Eversheds Sutherland 11th Circuit Business Blog
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Settlement Release Negotiations and Actions of Third-Party Claimants Are Both Relevant in Bad Faith Actions

In Pelaez v. Government Employees Insurance Co., 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 28312 (11th Cir. Sept. 20, 2021), the Eleventh Circuit upheld summary judgment for GEICO in a Florida bad faith case. Merely offering an overbroad release to a third-party claimant was insufficient to establish bad faith in the totality of the circumstances, which included GEICO’s repeated invitations to the claimant’s lawyer to edit the release’s language and diligent efforts to settle all covered claims. Pelaez arose from an automobile accident between John Pelaez and Michael Conlon, Jr. Conlon, who was insured as an...
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“European Wax Center” Trademark Dispute Clarifies “Confusingly Similar” Test Under the ACPA

A divided Eleventh Circuit panel affirmed a district court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant in a trademark dispute involving the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (“ACPA”), Boigris v. EWC P&T, LLC, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 23399 (11th Cir. Aug. 6, 2021).  The case further clarifies the test for whether marks are “confusingly similar” under the ACPA, but also highlights difficulties in its application. EWC P&T, LLC (“EWC”) runs the nationwide beauty brand European Wax Center and owns a trademark registration for the mark “European Wax Center.” ...
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Full Court Nixes Appeal of Antitrust Immunity Ruling

Sitting en banc, the Eleventh Circuit unanimously held in SmileDirectClub, LLC v. Battle, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 21393 (11th Cir. July 20, 2021), that an interlocutory appeal may not be taken under the collateral order doctrine from the denial of the state-action antitrust immunity conferred by Parker v. Brown, 317 U.S. 341 (1943).  The case involved an action brought against members of the Georgia Board of Dentistry by SmileDirectClub, which offers steeply discounted orthodontic treatments. A key part of its services consisted of digital scans of patients’ teeth done by a technician who is...
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“Pinnacle” Trademark Dispute Offers Lessons in Trademark Trial Procedure

The court vacated a $550,000 jury verdict in a trademark dispute teeming with procedural issues, Pinnacle Advertising & Marketing Group, Inc. v. Pinnacle Advertising & Marketing Group, LLC, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 22770 (11th Cir. Aug. 2, 2021), but kept alive the possibility of injunctive relief for the plaintiff on remand.  The case is a primer on the intersection of judge and jury in trademark infringement cases. Pinnacle Illinois obtained trademark registrations for the word mark “Pinnacle” and a stylized form of the word “PINNACLE” on September 12, 2017.  Pinnacle...
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Federal Presumption of Arbitrability Limited to Disputes That Are Immediate, Foreseeable Results of Contractual Performance

After concluding that the most natural reading of an arbitration agreement did not cover the dispute in Calderon v. Sixt Rent a Car, LLC, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 20854 (11th Cir. July 14, 2021), the Eleventh Circuit held more broadly that the Federal Arbitration Act’s strong presumption of arbitrability applies only if “the dispute in question was an immediate, foreseeable result of the performance of contractual duties.” Writing for a partly divided panel, Judge Kevin Newsom acknowledged the canon of construction that “any doubts concerning the scope of arbitrable issues should be resolved in...
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Get Back to Where You Once Belonged? Court Affirms Dismissal for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction and in Light of Forum Selection Clause

In Don’t Look Media LLC v. Fly Victor Ltd., 999 F.3d 1284 (11th Cir. June 4, 2021), the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of RICO and state-law claims against an English company and its directors and officers for lack of personal jurisdiction and in light of the forum selection clause included in the parties’ contract. Don’t Look Media (a Delaware LLC based in Florida) licensed its private jet booking website to Fly Victor (an English company based in London). The parties’ contract called for Fly Victor to invest in increasing traffic to the site, and for the parties to share booking...
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Eleventh Circuit Affirms Approval of (Almost) All of Equifax Data Breach Settlement

In In re: Equifax, Inc. Customer Data Sec. Breach Litig. (Huang v. Equifax, Inc.), 2021 WL 2250845 (11th Cir. June 3, 2021), the Eleventh Circuit upheld the district court’s approval of a class settlement arising out of the Equifax data breach – except for the incentive awards to the class representatives, as to which the court reversed the district court in light of Johnson v. NPAS Sols., LLC, 975 F.3d 1244 (11th Cir. 2020). The settlement in question arose from “scores of class actions” filed in the wake of a 2017 data breach affecting Equifax and its affiliates. The cases were...
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STOLI Invalidation Upheld, Issues Certified to Delaware Supreme Court

STOLI – Stranger-Originated Life Insurance – was the subject of the court’s decision in Estate of Malkin v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA, 2021 Westlaw 2149344  (11th Cir. May 27, 2021). Judge Beverly Martin authored the court’s opinion, which affirmed a Florida district court’s invalidation of the life insurance policy at issue but certified questions relating to defenses and a counterclaim to the Delaware Supreme Court.           Under Delaware law, applicable to the case, a life insurance policy that is procured or effected without an insurable interest...
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Judge Beverly Martin to Resign on September 30, 2021

Judge Beverly Martin, an Obama appointee who also served as a judge in the Northern District of Georgia and as United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, has notified the White House that she intends to resign as a judge on the Eleventh Circuit effective September 30, 2021. Judge Martin is regarded as the court’s most consistently liberal member. She will not continue service as a senior judge. The opening on the court will be President Biden’s first opportunity for an appointment.
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FCRA Class Action Foiled by Comcast Arbitration Agreement

A Comcast arbitration agreement by which a former subscriber to the cable service agreed to arbitrate “any claim or controversy related to Comcast” was enforced by the court in Hearn v. Comcast Cable Communications, LLC, 992 F.3d 1209 (11th Cir. 2021), overturning a contrary decision by the Northern District of Georgia. The arbitration agreement was included in Comcast’s subscriber agreement with the plaintiff, but the plaintiff terminated his service. A year and a half later, however, the plaintiff approached Comcast about renewing service. In connection with that inquiry, Comcast made use...
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Credit Reporting Agency’s Procedures and Investigation to Ensure FCRA Accurate Reporting Not Reasonable Enough for Summary Judgment

In Losch v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC, 2021 WL 1653016 (11th Cir. Apr. 28, 2021), the Eleventh Circuit considered whether the defendant Experian violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s requirements that a credit-reporting agency employ “reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual” when preparing credit reports, 15 U.S.C. § 1681e(b), and conduct a “reasonable reinvestigation” of disputed information upon notification of a claimed inaccuracy, id. § 1681i(a).  The plaintiff filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and discharged his debts,...
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Class Claims for Declaratory and Supplemental Relief Remanded to State Court

In Mack v. USAA Casualty Insurance Co., 2021 WL 1572709 (11th Cir. Apr. 22, 2021), the Eleventh Circuit dismissed for lack of an Article III “case or controversy” a putative class action in which the plaintiff sought a declaration that his insurer’s adjustment of total loss claims violates Florida law and money damages as corresponding “supplemental relief.”   Leroy Mack brought an action against USAA in Florida state court following adjustment of his insurance claim for a totaled vehicle, seeking a declaration that the methodology USAA used to adjust his claim violated Florida law; a...
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Public Accommodations Under ADA Limited to Actual, Physical Places, with Website Accessibility Claims Permitted Only for Intangible Barriers to Access

The fact that a website was incompatible with screen-reader software for visually impaired users was held insufficient (without more) to state a claim for public-accommodation discrimination under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, in Gil v. Winn-Dixie Stores. Inc., 2021 WL 1289906 (11th Cir. Apr. 7, 2021). The Eleventh Circuit held in a majority opinion by Judge Lisa Branch that the statutory definition of “public accommodation” in Title III, which prohibits discrimination “on the basis of disability” in any “place of public accommodation,” 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a), applies...
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Debt Collector’s Provision of Consumer Information to Mail Service Is Actionable Under FDCPA

In Hunstein v. Preferred Collection & Management Services, Inc., 2021 WL 1556069 (11th Cir. Apr. 21, 2021), the Eleventh Circuit held that a consumer had standing to challenge a debt collector’s provision of the consumer’s information to a third-party mail service and that the consumer’s allegations stated a cognizable claim under 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(b) of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). The decision has garnered a good deal of attention within the industry. Richard Hunstein incurred a debt for his son’s medical treatment, and the hospital assigned the debt to Preferred...
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