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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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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction on charges of wire fraud, securities fraud, making false statements to the SEC, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud. Defendant was the CEO of ArthroCare, a publicly traded medical device company and he, along with the company's other senior executives, had engaged in a channel-stuffing scheme. The court held that, to the extent that an FBI case agent's testimony was improper, any error was harmless; the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding testimony of ArthroCare's former controller; the jury instructions were not erroneous under the wire fraud statute; and jury instructions on accomplice liability comported with the general aiding and abetting knowledge and intention requirements reiterated in Rosemond v. United States, 134 S. Ct. 1240 (2014). The court rejected defendant's remaining contentions. View "United States v. Baker" on Justia Law

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The SEC alleged that defendants violated the Securities Exchange Act because they failed to register interests in their drilling projects as securities. Williamson v. Tucker set out three factors for determining whether investors expect to profit solely from third-party efforts. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of the SEC's motion for summary judgment, holding that defendants raised significant issues of material fact. The court applied the first factor in Williamson and held that the investors had formal powers, they used these powers, the voting structure was not necessarily coercive, the investors received information, they communicated with each other, and the number of investors was not so high that it eliminated all of their power. In regard to the second Williamson factor, the court held that there was a genuine issue about the investors' knowledge and experience. In regard to the third Williamson factor, the court held that there was a genuine issue concerning whether the managers were effectively irreplaceable. View "SEC v. Arcturus Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action alleging claims of wrongful imprisonment, free speech retaliation, and procedural due process against Defendant Reed (District Attorney for Washington Parish, Louisiana) and Defendant Cox (a minister in Franklinton, Louisiana). The court held that the district court erred by relying on Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), to dismiss plaintiff's wrongful imprisonment and free speech retaliation claims, and by resolving a genuine dispute of material fact at the summary judgment stage to dismiss plaintiff's due process claim. In this case, after plaintiff informed the FBI about defendants' unlawful business dealings, plaintiff was arrested and incarcerated for 101 days based on a "DA Hold," which the parties agree was not recognized by law. View "Magee v. Reed" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision denying petitioner's application for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The court affirmed the BIA's adverse credibility determination and held that it was supported by substantial evidence. In this case, the BIA catalogued numerous, specific inconsistencies in petitioner's presentation, and it identified crucial omissions in statements submitted by petitioner and in third parties' supporting affidavits. Furthermore, given the reiterative content of documents and the BIA's extensive credibility assessment, the BIA did not fail to give full and fair consideration of all circumstances that gave rise to petitioner's claims. View "Ghotra v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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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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After Laura S. was killed shortly after returning to Mexico, her representatives filed suit under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999 (1971), against a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent and his supervisor. In this case, Laura entered the country illegally, was detained in CBP custody, and subsequently signed a form indicating her decision to repatriate voluntarily. Plaintiffs alleged that Laura was coerced into signing the voluntary removal form and was denied her due process rights, causing her death. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants, holding that special factors precluded the extension of a Bivens remedy to this new context. The court also held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity where the agent's conduct was not objectively unreasonable. View "Maria S. v. Doe" on Justia Law

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In this action involving a Texas mortgage dispute, the Fifth Circuit held that there was ambiguity in the contract's escrow provisions and thus the district court erred by granting summary judgment to defendants on claims arising from that ambiguity. The court noted that, at this stage, it was premature to conclude that defendants were entitled to their foreclosure counterclaim. Therefore, the court vacated the foreclosure ruling and remanded for reconsideration. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants on the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act claim, and the district court's judgment on the Texas Debt Collection Practices Act claim. View "Wease v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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Law firm Schiff Hardin challenged the denial of its Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the complaint and rejection of its attorney immunity defense in an action alleging negligent misrepresentation. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred in rejecting the firm's attorney immunity defense because the conduct sued on occurred during the representation of the firm's client. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's denial of the firm's motion and rendered judgment dismissing the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). View "Ironshore Europe DAC v. Schiff Hardin, LLP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

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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