by
Encompass filed suit against Blue Cross for violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), breach of contract, defamation, and tortious interference with business relations. After Blue Cross largely prevailed at trial, the district court granted a new trial because of error in the jury charge. At the second trial, Encompass prevailed on all claims. The Fifth Circuit held that charging the jury with an incorrect standard of liability supported granting a new trial, and thus the district court did not abuse its discretion by granting Encompass a new trial on the breach of contract claims. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by granting a new trial on the tort claims considering the interdependence of the tort and contract issues. Finally, the court held that the application of contra non valentem was not wrong as a matter of law, and Blue Cross abused its discretion by arbitrarily denying Encompass's claims for covered services under ERISA. View "Encompass Off Solutions, Inc. v. Louisiana Health Service & Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's order compelling Papalote to arbitrate a dispute raised by the Authority over whether their contractual agreements limited the Authority's liability to $60 million. In this case, the arbitration clause required Papalote and the Authority to arbitrate any dispute that arose with respect to either party's performance. The court held that the dispute at issue was an interpretative dispute, not a performance dispute, and was therefore outside the scope of the arbitration clause. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Papalote Creek II, LLC v. Lower Colorado River Authority" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's contempt finding and injunction related to the BOP's calculation of sentencing credits for federal prisoners. The court held that the district court made no explicit factual findings to support its decision to hold the BOP in contempt, nor did it identify which specific court orders the BOP violated. The district court abused its discretion, and the court could not identify any evidence in the record to support the conclusion that the BOP violated a definite and specific court order. Even if there was no error in holding the BOP in content, the court held that the sanction the district court imposed was contrary to law. The court held that, given the district court’s lack of authority over credit awards, it was improper to order the BOP to deny custody credits required by statute. Furthermore, the district court’s error was compounded by its threat to hold BOP officials in individual contempt for fulfilling their statutory duties. View "In re: U.S. Bureau of Prisons" on Justia Law

by
The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama and Coushatta Indian Tribes of Texas Restoration Act restored the Tribe's status as a federally-recognized tribe and limited its gaming operations according to state law. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) broadly established federal standards for gaming on Indian lands. After IGRA was enacted, the Fifth Circuit determined that the Restoration Act and IGRA conflict and that the Restoration Act governs the Tribe's gaming activities. (Ysleta I). When the Tribe conducted gaming operations in violation of Texas law, the district court permanently enjoined that activity as a violation of the Restoration Act. The court affirmed the district court's refusal to dissolve the permanent injunction and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying relief from the permanent injunction. The court held that the Restoration Act and the Texas law it invokes—and not IGRA—governed the permissibility of gaming operations on the Tribe's lands. The court held that IGRA did not apply to the Tribe, and the National Indian Gaming Commission did not have jurisdiction over the Tribe. View "Texas v. Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's final order of removal determining that petitioner was ineligible for cancellation of removal because his 2007 conviction of attempted theft from a person under Texas law counts as a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) under a 2016 BIA decision. The court exercised its discretion to consider petitioner's claim and determined that it had jurisdiction to consider it. On the merits, the court held that the definition of CIMTs announced in In re Diaz-Lizarraga, 26 I. & N. Dec. 847, 848 (BIA 2016), may be applied only to crimes committed after that decision issued. Therefore, the BIA erred in retroactively applying Diaz-Lizarraga's new definition to petitioner's conviction for attempted theft. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Monteon-Camargo v. Barr" on Justia Law

by
After Glenn Ford was wrongly convicted of murder and spent 30 years in solitary confinement on death row before being fully exonerated, he filed suit against law enforcement officials alleging suppression of evidence, fabrication of witness statements, withholding of exculpatory evidence, and other violations. The district court denied appellants' Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion for being untimely and denied alternative relief under Rule 7(a). The Fifth Circuit held that it did not have jurisdiction to consider this appeal, because the district court's decision on the Rule 12(b)(6) motion was based on timing rather than a substantive legal disposition regarding qualified immunity. Therefore, the court dismissed the appeal based on lack of appellate jurisdiction. View "Armstrong v. Ashley" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the county sheriff and others had conspired to violate his civil rights in an action arising from the political feud in Karnes County stemming from the Eagle Ford Shale oil boom. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity to the county sheriff and the deputy sheriff. The court applied the independent-intermediary doctrine and held that the district court erred in denying qualified immunity to the county sheriff and deputy sheriff given plaintiff's bare-bones allegations that defendants arrested him purely because of their political feud with plaintiff's wife. The court held that plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1985 claim failed because he failed to allege facts sufficient to show an actual deprivation of his rights. Furthermore, plaintiff's conspiracy to violate 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim failed because plaintiff only asserted legal allegations, unsupported by sufficient factual content, that was insufficient to state a plausible claim for relief. View "Shaw v. Villanueva" on Justia Law

by
In an action where plaintiff was exposed to asbestos at the Avondale shipyard and eventually contracted mesothelioma, Avondale removed the action to federal court under the federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's remand to state court, holding that the court was bound by the series of cases post-dating the 2011 amendment to section 1442(a)(1) that continue to cite Bartel v. Alcoa S.S. Co., Inc., 805 F.3d 169, 172 (5th Cir. 2015), while drawing a distinction for removal purposes between claims for negligence (not removable) and strict liability (removable) under the causal nexus test. Applying the causal nexus test, the court held that plaintiff's claims were the same failure to warn claims that both Zeringue v. Crane Company, 846 F.3d 785, 793 (5th Cir. 2017), and Legendre v. Huntington Ingalls, Inc., 885 F.3d 398, 400 (5th Cir. 2018), held implicated no federal interests, and thus this case did not meet the causal nexus requirement. The court noted that Bartel should be reconsidered en banc, because the court was out of step with Congress and its sister circuits. View "Latiolais v. Huntington Ingalls, Inc." on Justia Law

by
After defendant was was convicted of multiple murders and his habeas petition was denied by the district court, he filed a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) motion for relief from judgment ten years later. The Fifth Circuit found no error in the district court's determination that the Rule 60(b)(6) motion was a second or successive habeas petition, and held that defendant failed to meet the standard for a second or successive petition. View "United States v. Robinson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
After Austin Moon died in an accident where he drove his motorcycle into a criminal district attorney investigator's SUV, Moon's estate filed suit alleging that Moon was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Fifth Circuit held that the investigator was entitled to qualified immunity in the 42 U.S.C. 1983 action. The court held that plaintiff failed to identify precedent rendering it beyond debate that any reasonable officer would know, even in only seven seconds, and even in the midst of a high-speed chase, that the investigator's rolling block violated the Fourth Amendment. To the extent the court could identify clearly established law in excessive force cases, it supported the investigator rather than Moon. View "Morrow v. Meachum" on Justia Law