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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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In this dispute over terms of an online auction, the Fifth Circuit concluded that the district court abused its discretion by improperly admitting evidence and taking judicial notice of the terms. The court explained that Exhibit 41, an internet printout, was not properly authenticated, and the district court abused its discretion by determining that the exhibit was fit under Federal Rule of Evidence 803. Furthermore, the district court erred in taking judicial notice of the terms because a private internet archive falls short of being a source whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned as required by Rule 201. Because the district court's errors were not harmless, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Weinhoffer v. Davie Shoring, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit treated the petition for rehearing en banc as a petition for panel rehearing; granted the petition for panel rehearing; and withdrew its prior opinion in this case.Plaintiffs, two Planned Parenthood entities and three Jane Does, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the Louisiana Department of Health is unlawfully declining to act on Planned Parenthood's application for a license to provide abortion services in Louisiana. The district court denied the Department's motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1); the Department filed an interlocutory appeal; and plaintiffs moved to dismiss.The court denied the motion to dismiss the appeal because the Department asserted sovereign immunity in the district court. Therefore, the court has jurisdiction over this interlocutory appeal. The court further concluded that at least one of the plaintiffs' claims for injunctive relief is a valid invocation of federal jurisdiction under Ex parte Young. In this case, because plaintiffs' requested injunction to "promptly rule" on the license application satisfies the requirements of Ex parte Young, the court concluded that plaintiffs have survived the Department's Rule 12(b)(1) motion and the case may proceed. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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On remand from the Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit concluded that unresolved questions of state law must be certified to the Texas Supreme Court. The court certified the following questions of state law to the Supreme Court of Texas: Whether Texas law authorizes the Attorney General, Texas Medical Board, the Texas Board of Nursing, the Texas Board of Pharmacy, or the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, directly or indirectly, to take disciplinary or adverse action of any sort against individuals or entities that violate the Texas Heartbeat Act, given the enforcement authority granted by various provisions of the Texas Occupations Code, the Texas Administrative Code, and the Texas Health and Safety Code and given the restrictions on public enforcement in sections 171.005, 171.207 and 171.208(a) of the Texas Health and Safety Code. View "Whole Woman's Health v. Jackson" on Justia Law

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In this case involving mesothelioma, the Fifth Circuit concluded that the multidistrict litigation (MDL) court engaged in improper weighing of the evidence on summary judgment relative to the survival action. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and remanded to the Louisiana district court. The court also considered it appropriate case management for the Louisiana district court to reconsider plaintiffs' motion for additional discovery. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the wrongful death claim, concluding that the district court properly determined that plaintiffs' wrongful death claims are time-barred. View "Williams v. Boeing Company" on Justia Law

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This case concerns three orders purporting to enforce a settlement between the parties in a commercial dispute: (1) an order declaring that Vikas breached the settlement; (2) an order striking Vikas's pleadings as a sanction; and (3) a summary judgment that Vikas had procured the settlement by fraud, causing $40 million in damages.The Fifth Circuit concluded that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to issue the summary judgment for fraud and thus the court vacated the order and denied as moot Vikas's related appeals. The court also vacated the sanctions order based on either lack of subject matter jurisdiction or an abuse of discretion standard. Finally, the court vacated the ruling that Vikas breached the settlement, concluding that the district judge ignored key provisions of the settlement and failed to support his judgment with relevant record evidence. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Vikas WSP, Ltd. v. Economy Mud Products Co." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred in sealing and ordering redaction of voluminous documents related to litigation challenging Louisiana's abortion laws without a proper legal basis, and therefore vacated the district court's sealing orders. The sealed or redacted documents include a transcript of proceedings held in open court, a famous Pennsylvania grand jury report that is available as a book on www.amazon.com and that was adapted as a motion picture, an arrest report from a police department's public website, articles from The New York Times and Rolling Stone, and an obituary from a public website. The court concluded that the district court misapprehended the nature and extent of the public's right to judicial records; on remand, the district court shall not seal or order redaction of any publicly available documents or information; the district court also used the wrong legal standard for sealing documents; and the district court erred by failing to evaluate all of the documents individually. The court issued a limited remand for the district court to evaluate the sealing orders under the proper legal standard within 30 days of the issuance of this opinion. View "June Medical Services, LLC v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit granted defendants' motion for a stay of discovery in this class action lawsuit while the court reviews their appeal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f). Boeing and Southwest were sued for allegedly conspiring to conceal design defects in Boeing's 737 MAX 8 aircraft and thus defrauding airline ticket purchasers. After considering the Nken factors, the court concluded that Boeing and Southwest have made a strong showing that the court is likely to reverse the class-certification decision because they raised substantial predominance questions regarding damages. Furthermore, defendants have also made a strong showing regarding irreparable harm; plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged that they or any other parties will be irreparably injured by delaying further discovery until the conclusion of the Rule 23(f) appeal; and the public interest supports staying district court proceedings to avoid potentially wasteful and unnecessary litigation costs where, as here, defendants have shown a substantial likelihood of success on appeal. View "Earl v. Boeing Company" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Walmart's action challenging the government's interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as it applies to pharmacists who dispense prescription opioids. In this case, Walmart points to no rule, guidance, or other public document setting forth the positions it seeks to contest. The court concluded that, because Walmart identifies no agency action, as that term is used in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the suit is barred by sovereign immunity. Furthermore, even if the action was not barred by sovereign immunity, the court concluded that Walmart's failure to contradict a definite government position means that it has not demonstrated the existence of a ripe case or controversy, as required by Article III. Accordingly, the district court appropriately dismissed based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Walmart v. Department of Justice" on Justia Law

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This case, involving a dispute about the effect of provisions in the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act on the contraceptive mandate found in the Affordable Care Act, became moot with issuance of the Supreme Court's decision in Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania, 140 S. Ct. 2367 (2020).The Fifth Circuit concluded that plaintiffs no longer have a cognizable injury and the underlying dispute is moot. The court also concluded that Nevada did not cause the case to become moot; it was moot after the ruling in Little Sisters, and vacatur serves public interests in that it vacates a permanent injunction that Nevada never had proper opportunity to litigate the merits of before the district court; and, regardless, plaintiffs conceded Nevada was entitled to vacatur at oral argument. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded to the district court with instructions to dismiss as moot. View "DeOtte v. Nevada" on Justia Law

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Imperium, a non-diverse defendant, should not have been dismissed with prejudice in this insurance coverage dispute. The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal and remanded for dismissal without prejudice. In this case, the district court did not abuse its discretion in reviewing the notice of removal for improper joinder; the district court did not abuse its discretion in deciding to pierce the pleadings and conduct a summary inquiry in order to analyze the relevance and meaning of the insurance policy; and the district court was correct to hold that Imperium was improperly joined where there was no plausible state cause of action against the joined defendant. The court concluded that when a district court determines that a nondiverse party has been improperly joined to defeat diversity, that party must be dismissed without prejudice. View "Ticer v. Imperium Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure