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

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
by
This case concerns OSHA's November 5, 2021 Emergency Temporary Standard requiring employees of covered employers to undergo COVID-19 vaccination or take weekly COVID-19 tests and wear a mask.The Fifth Circuit granted petitioners' motion for a stay pending review, holding that the Nken factors favored a stay. The court concluded that petitioners' challenges to the Mandate are likely to succeed on the merits. The court stated that, on the dubious assumption that the Mandate does pass constitutional muster, it is nonetheless fatally flawed on its own terms. The court wrote that the Mandate's strained prescriptions combine to make it the rare government pronouncement that is both overinclusive (applying to employers and employees in virtually all industries and workplaces in America, with little attempt to account for the obvious differences between the risks facing, say, a security guard on a lonely night shift, and a meatpacker working shoulder to shoulder in a cramped warehouse) and underinclusive (purporting to save employees with 99 or more coworkers from a "grave danger" in the workplace, while making no attempt to shield employees with 98 or fewer coworkers from the very same. The court found that promulgation of the Mandate grossly exceeds OSHA's statutory authority and found arguments to the contrary unavailing.The court also concluded that it is clear that denial of petitioners' proposed stay would do them irreparable harm where the Mandate threatens to substantially burden the liberty interests of reluctant individuals, companies, and the States. In contrast, the court stated that a stay will do OSHA no harm whatsoever. Finally, the court concluded that a stay is firmly in the public interest. View "BST Holdings, LLC v. Occupational Safety and Health Administration" on Justia Law

by
Family Rehab brought a procedural due process claim arguing that it is entitled to third step review before recoupment of Medicare overpayments. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Family Rehab, and entered a permanent injunction barring HHS from recouping the disputed funds until the completion of third step review under 42 C.F.R. 405.1036(c)–(d).However, in reaching its decision, the district court did not have the benefit of the Fifth Circuit's decision in Sahara Health Care Inc. v. Azar, 975 F.3d 523 (5th Cir. 2020), in which the court rejected a similar due process claim under nearly identical facts. In this case, Family Rehab's claims all involve documentation issues that do not require cross-examination and credibility determinations. The court explained that Family Rehab's claims could have been resolved in the first two steps of administrative review by producing the relevant documents. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment. View "Family Rehabilitation, Inc. v. Becerra" on Justia Law

by
The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, implemented through the FDA, 21 U.S.C. 387a(b), 393(d)(2), prohibits manufacturers from selling any “new tobacco product” without authorization. The FDA’s 2016, “Deeming Rule” classified electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes) as a “new tobacco product.” To avoid an overnight shutdown of the e-cigarette industry, the FDA delayed enforcement of the Deeming Rule then required e-cigarette makers to submit premarket tobacco applications (PMTAs). Originally, the FDA required that all PMTAs be filed by 2018. The FDA later extended the PMTA deadline to 2022 but then moved the deadline to 2020. Initially, the FDA’s guidance stated that “in general, FDA does not expect that applicants will need to conduct long-term studies to support an application” but later changed course and required long-term studies of e-cigarettes.Triton had e-cigarette products on the market before the Deeming Rule. Triton (and others) submitted PMTAs for flavored e-cigarettes. In August 2021, the FDA announced that it would deny the PMTAs for 55,000 flavored e-cigarettes, stating it “likely” needed evidence from long-term studies." Less than a week later, Triton submitted a letter stating that it intended to conduct long-term studies of its products. About two weeks later, the FDA issued Triton a marketing denial order. The Fifth Circuit granted a temporary administrative stay and, later, a full stay, “to prevent the FDA from shutting down Triton’s business” pending disposition of Triton’s petition. View "Wages and White Lion Investments, L.L.C. v. United States Food and Drug Administration" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint against various federal officials in their official capacities, in an action alleging Fourth and Fifth Amendment claims, as well as claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Plaintiff contends that ever since he refused to be an informant for the FBI a decade ago, he has been placed on a watchlist, leading to "extreme burdens and hardship while traveling."The court concluded that plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claims fail to plausibly allege that his injury is fairly traceable to defendants. In this case, plaintiff bases his Fourth Amendment claims on TSA and CBP agents' searching him and seizing his electronics. However, instead of suing these agents directly, plaintiff brought his Fourth Amendment claims against the heads of DHS, TSA, and CBP. The court concluded that it cannot reasonably infer that the heads of DHS, TSA, or CBP will immediately cause or ever have caused this kind of Fourth Amendment violation. The court also concluded that plaintiff's Fifth Amendment claim fails because he failed to allege some kind of deprivation of his due process rights. The court explained that plaintiff has no right to hassle-free travel. Furthermore, plaintiff's allegation that defendants have deprived him of his right to freely practice his chosen profession and of his liberty interest in his reputation also fail. Likewise, plaintiff failed to plausibly plead his APA claims.Finally, in regard to plaintiff's contention that the Attorney General, FBI Director, and TSC Director acted arbitrarily and capriciously by placing him on the Selectee List, the court concluded that these allegations do not permit a reasonable inference that these defendants violated typical review processes to retaliate against plaintiff. View "Ghedi v. Mayorkas" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs, tenants living in substandard conditions in a "Section 8" housing project, filed suit seeking to compel HUD to provide relocation assistance vouchers. The Fifth Circuit held that, because 24 C.F.R. 886.323(e) mandates that HUD provide relocation assistance, its alleged decision not to provide relocation vouchers to plaintiffs is not a decision committed to agency discretion by law and is therefore reviewable. Furthermore, the agency's inaction here constitutes a final agency action because it prevents or unreasonably delays the tenants from receiving the relief to which they are entitled by law. Therefore, the district court has jurisdiction over plaintiffs' Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and Fair Housing Act (FHA) claims and erred in dismissing those claims.However, the court agreed with the district court that plaintiffs failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted on their Fifth Amendment equal protection claim. In this case, plaintiffs failed to state a plausible claim of intentional race discrimination. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hawkins v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit granted in part and denied in part the United States' motion for a stay pending appeal of the district court's nationwide preliminary injunction preventing the United States from relying on immigration enforcement priorities outlined in memos from DHS and ICE. On Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021, the Acting Secretary of DHS issued a memo announcing that the Department would undergo a comprehensive review of enforcement policies, announcing DHS's interim enforcement priorities, and directing an immediate 100-day pause on removals. ICE issued a memo on February 18, 2021 that incorporates the same three interim priorities.The court did not see a strong justification for concluding that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 detention statutes override the deep-rooted tradition of enforcement discretion when it comes to decisions that occur before detention, such as who should be subject to arrest, detainers, and removal proceedings. Therefore, the United States has shown a likelihood of prevailing on appeal to the extent the preliminary injunction prevents officials from relying on the memos' enforcement priorities for nondetention decisions. The court also concluded that the remaining factors also support a partial stay.The court stated that the injunction will go into effect to the extent it prevents DHS and ICE officials from relying on the memos to refuse to detain aliens described in 8 U.S.C. 1226(c)(1) against whom detainers have been lodged or aliens who fall under section 1231(a)(1)(A) because they have been ordered removed. The court stayed the injunction pending appeal in all other respects including the reporting requirements. View "Texas v. United States" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal, based on lack of jurisdiction, of plaintiff's claims against the Department and the FAA based on his dissatisfaction with the FAA's response to several of his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Construing the complaint liberally, as the district court was bound to do, the court concluded that the district court should have determined that plaintiff sufficiently alleged that the agency had improperly withheld agency records. The court explained that this was sufficient to invoke the district court's subject matter jurisdiction. View "Rutila v. United States Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

by
In an action concerning the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) created by the Secretary of DHS on December 20, 2018, and purportedly rescinded by DHS in a memorandum on June 1, 2021, the district court concluded that DHS's purported rescission of MPP violated, inter alia, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).After determining that the States' claims are justiciable, the Fifth Circuit denied the Government's motion for an emergency stay pending appeal of the district court's permanent injunction enjoining and restraining DHS from implementing or enforcing the June 1 Memorandum and ordering DHS to enforce and implement MPP in good faith. The court held that DHS failed to satisfy the four Nken stay factors. The court concluded that the Government is not likely to succeed on either its APA arguments or its 8 U.S.C. 1225 arguments, let alone that the Government is likely to succeed on both. Therefore, the Government has not come close to a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits. In this case, the Secretary failed to consider several relevant factors and important aspects of the problem, including the States' legitimate interests, MPP's benefits, potential alternatives to MPP, and section 1225's implications. Furthermore, the Government's counterarguments are unpersuasive.The court also concluded that the Government has not shown that it will be irreparably injured absent a stay pending appeal; the States have suffered, and will continue to suffer, harms as a result of the termination of MPP; and the Government is also wrong to say that a stay would promote the public interest by preserving the separation of powers. Finally, the court rejected the Government's contention that a stay is warranted because the district court should have remanded without vacating the June 1 Memorandum or issuing an injunction. View "Texas v. Biden" on Justia Law

by
During Castilleja's 15 years as Bexar County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (CSCD) community service officer, he had multiple reprimands and termination warnings. After Castilleja was transferred in 2014, his new manager suspected Castilleja was violating overtime rules. An investigation by Assistant Chief Kelly confirmed Castilleja was routinely taking unapproved overtime and using his work computer to send union-related emails. Castilleja only received counseling and was put on a “performance improvement plan.” Castilleja’s 2015 evaluation rated him “satisfactory” overall but gave him the lowest rating in multiple categories. In 2016, Castilleja was sworn in as president of the Bexar County Probation Officers Association (BCPOA), having served in the union since 2007. Castilleja switched units and other issues came to light, resulting in an audit of Castilleja’s former cases. Brady recommended termination, citing Castilleja’s disregard of “the basic ten[e]ts of case management,” multiple policy violations, plus two instances of conducting union business while at work, and one use of work email to send union-related emails. Meanwhile, the BCPOA issued a no-confidence petition calling for Anderson’s removal. Days later, Anderson heard Castilleja’s appeal. Anderson fired Castilleja.Castilleja and the Union sued Anderson and Brady in their individual and official capacities, claiming that Castilleja was fired in retaliation for union-related speech and association in violation of the First Amendment, 42 U.S.C. 1983, 1985. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of all claims. The evidence established valid reasons for firing Castilleja. View "United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial & Service Workers International Union v. Anderson" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the FDIC receiver (FDIC-R) and the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) dismissal of Lexon's Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) claim against the FDIC in its corporate capacity. In this case, Lexon filed suit against the FDIC-R alleging violations of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA).The court concluded that the district court did not err in sua sponte granting summary judgment. Although the district court erred in failing to notify the parties, that error was harmless. The court held that letters of credit are repudiable contracts for the purposes of 12 U.S.C. 1821(e)(1); the FDIC-R repudiated the letters of credit within a "reasonable period" under section 1821(e)(2); and Lexon lacks "actual direct compensatory damages" under FIRREA. The court also concluded that Lexon failed to establish an analogous private liability and the district court correctly dismissed Lexon's FTCA claim for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. View "Lexon Insurance Co., Inc. v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp." on Justia Law