Harris v. Jayo, No. 19-11286 (11th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Assuming without deciding that a general default judgment can be the basis of collateral estoppel under Florida law in an 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(2)(A) proceeding as to each of the claims asserted in a multi-count complaint, the Eleventh Circuit held that estoppel does not apply here. The court explained that each of the claims that could have satisfied the requirements of section 523(a)(2)(A) contained alternative factual allegations that did not do so. In such a scenario—one so far not addressed by Florida law—the court predicted that Florida courts would not afford preclusive effect to a general default judgment that does not specify its grounds.
In this case, defendant's fraudulent misrepresentation claim cannot serve as the basis for collateral estoppel against debtor under section 523(a)(2)(A), because the default judgment as to this claim could have been based on a "should have known the falsity" theory, as opposed to an "actual knowledge of falsity" theory. Furthermore, because neither negligence nor constructive fraud suffices under section 523(a)(2)(A), the default judgment on the negligent misrepresentation claim does not have collateral estoppel effect under Florida law. Investment fraud under Fla. Stat. 517.301 also does not have collateral estoppel effect under section 523(a)(2)(A). Nor does the conspiracy to defraud claim. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded.