Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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The filing of an amended complaint does not revive the plaintiff’s absolute right to dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(i). The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's case with prejudice after he attempted to dismiss unilaterally without prejudice. In this case, plaintiff filed a state court action against Correct Care and others, alleging constitutional violations and other wrongs inflicted on him while he was in the custody of the Texas Civil Commitment Office. The court held that plaintiff was entitled to dismissal by notice under Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(i) without prejudice and without a court order against all defendants other than McLane. Because McLane filed an answer, the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claim against him fell under Rule 41(a)(2), which allowed the court to impose conditions on the dismissal. View "Welsh v. Correct Care, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2005, during Hurricane Katrina, a barge moored by Lafarge hurtled through a floodwall and unleashed catastrophic flooding in the Lower 9th Ward. Richard T. Seymour represented New Orleans residents, but withdrew from the Barge Litigation in 2011. After the Barge Litigation settled several years later, he moved to intervene in order to pursue his fees and expenses. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision as to intervention of right and dismissed Seymour's appeal for lack of jurisdiction as to permissive intervention. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Seymour's motion to intervene came too late. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying permissive intervention because it was also untimely. View "St. Bernard Parish v. Lafarge North America, Inc." on Justia Law

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Neither sending notice by email nor sending it to a general contractor's lawyer satisfies LA. REV. STAT. 2247's unambiguous requirements that (1) notice be sent by registered or certified mail (2) to the general contractor at any place in Louisiana that it maintains an office. In this case, 84 Lumber filed two sworn statements of claim under the Louisiana Public Works Act (LPWA), alleging that Paschen and J & A failed to pay for its work on those projects. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that 84 Lumber's notice did not comply with the LPWA's notice requirements, and that the evidence established only that the notice was sent but did not establish that it was received. View "84 Lumber Co. v. Continental Casualty Co." on Justia Law

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The parties entered into an overlapping series of agreements regarding management and revenue of a YouTube channel -- YouTube.com/VideoGames, featuring reviews of video games and digital recordings of players' screens. Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, alleging various claims stemming from the agreements. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court had subject-matter jurisdiction to try the case and did not err in dismissing a nondiverse partnership as dispensable, nor err in its entry of judgment upon the jury's verdict. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment and remanded to the district court for the sole purpose of fashioning any appropriate protective measures to prevent duplicative litigation. View "Moss v. Princip" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit granted a stay pending appeal by issuing a published opinion, as binding law of the circuit, on August 14, 2018. After the original appellants were defeated in the November 2018 elections, the current appellants moved for voluntary dismissal of the appeal. The clerk entered an order stating that, under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 42(b), the appeal was dismissed as of January 07, 2019. Appellees then brought an unopposed motion to vacate the court's August 14th opinion. The court denied the motion to vacate the opinion granting the stay and held that the panel majority published the opinion after making certain it was a correct rendition of the law and the facts, including its holding that the district court, on remand, had violated the mandate rule. The court explained that the published opinion granting the stay was this court's last statement on the matter and, like all published opinions, bound the district courts in this circuit. View "ODonnell v. Harris County" on Justia Law

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Henson v. Columbus Bank & Trust Co., which allows a plaintiff to litigate in federal court a claim previously dismissed in state court, was not binding and contravened preexisting full faith a credit precedent. The Fifth Circuit held that res judicata precedent barred plaintiff's workplace discrimination claims after a Georgia state court determined that related claims were time-barred. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action on res judicata grounds. View "Thompson v. Dallas City Attorney's Office" on Justia Law

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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

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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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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

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The Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA) currently manages the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport, but control would transfer to a new board under Senate Bill 2162, which was recently passed by the Mississippi Legislature. The new board would be structured differently with nine commissioners, rather than the current five. Although Governor Bryant signed the Bill into law in 2016, it has only nominally taken effect. The FAA does not consider disputed airport transfers if there is pending litigation. JMAA and others sued, challenging S.B. 2162 under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, alleging discriminatory purposes. In discovery, Governor Bryant identified Chief of Staff Songy as a person having discoverable knowledge that would tend to support or refute any claim, defense, or element of damages in the case. JMAA moved to compel Songy’s deposition. Governor Bryant sought a protective order, claiming official privilege, which limits depositions. The Fifth Circuit declined to issue a writ of mandamus requested by the Governor. Involuntary depositions of highly-ranked government officials are only allowed in “exceptional circumstances.” A court must consider the status of the deponents, the potential burden on them, and the substantive reasons for taking the depositions; it rare that exceptional circumstances can be shown where the testimony is available from an alternate witness. The court nonetheless noted important aspects of this analysis that the lower court failed to fully consider, including parallel litigation regarding the deposition of legislators. View "In Re: Bryant" on Justia Law