Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The Fifth Circuit granted a stay pending appeal by issuing a published opinion, as binding law of the circuit, on August 14, 2018. After the original appellants were defeated in the November 2018 elections, the current appellants moved for voluntary dismissal of the appeal. The clerk entered an order stating that, under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 42(b), the appeal was dismissed as of January 07, 2019. Appellees then brought an unopposed motion to vacate the court's August 14th opinion. The court denied the motion to vacate the opinion granting the stay and held that the panel majority published the opinion after making certain it was a correct rendition of the law and the facts, including its holding that the district court, on remand, had violated the mandate rule. The court explained that the published opinion granting the stay was this court's last statement on the matter and, like all published opinions, bound the district courts in this circuit. View "ODonnell v. Harris County" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Henson v. Columbus Bank & Trust Co., which allows a plaintiff to litigate in federal court a claim previously dismissed in state court, was not binding and contravened preexisting full faith a credit precedent. The Fifth Circuit held that res judicata precedent barred plaintiff's workplace discrimination claims after a Georgia state court determined that related claims were time-barred. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action on res judicata grounds. View "Thompson v. Dallas City Attorney's Office" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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In this complex antitrust case, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's order that certain confidential business documents belonging to a non-litigant party should be unsealed (but redacted) if and when they are filed on the public docket. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in issuing the order because it applied the proper legal standards and provided sufficiently specific reasons to enable meaningful appellate review. View "Vantage Health Plan v. Willis-Knighton Medical Center" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Before Buccanneer filed for bankruptcy, the company fired its CEO, who then filed a claim for breach of contract in the bankruptcy. The CEO later dropped the claim and filed a tortious interference with contract claim in state court against Buccaneer's secured creditor, Meridian. After Meridian moved to federal court, the bankruptcy court sent the tortious interference claim back to state court. The Fifth Circuit held that the tortious interference claim alleging a direct injury to the CEO was not property of the estate, and thus there was no basis for bankruptcy court jurisdiction. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment remanding the case back to state court. View "Meridian Capital CIS Fund v. Burton" on Justia Law

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One of the plaintiffs in this case rejected a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 offer of judgment and proceeded to trial, where she prevailed on her Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claim and was awarded damages and attorney's fees. In this case, the damages she won at trial were lower than the offer she had earlier rejected, and so Rule 68 required her to pay defendants' post-offer costs. The Fifth Circuit joined its sister circuits and held that, in assessing a plaintiff's degree of success under a fee-shifting provision like the FLSA's, a court should consider a plaintiff's rejection of a Rule 68 offer that would have given her more than what she ultimately obtained at trial. The court affirmed the fee award here, because the district court properly considered the Rule 68 offer in its considerable downward adjustment of the lodestar. View "Gurule v. Land Guardian, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA) currently manages the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport, but control would transfer to a new board under Senate Bill 2162, which was recently passed by the Mississippi Legislature. The new board would be structured differently with nine commissioners, rather than the current five. Although Governor Bryant signed the Bill into law in 2016, it has only nominally taken effect. The FAA does not consider disputed airport transfers if there is pending litigation. JMAA and others sued, challenging S.B. 2162 under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, alleging discriminatory purposes. In discovery, Governor Bryant identified Chief of Staff Songy as a person having discoverable knowledge that would tend to support or refute any claim, defense, or element of damages in the case. JMAA moved to compel Songy’s deposition. Governor Bryant sought a protective order, claiming official privilege, which limits depositions. The Fifth Circuit declined to issue a writ of mandamus requested by the Governor. Involuntary depositions of highly-ranked government officials are only allowed in “exceptional circumstances.” A court must consider the status of the deponents, the potential burden on them, and the substantive reasons for taking the depositions; it rare that exceptional circumstances can be shown where the testimony is available from an alternate witness. The court nonetheless noted important aspects of this analysis that the lower court failed to fully consider, including parallel litigation regarding the deposition of legislators. View "In Re: Bryant" on Justia Law

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Forby filed a state court class action against Tech for violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (ICFA) and unjust enrichment under Illinois law. In its notice of removal, Tech did not reference arbitration but argued that Forby’s claims were baseless and that no class should be certified. Tech later moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim and, in the alternative, moved to transfer the case, arguing that Forby’s claims were subject to arbitration in Texas and that an Illinois district court could not compel arbitration outside of its district. After the case was transferred, Tech filed a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss that did not mention arbitration. In its reply to Forby’s response, Tech again did not mention compelling arbitration. The district court denied the motion with respect to Forby’s ICFA claim and dismissed the unjust enrichment claim. Four days after attending a Rule 26(f) conference and receiving Forby’s requests for production, Tech filed its motion to compel arbitration and an expedited motion to stay discovery. The court granted the motions, finding that Tech had substantially invoked the judicial process but that Forby had not suffered prejudice. The Fifth Circuit reversed. When a party will have to re-litigate in the arbitration forum an issue already decided by the district court in its favor, that party is prejudiced. View "Forby v. One Technologies, L.P." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under Louisiana law in state court against Aeroframe and ATS. ATS subsequently moved the state court proceeding to federal court. The Fifth Circuit vacated and remanded the matter to state court, holding that there was no diversity of citizenship at the time the suit was filed where plaintiff and Aeroframe were Louisiana citizens. The court held that, because the magistrate judge found that plaintiff's principal purpose for suing Aeroframe was legitimate, fidelity to Zurn Industries, Inc. v. Acton Construction Co., 847 F.2d 234 (5th Cir. 1988), required relinquishing the case. The court also held that no provision of the removal statute applied to the circumstances in this case and Peters v. Standard Oil Co. of Texas, 174 F.2d 162, 163 (5th Cir. 1949), was inapplicable here. View "Ashford v. Aeroframe Services, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting RSI's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) motion for relief from the court's prior judgment. The court held that the district court did not lack jurisdiction to grant relief pursuant to Rule 60(b)(3) in light of Standard Oil Co. of California v. United States, 429 U.S. 17, 17 (1976). The court explained that the Rule 60(b) motion came on the heels of a reversal, rather than an affirmance, of the initial ruling was an insufficient basis for stripping a district court of its jurisdiction to hear Rule 60(b) motions without leave. In this case, the district court found that RSI established, by clear and convincing evidence, that plaintiff's misconduct prevented it from a full and fair hearing of its case. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion when it granted relief from judgment. View "Hernandez v. Results Staffing, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The 60-day deadline to file a notice of appeal under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(1)(B) operates any time the government was a party to one of the consolidated lawsuits, even where the appeal solely concerns a different lawsuit and the government is not a party to the appeal. Defendant sought an en banc rehearing of the Fifth Circuit's decision to dismiss as time-barred his appeal of the district court's denial of his motion to vacate a second contempt order. The court treated the petition for en banc rehearing as a motion for panel reconsideration and granted the motion for reconsideration, withdrawing its prior order dismissing the appeal. The court held that United States v. Brumfield was inconsistent with its prior caselaw on the 60-day limit for him to file his notice of appeal under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(1)(B), and its tension with governing law grew in the face of the 2011 Rules and statutory revisions. View "United States v. Conner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure