Justia Injury Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Hill, et al.
Plaintiff filed suit against Exxon Mobil alleging damages caused by exposure to naturally occurring radioactive material. On appeal, Exxon Mobil challenged the dismissal of its intervention based on the district court's ruling that a memorandum prepared by Exxon Mobil's in-house counsel was ineligible for the protections of the attorney-client privilege. The court concluded that the manifest purpose of the memorandum was to deal with what would be the obvious reason Exxon Mobil would seek its lawyer's advice in the first place, namely to deal with any legal liability that may stem from under-disclosure of data, hedged against any liability that may occur from any implied warranties during complex negotiations. Accordingly, the court concluded that the memorandum was privileged and vacated and remanded the judgment of the district court. View "Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Hill, et al." on Justia Law
Brand Coupon Network, L.L.C. v. Catalina Marketing Corp., et al.
BCN filed suit against Catalina and three of its individual officers or employees, alleging deceptive trade practices, trademark violations, and related fraud and tort claims. BCN's claims stemmed from defendants' creation of CouponNetwork.com, a website and business "remarkably similar" to BCN's existing business, BrandCouponNetwork.com. The court vacated the district court's judgment to the extent that it dismissed BCN's claims under Rule 12(b)(6) as time barred because the district court erred in considering evidence outside the pleadings and a genuine issue of material fact appeared to exist regarding the timeliness of BCN's claims which would preclude summary judgment. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the individual defendants where BCN failed to preserve its claims where BCN did not present it to the district court and BCN's claims were conclusional. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Brand Coupon Network, L.L.C. v. Catalina Marketing Corp., et al." on Justia Law
Naquin, Sr. v. Elevating Boats, L.L.C.
Plaintiff filed a Jones Act suit alleging that EBI was negligent in the construction and/or maintenance of the LC-400 shipyard crane. A jury concluded that plaintiff was a Jones Act, 33 U.S.C. 902(3), seaman and that EBI's negligence caused his injury from the crane, awarding him past and future physical pain and suffering, past and future mental pain and suffering, and future lost wages. EBI appealed. The court concluded that the evidence supported the jury's finding that plaintiff was a seaman under the Jones Act; because the district court's seaman status instruction was clear and consistent with the usual articulation, the court concluded that the district court did not err in its instruction on the issue of seaman status; the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding of negligence; and because the court could not discern to what extent plaintiff's award for emotional suffering was based upon the non-compensable harm caused by a relative's death, his awards were tainted. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court as it related to liability but vacated the judgment as it related to damages, remanding for further proceedings. View "Naquin, Sr. v. Elevating Boats, L.L.C." on Justia Law
Williams v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co.
In this diversity case, at issue was whether plaintiff, a Mississippi resident injured in Mississippi while working for an Alabama resident contractor, had an action in tort for damages against the employer's worker's compensation insurer because of the insurer's intentional bad-faith refusal to pay him worker's compensation when due. The court concluded that under Mississippi's choice-of-law principles, plaintiff's tort suit was governed by Mississippi substantive law. Further, the district court erroneously concluded that, under Mississippi law, the insurer's alleged intentional bad faith refusal to pay plaintiff's worker's compensation was merely a breach of contract and not an independent tort committed by the carrier outside the scope of plaintiff's employment as the Mississippi Supreme Court held in Southern Farm Bureau Cas. Ins. Co. v. Holland. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Williams v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Island Operating Co., Inc., et al. v. DOWCP, et al.
Island petitioned for review of a modification of a benefits award under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWC Act), 33 U.S.C. 901-950. Island's employee had filed claims for benefits under the LHWC Act after he injured his knee on an oil production platform. Island argued that the original judgment was not eligible for modification or alternatively, the facts did not support the modification. The court concluded that both Banks v. Chicago Grain Trimmers Ass'n and O'Keefe v. Aerojet-General Shipyards, Inc. clearly established that contrary to Island's position, mistakes of fact were not limited to newly discovered and previously unattainable evidence. Therefore, the court affirmed the Benefit Review Board's (BRB) decision on this basis. Alternatively, the court concluded that there was evidence to support the ALJ's finding, and the BRB correctly affirmed the modification of the employee's award to include permanent partial benefits. View "Island Operating Co., Inc., et al. v. DOWCP, et al." on Justia Law
Estate of Ira J. Sanders v. United States
The Estate filed a malpractice suit against the deceased's health care providers under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2671 et seq., alleging in part that they failed to provide appropriate follow-up care after discovering a mass in the deceased's stomach. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the United States based on its finding that the Estate's expert report failed to establish the relevant standard of care or create a question of fact as to the remaining elements of a malpractice claim under Mississippi law. View "Estate of Ira J. Sanders v. United States" on Justia Law
Delahoussaye v. Performance Energy Services, et al.
Plaintiff filed suit against Performance, One Beacon, and others for damages stemming from a personal injury that he sustained while working on a fixed platform. After the parties settled, the suit proceeded to trial, and the district court found Performance 15% at fault for the accident and awarded plaintiff $200,000 in damages. The court concluded that, in light of the evidence presented at trial, it was not implausible for the court to find that Richard John Boutte, as the designated signalman for the blind lift, was significantly more at fault for plaintiff's injuries than was Shalico Andow, a Performance employee. Because the district court took a permissible view of the evidence in finding Andow only 15% at fault, the court affirmed that determination. Because Performance failed to show that borrowed employee status should be applied here, the court affirmed the district court's holding that Andow was not a borrowed employee. Finally, a general damages award of $65,000 was much closer to what Louisiana courts would award plaintiff based on the facts. Because $200,000 was more than 133% of $65,000, the district court's award of general damages was excessive as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court remitted the general damage portion of plaintiff's award to $86,450. View "Delahoussaye v. Performance Energy Services, et al." on Justia Law
Moore v. Smith, et al.
Plaintiff filed suit against PPG, alleging that he was "seriously and permanently injured" by a piece of falling equipment. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's denial of his motion for leave to amend his complaint. The court agreed with the district court that plaintiff's proffered amendment relied on the proposed parties' general responsibilities to oversee safety rather than on evidence of personal fault, as required to trigger individual liability under Louisiana law. Further, the court concurred with the district court's conclusion that the amendment only served to defeat diversity jurisdiction. Although the district court did not expressly examine the other Hensgens v. Deere & Co. factors, the court could not conclude that any of those factors tipped the scales in favor of plaintiff. Accordingly, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion and the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Moore v. Smith, et al." on Justia Law
Flugence v. Axis Surplus Ins. Co.
Flugence filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection in 2004 and a plan was confirmed. In 2007, she was injured in a car accident and hired an attorney. Weeks later an amended Chapter 13 plan was confirmed. In 2008 Flugence sued for personal injury. Months later, Flugence was discharged. She never disclosed to the bankruptcy court that she might prosecute a personal-injury claim. The personal-injury defendants discovered the non-disclosure and had the bankruptcy case reopened. The bankruptcy court declared that although Flugence was estopped from pursuing the claim on her own behalf, her bankruptcy trustee was not estopped and could pursue the claim for the benefit of creditors. The district court reversed with respect to estopping Flugence, stating that Flugence did not have a potential cause of action prior to her initial application for bankruptcy protection, and relied on her attorney’s advice concerning disclosure. The Fifth Circuit reinstated the bankruptcy court holding. There is a continuing duty to disclose in a Chapter 13 proceeding and Flugence met all elements of estoppel. Nothing requires that recovery be limited strictly to the amount owed creditors; after a claim is prosecuted and creditors and fees have been paid, any remaining recovery must be returned to the personal-injury defendants. View "Flugence v. Axis Surplus Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Dolgencorp, Inc., et al. v. MS Band of Choctaw Indians, et al.
Dolgencorp, operator of a Dollar General store on the Choctaw reservation, filed suit seeking to enjoin John Doe and the tribal defendants from adjudicating tort claims against Dolgencorp in the Choctaw tribal court. The underlying tort claims stemmed from Doe's suit alleging that a manager sexually molested him while he was working at the Dollar General store. The court affirmed the district court's denial of Dolgencorp's motion for summary judgment and grant of summary judgment in favor of the tribal defendants because Dolgencorp's consensual relationship with Doe gave rise to tribal court jurisdiction over Doe's claims under Montana v. United States. View "Dolgencorp, Inc., et al. v. MS Band of Choctaw Indians, et al." on Justia Law