Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Earliest Case Rule: When Faced with Intra-Circuit Split, Court Should Look to the Line of Authority Containing Earliest Decision Because Later Panel Cannot Overturn Earlier Panel

Centeno v. NCL (Bahamas) Ltd., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39741 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 21, 2012):

Although Lindo rejects Thomas, it rejects Thomas saying it is inconsistent with a prior decision, Bautista. "When faced with an intra-circuit split we must apply the 'earliest case' rule, meaning 'when circuit authority is in conflict, a panel should look to the line of authority containing the earliest case, because a decision of a prior panel cannot be overturned by a later panel.'" Morrison v. Amway Corp., 323 F.3d 920, 929 (11th Cir. 2003). The Lindo decision resolves a split in the circuit between Thomas and Bautista and then follows Bautista, the earliest case. Accordingly, Lindo is final and binding on this Court.

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