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

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Aviles worked for ADT, installing security systems in customers’ homes; he spied on customers using cameras he had installed. ADT discovered Aviles’s misconduct, fired him, and reported him to the authorities. The Richmonds, citizens of Texas, among Aviles’s victims, sued Aviles and ADT in Texas state court. The Richmonds’ contract with ADT contained an arbitration clause. ADT filed a federal suit under the Federal Arbitration Act, alleging complete diversity between the Richmonds and ADT, which is a citizen of Florida and Delaware.The Fifth Circuit vacated the dismissal of the suit. A federal court can hear a suit to compel arbitration only if it could hear “a suit arising out of the controversy between the parties,” 9 U.S.C. 4. To define that “controversy,” a federal court must “look through” the FAA petition “to the parties’ underlying substantive controversy.” If a federal court could hear a suit arising from that “whole controversy,” then that court can hear the FAA suit. The district court looked through ADT’s federal suit to the Richmonds’ state-court complaint, which named Aviles and ADT as defendants, and concluded that the “whole controversy” included Aviles, ADT, and the Richmonds. Those parties lacked diversity of citizenship because Aviles is from Texas. The district court erred in extending the “whole controversy” analysis to define the “parties” to that controversy. View "ADT, L.L.C. v. Richmond" on Justia Law

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In the first suit between the parties, the state trial court entered judgment against plaintiffs in August 2018. Plaintiffs then filed this second suit in federal court, asserting the same state law claims in addition to claims under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the state law claims as precluded by res judicata; dismissal of the CWA claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim; and denial of plaintiffs' motion for injunctive relief. In this case, the non-CWA claims existed at the time of the state court judgment, and are the same as those asserted in the state court litigation. Furthermore, plaintiffs have forfeited any argument that the district court erred in dismissing the CWA allegations in the original, first, and second amended complaints. The court also affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' subsequent Rule 59(e) motion for reconsideration, which included a request for leave to file a third amended complaint. View "Stevens v. St. Tammany Parish Government" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's order dismissing with prejudice plaintiff's claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Plaintiffs complied with all pretrial orders (PTOs) except for PTO 68, which required plaintiffs to provide past and present information about their medical conditions. Plaintiffs thrice attempted to comply with PTO 68 but the district court found their responses "puzzling" and "hard to make sense of" at the show cause hearing. The court concluded that there is a clear record of delay by plaintiffs in complying with PTO 68 and that no lesser sanction than dismissal with prejudice would serve the interests of justice. Accordingly, the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing plaintiffs' claims with prejudice. View "Moore v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit granted appellants' voluntary motion to dismiss this appeal involving the CDC's nationwide eviction moratorium under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 42(b). The eviction moratorium prevented landlords from exercising their state law eviction rights to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. After considering the record and the parties' oral arguments, the court found it unnecessary to decide mootness. Instead, the court granted the motion to dismiss the appeal "on terms . . . fixed by the court." View "Terkel v. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion confirming an Indian arbitration award and enjoined further litigation. In this case, after defendant secured an arbitral award for his maritime injuries, he continued to pursue litigation against the alleged wrongdoers and disputes that there was an enforceable agreement to arbitrate at all.The court rejected defendant's contention that the district court lost its jurisdiction to enforce the award in 2002, when it remanded the pre-arbitration suit to state court. Rather, the court concluded that the remand order lacked preclusive effect and the district court had subject matter jurisdiction to confirm the arbitral award. The court further concluded that it was precluded from from revisiting the issue of whether the deed contains an enforceable arbitration clause. Likewise, defendant's argument that Neptune's signature was required would have fared no better in this court. Finally, the court concluded that the state court's ruling is preclusive on the question of whether the district court erred in barring him from litigating against Talmidge, American Eagle, and Britannia because only Neptune was a party to the deed. View "Neptune Shipmanagement Services PTE, Ltd. v. Dahiya" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit held that the Chisom decree, which created Louisiana's one majority-black supreme court district, does not govern the other six districts. Therefore, the district court properly denied Louisiana's motion to dismiss this Voting Rights Act suit for lack of jurisdiction. In this case, the state argued that the Chisom decree centralizes perpetual federal control over all supreme court districts in the Eastern District of Louisiana, which issued the decree. The court concluded that the district court rejected that reading for good reason because it is plainly wrong. Rather, the present suit addresses a different electoral district untouched by the decree. View "Allen v. Louisiana" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging malicious interference with employment and witness tampering under Mississippi law. In this case, Defendant Clark and plaintiff are both residents of Mississippi. The court concluded that the district court erred in concluding that Clark was improperly joined for diversity purposes. Therefore, diversity jurisdiction was lacking and thus the court remanded to state court. View "Hicks v. Martinrea Auto Structures (USA), Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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After the en banc court held unlawful a Texas statute requiring voters to present photo ID in order to vote, the only issue in this appeal is whether plaintiffs are prevailing parties and thereby entitled to recover attorneys' fees under 42 U.S.C. 1988(b) and 52 U.S.C. 10310(e).The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's finding that plaintiffs are prevailing parties under Buckhannon Board and Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, 532 U.S. 598, 604 (2001), and the district court's award of attorneys' fees. In this case, plaintiffs successfully challenged the Texas photo ID requirement before the en banc court, and used that victory to secure a court order permanently preventing its enforcement during the elections in 2016 and 2017. Furthermore, the court order substituted the photo ID requirement with a mere option—which of course defeats the whole purpose of a mandate, and the state cannot go back in time and re-run the 2016 and 2017 elections under a photo ID requirement. Finally, defendants' claims to the contrary under Sole v. Wyner, 551 U.S. 74, 82 (2007), and Dearmore v. City of Garland, 519 F.3d 517 (5th Cir. 2008), are unavailing. View "Veasey v. Abbott" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion.In this insurance coverage dispute, at issue is who counts as an "employee" under the Texas Anti-Indemnity Act (TAIA). The Fifth Circuit concluded that Zurich was not required to file a cross-appeal and thus dismissed the cross-appeal. The court also concluded that the Maxim Policy does not assign Maxim's rights to Zurich, and thus Maxim can pursue this claim against Zurich under the Berkel Policy.The court certified the following question to the Supreme Court of Texas: Whether the employee exception to the TAIA, Texas Insurance Code 151.103, allows additional insured coverage when an injured worker brings a personal injury claim against the additional insured (indemnitee), and the worker and the indemnitee are deemed "co-employees" of the indemnitor for purposes of the TWCA. View "Maxim Crane Works, LP v. Zurich American Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, representatives of a class of plaintiffs, filed suit against an ADT employee in state court seeking millions in damages after the employee, who installed ADT's home-security surveillance systems, used his access privileges to spy on customers in their homes. ADT, which is being sued directly by other plaintiffs in both Texas and Florida for the breach of privacy, intervened in this suit and removed to the district court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). The district court granted plaintiffs' motion to remove to state court under the home state exception to CAFA.The Fifth Circuit granted ADT's motion to appeal under 28 U.S.C. 1453(c) and reversed the district court's remand order. In this case, plaintiffs claim to represent a class of plaintiffs seeking millions in recovery for the invasion of their privacy, although, as of yet, they have asserted claims against only the offending employee (who is imprisoned). The court explained that the thrust of this suit is to gain access to ADT's deep pockets and ADT, having properly intervened, must be considered a primary defendant under CAFA. View "Madison v. ADT, LLC" on Justia Law