Monday, May 3, 2021

No. 419: Update on Transamerica's Appeal in the Lebbin Case

No. 414 (March 23, 2021) discussed a strange twist in the appeal to the federal Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals by Transamerica Life Insurance Company (Transamerica) of a Florida federal district court judge's decision in a lawsuit filed by the Spector-Lebbin Family Trust (Trust). The district court judge ruled that Transamerica should pay the Trust about $2.5 million, including interest, for breach of contract.

On February 23, 2021, however, in a strange twist, the Eleventh Circuit clerk wrote a letter to the parties about jurisdiction. More recent developments are discussed in this update. (See Trust v. Transamerica, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, Case No. 20-11756-AA.)

The Clerk's Follow-Up Letter
On April 21, the Eleventh Circuit clerk wrote a follow-up letter to the parties. Here is the full text:
Based upon the responses of the parties, it appears that this court has jurisdiction to consider this appeal. A final determination regarding jurisdiction will be made by the panel to whom this appeal is submitted on the merits.
A Circuit Court Judge's Order
On March 17, after the parties filed briefs in response to the clerk's February 23 letter, one of the parties filed an additional response. The other party filed a motion seeking permission to answer the additional response. On April 26, a circuit court judge issued a one-sentence order denying the motion.

General Observations
Because Florida is in the Eleventh Circuit, I said in No. 414 that I did not understand why someone in the Eleventh Circuit thought it may not have jurisdiction. I still do not understand why.

The docket does not yet identify the three circuit court judges who will be assigned to the panel that will consider the case. I think the case has been fully briefed. I also think the parties are awaiting oral argument, or a decision if the panel does not want oral argument. I plan to report further developments.