Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
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Texas state prisoner Haverkamp, a biological male at birth who identifies as a transgender woman, sued, alleging violations of the Equal Protection Clause by denying Haverkamp medically necessary sex-reassignment surgery and by failing to provide certain female commissary items and a long-hair pass. Texas’s Correctional Managed Healthcare Committee has a policy concerning the treatment of gender disorders. Based on the state’s advisory, the district court ordered service of Haverkamp’s operative complaint on Dr. Murray, whom the state identified as the proper defendant if Haverkamp were seeking sex-reassignment surgery, and the nine Committee members who had not yet been named as parties. The district court subsequently denied motions to dismiss, concluding that the state was not entitled to sovereign immunity.The Fifth Circuit vacated. Haverkamp’s suit is barred by sovereign immunity because the Committee members are not proper defendants under Ex Parte Young; Haverkamp fails to allege they have the requisite connection to enforcing the policies Haverkamp challenges. In light of the state’s representations to the district court that these defendants are the proper state officials to sue, the court did not dismiss them from the case. View "Haverkamp v. Linthicum" on Justia Law

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Two Planned Parenthood entities and three Jane Does filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging that the Louisiana Department of Health is unlawfully declining to act on Planned Parenthood's application for a license to provide abortion services in Louisiana. The district court denied the Department's motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1).The Fifth Circuit held that it has jurisdiction over the Department's interlocutory appeal because the Department asserted sovereign immunity in the district court. The court held that plaintiffs' second requested injunction—directing the Department to "promptly rule" on their application "in accordance with all applicable constitutional requirements"—is not barred by Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 106 (1984), because plaintiffs allege a potential violation of their procedural-due-process rights pursuant to Ex parte Young and because requiring the Department to make a decision on the application and comply with the federal Constitution does not infringe the state's sovereign immunity.The court also held that the first and third of plaintiffs' requested injunctions—directing the Department to "not withhold approval" of their application or "grant" them a license—are barred by Pennhurst because there is no free-standing federal right to receive an abortion-clinic license. The court declined to exercise its pendant jurisdiction to consider other issues raised by the Department. Accordingly, the court denied the motion to dismiss, affirmed in part and reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants for malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and civil conspiracy. However, after defendants' voluntary dismissal of the allegedly malicious and abusive suit, he moved for attorney's fees based on 28 U.S.C. 1927 and the common law bad-faith exception to the American rule.The Fifth Circuit reversed the dismissal of plaintiff's claims based on res judicata and collateral estoppel. The court explained that, given that the claims for malicious prosecution and abuse of process arise out of the fact of the first lawsuit—and not the facts underlying that lawsuit—they do not arise from the same transaction and are thus not compulsory counterclaims. Furthermore, the district court's denial of defendant's motion for attorney's fees does not collaterally estop him from bringing his current claims, and no factual finding in the order denying the motion for attorney's fees collaterally estops plaintiff from proving his current claims. Finally, because defendants' proposed alternative path for relief is entirely separate from plaintiff's main argument on appeal, was not fully briefed by him, and has not been analyzed by the district court in even a passing fashion, the court declined to affirm on those grounds. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Hammervold v. Blank" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit in Texas district court against Mabe after plaintiff was involved in a car accident with a truck owned by Mabe and operated by a Mabe employee. The accident occurred in Louisiana, a few miles from its border with Texas. Although the Texas district court concluded that Mabe lacked sufficient contacts with Texas to subject the company to personal jurisdiction in the state, the Texas district court found that it was in the interests of justice not to dismiss the case and instead transferred it to the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, which was the federal district court sitting in the district in which the accident occurred. The Louisiana federal district court concluded that plaintiff's claims were time-barred and granted summary judgment for Mabe.The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded, concluding that 28 U.S.C. 1631 is an on-point federal statute that does not conflict with the Louisiana Civil Code Articles and that would preempt any contrary Louisiana law, rule, or practice under the Supremacy Clause, and the Erie doctrine provides no reason to avoid the statute's application. Therefore, the statute can and must govern the court's determination of when and where plaintiff is considered to have filed this action. Applying section 1631, the court accepted that, as far as it was concerned, plaintiff is deemed to have filed his suit in the Western District of Louisiana on November 22, 2016, the date he actually filed suit in the Eastern District of Texas. Accordingly, for the court's purposes, plaintiff must be deemed to have filed his claim "in a court of competent jurisdiction and venue" on that date and thereby interrupted the one-year prescriptive period under Louisiana law, rendering his claim timely. The court concluded that the Louisiana district court erred by granting Mabe summary judgment on the basis that plaintiff's claim had prescribed. View "Franco v. Mabe Trucking, Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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After LAPIA terminated defendant's employment, it filed suit against him in state court seeking damages for disparaging comments defendant allegedly made about the company while soliciting his former clients, as well as an injunction enforcing a non-compete clause in defendant's employment contract. Defendant counterclaimed, seeking to recover unpaid commissions, and then removed the case to federal court. For nearly two years, LAPIA failed to file an answer to defendant's counterclaims, only finally seeking leave to file the document after the parties had fully briefed cross summary judgment motions. The district court accepted LAPIA's answer without explanation, then granted the company summary judgment based on a new defense theory that had been raised for the first time in LAPIA’s belated answer.The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to LAPIA and its denial of defendant's motion for partial summary judgment, because LAPIA failed to demonstrate that its failure to initially file an answer was the product of "excusable neglect," as is required to obtain an extension of time once a filing period has elapsed under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "L.A. Public Insurance Adjusters, Inc. v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that an IRS transfer certificate is not necessary to transfer ownership of her account with Fidelity. The district court sua sponte dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that such a declaration would necessarily involve a determination with respect to federal taxes.The Fifth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the Declaratory Judgment Act's federal-tax exception is a jurisdictional condition, requiring dismissal, rather than a nonjurisdictional condition, which may be waived. In this case, because the requested relief—declaring that plaintiff was not required to provide a transfer certificate to Fidelity—necessarily involves a determination with respect to federal taxes, the district court properly dismissed her action for lack of jurisdiction. View "Rivero v. Fidelity Investments, Inc." on Justia Law

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Bulkley is a Texas company that transports refrigerated goods interstate. After a Bulkley truck driver was injured while delivering goods to a customer in California, the Department of Industrial Relations cited Bulkley and assessed penalties for three violations of California health and safety law. Bulkley pursued administrative appeals in California, disputing the Department's authority to require Bulkley to comply with California law. Bulkley lost and has since filed two lawsuits challenging the Department's authority.The Fifth Circuit addressed personal jurisdiction before subject matter jurisdiction because: (1) Bulkley contests subject-matter jurisdiction without analyzing it, (2) the district court expressed reservations regarding subject matter jurisdiction in Bulkley I without explaining them, and (3) the court's precedents squarely address the personal jurisdiction question in this case. The court concluded that the Department's action of sending a letter to Bulkley in Texas, regarding penalties and inspections related to violations of California law, did not create minimum contacts that establish personal jurisdiction in Texas courts. Therefore, the Department lacks minimum contacts establishing personal jurisdiction in Texas. The court declined to reach the Department's alternative argument that the Texas long-arm statute does not apply to out-of-state officials. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Bulkley & Associates, LLC v. Department of Industrial Relations" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on remand against Midwestern. Contrary to Midwestern's argument that the Fifth Circuit also remanded a separate claim of unjust enrichment, the court's opinion expressly stated that it only reinstate Midwestern Cattle's money had and received claim. Likewise, the court's decretal language reversed as to only one claim and one remedy, not also a second, separate claim.Midwestern also finds fault in the district court's disposition of the money-had-and-received claim that the Fifth Circuit did remand. The court rejected Midwestern's Seventh Amendment claim and concluded that, even for actions at law, the Supreme Court has long held that summary judgment does not violate the Seventh Amendment. In this case, the court found no error in the district court's attentive weighing of the relevant considerations and grant of summary judgment on the unclean-hands defense. View "Midwestern Cattle Marketing, LLC v. Legend Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to deny IEVM's motion to compel arbitration and to enter judgment for UEG. The court concluded that the parties failed to contract around the general rule that courts resolve litigation-conduct waivers. Therefore, the arbitrators exceeded their authority in resolving the issue here.Applying the substantial invocation analysis, the court concluded that IEVM substantially invoked the judicial process to UEG's detriment. In this case, IEVM sued UEG in state court without saying anything about arbitration; demanded a jury trial and paid the required fee; filed a motion to remand the action to state court and appealed the district court's denial of that motion; vigorously defended the existence of personal jurisdiction in Texas and appealed the district court's personal jurisdiction dismissal; and sought rehearing en banc after this court affirmed the district court's removal and jurisdictional holdings. Furthermore, UEG has made the requisite showing of prejudice where, among other things, IEVM's persistent pursuit of litigation required UEG to defend its interests, and UEG incurred significant fees and costs. View "International Energy Ventures Management, LLC v. United Energy Group, Ltd." on Justia Law

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Alliance and Coalition are nonprofit organizations that endorse political candidates in New Orleans. Alliance filed suit against Coalition, seeking to enjoin use of its trade name and logo for federal trademark infringement under the Lanham Act, state trademark infringement, and unfair trade practices. The district court subsequently joined Darleen Jacobs as a third party to the case.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's award of attorney's fees to Alliance for federal trademark infringement under the Lanham Act. The court concluded that the district court's procedure for joining Jacobs met the demands of due process, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in holding her directly liable for the fee award. The court found it appropriate to extend the interpretation of the Patent Act fee-shifting provision to its interpretation of the Lanham Act and found that district courts do have the authority to award appellate fees under the Lanham Act. The court concluded that the district court's decision to award fees for further litigation of the attorney's fee award did not contravene the mandate rule; even if appellants are correct that Alliance's billing entries are flawed, the proper remedy is "a reduction of the award by a percentage intended to substitute for the exercise of billing judgment," which the district court did; and the district court considered each of appellants' objections to Alliance's fees motion. Finally, the court declined to address appellants' First Amendment argument, which was not addressed in Alliance I. View "Alliance for Good Government v. Coalition for Better Government" on Justia Law