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A certified class of minor children in the Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC) of DFPS filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, seeking injunctive relief and alleging that Texas' maintenance of its foster care system exposes them to a serious risk of abuse, neglect, and harm to their physical and psychological well-being. The district court granted plaintiffs a permanent injunction requiring sweeping changes to the state's foster care system. The Fifth Circuit held that facts in the record adequately supported the finding that a policy or practice of maintaining overburdened caseworkers directly causes all PMC children to be exposed to a serious risk of physical and psychological harm; the district court correctly found that the State was deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of serious harm to the Licensed Foster Care (LFC) subclass as a result of its insufficient monitoring and oversight, and that these deficiencies were a direct cause of the constitutional harm; the district court erred in concluding that inadequate placement array causes constitutionally cognizable harm to the LFC subclass and that the State was deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of serious harm; and to the extent that the lack of awake-night supervision may have sustained a constitutional claim under the circumstances, the remaining policies and their effects did not cause foster group homes (FGH) children an amplified risk of harm sufficient to overcome the threshold hurdle. The court also held that Rule 23-specific arguments were waived. While the district court entered an expansive injunction mandating dozens of specific remedial measures and it was entitled to grant plaintiffs injunctive relief, the court held that the injunction was significantly overbroad. Accordingly, the court vacated the injunction and remanded with instructions to remove the remedial provisions related to placement array and FGHs, and to strike provisions that were not necessary to achieve constitutional compliance. View "M.D. v. Abbott" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to securities fraud crimes. The court held that the district court did not plainly err by concluding that FINRA's order was a prior administrative order for purposes of USSG 2B1.1(b)(9)(C), nor did the district court plainly err by applying the two-level sentencing enhancement to defendant because he was engaged in securities activity that violated FINRA's order. View "United States v. Blount" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of 104 plaintiffs' claims related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Plaintiffs, individuals and associations located in Mexico that rely on the fishing industry as a primary source of income, argued that the district court abused its discretion in making dismissal with prejudice the remedy for failing to comply with pretrial order (PTO) 60. The court held that plaintiffs' failure to comply with PTO 60 constituted a clear record of delay considering the number of opportunities the district court gave plaintiffs to either comply with PTO 60, explain why they could not do so, or show documentation of their attorneys' efforts. The court also held that the district court's explicit warnings and second chances illustrated that lesser sanctions would not serve the best interests of justice. View "Barrera v. BP, PLC" on Justia Law

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Saybolt LP, a petroleum products company, used the fluctuating workweek (FWW) method to calculate overtime compensation for some of its oil and gas inspectors who worked radically varying hours each week. Plaintiffs, oil and gas inspectors, filed suit against Saybolt, alleging that the incentive payments precluded use of the FWW method and placed their employer in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Fifth Circuit held that Saybolt failed to comply with the FWW method, and thus its use of that method to calculate the FWW inspectors' overtime premiums was erroneous; plaintiffs have not created an issue of disputed fact regarding Saybolt's willfulness; the district court erred in holding that Saybolt was judicially estopped from challenging plaintiffs' damages model; plaintiffs were entitled to an award of one and one-half times the "regular rate" instead of using the one-half multiplier that Saybolt claimed was appropriate; and the district court erred in adopting plaintiffs' damages methodology. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Dacar v. Saybolt L.P." on Justia Law

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In a case arising from a fee dispute about litigation expenses that an arbitration panel found attorneys had improperly allocated to their clients, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment that there was no coverage under the terms of the excess policy. The court applied Texas law and held that Lexington, the excess carrier, was not liable for any portion of the judgment and for any attorneys' fees as defense costs expended in the underlying litigation. In this case, the excess policy's provisions expressly stated that there was no coverage for the type of breach of contract found by the arbitrators in the underlying action. Furthermore, the definition of "Loss" did not cover the remedy that the arbitration panel imposed as a consequence of the breach of fiduciary duty. View "John M. O'Quinn, P.C. v. Lexington Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed Defendant Charles Bolton and Linda Bolton's convictions and sentences for various counts of attempted tax evasion and filing false tax returns. The court held that Charles failed to show plain error with respect to the sufficiency of the indictments for tax evasion and filing false tax returns; the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's verdicts of guilt against both defendants; claims of Brady violations were rejected; the district court's admission of hearsay statements was invited error by both sets of defense counsel, but the error did not rise to the level of manifest injustice and defendants have waived their Confrontation Clause rights under United States v. Ceballos, 789 F.3d 607, 616 (5th Cir. 2015); claims of prosecutorial misconduct rejected; there was no plain error in the jury instructions; the district court properly calculated the loss amount; and defendants' sentences were substantively reasonable and not otherwise defective. The court modified the district court's judgment to show that the restitution owed by the Boltons does not become due until they begin their terms of supervised release. View "United States v. Bolton" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after she pleaded guilty without a plea agreement to bank fraud. The court held that the district court did not clearly err by applying a two-level enhancement under USSG 3B1.3 for abusing a position of trust where she was the accounts payable clerk for her company and used her position to significantly commission and conceal her fraudulent scheme. The court also held that the district court did not clearly err by applying a two-level enhancement under USSG 2B1.1(b)(10)(C) for using sophisticated means where defendant employed multiple methods that made it more difficult to detect her bank fraud. View "United States v. Miller" on Justia Law

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Brand Services appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Irex on Brand Services's Louisiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act (LUTSA) claim and its common law conversion claim. The Fifth Circuit affirmed as to the common law conversion claim based on trade secrets. The court held that LUTSA preempts a common-law claim for conversion of trade secrets, but does not preempt a common-law conversion claim for confidential information that is not a trade secret. In this case, the court reversed as to the LUTSA claim and Brand Services's common law claim for conversion of allegedly non-trade secret information outside the definition of a trade secret without reaching the merits of that claim. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Brand Services, LLC. v. Irex Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for HSBC in an action seeking to foreclose on defendant's property. The court held that HSBC was the holder of the home equity note and that defendant failed to present evidence raising an issue of material fact as to HSBC's ownership of the note. The court also held that HSBC's suit was timely because defendant's bankruptcy suit tolled the statute of limitations for 127 days. Finally, the court held that defendant waived his argument that the district court erred when it signed and entered a final judgment that authorized a foreclosure sale of the property, without complying with Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 309. View "HSBC Bank USA, NA v. Crum" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit dismissed defendants' appeal of the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiff in an action under the Ship Mortgage Act. The court held that it lacked jurisdiction over the appeal because the district court's order did not finally determine the rights or obligations of the parties in this dispute. View "State Bank & Trust Co. v. C&G Liftboats, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure