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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of Cherry Knoll's complaint against the City of Lakeway, the city manager, and HDR Engineering in a dispute over a plat of land that Cherry Knoll had purchased in Lakeway. Cherry Knoll asserted a claim against the City under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violating its rights to procedural due process, substantive due process, and equal protection by filing the Subdivision Plats without its consent and over its objection. The court held that these allegations satisfied the standard for official municipal policy under Pembaur v. City of Cincinnati and the district court erred in finding otherwise. The court also held that the district court erred in determining that the city manager was entitled to the protection of qualified immunity at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage. Finally, the court held that Cherry Knoll's well-pleaded factual allegations and supporting documents make plausible its claim that HDR was a "willful participant in joint action" for purposes of section 1983. Accordingly, the court remanded the matter and reinstated Cherry Knoll's state law claims. View "Cherry Knoll, LLC v. Jones" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of petitioner's reinstated removal order and the BIA's denial of withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). In regard to petitioner's collateral attack on the underlying 2004 in absentia removal order, the court held that the petition for review of the underlying removal order was not filed within 30 days and therefore the court lacked jurisdiction to consider her collateral attacks. The court also held that substantial evidence supported the BIA's conclusion that petitioner was not entitled to withholding of removal as her own testimony shows that she was never harmed and that her fear of future harm was speculative. Furthermore, the BIA's denial of CAT protection was also supported by substantial evidence where petitioner failed to show that she would be tortured and that the Guatemalan government would acquiesce in her torture. Finally, the court held that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying petitioner's motion to reopen. View "Luna-Garcia De Garcia v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's complaint against her former employers, alleging that she was fired because of her sexual orientation (heterosexual) and Defendant Huber's reaction to plaintiff's pro-heterosexual speech. Plaintiff, the manager of PNP's human resources department, made a Facebook post criticizing a man wearing a dress and noting his ability to use the women's bathroom and/or dressing room. The court held that plaintiff's Title VII retaliation claim failed because Title VII does not protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and, even if it did, the district court did not err in finding that plaintiff could not have reasonably believed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was a prohibited practice. The court also held that the district court correctly dismissed the state claim because none of defendants were state actors and were therefore not covered by the the restrictions of Article 1, section 7 of the Louisiana constitution. View "O'Daniel v. Industrial Service Solutions" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's successive 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion for habeas relief. The court held that a prisoner bringing a successive section 2255 petition must show that it is "more likely than not" that the sentencing court relied on the residual clause to prove that his claim "relies on" Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551, 2563 (2015). In this case, petitioner failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he was sentenced under the residual clause and therefore his claim relies on Johnson. Accordingly, the district court properly dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction. View "United States v. Clay" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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This appeal arose from the district court's 2017 decision to grant "provisional" unitary status to the school system in the area of facilities. The district court set a two-year year probationary period, during which it would retain jurisdiction over that aspect of the desegregation order and the school district would face semiannual compliance reviews. At the end of the two years, the district court would then consider an "unconditional" grant of unitary status in facilities. The school board appealed. The court held that the Youngblood procedure, requiring a probationary period before final dismissal of a desegregation case, is a longstanding practice in this circuit. The court rejected the school board's legal challenge to the Youngblood procedure and held that a district court has long had discretion to impose a Youngblood period, and the school board cited nothing that would allow the court to depart from this settled law. The court also held that the district court did not clearly err by determining that the school board came up a bit short of demonstrating good faith compliance and that a two year probationary period was necessary in this case. View "Moore v. Tangipahoa Parish School Board" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a dispute over who was liable for damages from an oil rig that caught fire and exploded. Statoil operated the rig, Halliburton fracked at the rig site, and Ironshore insured Statoil. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred when it held that Ironshore waived its subrogation rights under the Master Services Agreement between Statoil and Halliburton. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's arbitration ruling in appeal No. 17-20678. However, the court held that the district court correctly determined that it lacked personal jurisdiction over Ironshore. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's personal jurisdiction ruling in appeal No. 18-20239. View "Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. v. Ironshore Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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Underwriters filed suit against FloaTEC, claiming that they were subrogated to Chevron's right to sue FloaTEC for damages caused by tendon failures of a floating oil-drilling platform. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Underwriters' claims with prejudice, holding that the district court correctly ruled on FloaTEC's motion to dismiss before addressing any issue concerning the arbitrability of Underwriters' claims. The court also held that the district court correctly found that FloaTEC was an "Other Assured" under the policy and could thus invoke the subrogation waiver. View "Lloyd's Syndicate 457 v. FloaTEC, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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Under Texas law, an attorney is immune from civil suits brought by a non-client when the conduct at issue occurred within the scope of the attorney's representation of a client. The Fifth Circuit agreed with the district court and rejected three purported exceptions to this doctrine. This case related to the R. Allen Stanford Ponzi Scheme and an attorney that was practicing at Greenberg Traurig who was involved in the scheme. Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants under a respondeat superior theory, alleging that the attorney conspired with Stanford to further the fraud. Denying the motion for certification, the court held that it was not persuaded that the Supreme Court of Texas would apply the attorney immunity doctrine in the non-litigation context; criminal conduct does not automatically negate immunity, but in the usual case it will be outside the scope of representation; immunity can apply even to criminal acts so long as the attorney was acting within the scope of representation; and the Supreme Court of Texas would not consider itself sure that the Texas Legislature intended to abrogate attorney immunity in the context of Texas Securities Act claims. View "Troice v. Greenberg Traurig, LLP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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The Fifth Circuit granted a pending joint motion for clarification and withdrew the prior panel opinion, substituting the following opinion. Plaintiff and his wife filed suit after a contract driver for RCX, a licensed motor carrier, crashed into plaintiff's truck and significantly injured him. A jury found RCX liable for the driver's negligence and awarded plaintiff damages and his wife loss of consortium damages. The court affirmed the district court's ruling with respect to all issues except the wife's award for past consortium damages in light of West Star Transportation, Inc. v. Robison, 457 S.W.3d 178, and remanded for the exact calculation of the wife's maximum recovery. Finally, RCX was entitled to a settlement credit under Texas law and the court remanded for the district court to calculate that amount. View "Puga v. About Tyme Transport, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to prison officials in his 42 U.S.C. 1983 action for excessive force, failure to intervene, deliberate indifference, and retaliation claims arising from use of force during his confinement. Liberally construing plaintiff's appellate contentions and reviewing de novo, the Fifth Circuit held that Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), and its progeny did not bar plaintiff's excessive force claims. In this case, plaintiffs excessive force claims implicated neither the validity of his underlying conviction nor the duration of his sentence. In regard to whether defendants were entitled to qualified immunity, the court held that there was a genuine dispute of material fact concerning what occurred during the use of force. Therefore, the court remanded for further consideration. View "Bourne v. Gunnels" on Justia Law