Eversheds Sutherland 11th Circuit Business Blog
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Eleventh Circuit Restores $20m Punitive-Damages Verdict Against Philip Morris

The Eleventh Circuit last week reinstated a $20.76m punitive-damages verdict against tobacco giant Philip Morris, ruling that the district court had abused its discretion in ordering a new trial on the plaintiff’s intentional tort claims.  Cote v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 2018 WL 6167395 (11th Cir. Nov. 26, 2018).  The court also affirmed the denial of Philip Morris’s motions for a new trial and for judgment as a matter of law as to the plaintiff’s other claims. This case forms part of the court’s rapidly-developing line of Engle-progeny cases.  These cases stem from the Florida Supreme...
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Supreme Court to Consider TCPA Circuit Split on Interpretation of “Advertisement”

The Supreme Court will address a circuit split over the interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s provision imposing liability for sending unsolicited advertisements.  PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc., No. 17-1705, 2018 WL 3127423 (U.S. Nov. 13, 2018).  The majority view—held by the Eleventh Circuit—is that an unsolicited fax is only a prohibited “advertisement” if it attempts to promote the sale of a product.  Florence Endocrine Clinic, PLLC v. Arriva Med., LLC, 858 F.3d 1362, 1366 (11th Cir. 2017).  The minority view is that there is no such...
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Arbitration on a Hot Shingled Roof: Homeowners Bound by Arbitration Agreement Printed on Shingle Wrapping

Homeowners are bound by a mandatory-arbitration provision printed conspicuously on the wrapping around packages of shingles when the packages are opened and installed by the homeowners’ roofers, as a matter of Florida contract law.  Dye v. Tamko Building Products, Inc., 2018 WL 5729085 (11th Cir. Nov. 2, 2018). Two Florida homeowners whose roofers had purchased, opened, and installed Tamko shingles on the homeowners’ roofs brought an action against Tamko in federal court, asserting various claims based on the shingles’ alleged failure to meet industry standards and building codes.  Tamko...
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Unregistered Copyright Does Not Preclude Federal Jurisdiction

Capping off an October trio of copyright decisions, the Eleventh Circuit in Fastcase, Inc. v. Lawriter, LLC, 2018 WL 5318148 (11th Cir. Oct. 29, 2018), confirmed that the failure to register a copyright does not defeat federal subject-matter jurisdiction (though it may doom an infringement claim under Rule 12(b)(6)).  The court also held that a plaintiff’s potential liability may be considered as part of the amount in controversy when assessing diversity jurisdiction. Fastcase and Lawriter are competitors in the market for legal research services.  Their dispute concerns access to the...
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Eleventh Circuit Takes District Court to School Over Educational Fair-Use Copyright Dispute

In Cambridge Univiversity Press v. Albert, 2018 WL 5095004 (11th Cir. Oct. 19, 2018), the Eleventh Circuit issued its second decision in a decade-long dispute over Georgia State University’s practice of distributing digital excerpts of copyrighted works to students without paying a royalty.  The district court now faces its third trial to assess the fair-use defense as to 48 excerpted works, with little more guidance than the four fair-use factors, and an admonition to give each accused excerpt a “holistic, qualitative, and individual analysis.” Judge Bill Pryor’s opinion for the court...
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Laws for the People, By the People, Are Not Copyrightable

A March 23, 2017 order from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia immediately prompted headlines such as “If you publish Georgia’s state laws, you’ll get sued for copyright and lose.”  The case, Code Revision Commission v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc., 244 F. Supp. 3d 1350 (N.D. Ga. 2017), examined whether the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (“O.C.G.A.”) was copyrightable and whether verbatim copying and free distribution by an open records activist were considered copyright infringement.  After a discussion of how annotations are explicitly listed under the...
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SCOTUS Business Cases This Term (Part 2 – Arbitration)

The Court has several arbitration-related cases before it this term.  Lamps Plus, Inc. v. Varela concerns whether the FAA permits a state-law interpretation of an arbitration agreement that finds a contractual basis for class arbitration without class arbitration’s being specifically mentioned.  New Prime, Inc. v. Oliveira involves the FAA’s exception for “contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.”  And Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer and White Sales, Inc. asks whether a court may...
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Court Revives Challenge to Stranger-Originated Life Insurance Policies (STOLIs)

In Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada v. Imperial Premium Finance, LLC, 2018 WL 4443054 (11th Cir. Sept. 18, 2018), the Eleventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of fraud and breach of contract claims related to the sale of life insurance policies to strangers to the insureds.  Sun Life Assurance Company sold life insurance to senior citizens, who, in some cases, obtained premium financing with Imperial Premium Finance.  The life insurance policies served as collateral to the financing, so, if an insured defaulted on the loan, Imperial could foreclose on the loan and obtain ownership of the...
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SCOTUS Business Cases This Term (Part 1 – Class Actions)

The Supreme Court’s October term is underway, and the Court has before it several class-action cases.  Frank v. Gaos concerns the permissibility of cy pres relief in class action settlements; Home Depot v. Jackson the ability of a defendant in the original action to remove the action under CAFA; and Nutraceutical Corp. v. Lambert the availability of equitable exceptions to the 14-day time limit for filing a petition under Fed. R. Civ. P....
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Disclosure of Additional Digits on a Credit Card Receipt Sufficient to Confer Article III Standing to Bring a FACTA Claim

The Eleventh Circuit has held that a plaintiff has standing to pursue a claim under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (“FACTA”) if a merchant discloses too many digits of a credit card number on a receipt, even without subsequent misuse of the plaintiff’s identity or credit card.  Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc., 2018 WL 4762434 (11th Cir. Oct. 3, 2018). Muransky filed a putative class action against Godiva, alleging that Godiva had willfully violated FACTA by including on customers’ receipts more than the last five digits of their credit card numbers.  The inclusion of...
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Denial of Daubert Motion and Dismissal of Fraudulent Transfer Claim Affirmed

In O’Halloran v. Harris Corp. (In re Teltronics, Inc.), 2018 WL 4700578 (11th Cir. Oct. 2, 2018), the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a district court judgment affirming a bankruptcy court order dismissing a fraudulent conveyance claim.  The alleged fraudulent conveyance was the debtor’s transfer of a “blocking right” and right of first refusal under a patent transfer agreement, but the narrow issue addressed on appeal was the bankruptcy court’s denial of the bankruptcy trustee’s Daubert motion to exclude certain expert testimony on the question whether the debtor was insolvent at the time the...
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SPLIT PANEL UPHOLDS DISMISSAL OF FORCE-PLACED INSURANCE CLAIMS UNDER FILED-RATE DOCTRINE

Last week, a split panel of the Eleventh Circuit upheld the dismissal of a class action over “force-placed insurance” under the filed-rate doctrine.  Patel v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, 2018 WL 4559091 (11th Cir. Sept. 24, 2018). The “force-placed insurance” in question concerns the residential mortgage market.  A typical mortgage contract requires the borrower to obtain hazard insurance for the value of the remaining loan balance.  If the borrower fails to maintain such insurance, the lender is entitled to “force-place” insurance on the borrower’s behalf and charge the borrower for...
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Court Upholds Injunction Against FINRA Arbitration of Claims Against Member’s Affiliate

The Eleventh Circuit recently upheld a permanent injunction against arbitration of claims by investors against a FINRA member and its overseas affiliates on the basis that the arbitration did not concern the affiliates’ relevant business activities.  Pictet Overseas, Inc. v. Helvetia Trust, 2018 WL 4560685 (11th Cir. Sept. 24th, 2018). In Pictet, two trusts had opened custodial accounts at Banque Pictet, a Swiss bank, through an asset manager who was unaffiliated with the bank.  The asset manager then stole the trusts’ money.  The trusts commenced a FINRA arbitration to recover the money...
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Court Rejects ADA Exhaustion Argument for Closed Captions

The court held this week that the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, which creates an administrative procedure to address videos lacking closed captions before the FCC, does not create an administrative exhaustion requirement for bringing similar issues under the ADA.  Sierra v. City of Hallandale Beach, Florida, (No. 18-10740 11th Cir. Sept. 27th, 2018).  The court also held that the district court need not abstain from hearing the case in deference to the FCC. TOPIC: Consumer Protection Submitted by Nick...
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