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

by
Plaintiff filed suit against his employer, alleging that the employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601, by terminating him based on his diagnoses of alcoholism. The court agreed with the employer that plaintiff was not qualified under DOT regulations to drive a commercial truck because he had a current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism. Because the court determined that plaintiff was not entitled to drive a commercial truck under the DOT regulations, the court need not address whether the employer's company policy also supported that determination. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer on the ADA claim. In regards to the FMLA claims, the court agreed with the district court's determination that plaintiff's interference claim failed because the employer would have discharged plaintiff regardless of his FMLA leave, and plaintiff's retaliation claim failed because he could not show that the employer's decision to terminate him was causally related to his FMLA leave. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the FMLA claims. View "Jarvela v. Crete Carrier Corp." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against defendants under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2615, alleging that defendants wrongfully denied his request for eleven weeks of vacation time and terminated his employment. At trial, the jury found that plaintiff was not terminated because he requested leave, but nevertheless awarded him $200,000 in damages. The court concluded that the district court erred by denying defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law on both plaintiff's claims because plaintiff was not eligible for leave under the FMLA where plaintiff admitted that his leave was not for a period of incapacity. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded with instructions for the district court to vacate its order awarding attorney fees and to enter judgment in favor of defendants. View "Hurley v. Kent of Naples, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

by
Mr. Chafin appealed the district court's grant of Ms. Chafin's petition for wrongful removal under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Abduction, T.I.A.S. No. 11670. The district court found that the child's country of habitual residence was Scotland and that Mr. Chafin failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that returning the child to Scotland would expose her to grave risk of harm. The court affirmed, concluding that Mr. Chafin had not demonstrated that the district court's findings of fact were clearly erroneous and that the district court correctly applied the law to the facts. View "Chafin v. Chafin" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit under the Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. 2601, against defendants, alleging that defendants demoted her from a ninety-day temporary assignment in retaliation for leaving work to care for an ailing uncle. On appeal, plaintiff contended that defendants were equitably estopped under federal common law from disputing her FMLA eligibility because her manager approved her FMLA leave. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to provide evidence or even assert that she relied on any misrepresentation. Assuming that federal common law equitable estoppel applied to the FMLA, plaintiff failed to assert a prima facie case of estoppel. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants. View "Dawkins v. Fulton County, et al." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of her child, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS), Gwinnett County DFCS, and a social worker with Gwinnett County. The social worker brought this interlocutory appeal challenging the district court's denial of summary judgment, holding that she was not entitled to qualified immunity. At issue was plaintiff's substantive due process claim that the social worker violated her liberty interests in the care, custody, and management of her minor child with respect to the social worker's actions in preparing and implementing a safety plan that allegedly prohibited plaintiff from removing her child from the paternal grandmother's care. The court concluded that, in this circumstance, it could not hold that a reasonable social worker would have been on notice that her actions violated plaintiff's substantive due process rights. Accordingly, the court reversed the denial of qualified immunity to the social worker on plaintiff's substantive due process claim and remanded for further proceedings. View "Maddox v. Stephens, et al." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed a complaint that her former employer discriminated against her after she became pregnant. At issue was whether direct estoppel barred a claim of pregnancy discrimination under state law when a jury found at trial that plaintiff suffered no adverse employment action regarding her claim of retaliation for exercising her right to maternity leave under federal law. The court concluded that the jury verdict against plaintiff's claim of retaliation estopped plaintiff from relitigating the common issue of whether she suffered an adverse employment action. Accordingly, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment against plaintiff's claim of pregnancy discrimination. View "DuChateau v. Camp, Dresser & McKee, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Petitioner sought review of the USCIS's denial of her Form I-360 self-petition for adjustment to permanent resident status. USCIS denied the petition on the grounds that it was contrary to the Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act of 1966 (CAA), 8 U.S.C. 1255. Petitioner claimed that USCIS's decision violated the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law. Because petitioner's husband did not satisfy the fifth requirement under the plain reading of section 1 of the CAA, the alien must be admissible to the United States for permanent residence, petitioner could not self-petition under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994's, Pub. L. No. 103-322, tit. IV, 108 Stat. 1902, amendments to the CAA. Further, the USCIS's distinction between non-Cuban aliens on the basis of a Cuban spouse's adjustment status did not violate the Fifth Amendment's equal protection guarantees. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Toro v. Sec. for the Dept. of Homeland Security, et al" on Justia Law

by
The United States obtained a judgment for restitution of more than $85 million against Lawrence Duran for crimes that he committed in a conspiracy to defraud Medicare. After the United States obtained a writ of execution against an apartment that, according to property records, was owned jointly by Lawrence and his former wife, Carmen Duran, she moved to dissolve or stay the writ on the ground that she had acquired sole title to the property as part of their divorce settlement several months before his prosecution. The district court denied the motion without prejudice on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction. Because the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 28 U.S.C. 3203(a), provided that the United States could levy only property in which a judgment debtor had a substantial nonexempt interest, the district court erred in refusing to adjudicate Carmen's motion. Accordingly, the court vacated the order and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Duran" on Justia Law

by
The issue before the Eleventh Circuit centered on the grant of qualified immunity to two social workers who violated clearly established federal rights during an investigation of alleged child abuse. After Plaintiff-Appellant Stephen Loftus petitioned a Florida court to help him protect his two children from his allegedly abusive former wife, social worker and Defendant-Appellee Ester Clark-Moore, investigated the safety and welfare of Loftus's children, Savonna and Dylan. In the course of her investigation, Clark-Moore allegedly interviewed Savonna without Loftus's consent, and Clark-Moore's supervisor, Myra Ferguson, allegedly twice threatened to remove both children from Loftus's care. Loftus filed a civil complaint that the social workers had violated Savonna's right to be free from unreasonable seizures and the family's right to be free from governmental interference. Upon review, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that because the social workers did not violate any clearly established federal civil rights in the investigation that Loftus had invited, it affirmed the dismissal of Loftus's complaint against them. View "Loftus v. Clark-Moore" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of her two-count complaint alleging interference and retaliation under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq., against defendant. It was undisputed that plaintiff, at the time she requested leave, was not eligible for FMLA protection because she had not worked the requisite hours and had not yet experienced a triggering event, the birth of her child. It is also undisputed that she would have been entitled to FMLA protection by the time she gave birth and began her requested leave. The court held that because the FMLA required notice in advance of future leave, employees were protected from interference prior to the occurrence of the triggering event; a pre-eligible employee had a cause of action if an employer terminated her in order to avoid having to accommodate that employee with rightful FMLA leave rights once that employee became eligible; a pre-eligible request for post-eligible leave was protected activity because the FMLA aimed to support both employees in the process of exercising their FMLA rights and employers in planning for the absence of employees on FMLA leave; and because plaintiff engaged in protected activity by discussing her maternity plans with her employer, she has alleged a valid cause of action for retaliation.