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

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After the Board concluded that NYPS committed an unfair labor practice and ordered NYPS to reinstate an employee and make him whole, NYPS appealed the Board’s liability finding but failed to file an opening brief. The Fifth Circuit entered a default judgment and the Board held a compliance proceeding to determine damages. At the proceeding, an ALJ awarded some $91,000 in backpay to the employee.The Fifth Circuit concluded that the district court's findings support the Board's conclusion that petitioners constitute a single employer. In this case, substantial evidence supports the Board's finding that there is common ownership and financial control among petitioners; substantial evidence supports the Board's finding of an interrelation of operations between all five petitioners; the record supports the Board's finding that a common cast of characters, who operate on a "readily fungible" team, manage the companies; and substantial evidence once supports the Board's findings that there is centralized control over critical policy matters.The court rejected petitioners' contention that the underlying 2013 merits order is void ab initio because of the Supreme Court's holding in NLRB v. Noel Canning, 573 U.S. 513, 519 (2014). The court affirmed the Board's order to pay the employee backpay except for the portion of that order awarding backpay for the period of October 2014 to 2018. As to that part of the order, the court reversed and remanded. Finally, the court rejected petitioners' evidentiary arguments. View "New York Party Shuttle, LLC v. National Labor Relations Board" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit certified a question of state law to the Supreme Court of Texas: Does the application of the Texas Dealers Act to the parties' agreement violate the retroactivity clause in article I, section 16 of the Texas Constitution? View "Fire Protection Service, Inc. v. Survitec Survival Products, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and her now-adult son K.S., a former high school student with a specific learning disability, filed suit under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), alleging that the school district neither provided K.S. with a free appropriate public education (FAPE) nor complied with procedural safeguards meant to ensure such.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision affirming two administrative decisions concluding that the school district did not violate the IDEA's substantive and procedural requirements. The court reviewed the voluminous record and the magistrate judge's thorough report that the district court adopted, discerning no reversible error in the district court's holding that: (1) the school district did not violate its obligation to identify and evaluate K.S. as a student with a suspected disability; (2) the individualized education programs and transition plan created for K.S. complied with IDEA's substantive requirements; and (3) the school district's procedural foot-faults in failing to include K.S. for the first manifestation determination review and failing to consider certain relevant information were not actionable. View "H v. Riesel Independent School District" on Justia Law

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Merely running a website that is accessible in all 50 states, but that does not specifically target the forum state, is not enough to create the "minimum contacts" necessary to establish personal jurisdiction in the forum state under International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945). The defendant must take the additional step of targeting the forum state in a manner that reflects "purposeful availment" of the opportunity to do business in that state.Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that Eastrock committed copyright and trade dress infringement by displaying copies of their products on its website. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint based on lack of personal jurisdiction, concluding that there is no evidence to support the conclusion that Eastrock's website specifically targets Louisiana. View "Admar International, Inc. v. Eastrock, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that Allstate breached the terms of their insurance policies by not using either the "Cost Approach" or "Comparable Sales Approach" to determine the "Actual Cash Value" (ACV) of their automobiles. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Allstate's motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), concluding that neither the contract nor Texas state law requires either the Cost or the Comparable Sales Approach. View "Cody v. Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants Galman, Sutton, and the City of New Orleans, alleging a violation of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983, as well as various state law claims including assault, battery, and false arrest. Plaintiff also alleged a section 1983 claim against the City for failure to hire, train, supervise, or discipline officers, as well as various state law claims including negligent hiring, negligent supervision and retention, and vicarious liability. Plaintiff's claims stemmed from Galman and Sutton's actions harassing plaintiff while he was sitting at a local bar in his military fatigues and beating plaintiff unconscious. Galman and Sutton were local police officers who were off duty. The district court dismissed plaintiff's federal claims because it found that the officers were not acting under color of law.The Fifth Circuit concluded that plaintiff alleged sufficient facts to support all of his claims where plaintiff has adequately pleaded facts which establish that Galman and Sutton acted under color of law. In this case, plaintiff alleges that when he exited the bar, Sutton acted as a police officer and gave plaintiff a direct order to stop and not leave the patio area of the bar; plaintiff obeyed; when plaintiff attempted to drive away after getting violently beaten, Sutton and Galman ordered him to stop and to step out of his vehicle; and, because they acted like police officers, plaintiff believed he was not free to leave, and did as he was ordered. However, the court concluded that plaintiff does not allege sufficient facts to support a Monell claim against the City based on the officers' actions. The court further concluded that plaintiff has pleaded sufficient facts to support his state-law negligent hiring, retention, and supervision claims against the City. Finally, the district court correctly dismissed the vicarious liability claim against the City. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Gomez v. Galman" on Justia Law

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Carver, a corrections officer at the Stiles Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), sued three of her former coworkers under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging they had sexually assaulted her at the Stiles Unit. The complaint specified that Carver was suing these defendants in their official capacities. Carver also brought section 1983 claims against TDCJ and the Stiles Unit. The court dismissed TDCJ on sovereign-immunity grounds and also dismissed Carver’s claims against the Stiles Unit. None of the individual defendants responded to their summonses or defended the suit in any way. The clerk entered a default. The court ordered the individual defendants to “show cause” why a default judgment should not be granted.Without giving Carver notice or an opportunity to respond, the court subsequently dismissed her claims against the individual defendants with prejudice. The court reasoned that, because Carver had sued the three in their official capacities for money damages, the suits were prima facie barred by sovereign immunity. The Fifth Circuit reversed. Both the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Fifth Circuit precedents preclude the dismissal of the complaint sua sponte and with prejudice. The Rules give plaintiffs a variety of ways to fix a defective complaint. View "Carver v. Atwood" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit concluded that the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction for possessing a gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy. Accordingly, the court affirmed defendant's conviction. However, the court vacated the forfeiture award, concluding that forfeiture was plainly erroneous under Honeycutt v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 1626 (2017), because it imposed joint and several liability for proceeds defendant did not personally obtain. View "United States v. Moya" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the BIA's decision denying petitioner's second motion to reopen his immigration proceedings. Petitioner, a native and citizen of India, was ordered to be deported in absentia in 1996 by an IJ, but was not actually deported. The court concluded that petitioner failed to demonstrate that he lacked notice, and the BIA did not err in concluding that his second motion to reopen for lack of notice was time and number barred. In this case, petitioner does not contest the IJ's legal determination or factual findings that it was his burden to inform the immigration court of his correct address and he failed to do so. The court also concluded that Pereira v. Sessions, 138 S. Ct. 2105 (2018), is inapplicable to petitioner's case because it deals with a materially different statute. Therefore, the BIA did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Pereira did not warrant reopening of petitioner's deportation proceedings. View "Maradia v. Garland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law
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This appeal stems from a dispute between Great American and Employers Mutual regarding their respective obligations to contribute to a $7 million settlement of a wrongful death suit arising out of a motor-vehicle accident. The district court assumed without deciding that the Employers Mutual policy was required to provide coverage before the Great American policy. However, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Employers Mutual and concluded that Great American failed to allocate damages between covered and non-covered claims.The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded, concluding that the district court was correct in its assumption that the EMC Umbrella Policy had priority of coverage but erred in granting summary judgment for Employers Mutual because Great American's evidence created a factual dispute on allocation. In this case, if true, the affidavits at issue established that the covered claims Great American paid on behalf of Employers Mutual were worth at least $7 million—thereby triggering and exhausting the EMC Umbrella Policy. View "Great American Insurance Co. v. Employers Mutual Casualty Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law