Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

By
Plaintiffs filed suit against Exxon, alleging that Exxon violated the federal permits governing operations at the Baytown industrial complex thousands of times over a nearly eight year period. The district court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law denying most of plaintiffs’ claims and declining to order any relief. Exxon's Baytown industrial complex is governed by the five federal operating permits issued under Title V of the the Clean Air Act (CCA), 42 U.S.C. 7661a-7661d. The court concluded that the district court erred in its analysis of Exxon’s liability under Counts I through IV and abused its discretion in assessing three of the CAA’s mandatory penalty factors. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for assessment of penalties based on the violations that are properly considered “actionable” in light of this opinion. View "Environment Texas Citizen Lobby v. ExxonMobil" on Justia Law
By
Updated:

By
The adversary action comprises the claims, counterclaims, and affirmative defenses between two sides of a business scheme to buy, renovate, and operate a Days Inn. This appeal stems from the district court’s order affirming a bankruptcy court judgment rendered after trial in the adversary action. Appellant and his brother formed the plan to buy the hotel, and appellees are the investors that the brothers convinced to buy a fifty-percent stake in the scheme and the company that the three investors formed to hold their membership interest. The court concluded that appellant's res judicata argument fails where the release claim at issue was filed in the original action while summary judgment was still interlocutory. Thus, the claim was properly preserved through the severance order for later adjudication, and res judicata does not bar it. The court also concluded that the district court did not err in affirming the bankruptcy court judgment that appellant breached the settlement agreement. Further, the district court properly affirmed the bankruptcy court's dismissal of appellant's breach-of-guaranty claim against the investors, but not as to the company. The court affirmed in part and vacated in part, remanding for additional proceedings, including a determination of what percentage of the attorney’s fees were attributable to the breach-of-contract claim. View "Pirani v. Baharia" on Justia Law

By
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and Louisiana tort law against defendants after plaintiff was called as a witness in state court to testify at a bond hearing for a criminal defendant. At issue is whether a state prosecuting attorney is absolutely immune from suit for money damages for (1) ordering a sheriff’s deputy to make a warrantless arrest without probable cause of a witness in retaliation for the witness’s refusal to testify that her boyfriend had struck her in the face during a domestic violence altercation, and (2) subsequently maliciously prosecuting the witness for making a false report of domestic violence. The court concluded that the prosecuting attorney is absolutely immune from liability for initiating an alleged malicious prosecution against the witness but not absolutely immune from liability for ordering the officer to make a warrantless arrest. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the malicious prosecution claim but otherwise vacated the grant of the attorney's motion to dismiss the suit for money damages based on her alleged wrongful arrest. The court remanded plaintiff's federal and state claims in that respect to the district court for further proceedings. View "Loupe v. O'Bannon" on Justia Law

By
Petitioner challenged DHS's decision to reinstate an expedited order of removal. Although petitioner agrees that the court lacks jurisdiction, she formally opposes the motion and seeks a declaration of this circuit's rule of finality as it pertains to this circumstance. The court concluded that the Tenth Circuit has provided a compelling analysis of why reinstatement orders should be regarded as final only upon completion of reasonable fear and withholding-of-removal proceedings. The court agreed with the Tenth Circuit’s analysis and concluded that it applies even where, as here, withholding-of-removal proceedings remain ongoing only because the BIA has remanded to the IJ for background and security checks. The court agreed with Abdisalan v. Holder and adopt its bright-line rule that, when the BIA decides some issues but remands for background and security checks as to others, its decision is not final for purposes of judicial review. It follows that here, the removal proceedings are ongoing because the BIA remanded to the IJ for background and security checks. The reinstatement order is thus non-final, and the court lacked jurisdiction over the petition for review in this case. View "Ponce-Osorio v. Johnson" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Petitioners challenged the dismissal of their petition to compel arbitration under 9 U.S.C. 4, arguing that the district court erred in holding that their petition was barred by collateral estoppel. The Arizon Entities argue that the district court properly concluded that the prior Missouri Circuit Court’s judgment denying arbitration precluded the district court from considering the question of arbitrability in this case. The court concluded that the district court incorrectly held that petitioners were in privity with the party to the Missouri Circuit Court's judgment. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Wills v. Arizon Structures" on Justia Law

By
After Ptech terminated plaintiff's employment, he filed suit against PTech claiming that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for PTech on the disability discrimination claim, concluding that plaintiff failed to rebut PTech's legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for firing him. In this case, the company dismissed plaintiff because he violated the company's attendance policy. The court also affirmed summary judgment on the failure to accommodate claim where a reasonable juror could only conclude that plaintiff caused a breakdown in the interactive process by failing to provide the documentation requested. View "Delaval v. PTech Drilling Tubulars, LLC" on Justia Law

By
Petitioner, a native and citizen of Mexico, seeks review of the BIA's order finding him statutorily ineligible for relief from removal under former section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1182(c). The court concluded that the BIA did not err in finding petitioner ineligible for section 212(c) relief. In this case, the treatment of petitioner's prior offense (transporting an alien within the United States) as an aggravated felony - which is proper even if it is retroactive - means that under the pre-Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), Pub. L. No. 104-208, Div. C, Stat. 3009-546, law otherwise in effect at the time he pleaded guilty in December 1996, he would have been deportable whether he traveled abroad or not. Accordingly, the court denied the petition. View "Limonteco Lucas v. Lynch" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Petitioner, a native and citizen of Guatemala, seeks review of the BIA's dismissal of her appeal from an IJ's denial of her motion to reopen in abstentia removal proceedings and denial of her subsequent motion for reconsideration. The court concluded that petitioner failed to present material evidence of changed country conditions in regard to her claims of femicide. The court also concluded that petitioner failed to present material evidence of changed country conditions in regard to her assertions about the remilitarization of Guatemala after the election of Otto Perez Molina. Therefore, the court concluded that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in agreeing with the IJ that petitioner had not made the required showing. Because the BIA did not abuse its discretion, this court need not reach petitioner's claims regarding her eligibility for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Finally, the court lacks jurisdiction to consider petitioner's claim regarding the BIA’s denial of her motion for reconsideration because she filed an untimely petition for review of that decision. The court denied the petition in part and dismissed in part. View "Ramos-Lopez v. Lynch" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Plaintiff filed suit against Humana, alleging claims for breach of contract and unfair insurance practices. The district court granted summary judgment to Humana. Plaintiff submitted a claim with Humana to cover the cost of her husband's medical services after he overdosed on ecstasy. At issue is the application of an exclusion under the policy that excluded loss due to being intoxicated or under the influence of any narcotic unless administered on the advice of a health care practitioner. The court concluded that the term "narcotic" includes ecstasy and the husband's stroke was due to being under the influence of ecstasy. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Crose v. Humana Ins. Co." on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Defendant appealed his conviction for engaging in a commercial sex act with a minor in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1591. The court concluded that the district court properly instructed the jury on section 1591's scienter requirements; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s motion for a mistrial because the court found no Brady violation; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying an alibi instruction; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's request for a spoliation instruction; the court rejected defendant's claims regarding the admissibility of rebuttal evidence and claims regarding government statements during closing arguments; and the court concluded that there is no cumulative error. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Valas" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated: