Thursday, April 1, 2010

Other cases (week of March 29, 2010)

LeBlanc v. Unifund CCR Partners considered a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act issues under 15 U.S.C. §§1692e(5) and 1692f, reversed the grant of partial summary judgment to plaintiff, and remanded the matter for trial.

Mid-Continent Casualty Co. v. American Pride Building Company, LLC addressed duty to indemnify provisions in an insurance contract under Florida law.

SFM Holdings, Ltd. v. Bank of America Securities, LLC affirmed the dismissal with prejudice of a complaint seeking damages for breach of fiduciary duty and constructive fraud in a securities case.

Class action decision

In Sacred Heart Health Systems v. Humana Military Healthcare Services, the Court reversed the district court's determination under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23 to certify a class in a case brought by 260 hospitals against Humana. Why? The Court agreed with Humana that "many important uncommon questions raised by this litigation overwhelm the one common issue and render the case unsuitable for class treatment." For instance, breach of contract claims are "peculiarly driven by the terms of the parties' agreement, and common questions rarely will predominate if the relevant terms vary in substance among the contracts." (The Court noted that a form contract would better suit class certification.) The Court also noted the differences in the applicable state laws governing those contracts. The Court acknowledged the disparity in power between Humana and "even the largest of the class members here." Nonetheless, it remanded the case to the district court to determine whether any subset of the claims or class members might be suspectible of fair and efficient class treatment.

1983 opinion -- deliberate indifference to medical need

In Townsend v. Jefferson County, the Court considered the actions of deputies in responding to the medical needs of a pregnant detainee who used crack cocaine daily. The undisputed evidence showed that both deputies knew that a nurse at jail and seen and spoken with the detainee, and it was undisputed that the nurse determined that the detainee's medical need was not an emergency. The detainee later suffered a miscarriage while incarcerated. She sued the deputies, claiming that they violated her civil rights under the 14th Amendment by acting with deliberate indifference to her medical needs. The district court denied the deputies' motion for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds, and the Eleventh Circuit reversed and rendered a judgment in favor of the deputies.