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

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Fidelity, alleging numerous federal and state law claims after Fidelity denied flood insurance coverage. In this interlocutory appeal, Fidelity sought review of the district court's denial of its motion for summary judgment. In light of binding precedent, the court concluded that plaintiff's state-law causes are not preempted by federal law to the extent that they are insurance procurement claims, but claims that pertain to or arise out of “claims handling” after the policy issued are preempted. The court further concluded that, even though not preempted, certain claims cannot succeed as a matter of law. Accordingly, the denial of Fidelity's motion for summary judgment was erroneous in part and the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Spong v. Fidelity Nat'l Prop. & Cas. Ins." on Justia Law
By Justia Inc
Posted in: Insurance Law
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By Justia Inc
Husky filed an adversary proceeding against debtor, objecting to the discharge of a contractual debt owed to Husky by Chrysalis - of which debtor was a shareholder. The court affirmed the district court's judgment that the bankruptcy court properly denied all relief sought by Husky because the debt was dischargeable. In this case, the statutory exceptions to discharge raised by Husky are inapplicable, and Husky cannot rely upon general principles of equity to expand those exceptions. Although another provision of the Bankruptcy Code, Section 727(a)(2), may have applied to redress the conduct of which Husky complains, Husky failed to raise that provision. View "Husky Int'l Elec., Inc. v. Ritz" on Justia Law
By Justia Inc
Posted in: Bankruptcy
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By Justia Inc
Plaintiff, former Chief Deputy in the Sheriff's office, filed suit against the Sheriff, raising claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the Louisiana Constitution, and the Louisiana whistleblower statutes. The district court dismissed plaintiff's claims and granted summary judgment in favor of the Sheriff. The court concluded that plaintiff's First Amendment retaliation claim failed because plaintiff's complaints about the recordings at issue were made within the scope of his employment and, therefore, his speech was not protected by the First Amendment. The court agreed with the district court that it would have been a waste of judicial resources to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction where plaintiff's state law claims were neither novel nor complex; the court concluded that plaintiff has not shown that the Sheriff’s Office committed an actual violation of Louisiana law and, therefore, the district court was correct to dismiss his claim under the Louisiana Whistleblower Statute, La. Rev. Stat. 23:967; and La. Rev. Stat. 42: 1169 does not provide a private right of action for plaintiff to sue in either state or federal court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Wilson v. Tregre" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to a drug offense and was sentenced as a career offender. On appeal, defendant challenged his within-guidelines sentence, arguing that the district court failed to appreciate that 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) provided it with discretion to vary from the advisory sentencing range under the Sentencing Guidelines. The court concluded that the district court committed procedural error when it treated defendant's guidelines sentence as effectively mandatory because the recommended sentence was predicated on the career-offender-guideline enhancement. In this case, the district court's error likely affected the sentence it imposed and the error was not harmless. Accordingly, the court vacated the sentence and remanded. View "United States v. Clay" on Justia Law
By Justia Inc
Posted in: Criminal Law
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By Justia Inc
Petitioner, a native and citizen of Mexico, petitioned for review of the BIA's decision holding that he was ineligible for cancellation of removal because he was not "admitted in any status" at least seven years prior to his commission of a state offense as required by 8 U.S.C. 1229b(a)(2). The court concluded that a plain reading of section 1229b(a)(2) makes clear that it is satisfied so long as an alien has resided in the United States continuously for seven years after being admitted, as defined at section 1101(a)(13)(A), regardless of the precise legal state or condition of the alien at the time of admission. The court further concluded that, contrary to the Board’s conclusion, petitioner’s alleged wave-through admission meets this requirement, such that he is eligible for cancellation of removal relief under section 1229b(a). Given his admission, it matters not whether his status under the immigration law at that time was lawful or unlawful or that of an immigrant or nonimmigrant. Accordingly, the court granted the petition, vacating the Board's decision and remanding for further proceedings. View "Rubio v. Lynch" on Justia Law
By Justia Inc
Posted in: Immigration Law
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By Justia Inc
Petitioner, a native of Sierra Leone, sought review of the BIA's order affirming the IJ's finding that he lacked derivative United States citizenship under former 8 U.S.C. 1432(a)(3). The court held that the BIA misinterpreted the reach of the court’s decision in Bustamante-Barrera v. Gonzales, which requires “sole legal custody” only when an alien minor’s parents have a joint custody order following divorce or judicial separation. Bustamante-Barrera is inapplicable to the present case and petitioner need only prove “actual uncontested custody.” Applying the proper standard, the court concluded that petitioner’s school records indicate that his mother had actual custody from 1991 to 2000. However, because genuine issues of material fact remain as to whether the actual custody was uncontested, the court remanded. Accordingly, the court granted the petition and, pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1252(b)(5)(B), transferred to the district court for the judicial district in which petitioner resides. View "Kamara v. Lynch" on Justia Law
By Justia Inc
Posted in: Immigration Law
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By Justia Inc
This case involves multiple causes of action based on allegations of bribery to procure construction sites. Plaintiff alleged that he and his company GRG were punished for refusing to participate in the corruption of municipal authorities. On appeal, the court concluded that GRG has met its summary judgment burden with respect to its Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961 et seq., claims and has sufficiently supported those elements of its claims for tortious interference with business relations that the district court ruled on. The court affirmed the judgment dismissing HISD from liability for RICO and federal constitutional violations and state law claims; affirmed the judgment dismissing Defendant Marshall from liability for constitutional violations; reversed and remanded for further proceedings the summary judgment dismissing the RICO claims against the non-HISD defendants insofar as they allege injury covering the remainder of the 2009 job-order contract period; and reversed and remanded or further proceedings the summary judgment dismissing the claim against the non-HISD defendants for tortious interference with prospective business relations and the civil conspiracy claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed and remanded in part. View "Gil Ramirez Group, L.L.C. v. Houston Indep. Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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This case arose from a complicated series of transactions often called “fronting arrangements” in the insurance industry. Lincoln was awarded $16.5 million on its tortious interference claims against CSi and Alpha. The case involved the diversion of funds from a reinsurance arrangement involving insurer Lincoln and a claims administrator, U.S. Auto. Numerous issues were raised on appeal. The court affirmed: (1) the judgment entered against CSi and Alpha; (2) the grant of summary judgment on Lincoln’s conversion claims; (3) the denial of Lincoln’s cross-motion for summary judgment on its fiduciary duty claims; and (4) the denial of the motion to alter the judgment to include ZVN. The court also held that Lincoln forfeited the right to appeal the dismissal of its claims against Doug Maxwell asserting alter ego liability. The court reversed: (1) the refusal to alter the judgment to include Lincoln General’s breach of contract claim against U.S. Auto; (2) the grant of summary judgment on all the fiduciary duty claims that Lincoln appealed, including the claims for aiding and abetting; and (3) the tortious interference claim against Jim Maxwell. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Lincoln Gen. Ins. Co. v. U.S. Auto Ins." on Justia Law

By Justia Inc
Petitioner, convicted of armed robbery, appealed the dismissal of his 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition as untimely. When, as in the present case, a petitioner does not pursue direct review all the way to the United States Supreme Court, “the judgment becomes final at the ‘expiration of the time for seeking such review’ - when the time for pursuing direct review in [the U.S. Supreme Court], or in state court, expires.” The court concluded that petitioner's conviction became final thirty days after the Louisiana Second Circuit affirmed his conviction on direct appeal. On that date, petitioner's time for seeking direct review by the Louisiana Supreme Court expired and the section 2244(d)(1) limitations period began to run. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the application. View "Thomas v. Goodwin" on Justia Law
By Justia Inc
Posted in: Criminal Law
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By Justia Inc
Defendant was found guilty of stalking a television news reporter (JMP) and her husband (JP) in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2261A. On appeal, defendant raised ten issues. The court rejected defendant's claims involving the sufficiency of the evidence, unconditional vagueness, double jeopardy, suppression of evidence, withdrawal and substitution of counsel, denial of self-representation, juror misconduct, speedy trial violations and sentencing, and affirmed the conviction and sentence. View "United States v. Conlan" on Justia Law
By Justia Inc
Posted in: Criminal Law
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