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ELEVENTH CIRCUIT KEEPS BIRMINGHAM RESIDENTS MINIMUM WAGE SUIT ALIVE

Corbin Potter

In 2015, the Birmingham City Council passed a city ordinance increasing minimum wage throughout the city to $8.50 beginning in July 2016 and raising to $10.10 in 2017. This ordinance came in response to the City Council’s repeated attempts and eventual resolution to get the Alabama state legislature to increase the minimum wage to $10 per hour across the state of Alabama. The legislature refused the city’s request, leading the Birmingham City Council to increase the minimum wage throughout the city on their own with the purpose of “tak[ing] legislative steps to help lift working families out of poverty, decrease income inequality, and boost [Birmingham’s] economy.” Birmingham, the largest city in the State of Alabama, has thirty percent (30%) of its residents living below the poverty line while also being home to the largest African American population (72%) in Alabama.

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Doe v. Valencia College

Sarah Baldwin

On September 13, 2018, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that the district court did not err in holding that Valencia College did not violate Jeffery Koeppel’s statutory or constitutional rights when it suspended him for his conduct towards another student.  During the summer of 2014 Koeppel and a female student, whom the court referred to as Jane Roe, were assigned to be biology lab partners at Valencia College, a public university in Florida.  As the semester went on, Koeppel began to contact Roe outside of class and eventually told her he was attracted to her.  Roe told Koeppel she was not interested and she was already in a relationship.  Roe and Koeppel finished the summer semester with no further issues.

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ALABAMA BAN ON DILATION AND EVACUATION ABORTIONS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Mollie Wallace Amick

In West Alabama Women’s Center v. Williamson, the Eleventh Circuit struck down a recent Alabama statute that banned dilation and evacuation abortions, holding that the law represented an unconstitutional restriction on a woman’s right to an abortion.

The plaintiff clinics filed suit on behalf of their present and future patients, claiming the Act was unconstitutional on its face. The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, passed in 2016, made it unlawful for a medical practitioner to “purposely perform or attempt to perform a dismemberment abortion and thereby kill an unborn child unless necessary to prevent serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.” Put more simply, the Act would require medical practitioners to end the life of a fetus before dismembering that fetus. Violation of this prohibition would be “punishable by up to two years imprisonment and fines of $10,000.”

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FALL 2018 FEDERALIST SOCIETY PANEL DISCUSSION: STATE JUDGES, FEDERAL COURTS, AND JUDICIAL SUPREMACY

Daniel Moss

On August 28, 2018, the Cumberland School of Law chapter of the Federalist Society hosted a panel discussion entitled “State Judges, Federal Courts, and Judicial Supremacy: Constitutionality of Roy Moore’s Removals.”  The Federalist Society held the discussion in the John L. Carroll Moot Courtroom at Cumberland School of Law.  Both law students and faculty attended the discussion and had the opportunity to ask questions of the panelists.

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Oral Argument Preview: Ghee v. USAble Mutual Insurance Co.

Alex Sidwell

Billy Fleming went to the emergency room on June 11, 2013, complaining of severe abdominal pain.  Following nonsurgical treatment, his physicians scheduled a colectomy, the removal of all or part of the colon.  Blue Advantage, the company in charge of Fleming’s employee health-insurance coverage, determined that nonsurgical treatment was appropriate, denied coverage of the surgery, and told Fleming to go to the emergency room if his pain worsened.  Fleming returned to the emergency room on July 15, 2013, where he appeared in distress.  Fleming died on July 16, 2013, and an autopsy showed his cause of death was “septic shock” resulting from a ruptured intestine.

Douglas Ghee, on behalf of Fleming’s estate, sued Blue Advantage for the wrongful death of Fleming caused by medical malpractice. Blue Advantage moved to dismiss the claim on the ground that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) preempted the wrongful death claim. ERISA is a federal law that regulates the operation of a health insurance benefit plan if an employer provides one for its employees. The trial court agreed with Blue Advantage and dismissed the wrongful death claim, ruling that the claim was preempted by ERISA. Ghee appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court on October 26, 2016.

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Oral Argument Preview: Shadrick v. Grana

Brenton Thompson

The Alabama Medical Liability Act controls medical malpractice actions brought against “health care providers” for medical injuries. Under the AMLA, a medical-malpractice plaintiff must prove “by substantial evidence” (1) the appropriate standard of care, (2) a breach of that standard by the health-care provider, and (3) a proximate causal connection between the health-care provider’s breach and the plaintiff’s injuries.

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Justice Gorsuch Breaks Supreme Court Tie in Favor of Immigrants: A Brief Overview of Sessions v. Dimaya

 

Xan Ingram

On Tuesday, April 17, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in Sessions v. Dimaya that a portion of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) was unconstitutional.  Delivering the opinion of the Court, Justice Kagan explained that the result was dictated by Johnson v. United States.  The Court, in both cases, held that residual clauses defining criminal conduct were void for vagueness.

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Secession Reversed: Eleventh Circuit Strikes Down Sua Sponte Court Order for the Gardendale School Board’s Secession

Alex Sidwell*

            An Eleventh Circuit reversal in a decades old school desegregation case has resulted in the city of Gardendale, Alabama being prevented from forming its own school system due to a finding that racial motives were involved in an attempt to separate from the Jefferson County school system. . . .

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*Alex received his Bachelors Degree in Music Performance from Auburn University in 2013. Before attending Cumberland School of Law, Alex received his Masters Degree in Music Performance from Appalachian State University in 2015. In addition to being a member of Cumberland Law Review, Alex has had the honor of interning with the Honorable Madeline H. Haikala, the Honorable John E. Ott, and the Honorable John H. England III, and is also a Judge Abraham Caruthers Fellow.

Supreme Court’s Limited Protection for Whistleblowers Under Dodd-Frank

Lindsey Catlett*

The Dodd-Frank Act (the “Act”), passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, was intended to deter “abusive practices in the mortgage industry” and demand “accountability and responsibility from everyone.”  In furtherance of these objectives, the Act includes significant incentives to encourage whistleblowing and protections for those who engage in whistleblowing.

***

Determining exactly who qualifies for the Dodd-Frank whistleblower protections was the question at issue in the recent United States Supreme Court decision in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers.  Paul Somers, former Vice President of Digital Realty Trust, Inc., reported concerns of potential securities law violations committed by Digital Realty exclusively to his superiors . . . .

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*  Candidate for Juris Doctor, May 2018, Cumberland School of Law, Samford University; Candidate for Master of Business Administration, Brock School of Business, Samford University; B.A. Finance, Political Science, and History, Ouachita Baptist University; Editor-in-Chief, Cumberland Law Review Volume 48.

Hand v. Scott: Florida’s Method of Restoring Felon Voting Rights Declared Unconstitutional

Kate Henderson*

In February, a federal court considered the method used by Florida executive officials to reinstate voting rights for convicted felons in Hand v. Scott. First Amendment protections in the context of felony voting restoration was a matter of first impression for the court.  The court held the “unfettered discretion” the Clemency Board possessed over a felon’s voting right restoration and the lack of clear time limits in deciding clemency applications violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. . . .

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* Candidate for Juris Doctor, Cumberland School of Law, Class of 2019.  Junior Editor, Cumberland Law Review.  Bachelor of Science, Florida State University, Class of 2013.