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The Fifth Circuit considered this case en banc to modify the criteria set forth in Davis & Sons, Inc. v. Gulf Oil Corp. for determining whether a contract for performance of specialty services to facilitate the drilling or production of oil or gas on navigable waters was maritime. The court adopted a simpler, more straightforward test consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Kirby for making this determination. The court adopted a two-prong test to determine whether a contract in this context was maritime: First, was the contract one to provide services to facilitate the drilling or production of oil and gas on navigable waters? Second, if the answer to the above question was "yes," did the contract provide or do the parties expect that a vessel will play a substantial role in the completion of the contract? Applying the new test to this case, the court held that the contract was nonmaritime and controlled by Louisiana law, which barred indemnity. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for LDI and granted summary judgment for STS. View "Larry Doiron, Inc. v. Specialty Rental Tools & Supply" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated defendant's restitution order after he pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child. The court held that, especially given the victim mother's inability to speak at sentencing, it was prudent to permit the district court to ask and decide whether special circumstances excused the government's failure to present evidence in the first instance regarding the amount of restitution. Accordingly, the court remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "United States v. Villalobos" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed Defendant Petras and Shaker's conviction for interfering with the performance of the duties of a flight crew by intimidation, in violation of 49 U.S.C. 46504. The court held that defendants failed to meet their burden of proving that the prosecution engaged in purposeful discrimination, and the district court did not clearly err in determining that the prosecutor did not strike two jurors based on race. The court also held that there was no error in the jury instructions, and section 46504, as construed, was constitutional. The court rejected defendants' First Amendment as-applied, overbreadth, and vagueness challenges. Finally, the evidence was sufficient to convict Shaker, and Petras's argument that the district court violated the Sixth Amendment by ordering restitution based on its own findings was foreclosed by precedent. View "United States v. Petras" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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A debtor claiming federal exemptions under section 522 of the Bankruptcy Code may exempt a 100% interest in an asset in certain cases because the relevant provisions of section 522 cap the value of the asset a debtor may exempt, not the debtor's interest in that asset. The Fifth Circuit answered the certified question and thus returned the case to the bankruptcy court for further proceedings. View "Peake v. Ayobami" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud (Count 1), wire fraud (Counts 2-15), harboring and concealing a person from arrest (Count 16), and assisting a federal offender (Count 17). The Fifth Circuit held that the convictions as to Counts 16 and 17 must be vacated, holding that defendant's conspiracy-furthering acts did not qualify as harboring acts simply because they provided a third party with a revenue stream that funded his life on the lam. In this case, the government has not shown that any of defendant's acts continued the harboring offense. The court affirmed in all other respects and remanded to the district court. View "United States v. Lanier" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Provident on breach-of-contract and tortious-breach-of-contract claims stemming from two disability insurance policies that Provident issued to plaintiff. The Fifth Circuit held that plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to raise a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether his disability resulted from injury and arthritis, in which case he would be entitled to lifelong benefits. Therefore, the court reversed the grant of summary judgment as to the breach-of-contract claim. Even if plaintiff had not waived his claim for punitive damages based on the theory that Provident tortiously breached the contract, he failed to offer evidence showing that Provident lacked an arguable reason for administering his claim under the sickness provisions. Accordingly, the court affirmed as to this issue. View "Cox v. Provident Life & Accident Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for possession of firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence. The court held that the district court did not err by including the government's requested jury instruction. Although the court found that the addition unnecessarily confused the issue and should not have been included, it did not ultimately misstate the law and was therefore not reversible error. The court also held that there was sufficient evidence to convict defendant of possession of firearms in furtherance of the crime of extortion. View "United States v. Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision reversing the magistrate judge's grant of a motion to compel arbitration. In this case, plaintiff alleged violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 1 U.S.C. 15, and the Texas Free Enterprise and Antitrust Act. Defendants moved to compel arbitration pursuant to a clause in the parties' contract (the Dealer Agreement). The court held that, regardless of whether an agreement clearly and unmistakably delegates the question of arbitrability, defendants' arguments for arbitrability were wholly groundless. Therefore, this action was not subject to mandatory arbitration. The court need not reach the question of whether the third parties to the arbitration clause could enforce such an arbitration clause. View "Archer and White Sales, Inc. v. Henry Schein, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment to the administrators of a university on their immunity defenses. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that he was deprived of his property interest in his job without due process and tortious interference with his employment contract. The court held that the district court erred in denying the administrators qualified immunity against the section 1983 claim because plaintiff did not have a clearly established property right. Furthermore, state law compelled a similar result on the tortious interference claim. Accordingly, the district court should have granted immunity to the administrators. View "Wilkerson v. University of North Texas" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's holding that it lacked jurisdiction over relator's claims based on the public disclosure bar of the False Claims Act (FCA). Relator filed suit against his employer Northrop Grumman and against Lockheed Martin for making false claims against the government. The court held that it lacked jurisdiction to hear relator's claims because he failed to demonstrate that he was the original source of the Systems Design and Development contract. In this case, the record made clear that relator derived his knowledge about the connection between cost performance and award fees from portions of the contract that were publicly disclosed before he filed his complaint. View "Solomon v. Lockheed Martin Corp." on Justia Law