Flooring Sys., Inc. v. Chow

The trustee sought to avoid the pre-bankruptcy transfer of $18,529.64 to creditor as a preferential transfer made within 90 days prior to debtor's filing for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court and the district court concluded that the transfer was indeed a preferential transfer avoidable by the trustee. Because the transfer of the bank account occurred less than 90 days before debtor filed for bankruptcy and because the transfer met all the other requirements of a preferential trade, the court agreed that the transfer was avoidable by the trustee. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Flooring Sys., Inc. v. Chow" on Justia Law

Lee, Sr., et al. v. United States

The government appealed the district court's award of damages in a medical malpractice suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2671 et seq., contending that the district court should have applied the Texas periodic payment statutory scheme, Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code 74.501-507. The court agreed, vacating the district court's judgment insofar as it failed to fashion a damages award similar to that contemplated by the Texas periodic payment statutory scheme and awarded post-judgment interest not in compliance with 31 U.S.C. 1304(b)(1)(A). The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Lee, Sr., et al. v. United States" on Justia Law

Luna, et al. v. Texas Dept. of Public Safety

Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging excessive use of force from the shooting and death of Israel Leija, Jr. by a DPS trooper. The district court denied the trooper's motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity because multiple genuine disputes of material fact existed as to the qualified immunity analysis. The court concluded that whether Leija was posing a substantial and immediate risk of danger to other officers or bystanders, sufficient to justify the use of deadly force at the time of the shooting, is a disputed fact. Because on this record, the immediacy of the risk posed by Leija cannot be resolved as a matter of law at the summary judgment stage, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Luna, et al. v. Texas Dept. of Public Safety" on Justia Law

Endeavor Energy Resources, L.P, et al. v. Heritage Consolidated, L.L.C., et al.

Drillers filed a mineral lien on Debtor's well after Drillers performed work on the well and were never paid. The bankruptcy court dismissed Drillers' constructive trust and equitable lien claims and granted summary judgment to Debtors on Drillers' mineral contractor's and subcontractor's lien claims. The district court affirmed. The court affirmed the dismissal of Drillers' constructive trust and equitable lien claims. However, the court reversed and remanded the grant of summary judgment on Drillers' mineral subcontractors' lien claims because Drillers submitted sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment. The court held that it is possible under Texas law for an owner to also be a contractor, and for a laborer to secure liens against both the contracting and non-contracting owners. Viewed in the light most favorable to Drillers, the facts demonstrate that Drillers were subcontractors with regard to Debtors. View "Endeavor Energy Resources, L.P, et al. v. Heritage Consolidated, L.L.C., et al." on Justia Law

McClendon v. Springfield

McClendon was the president and sole shareholder of NIA Insurance, for which Springfield served as Chief Financial Officer. In 2007, McClendon accused Springfield of theft and fired him. NIA and McClendon sued Springfield in Texas state court, claiming theft and conversion. Springfield answered and counterclaimed, alleging defamation. The suit court jury determined that Springfield was entitled to $341,000 in actual damages for defamation. Later, McClendon filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Springfield filed a successful adversary proceeding, seeking to have the debt arising from the jury award declared non-dischargeable under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(6). The bankruptcy court determined that McClendon inflicted a willful and malicious injury upon Springfield. The district court and Fifth Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence and that the bankruptcy court impermissibly shifted the burden of proof to McClendon. View "McClendon v. Springfield" on Justia Law

Davis v. Fort Bend Cnty.

Fort Bend hired Davis in 2007 as a Desktop Support Supervisor for 15 information technology technicians. Cook was the IT Director, and in 2009, hired his friend and fellow church member, Ford, as Davis’s supervisor. In 2010, Davis complained to human resources that Cook subjected her to constant sexual harassment and assaults. Fort Bend placed Davis on Family Medical Leave Act leave during its investigation, which substantiated the allegations and led to Cook’s resignation. According to Davis, Ford immediately began retaliating when she returned to work. She alleged that Ford “effectively” demoted her by reducing the number of her direct reports to four; removed her from projects she had previously managed; superseded her authority; removed her administrative rights from the computer server; and assigned her tasks that similarly situated employees were not required to perform. When a special installation was scheduled for the weekend of July 4, 2011, all employees were required to be present. On June 28, Davis informed Ford that she would not be available on the morning of Sunday July 3, “due to a previous religious commitment.” Davis claimed that she had arranged for a replacement. After Davis attended her church event and did not report to work, Fort Bend terminated her employment. Davis filed suit, alleging retaliation and religious discrimination under Title VII, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The district court dismissed. The Fifth Circuit affirmed in part. Summary judgment was proper as to the retaliation claim, but not as to the religious discrimination claim. View "Davis v. Fort Bend Cnty." on Justia Law

Berezowsky v. Ojeda

Berezowsky and Rendon, both Mexican nationals, met in Mexico in 2008. Berezowsky learned that she was pregnant and the couple became engaged. Their relationship deteriorated. Berezowsky moved to her parents’ home in Texas, and cut off communication with Rendon. Rendon made repeated attempts to gain information about his unborn child, but received no response. Berezowsky gave birth to P in 2009 in Texas. A month later, Rendon learned his child’s name, sex, and date of birth through a private investigator. At least 12 different courts in the U.S. and Mexico have been involved in the ensuing custody dispute. Both parties have obtained orders by default, which the other party has subsequently appealed. Both parties continued to escalate their efforts. In 2012, Berezowsky filed a petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The district court held that P had been wrongfully removed from Mexico and ordered his immediate return. The Fifth Circuit vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss. Berezowsky failed to meet her burden of establishing that Mexico was P’s place of habitual residence. View "Berezowsky v. Ojeda" on Justia Law

United States v. Pringler

B, age 16, ran away from foster care, and met Pringler. Weeks after their meeting, Pringler rented a motel room for B. The next morning, Pringler took her to stay at another motel with his girlfriend, Norman. Pringler and B began a sexual relationship. Norman was prostituting herself, posting ads on a website. Norman introduced B to prostitution and began posting ads with B’s picture. One encounter was captured in a recording on Pringler’s computer. An undercover agent responded to an ad and arranged to have sex with Norman and B. When he arrived, he observed Pringler in the parking lot conducting surveillance. The officer entered the room and negotiated to have sex with both females; they were arrested. B was taken to a juvenile facility but released to a case worker because she was under the influence of marijuana. B again ran away. An agent again responded to an ad. When the takedown team arrived at the hotel, they saw Pringler’s vehicle in the parking lot and Pringler exiting the hotel. The officer entered the room, negotiated sex for money, arrested the women, and seized Pringler’s computer and a receipt indicating that Pringler had paid for the room. Pringler was arrested after a traffic stop, in possession a bill for the hotel room. He was convicted of aiding and abetting the sex trafficking of a minor, 18 U.S.C. 1591(a); 18 U.S.C. 2. The district court sentenced Pringler to 405 months’ imprisonment and 10 years of supervised release. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence; the effectiveness of trial counsel and calculation of his sentence. View "United States v. Pringler" on Justia Law

Houston Refining, L.P. v. United Steel, Paper & Forestry, et al

After filing for bankruptcy, Houston Refining, L.P., suspended matching contributions to its employees' 401(k) plans. The United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, acting on behalf of itself and its local unions (collectively "Union"), filed a grievance under the then-current collective bargaining agreement seeking resumption of the matching contributions. Houston Refining refused to process the grievance, claiming that the suspension was not a grievable issue. Months later, the Union commenced an adversary proceeding in the bankruptcy court to compel Houston Refining to arbitrate the grievance under the CBA. Houston Refining agreed to submit the matter to arbitration. Following a two-day hearing, the arbitrator rendered an award in favor of the Union. Houston Refining filed suit in the district court seeking to vacate the arbitral award, and the Union counterclaimed to enforce the award. The district court found that because the Settlement Agreement evinced the parties’ clear agreement to have the arbitrator decide questions of arbitrability, its review of this issue would be deferential. On the merits, the district court upheld the arbitrator’s finding that Houston Refining violated portions of the CBA, but concluded that the arbitral award’s remedy was ambiguous in certain respects. The district court accordingly denied the company’s motion and granted the Union’s motion in part, but remanded to the arbitrator for clarification of the award’s monetary value, among other issues. Houston Refining appealed, arguing that the district court erred in deferring to the arbitrator’s determination of the grievance’s arbitrability. According to the company, because the parties never agreed in clear and unmistakable terms to give the issue of arbitrability to the arbitrator, the district court was obligated to decide the issue independently. The Fifth Circuit found after review of the matter that "the party contending that an arbitrator has authority to decide arbitrability 'bears the burden of demonstrating clearly and unmistakably that the parties agreed to have the arbitrator decide that threshold question.'" In this case, the Union did not meet its burden, and therefore the district court erred in failing to decide arbitrability “just as it would decide any other question that the parties did not submit to arbitration, namely, independently.” The Court reversed and remanded this case to the district court to decide arbitrability issues raised by this opinion, "independently" without deference to the arbitral decision. View "Houston Refining, L.P. v. United Steel, Paper & Forestry, et al" on Justia Law

Austin Industrial Spclt Svc v. OSHC, et al

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") issued Austin Industrial Specialty Services, L.P. a citation for violations of hazardous-chemical regulations promulgated under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. After a hearing, the administrative law judge affirmed two items in the citation: (1) failure to identify and evaluate respiratory hazards in the workplace; and (2) failure to provide employee training regarding certain hazardous chemicals. The ALJ vacated the other three items. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission denied discretionary review, and Austin filed a petition in this court, seeking to overturn the administrative law judge's decision on several grounds. Finding no reversible error, the Fifth Circuit denied Austin's petition. View "Austin Industrial Spclt Svc v. OSHC, et al" on Justia Law