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This appeal arose out of the district court's approval of a zero-dollar class action settlement and award of attorneys' fees in a consolidated lawsuit stemming from a merger between Midstream and Equity. The Fifth Circuit dismissed a class member's objection to the settlement based on lack of appellate jurisdiction. In this case, the class member was a nonparty, non-intervenor, who waived his right to appeal by filing an untimely, procedurally deficient objection. Furthermore, he failed to qualify for an exception pursuant to Devlin v. Scardelletti, 536 U.S. 1, 3–4, 6–7 (2002). View "Aron v. Crestwood Midstream Partners" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Wal-Mart on plaintiffs' negligence claims under Louisiana's merchant liability statute. Plaintiff Duncan slipped on a mat in front of a Reddy Ice freezer and fell forward onto the ground. The next day she had a still birth. Duncan and the child's father filed suit for wrongful death of their unborn child. The court held that plaintiffs failed to present any "positive evidence" that Wal-Mart created or had actual or constructive notice of the condition which caused the damage, as La. Stat. 9:2800.6(B)(2) requires, and therefore they cannot maintain their merchant liability claim. View "Duncan v. Wal-Mart Louisiana, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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This interlocutory appeal arose out of litigation between rival companies that specialize in highway toll collection technology. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of HTA's motion for summary judgment based on Texas's judicial proceedings privilege. Determining that it had jurisdiction over the appeal, the court proceeded to the merits. The court read Texas caselaw as signaling limits on which communications made prior to the initiation of litigation qualify as sufficiently related to the contemplated judicial proceeding identified by the defendant. In this case, the court agreed with the district court that these limits preclude application of the privilege here, most significantly, because of the disconnect between the purpose of the communications and HTA's later tortious interference litigation, as well as the circumstances of the third-party recipients. View "BancPass, Inc. v. Highway Toll Administration, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Petitioner was convicted of killing his wife's parents and sentenced to death. In this appeal, the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of appointed counsel and expert funding under 18 U.S.C. 3599, vacated its factual findings relating to petitioner's competency, and remanded for additional proceedings. The court held that petitioner was entitled to counsel to pursue his claim because Texas's application of Article 46.05 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure denied him due process. Furthermore, the court did not see justification for denying petitioner funding for experts and other investigative resources. Because the district court's conclusion was tainted by the inadequate due process protection provided to petitioner by the State, the court vacated the district court's findings of fact regarding his competency to be executed. View "Panetti v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for one count of conspiracy to transport and attempt to transport an undocumented alien within the United States and five counts of aiding and abetting the transport and attempted transport of an undocumented alien within the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to support his convictions; the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of a prior illegal transport offense; although the district court erred in applying a sentencing enhancement under USSG 2L.1(b)(3)(A) for committing the instant offense after sustaining a conviction for a prior felony immigration offense because the predicate conviction was not final, the error did not affect defendant's substantial rights; the court rejected defendant's claim that the district court improperly triple counted the prior felony immigration conviction; and defendant failed to show error, plain or otherwise, in the admission of the challenged remarks from the prosecutor. View "United States v. Jimenez-Elvirez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment for defendants in this civil rights case involving claims arising from the execution of a search warrant on plaintiff's house. The court held that the district court did not err in denying plaintiff's motion to remand; the state court did not err in dismissing the common law claims against the officers pursuant to section 101.106(e) of the Texas Tort Claims Act; the district court properly dismissed plaintiff's federal claims against the individual officers; because plaintiff's negligence claims arose from the same conduct as his intentional-tort claims, governmental immunity applied and the state-law claims were properly dismissed; plaintiff failed to allege a claim of municipal liability under 42 U.S.C. 1983 because he never alleged either an official policy or a widespread custom that caused a violation of his constitutional rights; plaintiff's requested period of discovery was impermissible; and the court rejected plaintiff's claim for punitive damages. Finally, the court denied as moot the individual defendants' motion to dismiss. View "Quinn v. Guerrero" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment charging him with possession of a firearm and ammunition while unlawfully present in the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(A). The court rejected defendant's contention that his receipt of relief pursuant to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and associated benefits consisting of work authorization, permission to hold a social security card and/or driver's license, and two-year protection from removal render him legally and lawfully present in the United States. In this case, defendant lacked lawful immigration status and he has failed to show entitlement of relief. Because the district court's written judgment incorrectly states that the statute of conviction is Section 922(g)(1), rather than Section 922(g)(5)(A), as alleged in Count One of the superseding indictment, the court affirmed the judgment but reformed it to reflect the conviction under Section 922(g)(5)(A). View "United States v. Arrieta" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence for conspiring to obstruct an agency proceeding and conspiring to make false statements to the executive branch in a terrorism investigation. The court held that the district court did not clearly err by applying a sentencing enhancement under USSG 3A1.4, because defendant's offense was a felony that involved, or was intended to promote, a federal crime of terrorism. In this case, the district court found that the Task Force was specifically investigating a possible conspiracy to violate 18 U.S.C. 2339A and 2339B. View "United States v. Fidse" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The rights that flow through a subrogation clause allow an insurer to seek reformation of a contract between its insured and a third party. After Associated paid the portion of the underlying settlement that was in excess of the Westfield policy, Associated sought reimbursement from Scottsdale, an insurer that issued a commercial umbrella policy to Alpha. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred in reading reformation’s privity requirement to necessitate a specific connection to the Alpha-Scottsdale insurance policy. Rather, privity in Texas focuses on the relationship to a party. In this case, the subrogation clause in the Associated-Alpha policy provided that connection. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Associated International Insurance Co. v. Scottsdale Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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To reset the accrual date, a change to an execution protocol must be substantial, and any new accrual date is applicable only to the portion of the protocol that changed. The switch from manufactured to compounded pentobarbital was not a substantial change because the switch between two forms of the same drug does not significantly alter the method of execution. In this case, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint under 42 U.S.C. 1983, challenging their method of execution. The court held that the district court properly dismissed Counts One, Two, and part of Three as time-barred. Even if the claims were timely, plaintiffs failed to state a claim with regard to Count Three, which addresses the method-of-execution claims regarding the compounded pentobarbital; Counts One and Four, which deal with plaintiffs' alleged inability to access information about their method of execution; and Count Two, which alleges the right to counsel during the events leading up to and during the execution. The court also held that the district court did not apply a heightened pleading standard; the district court did not consider evidence outside the pleadings; and any discovery error was harmless because plaintiffs were not entitled to discovery without a properly pleaded complaint. View "Whitaker v. Collier" on Justia Law