Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50. In this action asserting breach of contract, the court held that, assuming without deciding that the motion did not sufficiently apprise plaintiff of deficiencies in proof and that the district court therefore erred in granting defendant's Rule 50 motion, under a de novo standard of review, plaintiff failed to establish that the error was harmless. In this case, plaintiff could not have presented legally sufficient evidence to support his claim for breach of contract. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its exceedingly wide discretion by denying plaintiff's motion for a continuance. View "Kelso v. Butler" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Defendant moved to rescind a settlement from a lawsuit about golf carts and to vacate the dismissal under state contract law. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not have jurisdiction to resolve the motion on state law terms because the parties' unconditional dismissal deprived it of subject matter jurisdiction. The court explained that, to reopen this case, defendant must lean on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 60(b), but that Rule 60(b)'s six grounds to relieve a party from a final judgment, order, or proceeding were unavailable to defendant. View "National City Golf Finance v. Scott" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Would-be plaintiff–intervenors filed a motion to intervene after the district court had already entered a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1) stipulated dismissal of plaintiffs' claims. When the district court held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the motion, it did not have the benefit of Sommers v. Bank of American, N.A., which rejected the suggestion that intervention was always improper after a case has been dismissed. The Fifth Circuit held that, because Sommers was controlling in this case, the district court has jurisdiction to consider the would-be intervenors' motion. The court agreed with Wal-Mart that, if jurisdiction was found to exist, the court should remand for consideration of Rule 24's basic requirements. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order denying intervention on jurisdictional grounds and remanded for further proceedings. View "Odle v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims against defendant as premature. Plaintiffs alleged that Eisner, seeking to maintain its relationship with Leveraged and some related funds, participated in a scheme to trick plaintiffs into waiving their redemption rights. Louisiana has established a public accountant review panel to review claims against certified public accountants and accounting firms, and plaintiffs conceded that they did not seek panel review before filing suit. The court held that the district court dismissed plaintiffs' suit as premature because they failed to seek pre-suit review by the Louisiana public accountant review panel pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statutes 37:105. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to decide in the first instance whether defendants were entitled to dismissal with prejudice. View "Firefighters' Retirement System v. EisnerAmper, LLP" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a dispute between Jaguar and Autobahn concerning chargebacks of around $300,000 in incentive payments the distributor had made to the dealer. The Board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles declared the chargebacks invalid, and Jaguar exercised its statutory right of review in the state appellate court. During the pending of the appeal, Autobahn filed suit for damages based on the Board's findings, claiming violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and breach of contract. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Autobahn and remanded, holding that Autobahn's antecedent failure to exhaust divested the district court of power to decide the claim when it did. View "Autobahn Imports, L.P. v. Jaguar Land Rover North America" on Justia Law

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Davis filed a complaint with the Fort Bend County Human Resources Department alleging that a director had sexually harassed and assaulted her. An investigation led to the director’s resignation. According to Davis, her supervisor retaliated because the director was a personal friend of Davis's supervisor. Davis informed her supervisor that she could not work one specific Sunday because she had a "commitment” to attend a special church service. Her supervisor did not approve the absence. Davis attended the service and did not report to work. Fort Bend terminated her employment. Davis filed a charge with the Texas Workforce Commission then filed suit under Title VII. The Fifth Circuit affirmed summary judgment on her retaliation claim but reversed on her religious discrimination claim, finding genuine disputes of material fact as to whether Davis held a bona fide religious belief that she needed to attend the service and Fort Bend would have suffered an undue hardship in accommodating Davis’s religious observance. The Supreme Court denied Fort Bend’s petition for certiorari. On remand, Fort Bend argued—for the first time— that Davis had failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. Holding that administrative exhaustion is a jurisdictional prerequisite in Title VII cases, the district court found Davis’s contention that Fort Bend had waived this argument “irrelevant.” The Fifth Circuit again reversed. Title VII’s administrative exhaustion requirement is not a jurisdictional bar but rather a prudential prerequisite and Fort Bend forfeited the argument. View "Davis v. Fort Bend County" on Justia Law

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McCall resigned from Shaw and later became the CEO of Allied, Shaw’s direct competitor. Shaw sued, citing noncompete and nonsolicitation agreements in McCall’s employment contract. Those agreements call for arbitration and state that the employer may seek injunctive relief without waiving the right to arbitrate. The state court issued a Joint Protective Order. Aptim acquired the rights to McCall’s employment agreement but withdrew a subsequent motion for substitution in the suit. Aptim filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association. Shaw filed an amended petition, deleting its request for damages, and a motion to dismiss the amended petition with prejudice. McCall filed an opposition, an answer, a counterclaim, a petition for declaratory judgment, a motion to consolidate, and a motion for constructive contempt against Aptim for demanding arbitration in violation of the protective order, though Aptim was not then a party to the case. Aptim, without Shaw, sued in federal court to compel arbitration and to stay the state-court proceeding. Before the federal court ruled, the state court issued an order joining Aptim in the state-court action, retroactively effective, finding that Aptim and Shaw had waived their arbitration rights. The federal district court then ordered arbitration and stayed the state-court action. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, finding that the factors weighed against abstention because the case does not involve jurisdiction over a thing and federal law provides the rules of decision on the merits and strongly favors arbitration. View "Aptim Corp. v. McCall" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit granted relator's petitioner for a writ of mandamus directing the district court to resolve this False Claims Act case. The court held that the requirements for mandamus relief were easily met in this case, because the case has been pending for over nine years and the two motions identified in the petition have been pending for approximately four years. The court reasoned that the district judge has had ample time to consider the pending motions—including the nearly six months since relator filed his petition for a writ of mandamus. View "In Re: Richard Drummond" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Fifth Circuit granted relator's petitioner for a writ of mandamus directing the district court to resolve this False Claims Act case. The court held that the requirements for mandamus relief were easily met in this case, because the case has been pending for over nine years and the two motions identified in the petition have been pending for approximately four years. The court reasoned that the district judge has had ample time to consider the pending motions—including the nearly six months since relator filed his petition for a writ of mandamus. View "In Re: Richard Drummond" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Avondale and others in state court, alleging that defendants exposed their sister, Mary Jane Wilde, to asbestos and caused her to die of mesothelioma. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to remand the case back to state court after removal to federal court under 28 U.S.C. 1442. The court held that, under controlling precedent, Avondale must show a causal connection between the federal officer’s direction and the conduct challenged by plaintiffs. Because Avondale has failed to make this showing of a causal nexus, the district court properly remanded the case back to state court. View "Legendre v. Huntington Ingalls, Inc." on Justia Law