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Photo of bankruptcy filing

Relief for Debtors: Eleventh Circuit Holds That Change of Circumstances Not Required to Modify a Chapter 13 Plan in In re Guillen

Amanda Nelson*

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In In re Guillen, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed whether a party is required to demonstrate that they experienced some change in circumstances in order to modify a confirmed Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan under 11 U.S.C. § 1329. The ruling answered a question of first impression for the Eleventh Circuit that has divided some of its sister circuits. The First, Fifth, and Seventh Circuit Courts of Appeals do not require a threshold showing of any change in circumstances in order to modify a confirmed bankruptcy plan, while the Fourth Circuit does require such a showing. The Eleventh Circuit ultimately determined that a change in circumstances is not required to modify a plan, and thereby concurred with the First, Fifth, and Seventh Circuits.

Photo of police vehicles with lights on

Stryker v. City of Homewood: Eleventh Circuit Finds Plaintiff Deserves Jury Trial in Police Brutality Case

Chloe Champion*

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In Stryker v. City of Homewood, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed a conflict involving alleged excessive use of force by the police. In recent months, use of force by the police has been a hotly debated topic, creating fervor that has grown, in some cases, to a call to abolish the police. In Stryker, the Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the police. While this decision does not create any altering legal precedent, it is worth considering in light of the tumultuous debate which is currently surrounding the police.

Two football helmets colliding

Mickell v. Bell: Former NFL Player Obtains a Win Against the NFL Retirement Board After Being Denied Disability

Allison Lowery*

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In Mickell v. Bell, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit revived former NFL player Darren Mickell’s claim for denial of disability benefits.  Reversing the District Court’s ruling, the Eleventh Circuit held that the NFL Retirement Board abused its discretion in denying disability benefits by failing to consider two key components: medical records and reports from his treating physicians and the cumulative effect of his impairments. Mickell v. Bell serves as a guidepost for disability benefit plan administrators in the Eleventh Circuit.

Champions Retreat Golf Founders, LLC v. Commissioner: Golf Course Qualifies for Charitable Deduction Due to its Wildlife Conservation

Willie Wofford*

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In Champions Retreat Golf Founders, LLC v. Commissioner, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed whether a taxpayer qualified for a charitable deduction for a donation of a conservation easement that encompassed a private golf course as well as undeveloped land. The Eleventh Circuit vacated the Tax Court’s decision to uphold the Commissioner of Internal Revenue’s denial of the charitable deduction, “[b]ecause the [Internal Revenue] Code does not disqualify an easement just because it includes a golf course . . . . Owners of golf courses and other similarly developed commercial properties likely see Champions as a new tax-break opportunity. The Eleventh Circuit’s finding that Champions’ easement property satisfied the meaning of a relatively natural habitat, despite the use of chemicals, artificial drainage, and introduction of nonnative species, provides a baseline of the extent and type of property modifications that can exist within the limits of the Code.

Law Review Members Selected for Cumberland’s 2020-2021 National Moot Court Team

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Congratulations to Copy Editor Taylor Johnson, and Junior Editors Mitchell Brisbon, Kaylee Rose, and Dale Turley for making this year’s National Moot Court Team!

In the SAAD Moot Court Competition, the National Team’s tryouts, Taylor was named Best Oral Advocate and Best Appellate Brief. Both Mitchell and Kaylee were also finalists in the competition.

Great work everyone!

Student Materials Editor Gabe Tucker Published in The Alabama Lawyer

Gabe Tucker*

While clerking this Summer at Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff & Brandt, LLC, Student Materials Editor Gabe Tucker, in conjunction with Attorneys Phillip Corley and April Danielson, wrote an article discussing state and local government powers during COVID-19. The article discusses the constitutionality of stay-at-home orders, a municipality’s power to implement response measures to COVID-19, law enforcement response measures, and potential liability issues for municipalities, business owners, and employers.

Click here to read the full article in this year’s July Issue of The Alabama Lawyer!

Executive Editor Lauren Brasher Published in The Alabama Municipal Journal

Lauren Brasher*

While clerking this Summer at Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff, & Brandt, LLC, Executive Editor Lauren Brasher, in conjunction with Attorneys Phillip Corley and April Danielson, wrote an article overviewing Alabama’s drainage laws and their impact on municipalities. In general, courts have been hesitant to impose liability on municipalities for drainage they have not expressly accepted to maintain or constructed the drainage system themselves. The article discusses the Public Purpose Doctrine, when drainage is considered within the the control of the municipality, and what does and does not constitute acceptance for maintenance.

Click the link below to read the full article in the Fall 2020 Issue of The Alabama Municipal Journal! The article begins on page thirty-one.

False Alarm label in all caps

Ga. Elec. Life Safety & Sys. Ass’n v. City of Sandy Springs: Can Cities Constitutionally Impose Fines on Alarm Companies for False Alarms?

Cullen Armstrong*

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In Georgia Electronic Life Safety & System Ass’n v. City of Sandy Springs, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed the constitutionality of a city ordinance that imposes a fine on alarm companies for false alarms. Affirming the lower court’s ruling, the Eleventh Circuit deemed the city ordinance constitutional because “[i]mposing a fine on . . . alarm companies is rationally related to the City’s strong interests in reducing the number of false alarms that heavily burden its police and fire departments and waste public resources.” In deeming the Ordinance constitutional, the Eleventh Circuit demonstrated that it will not interfere in a municipality’s regulation of economic behavior when that municipality can establish that the regulation is rationally related to the governmental interest.