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

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The Fifth Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's decision holding petitioner statutorily ineligible for cancellation of removal based on a prior 2004 firearm transportation conviction. The court held that petitioner failed to exhaust his challenge to the immigration court's jurisdiction based on alleged defects in his Notice to Appear. However, on the merits, the court held that the Oklahoma misdemeanor of transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle is not one of the firearms offenses listed under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(C). Therefore, petitioner's conviction did not disqualify him from seeking cancellation of removal. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Flores-Abarca v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Walgreens in an action alleging that Walgreens negligently gave medication prescribed for another patient to the driver of the car that caused fatal accidents killing himself and another individual. Under Texas law, a pharmacy does not owe a duty of care to third parties injured on the road by a customer who was negligently given someone else's prescription. Looking to the factors the Texas Supreme Court would consider—in particular, the foreseeability of the harm, the presence of other protections, and the danger of interference with the legislature's balancing of public policies—the court held that the Texas Supreme Court would not recognize a duty between a pharmacy and third parties injured as a result of a customer taking the incorrect prescription. The court declined to exercise its discretion to certify the issue to the Texas Supreme Court. View "Martinez v. Walgreens Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's race discrimination and retaliation claims under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. 1981. In this case, plaintiff was terminated from her position as deputy clerk with the City of Houston, Mississippi as part of a group of layoffs designed to offset the City's budget shortfall. The court held that plaintiff failed to present a genuine issue of material fact that her race was a motivating factor in her termination or that there was a causal connection between her EEOC complaint and that termination. View "Harville v. City of Houston" on Justia Law

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This case arose from a foreign judgment in a Moroccan court levying over $100 million against plaintiff and his business partner. The Fifth Circuit held that an interim change in the Texas Recognition Act does not violate the state's constitutional ban on retroactive laws. Therefore, the retroactive law did not abrogate defendant's ability to seek recognition of the Moroccan judgment. Rather, it just gives a district court the ability to deny recognition if it finds the judgment was obtained in proceedings that were incompatible with the requirements of due process. The court also held that the district court properly followed this court's 2015 mandate and properly applied the new law. Therefore, the district court properly determined that plaintiff was denied due process in Morocco and thus had, and properly exercised, its discretion to deny recognition to the Moroccan judgment. View "DeJoria v. Maghreb Petroleum Exploration, SA" on Justia Law

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Walmart filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against the TABC, challenging Texas statutes that govern the issuance of permits allowing for the retail sale of liquor in Texas (package store permits). TPSA later intervened as a matter of right in defense of the statutes. The Fifth Circuit held that Tex. Alco. Bev. Code 22.16 is a facially neutral statute that bans all public corporations from obtaining P permits irrespective of domicile. The court held that, although the district court correctly cited the Arlington framework, it committed clear error in finding that section 22.16 was enacted with a purpose to discriminate against interstate commerce. Therefore, the court remanded Walmart's dormant Commerce Clause challenge for reconsideration of whether the ban was enacted with a discriminatory purpose. Furthermore, a remand was necessary to allow the district court to find facts for proper application of the Pike test. The court affirmed the district court's judgment rejecting Walmart's Equal Protection challenge to the public corporation ban, holding that there was a rational basis for Texas' decision to ban all public corporations from obtaining package store permits and its legitimate purpose of reducing the availability and consumption of liquor throughout Texas. Finally, Walmart's challenges to section 22.04 and 22.05 are withdrawn. View "Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit joined its sister circuits in allowing Blue Cross to remove to federal court under the federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C. 1442, on the ground that it was sued here in its capacity as an administrator of health care benefits for federal employees. In this case, the parties agreed that Blue Cross satisfied the first condition of removal by being a "person" under the federal officer removal statute. The court also held that Blue Cross acted under the direction of OPM; a causal nexus existed between Blue Cross's actions under color of federal office and plaintiff's claims, because Blue Cross has shown that it was prevented by federal directive from paying St. Charles directly; and Blue Cross had a colorable federal defense to St. Charles' claim. Therefore, Blue Cross' preemption defense was non-frivolous and sufficient for purposes of the federal officer removal statute. The court reversed the district court's remand to state court and the district court's award of attorney's fees. View "St. Charles Surgical Hospital, LLC v. LA Health Service & Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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This case arose from a 2008 state court suit by plaintiff, alleging that he contracted mesothelioma from asbestos while working at a NASA facility in Louisiana. The MDL court subsequently granted summary judgment to several defendants and remanded. In 2016, plaintiff moved to voluntarily dismiss the four remaining defendants and the district court dismissed one defendant with prejudice and the other three without specifying either way. Plaintiff subsequently appealed, seeking review of the MDL court's summary judgment grants and other orders. The Fifth Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. In the present appeal, plaintiff appealed the district court's judgment directing entry of a final judgment with prejudice and against plaintiffs but only to the extent any claims might still exist and are not time barred. The court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the Federal Rule 54(b) judgment did not retroactively transform the prior without-prejudice dismissals into with-prejudice dismissals. View "Williams v. Taylor Seidenbach, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for receipt of child pornography and access with intent to view child pornography involving a prepubescent minor. The court held that the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion to dismiss, holding that defendant willingly and actively participated in the offense and was therefore not entitled to assert the outrageous-conduct defense on this ground alone. Furthermore, the court held that the FBI's brief sting operation involving the PlayPen website fell short of the boundaries of outrageous conduct in United States v. Tobias, 662 F.2d 381 (5th Cir. Unit B Nov. 1981), and did not violate fundamental fairness. Furthermore, law enforcement officials involved in the issuance and execution of the Network Investigative Technique (NIT) warrant acted with an objectively reasonable good faith belief that their conduct was lawful. Therefore, the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion to suppress. Finally, the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant on both counts, and the district court did not clearly err by applying the obstruction of justice sentencing enhancement under USSG 3C1.1. View "United States v. Pawlak" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for knowingly distributing and possessing child pornography. The court held that there was sufficient evidence to convict defendant of the offenses; the district court did not clearly or obviously violate his Confrontation Clause rights where defendant has not cited, and the court has not found, any case to support defendant's position that the machine-generated materials are statements of a witness or trigger the Confrontation Clause; the government's rebuttal arguments were not improper; and the government did not violate defendant's Brady rights by not disclosing the grand jury transcripts. The court also held that defendant's sentence was procedurally reasonable and the district court did not clearly err by applying a two-level sentencing enhancement under USSG 3C1.1 for obstruction of justice. Furthermore, defendant's below-Guidelines sentence was substantively reasonable; the district court considered the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) sentencing factors; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing defendant. View "United States v. Waguespack" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied petitioner's motion for a certificate of appealability, holding that reasonable jurists would not debate that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying petitioner's Rule 60(b) motion. In this case, petitioner failed to brief any waived claims sufficient to allow the district court to determine whether extraordinary circumstances were present, and petitioner failed to provide the court any authority that 18 U.S.C. 3599 has ever provided relief under Rule 60(b). However, in light of In re Cathey, 857 F.3d 221 (5th Cir. 2017), the court held that Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), created a new rule of constitutional law made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court. The court granted petitioner's motion for authorization of a successive application for habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. 2244(b)(2)(A) and stayed his execution. The court held that petitioner made a prima facie showing of intellectual disability. Finally, the court held that the district court was in a better position to determine the timeliness of petitioner's motion for a successive application. View "Johnson v. Davis" on Justia Law