even if witness actually offered an expert opinion, claimed error was harmless -- Whether witness was testifying as lay witness or expert, he relied on his experience as law enforcement officer to answer whether he thought defendant was telling the truth during his interview, and did not improperly give his opinion on ultimate issue of whether defendant knew he was transporting cocaine -- No abuse of discretion in allowing government's witness to testify about street value of cocaine and methods that drug organizations use to smuggle drugs -- Witness did not improperly testify regarding drug-courier profiles or about how law enforcement officers identify potential drug couriers, and did not offer opinion about whether defendant knew he was transporting cocaine -- Jury instructions -- District court did not abuse discretion by instructing jury on deliberate ignorance where there was ample evidence introduced at trial to support the instruction -- Cumulative error -- None of claimed errors were of great weight
VIEW OPINION