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

Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging, inter alia, violation of his First and Fourth Amendment rights after he was silenced and then ejected at a city council meeting. The court dismissed Councilman Roberts's appeal of the district court's denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity because a factual dispute exists as to whether Roberts's conduct was viewpoint-based; affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Roberts as to punitive damages where there is no question that Roberts's conduct did not rise to the level of reckless indifference or evil intent; affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Black on the First Amendment claim because his actions as sergeant-at-arms were not objectively unreasonable in light of clearly established law; affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Black on the Fourth Amendment claim based on qualified immunity; affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the false arrest claim; and dismissed Black’s cross-appeal on the state tort claims for lack of jurisdiction. View "Heaney v. Roberts" on Justia Law

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After an Iraqi insurgent group kidnapped and murdered twelve Nepali men as they traveled through Iraq to a United States military base to work for Daoud, a Jordanian corporation that had a subcontract with KBR, the victims' families and one Daoud employee filed suit against Daoud and KBR under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. 1350; the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), 18 U.S.C. 1596; and state common law. Plaintiffs settled with Daoud and the district court eventually dismissed plaintiffs' claims against KBR. The court held that the district court’s grant of summary judgment on the ATS claims in favor of KBR was proper in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.; the district court correctly dismissed the TVPRA claims because (1) the TVPRA did not apply extraterritorially at the time of the alleged conduct in 2004 and (2) applying a 2008 amendment to the TVPRA that had the effect of permitting plaintiffs’ extraterritorial claims would have an improper retroactive effect on KBR; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the common law claims by refusing to equitably toll plaintiffs’ state law tort claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Adhikari v. Kellogg Brown & Root" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a maritime tort action against Bozovic Marine for injuries arising out of plaintiff's being taken to a work site on a vessel operated by defendant, a third-party tortfeasor. Plaintiff suffered injuries to his back when the captain of the vessel failed to decelerate upon reaching the crest of an eight-to-ten foot wave. The district court concluded that Bozovic Marine was negligent for: failure to request that plaintiff go to the passenger area of the vessel; failure to stay apprised of the weather conditions; and erratic operation of the vessel. Therefore, the district court concluded that plaintiff was comparatively negligent for staying in the wheelhouse. Plaintiff received 10% liability and Bozovic Marine received 90%. The court concluded that the district court did not clearly err by assigning 90% of the liability to Bozovic Marine based on the trial record, including the captain's control over the vessel area. The court explained that the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), 33 U.S.C. 901-950, medical-expense payments are collateral to a third-party tortfeasor only to the extent paid; in other words, under those circumstances, plaintiff may not recover for expenses billed, but not paid. Therefore, the court concluded that the district court erred in awarding the full amount billed. Finally, the court concluded that it was not clear error for the court to credit the vocational counselor’s expert testimony and award lost-wage damages until age 75. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "DePerrodil v. Bozovic Marine, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging false arrest and false imprisonment under Louisiana tort law, and negligence under Louisiana law. The district court granted the government's motion to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The district court concluded, inter alia, that the alleged conduct falls within the discretionary function exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act's (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2680(a), waiver of sovereign immunity. On appeal, plaintiff challenges the district court’s determination that the challenged conduct involved judgment or choice. The court concluded that an investigation into plaintiff's immigration status is considered discretionary when that investigation culminates in a detainment mandated by agency policy. In this case, the officers did not exceed their authority under 8 U.S.C. 1357(a)(2) when they detained plaintiff. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Tsolmon v. United Sates" on Justia Law

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After Mark Barhanovich was killed in coastal waters south of Biloxi, Mississippi, Barhanovich’s estate filed claims against Bean. Mark died when the Suzuki outboard engine on his fishing boat struck an underwater dredge pipe, flipped into his boat, and struck him. Bean, responsible for dredging operations in the area, settled Barhanovich’s claims, and C.F. Bean, LLC pled guilty to one count of misconduct or neglect of ship officers in a criminal proceeding related to the same accident. While Barhanovich’s claims were pending, Bean filed a third-party complaint against SMC. After Barhanovich’s claims were settled, the district court excluded expert testimony put forth by Bean, and granted SMC’s motion for summary judgment against Bean. The court affirmed the exclusion of the expert's report; reversed the exclusion of the second expert report, notwithstanding its untimeliness; reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment because the district court ruled that Bean could not defeat summary judgment without expert testimony; and affirmed the district court's denial of Bean's motion to conduct additional testing on the motor. On remand, the court encouraged the district court to consider whether to reopen discovery, and to consider lesser sanctions for Bean’s untimeliness, such as costs and attorneys’ fees for SMC’s additional discovery. View "C.F. Bean, LLC v. Barhanovich" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, family members of Henry Sims, Sr., filed a products liability action against KMA and KMC after Mr. Sims died in a tragic car accident when he was a passenger in a 2010 Kia Soul. Plaintiffs alleged that the Soul's fuel tank was defectively designed. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. The court concluded that the district court did not err in applying Texas law to all claims in the suit where the accident took place in Texas. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding plaintiffs' experts because they did not rely on sufficiently reliable methods and data. Finally, without admissible expert testimony, the court concluded that the district court correctly determined that plaintiffs cannot raise a genuine issue of material fact concerning key elements of their products liability claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Sims, Jr. v. Kia Motors of America" on Justia Law