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

By
Plaintiff filed suit in state court against Crane and 24 other defendants to recover injuries allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos. After removal to federal district court, the district court remanded to state court. The court concluded that the military specifications and affidavits at issue provide a not-insubstantial and non-frivolous basis upon which Crane may assert government-contractor immunity. The court concluded, under 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1), that the facts in the record before it are sufficient to establish that Crane was “acting under” the Navy. In this case, Crane has established the requisite causal nexus between the charged conduct and its official authority. The court explained that Crane’s relationship with Zeringue derives solely from its official authority to provide parts to the Navy, and that official authority relates to Crane’s allegedly improper actions, namely its use of asbestos in those parts. Because Crane has established the right to remove the suit pursuant to section 1442, the court need not determine whether Crane independently established the right to remove Zeringue’s failure to warn claim. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Zeringue v. Allis-Chalmers Corp." on Justia Law

By
CCA filed suit challenging Amendment 40 to the Reef Fish Fishery Management Plan and the Final Rule implementing that amendment. Amendment 40 was proposed as a means to address problems that had arisen with the red snapper fishery, and the Final Rule contains measures to establish two components within the recreational sector for Gulf of Mexico red snapper: a federal charter component and a private angling component. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants and intervenors. The court concluded that Amendment 40 does not create a separate quota for charter fishing. Rather, Amendment 40 subdivides the recreational sector into private and charter components. The court also concluded that, although the Council’s analysis does not offer quantitative predictions of the effects that Amendment 40 might have on the fishing community, the Council used the best available data to reasonably “assess, specify, and analyze” the likely economic and social effects of Amendment 40. Finally, the court concluded that the selection of data ranges used to calculate quota allocations was not arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Coastal Conservation Association v. U.S. Department of Commerce" on Justia Law
By
Updated:

By
Dallas Roadster, the borrower, sought damages and TCB, the lender, sought attorneys' fees after receiving full payment on loans through the borrower’s bankruptcy proceedings. The parties argue that the other breached the loan agreements. The district court issued take-nothing judgments on the borrower’s and lender’s claims. The court concluded that the claims of Dallas Roadster CEO, Bahman Hafezamini, of tortious interference with an existing contract and with prospective business relations, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, and malicious criminal prosecution, fail on the merits. The court need not reach the question of whether Hafezamini's release is valid in light of Zachry Construction Corp. v. Port of Houston Authority. In regard to Dallas Roadster's appeal, the court concluded that the district court did not err in entering a take-nothing judgment on Dallas Roadster’s breach of contract claim where the district court did not clearly err in finding that Dallas Roadster committed multiple material breaches. In regard to TCB's appeal, the court concluded that Zachry does not apply, under these circumstances, to the loan provisions in this case, and TCB can recover its attorneys’ fees according to the terms of the loan agreements. The court also concluded that the district court erred by denying TCB any recovery of its attorneys' fees by using its inherent power to sanction TCB because the district court failed to provide TCB with adequate due process. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Texas Capital Bank N.A. v. Dallas Roadster, Ltd." on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Petitioner, convicted of distributing a schedule II controlled substance that resulted in the death of another individual, seeks habeas relief under Burrage v. United States. The district court dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction. The court concluded that, as a substantive decision narrowing the scope a federal criminal statute, Burrage applies retroactively to cases on collateral review. In this case, based on the indictment and instruction, the court cannot say that the jury found that methadone was a but-for cause of death, nor can it say that what the jury did find was criminal activity. The court explained that it is possible that it found that methadone was merely a contributing cause of death, the exact problem in Burrage. Therefore, the court concluded that petitioner has satisfied her burden to show that she was potentially convicted of a nonexistent offense. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Santillana v. Upton" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Plaintiffs filed suit against officers and their employers, alleging 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims after plaintiffs were subject to an invasive cavity search. On appeal, Defendant Kindred challenges the district court's denial of his motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The court concluded that the district court did not err in finding that excessive force had not been waived. In this case, while plaintiffs never used the word "excessive force" in their complaint and were less than clear during the proceedings about exactly what theories they were advancing, they have clearly argued that they were subject to an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and have alleged facts that support a claim for excessive force. The court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to review the district court's determination regarding bystander liability. Accordingly, the court dismissed Kindred's appeal. View "Hamilton v. Kindred" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Defendant appealed his sentence after pleading guilty to possession of a firearm by filing a 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion. The district court dismissed the motion and granted a certificate of appealability on the issue of whether Descamps v. United States applies retroactively to cases on collateral review. The court held that Descamps did not restart the clock because, even though defendant filed his motion within a year of Descamps, the right defendant asserts was not newly recognized by Descamps. The court agreed with its sister circuits that Descamps did not establish a new rule recognizing a new right under section 2255(f)(3). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Morgan" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Ultraflo filed suit against Pelican, asserting an unfair competition by misappropriation claim under Texas law. Ultraflo alleged that Pelican stole its drawings showing how to design valves and then used them to make duplicate valves. The court previously held that copyright preempts this Texas cause of action when the intellectual property at issue is within the subject matter of copyright. Ultraflo contends that its claim escapes preemption because its valve design, when separated from the drawing itself, is afforded no protection under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq. Determining that Ultraflo did not waive its preemption challenge, the court concluded the district court correctly found that the state claim is preempted because copyright preemption prohibits interference with Congress’s decision not to grant copyright protection just as much as it protects a decision to provide protection. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Ultraflo Corp. v. Pelican Tank Parts, Inc." on Justia Law

By
After defendant was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, the district court attributed loss amounts from nine additional transactions that allegedly occurred within the same scheme to defraud mortgage lenders when calculating her advisory range under the Sentencing Guidelines. The court concluded that defendant failed to demonstrate any ex post facto error in her conviction; the district court did not err when it did not instruct the jury that it must find that Countrywide is a "residential mortgage lender" and there was no constructive amendment; but the the district court erred procedurally in determining that the loss amount for which she was responsible totaled $865,940.18, thereby miscalculating her Sentencing Guidelines advisory range. In this case, the district court clearly erred when it relied on the presentencing report to include the loss amounts for six properties in its calculation of defendant's base offense level. Accordingly, the court affirmed the conviction, vacated the sentence, and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Hearns" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Petitioner, convicted of capital murder during the course of an aggravated assault, seeks a certificate of appealability (COA) in order to appeal the denial of habeas relief. The court concluded that petitioner is not entitled to a COA on his claim that he was denied his constitutional right to present mitigation evidence to the jury under Lockett v. Ohio; not entitled to a COA on his claims under Strickland v. Washington; and not entitled to a COA on his Eighth Amendment claim that his execution would be cruel and unusual in light of his brain injury. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's application for a COA. View "Shore v. Davis" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
This appeal stems from a loan that Woodbridge Baric gave Jarrod Burrle. Woodbridge Baric and Burrle agreed that Burrle would not be required to repay the loan if his economic loss claims in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill fail unless he had misrepresented his claim to Woodbridge Baric, in which case Burrle agreed to indemnify Woodbridge Baric and hold it harmless. The settlement program eventually paid over $50,000 on one of Burrle’s claims, and Burrle’s attorneys paid Woodbridge Baric $20,000 of those funds in partial repayment of the loan. Louis Freeh was then appointed as special master and subsequently determined that Burrle’s claim was fraudulent and moved the court to order Burrle and others, including Woodbridge Baric, to make restitution for the funds paid in connection with that claim. The district court granted the motion as to Woodbridge Baric. The court reversed, concluding that, because Woodbridge Baric’s claim for the repayment of the loan was not purely contingent upon the success of Burrle’s claims for compensation, the failure of this contingency did not extinguish Woodbridge Baric’s claim and does not prevent Woodbridge Baric from asserting its valid interest in defense of its right to retain the funds as a bona fide payee. View "In Re: Deepwater Horizon" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated: