by
The Fifth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion. The court vacated the district court's holding that production of a privilege log pursuant to an employment discrimination investigation was sufficient to establish that the attorney-client privilege protected BDO's withheld documents. The court held that by adopting the magistrate judge's recommendation, the district court erred when inverting the burden of proof, requiring that the EEOC prove that BDO improperly asserted the attorney-client privilege as to its withheld documents, and concluding that all communications between a corporation's employees and its counsel were per se privileged. The court remanded for a determination applying the correct attorney-client privilege principles and legal standards. In regard to the protective order, because the magistrate judge's incorrect application of the legal standard may have affected both her analysis of the allegedly disclosed communications and the breadth of the protections she imposed in her order, the court remanded so that BDO's request for protection may be considered under the proper legal standard for determining privilege. View "EEOC v. BDO USA, LLP" on Justia Law

by
When defendants were originally sentenced, each received a sentence reduction for previously serving time on related state charges. The government then requested that the district court "correct" defendants' sentences pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 35(a) to eliminate the reductions. The Fifth Circuit held that defendants' initial sentences were not "clear error" correctable under Rule 35(a). Accordingly, the court vacated the order correcting defendants' sentences and reinstated the original judgments for each defendant. View "United States v. Hankton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Plaintiff, a federal inmate, filed suit under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), and under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), alleging retaliation after he filed a grievance expressing safety concerns following several power outages at the prison. The district court dismissed plaintiff's claims. The Fifth Circuit vacated in part, holding that plaintiff alleged facts that supported plausible claims of retaliation and conspiracy. The court remanded those claims for further proceedings. The court affirmed as to the remaining claims. View "Brunson v. Nichols" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. The court held that, although the alternate juror's presence during deliberations violated Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 24(c), the temporary presence of the alternate did not impact the jury's verdict and the curative instruction sufficiently dispelled any risk of prejudice. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendant's motions for mistrial and a new trial. View "United States v. Kelly" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of judgment as a matter of law to defendants, concluding that federal law preempted ThermoTek's unfair competition claim and that ThermoTek failed to prove its damages for fraud. ThermoTek designs, manufacturers, and sells the VascuTherm system, which consists of a medical device and specially designed wraps that provide thermal and compression therapy. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in reaching the preemption defense on the merits. On the merits, the court held that federal copyright and patent laws preempted the unfair-competition-by-misappropriation claim. View "Motion Medical Technologies, LLC v. Thermotek, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment dismissing plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim against Verizon under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), 18 U.S.C. 2701–2712. The court applied an objective standard to the good faith requirements found in sections 2702(c)(4) and 2707(e)(1) of the SCA and asked if Verizon's conduct was objectively reasonable. The court held that, taking all factual allegations as true and construing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, Verizon acted in an objectively reasonable manner. In this case, Verizon only released the non-content information tied to plaintiff's cell phone number after it received a signed and certified form indicating that the request involved the danger of death or serious physical injury to a person, necessitating the immediate release of information, an alleged arson, and victims who were within the home when it was set on fire. Moreover, the government official who submitted the form listed his identifying information. Therefore, Verizon was protected from liability under the SCA or any other law for releasing the records both by the immunity provided by section 2703(e) and the complete defense created by section 2707(e)(1). View "Alexander v. Verizon Wireless Services, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants on plaintiff's failure to accommodate claim under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12132, and on his claims for unjustified detention, excessive use of force, and municipal liability under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and the Fourth Amendment. In regard to the ADA claim, the court held that the record contained no evidence that plaintiff requested an accommodation for his neck disability; in regard to the claim of unjustified detention, the undisputed facts established reasonable suspicion and plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the length of the traffic stop transformed it into an arrest; in regard to the excessive force claim, the seizure was justified by reasonable suspicion and was conducted in a reasonable manner; and because plaintiff failed to demonstrate the existence of a constitutional violation, the County was entitled to judgment on his Monell claim as a matter of law. View "Windham v. Harris County, Texas" on Justia Law

by
An officer who has provided information for the purpose of its being included in a warrant application under Hart v. O'Brien, 127 F.3d 424 (5th Cir. 1997), has assisted in preparing the warrant application for purposes of Jennings v. Patton, 644 F.3d 297 (5th Cir. 2011), and Hampton v. Oktibbeha County Sheriff Department, 480 F.3d 358 (5th Cir. 2007), and may be liable, but an officer who has not provided information for the purpose of its being included in a warrant application may be liable only if he signed or presented the application. Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against defendant after plaintiff was arrested for an assault committed by another man with the same first and last names. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment in favor of defendant and held that defendant was entitled to summary judgment even when construing all the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff. The court reasoned that the connection between defendant's conduct and plaintiff's arrest was too attenuated to hold the deputy liable under the rule that the court reaffirmed or under any law that was clearly established at the time defendant filled out the incident report. View "Melton v. Phillips" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Empire in a suit filed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 206(a), 207(a). Plaintiffs alleged that Empire failed to compensate them for pre-shift wait time under the FLSA. The court held that the Portal-to-Portal Act, 29 U.S.C. 254(a), excludes the pre-shift wait time of plaintiffs from being compensable under the FLSA. In this case, the integral and indispensable test was the relevant test for determining the compensability of plaintiffs' pre-shift wait time. Because this preliminary wait time was not intrinsic to their principal activities, it was not compensable under the Portal-to-Portal Act. View "Bridges v. Empire Scaffold, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's claim that the cell phone found in the victim's home, and the subsequently discovered call records linking him to the scene of the murder, were obtained from an unconstitutional search conducted pursuant to a deficient warrant. The court rejected petitioner's defaulted Fourth Amendment claim and held that the evidence fell within the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule. View "Evans v. Davis" on Justia Law