Monkton Ins. Servs., Ltd. v. Ritter

Plaintiff filed a third-party complaint against Butterfield, a Cayman bank organized and regulated under Cayman law and located on the Island of Grand Cayman, alleging that Butterfield breached contracts with Geneva by failing to detect forged signatures on withdrawals from Geneva's bank account. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the dismissal of his claims against Butterfield for lack of personal jurisdiction. The court concluded that exercising specific jurisdiction over Butterfield would be improper because Butterfield has not purposefully availed itself of the benefits and protections of Texas law through minimum contacts related to the cause of action. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of Butterfield's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Further, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's motion for jurisdictional discovery. View "Monkton Ins. Servs., Ltd. v. Ritter" on Justia Law

Cedar Lodge Plantation, L.L.C., et al. v. CSHV Fairway View I, L.L.C., et al.

Cedar Lodge filed a proposed class action suit against Fairway Defendants in Louisiana state court and Fairway Defendants removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d). Cedar Lodge subsequently amended the complaint to add STS, a Louisiana citizen, as defendant and moved to remand to state court under the local controversy exception to CAFA jurisdiction. The district court remanded. This court then granted the Fairway Defendants permission to appeal the remand order and now hold that the application of the local controversy exception depends on the pleadings at the time the class action is removed, not on an amended complaint filed after removal. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Cedar Lodge Plantation, L.L.C., et al. v. CSHV Fairway View I, L.L.C., et al." on Justia Law

RSUI Indemnity Co. v. American States Ins. Co.

The excess insurer filed suit under a theory of subrogation, seeking to recover from the primary insurer the amount that it paid on the insured's behalf to settle excess claims in an underlying lawsuit after the primary insurer had settled its own liability with the underlying plaintiff by paying its policy limit. The district court held that the excess insurer could not maintain the suit because there had been no adjudicated excess judgment against the insured in the underlying case. The court reversed and remanded, holding that no excess judgment is required if the primary insurer's alleged bad faith failure to defend exposed the insured to excess liability and caused the excess settlement. View "RSUI Indemnity Co. v. American States Ins. Co." on Justia Law

Pioneer Exploration, L.L.C. v. Steadfast Ins. Co.

This case stemmed from Pioneer's efforts to seek insurance coverage under Steadfast's umbrella policy for costs and expenses incurred in cleaning up and remediating some property. Applying Louisiana's choice-of-law rules, the court concluded that Texas law applied because the insurance policy at issue was issued and delivered under Texas insurance statutes. The district court found that Texas and Louisiana law do not conflict on the issue of insurance policy interpretation and applied Louisiana law. Because neither party challenged this determination, the court did the same. On the merits, the court concluded that the district court did not err by holding that the exclusions within the Property Damage exclusion and the Blended Pollution endorsement were applicable, thus precluding coverage for the costs of remediating the Meaux property and containment; the costs of containment were precluded by the clear language of the policy; the costs of remediating the Rutherford property were unavailable due to its inability to allocate remediation costs; the costs of settling the lawsuits were unavailable due to the retained limit; and the costs of plugging the well were precluded by the OIL endorsement. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Pioneer Exploration, L.L.C. v. Steadfast Ins. Co." on Justia Law

EEOC v. Simbaki, Ltd.

Kimberly Kulig and Laura Baatz worked for the Berryhill Baja Grill & Cantina on Montrose Street in Houston, a franchise-location. During their employment, the owner and operator of the restaurant sexually harassed them on numerous occasions. In this appeal, Kulig and Baatz challenged the district court's dismissal of their Title VII lawsuit against Berryhill Hot Tamales Corporation for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The court concluded that parties represented by counsel may too invoke the exceptions of the named-party requirement. Because the district court granted summary judgment on the grounds that Kulig and Baatz, as represented parties, could not rely on the exceptions to the named-party requirement, the district court did not determine whether they could fit within either the Glus v. G.C. Murphy Co. or Eggleston v. Chicago Journeymen Plumbers' Local Union No. 130 exceptions. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "EEOC v. Simbaki, Ltd." on Justia Law

In re: Lisa Coleman

Petitioner, convicted of murder and sentenced to death, appealed the district court's holding that her Rule 60(b) motion was a successive writ. The court affirmed the district court's holding that the motion was a successive habeas petition where petitioner's claim that counsel failed to discover and present additional evidence was fundamentally substantive; denied the application for a second or successive habeas petition where petitioner failed to argue, nor could she, that her claim is based on a new rule of constitutional law; denied the application for a certificate of appealability; and denied the motion for stay of execution. View "In re: Lisa Coleman" on Justia Law

United States v. Teran-Salas

Defendant appealed his sentence after pleading guilty to being an alien found unlawfully present in the United States after deportation. Defendant challenged the district court's determination that his 2011 Texas conviction qualified as either a "drug trafficking offense" under U.S.S.G. 2L1.2 of the guidelines or an "aggravated felony" under 8 U.S.C. 1326(b)(2). The court held that, although Texas's statutory framework leaves open the theoretical possibility that a defendant can be convicted under Texas Health & Safety Code 481.112(a) for conduct that would not qualify as a federal drug trafficking offense, defendant failed to establish a realistic probability that Texas would apply its statute in such a manner. The court held that the district court was correct in determining that defendant's Texas conviction was both a drug trafficking offense and an aggravated felony. Accordingly, the court affirmed the sentence. View "United States v. Teran-Salas" on Justia Law

Estate of James A. Elkins, Jr., et al. v. CIR

Petitioners sought review and eventually eliminate the federal estate tax deficiency assessed against the Estate by the Commissioner. The deficiency resulted solely from the Commissioner's disallowance of the "fractional-ownership discount" applied by the Estate in determining the taxable values of decedent's pro rata shares of the jointly stipulated fair market values of 64 original works of art in which decedent owned only fractional interests at his death. The court affirmed and agreed in large part with the Tax Court's underlying analysis and discrete factual determinations, including its rejection of the Commissioner's zero-discount position. The court reversed, however, the Tax Court's analysis that led it not only to reject the quantums of the Estate's proffered fractional ownership discounts but also to adopt and apply one of its own without any supporting evidence. The court held that the taxable values of decedent's fractional interests in the works of art are the net amounts reflected for each on Exhibit B of the Tax Court's opinion. The court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and rendered judgment in favor of petitioners for a refund of taxes overpaid in the amount of $14,359,508.21, plus statutory interest. View "Estate of James A. Elkins, Jr., et al. v. CIR" on Justia Law

Cutler v. Stephen F. Austin State Univ., et al.

After plaintiff was terminated from his position as Director of the University's art galleries after he told a member of U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert's staff that he believed Rep. Gohmert was a "fear monger," plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the University and others, alleging that he was fired in retaliation for the exercise of protected speech in violation of his First Amendment rights. Defendants appealed the district court's denial of summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds. The court concluded that defendants should have known that plaintiff's speech was protected as the speech of a citizen and that their decision to terminate plaintiff on the basis of that citizen speech would violate plaintiff's First Amendment right. The court held that the law of this circuit clearly established what a reasonable investigation was such that a reasonable official would have known that defendants' investigation was unreasonable under the circumstances. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court, concluding that every reasonable official in defendants' positions would have known based on precedent that an informal, hastily concluded investigation would be unreasonable. Accordingly, the district court did not err in finding that the law was "clearly established" at the time. View "Cutler v. Stephen F. Austin State Univ., et al." on Justia Law

United States v. Guerrero

These consolidated appeals stemmed from defendant's alleged leadership in the Texas Mexican Mafia. The first case stemmed from charges of racketeering, including the commission of two murders in aid of racketeering. While defendant was awaiting sentencing in the first case, he assaulted a correctional officer. The second case concerns the assault. The court concluded that the district court properly admitted the historical cell site location data, that roughly indicated where he was, at trial; the court rejected defendant's contention that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the racketeering conspiracy charge; the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of the murder of Chris Mendez in aid of racketeering; and the court rejected defendant's claims of error regarding discovery and remaining trial issues. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's conviction and sentence. View "United States v. Guerrero" on Justia Law