Southwestern Elec. Power Co., et al. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London

This suit arose out of an insurance policy SWEPCO, a public electric utility serving Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas, purchased from Underwriters for coverage associated with the construction of a power plant in Louisiana. On appeal, SWEPCO challenged the district court's order granting Underwriters' motion to compel arbitration. The court concluded that the district court's order was not a final, appealable order within the meaning of the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, 9 U.S.C. 201-08, or the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1-16. Accordingly, the court dismissed the case for lack of appellate jurisdiction.View "Southwestern Elec. Power Co., et al. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London" on Justia Law

United States v. Castellon-Aragon

Defendant appealed his sentence after pleading guilty to illegal reentry after having been previously removed from the United States. The court concluded that the district court did not plainly err in applying the base offense level enhancement deriving from the classification of his prior California conviction for possession of a controlled substance for sale as a drug trafficking offense where it was an aggravated felony 8 U.S.C. 1326(b)(2). State court documents reasonably indicated the absence of a superseding charging instrument, and because the Government cites California authority that offers support for its interpretation of the state proceedings, the court found no plain error, clear or obvious, committed by the trial court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the sentence and did not reach defendant's remaining claims.View "United States v. Castellon-Aragon" on Justia Law

In re: Louisiana Crawfish Producers

Plaintiffs filed suit against oil and gas companies and their insurers, alleging that aspects of the companies' pipeline activities impeded water flows and commercial navigation, causing economic damages. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's dismissal of their complaint for failure to state a claim in favor of two defendants, DIGC and Willbros. The court affirmed, concluding that plaintiffs failed to state a claim for a maritime tort against DIGC and Willbros. Further, the court adopted the Golden State rule where a defendant is alleged to be a corporate successor to a maritime tortfeasor but is not accused of having engaged in tortious conduct. In this case, plaintiffs' allegations that Dow is the "predecessor" to DIGC and that DIGC operated under an Army Corps permit originally issued to Dow do not show that an exception to Golden State's default rule of nonliability plausibly applies. Without more, plaintiffs have failed to state a claim for successor liability against DIGC.View "In re: Louisiana Crawfish Producers" on Justia Law

Barrios-Cantarero v. Holder

Petitioner, a native and citizen of Guatemala, sought review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of his motion to reopen proceedings and rescind an in absentia removal order. The court concluded that, despite the high review bar, the BIA abused its discretion in denying petitioner's motion to reopen because insufficient notice of the removal proceedings entitled him to reopen proceedings at any time pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1229a(b)(5)(C)(ii). The court rejected the government's argument that petitioner and his older brother's cases were consolidated, thus allowing the immigration court to address the letter to a single brother and still properly serve both of them with notice. The court also rejected the government's contention that notice addressed solely to the brother was proper since petitioner was under eighteen years old and his brother was an adult. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review.View "Barrios-Cantarero v. Holder" on Justia Law

Woodfox v. Cain, et al.

The State appealed the district court's grant of habeas relief. On remand, the district court held that the state court was not entitled to Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), 28 U.S.C. 2254, deference; petitioner had successfully made out a prima facie case of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson; and the State, acting through respondent, had failed to rebut the prima facie case. The court concluded that AEDPA deference is not warranted where the state court's decision was an unreasonable application of federal law; the district court did not err in finding that petitioner had made out his prima facie case; the State's attempt to rebut the prima facie case using statistics does not persuade and the district court did not err in finding as such; and the State has not demonstrated reversible error in the district court's holding that it failed to rebut the prima facie case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "Woodfox v. Cain, et al." on Justia Law

Ameristar Airways, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, Dept. of Labor

After the court affirmed the ALJ's determination that Ameristar was liable for discharging Thomas Clemmons in violation of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21), 49 U.S.C. 42121, the court remanded for the determination of whether an e-mail found by Ameristar after Clemmons was fired was of such severity that he would have been terminated on those grounds alone. The ALJ determined that Ameristar failed to meet the high burden of proof required in AIR21 cases and the ARB affirmed. The court held that the heightened burden applies equally in all instances in which an employer is seeking to avoid providing relief, regardless of whether the employer is relying on pre-termination evidence or after-acquired evidence. In this case, the ALJ determined that Ameristar failed to provide clear and convincing proof that it would have terminated Clemmons solely on the basis of the e-mail. The ALJ had completely discredited the testimony of Ameristar's managers, and Ameristar offered no evidence other than the e-mail. Consequently, there is substantial evidence to support the ALJ's determination that Ameristar failed to prove its after-acquired-evidence defense by clear and convincing evidence. Accordingly, the court denied Ameristar's petition for review.View "Ameristar Airways, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, Dept. of Labor" on Justia Law

United States v. Jackson, et al.

This case stemmed from the indictment of Stacey Jackson for solicitation of bribes, theft of federal funds, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. The Times-Picayune appealed the denial of its motion to quash a subpoena duces tecum that required the newspaper to produce, for in camera review as part of Jackson's criminal defense, identifying information about two anonymous commenters. Because the Times-Picayune complied and delivered the documents during the period between the subpoena and this appeal, the court dismissed the appeal as moot.View "United States v. Jackson, et al." on Justia Law

Halliburton, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, Dept. of Labor

An employee of Halliburton, Anthony Menendez, submitted a complaint to management about the company's questionable accounting practices and also filed a complaint with the SEC. The Review Board subsequently determined that Halliburton's disclosure to Menendez's colleagues of his identity as the SEC whistleblower who had caused an official investigation, resulting in Menendez's workplace ostracism, constituted illegal retaliation under section 806 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), 18 U.S.C. 1514A(a). The court held that to maintain an antiretaliation claim under SOX, as in these circumstances here, the employee must prove that his protected conduct was a contributing factor in the employer's adverse action. The court rejected Halliburton's argument that the Review Board committed legal error by failing to require proof that the company had a wrongful motive. The court rejected Halliburton's contention that the damages awarded to Menendez for emotional distress and reputational harm are not noneconomic compensatory damages available under SOX. The court agreed with the Tenth Circuit that the plain language of SOX's text relating to remedies for retaliation affords noneconomic compensatory damages and this conclusion comports with the decisions of the Seventh and Eighth Circuits respecting essential identical statutory text in the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733. The court concluded that Halliburton failed to show that the Review Board's decision was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise contrary to law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.View "Halliburton, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board, Dept. of Labor" on Justia Law

Blessey Marine Services, Inc. v. Jeffboat, L.L.C.

Blessey filed suit against Jeffboat for breach of contract over a dispute regarding the purchase price of barges. The court did not reach the merits of the appeal because it concluded, under Becker v. Tidewater, Inc., that it did not have jurisdiction to review the district court's denial of Blessey's motion for partial summary judgment. In this case, Blessey seeks the court's review of the district court's disposition of a question of law, but its appeal does not fit the Becker exception because the district court conducted a jury trial. Further, even if the court were to assume arguendo that the court did not have jurisdiction, the court would affirm the district court's denial of partial summary judgment on the merits. The court also concluded that, by adducing some of the same extrinsic evidence at trial that it had sought to exclude in its motion in limine, Blessey waived its right to challenge the district court's admission of that evidence. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Blessey's motions for partial summary judgment and in limine.View "Blessey Marine Services, Inc. v. Jeffboat, L.L.C." on Justia Law

United States v. Oswalt

Defendant appealed the terms of his supervised release, arguing that they exceed the statutory minimum under 18 U.S.C. 3583(h). Defendant argued that the district court's failure to aggregate across counts fails to serve the purposes of the supervised-release statute, asserting that supervised release aims to rehabilitate rather than punish. The court concluded that defendant's argument about the purposes of supervised release is unavailing because it conflicts with the clear meaning of section 3583(h); the statute requires the sentencing judge to consider factors unrelated to rehabilitation; and the district court must consider whether the term of supervised release would "afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct" and "protect the public from further crimes of the defendant." Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "United States v. Oswalt" on Justia Law