by
Individual retail-brokerage customers of Paine-Webber who purchased Enron securities, and Enron employees who acquired employee stock options, filed suit against subsidiaries of UBS, alleging violations of the securities laws for their role as a broker of Enron's employee stock option plan and for failure to disclose material information about Enron's financial manipulations to its retail investors. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The court held that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the grant of Enron options amounted to the sale of a security, and failed to establish that either defendant had material, nonpublic knowledge to disclose and a duty to disclose. Furthermore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiffs an additional chance to amend their complaint. View "Lampkin v. UBS Financial Services, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

by
The Fifth Circuit granted a petition for panel rehearing and vacated the original opinion, substituting this opinion certifying a question to the Supreme Court of Texas: Is the Texas Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act's "good faith" defense against fraudulent transfer clawbacks, as codified at Tex. Bus. & Com. Code 24.009(a), available to a transferee who had inquiry notice of the fraudulent behavior, did not conduct a diligent inquiry, but who would not have been reasonably able to discover that fraudulent activity through diligent inquiry? View "Janvey v. GMAG, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against the town and its mayor, alleging that they violated his federal and state constitutional rights by seeking—and then seeking to collect on—a judgment that he owed over $50,000 for violating a local ordinance. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims, holding that plaintiff failed to establish a municipal policy that was the moving force behind the violation of any constitutional right. However, the court vacated and remanded the state-law claim for the district court to assess its jurisdiction over this claim. View "Webb v. Town of Saint Joseph" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of petitioner's denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). Petitioner alleged membership in three possible groups stemming from his work as a law enforcement official. The court held that substantial evidence supported the BIA's conclusion that petitioner did not show the alleged persecution was on account of a protected ground and he was therefore not entitled to asylum or withholding of removal. In this case, even if petitioner's social groups were cognizable, he failed to show a nexus between the alleged persecution and his membership in the groups. Furthermore, the record evidence did not compel the conclusion that petitioner was eligible for CAT relief. View "Martinez Manzanares v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

by
When the parties to a contract agree to arbitrate, rather than litigate, certain disputes that might later unfold, Congress directs federal courts to honor the parties' wishes. Under the Federal Arbitration Act, courts generally enforce any resulting arbitration award, barring specific circumstances—such as when the arbitrator exceeds his legal authority or otherwise jeopardizes the fair arbitration process. In this case, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's confirmation of the arbitration award and rejected Apache's challenges to the contrary. The court held that KPMG issued a "reasoned award" here where it noted that it based its analysis on the parties' statements and accounting records, pointed to its finding on the accrual of liabilities, and explained what documentation it found relevant in evaluating the proper refund amount. View "YPF S.A. v. Apache Overseas, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment granting plaintiff past and future long term disability (LTD) benefits and rendered judgment for Reliance. After plaintiff stopped work for a chicken processing plant, she sought LTD benefits under a policy governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The court held that Reliance's contention that its decision that working in cold areas was not a material duty of plaintiff's regular occupation was supported by substantial evidence. The court held that precedent did not require that an administrator consider each of a claimant's job duties to determine her regular occupation. In any event, Reliance's classification was easily based on substantial evidence. View "Nichols v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA

by
In this personal injury Jones Act case, the Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not err by failing to act on an allegation that defendant provoked plaintiff's attorney to withdraw. In this case, all evidence in the record indicated that the attorney made a showing of good cause and provided reasonable notice to his client; the district court took procedural care in resolving the withdrawal motion; and plaintiff's claims to the contrary failed. However, the court held that the district court erroneously granted summary judgment to defendant because plaintiff lacked expert medical evidence of causation. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Gowdy v. Marine Spill Response Corp." on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to production, transportation, and possession of child pornography, as well as committing a felony offense involving a minor while being required to register as a sex offender. The court held that the district court plainly erred by applying USSG 2G2.1(d)(1) to create five "pseudo counts" of production of child pornography that were factored into the calculation of his total offense level. Considering that the Guidelines range resulting from the district court's offense level calculation was life imprisonment, with an aggregate sentence of 45 years having been imposed, and that the appropriate remedy is resentencing, which can be accomplish fairly quickly and without extraordinary expense, the court exercised its discretion to remedy the calculation error. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Randall" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Border Patrol agents may conduct a canine sniff to search for drugs or concealed aliens at immigration checkpoints so long as the sniff does not lengthen the stop beyond the time necessary to verify the immigration status of a vehicle's passengers. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a motion to suppress evidence found during an immigration-checkpoint stop. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, the court held that the canine sniff here did not prolong the immigration stop. In this case, defendant did not dispute that the stop lasted approximately 30 seconds where border patrol agents asked defendant about his citizenship, cargo, and travel, all of which were permissible. The court also noted that defendant gave valid consent to the search. View "United States v. Tello" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Fifth Circuit treated the petition for rehearing en banc as a petition for panel rehearing pursuant to Fifth Circuit Internal Operating Procedures under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 35. The court denied the petition for rehearing, withdrew its prior opinion, and issued the following opinion in its place. The court affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief to petitioner, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The court held that, under federal law, if an actual-innocence claim were presented in a successive federal habeas petition, a clear-and-convincing-evidence standard would be applied; federal law does not require states to apply a less demanding standard in a successive state habeas proceeding; and, in the alternative, applying a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard, the TCCA's decision denying petitioner's Atkins claim was not based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented to it. In this case, no expert has ever opined that petitioner is intellectually disabled. The court also rejected petitioner's claim that he received ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal, and that his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to conduct an adequate sentencing investigation or by failing to present an adequate mitigation case during the penalty phase of trial. View "Busby v. Davis" on Justia Law