Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Walgreens in an action alleging that Walgreens negligently gave medication prescribed for another patient to the driver of the car that caused fatal accidents killing himself and another individual. Under Texas law, a pharmacy does not owe a duty of care to third parties injured on the road by a customer who was negligently given someone else's prescription. Looking to the factors the Texas Supreme Court would consider—in particular, the foreseeability of the harm, the presence of other protections, and the danger of interference with the legislature's balancing of public policies—the court held that the Texas Supreme Court would not recognize a duty between a pharmacy and third parties injured as a result of a customer taking the incorrect prescription. The court declined to exercise its discretion to certify the issue to the Texas Supreme Court. View "Martinez v. Walgreens Co." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Fannie Mae in an action brought by plaintiff alleging a defamation claim. Plaintiff's claim stemmed from her termination as a sales representative for Fannie Mae. The court held that summary judgment was appropriate for most aspects of plaintiff's defamation claim because she largely failed to make a prima facie case. To the extent that she did make a prima facie case by alleging that the investigative report defamed her by accusing her of concealing her association with the outside broker, the court held that her defamation claim was defeated by Fannie Mae's qualified privilege. View "Warren v. Federal National Mortgage Assoc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a negligence action against Hunter Express and its employee after the employee's truck collided into plaintiff's truck, causing him permanent injuries. The jury found defendants fully liable for the accident and awarded plaintiff over $2.8 million in damages. Addressing the grounds for a new trial that defendants did present to the district court, the Fifth Circuit held that, under either Texas sufficiency review or the federal maximum recovery rule, the $1 million award for future physical pain was too high. In this case, pain that can largely be managed through nonprescription methods did not warrant such a sizeable recovery. The court also held that the record did not support any award of future mental anguish where plaintiff's claims failed to rise to the level of a substantial disruption in his routine. Therefore, the court remanded for the district court to determine the amount of remittitur. View "Longoria v. Hunter Express, Ltd." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit in state court against C.E.N. Concrete, Storm Water Management, and Lane Construction after Jeffery Hoyt slid off an icy patch of road and drowned in his car in an adjacent body of water. All the parties were citizens of Texas, except for Lane. Lane removed the case to federal court and the district court later granted its motion for summary judgment. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court's bad-faith finding was not clearly erroneous and that plaintiffs could not avoid that result by relying on cases that predate Congress's enactment of the bad-faith exception to 28 U.S.C. 1446(c)(1)'s time bar. Furthermore, the voluntary-involuntary rule did not bar Lane from removing the case to federal court and the district court did not err in denying plaintiffs' second motion to remand. However, the district court erred by granting summary judgment to Lane where Lane failed to show as a matter of law that its TxDOT-documented negligence before the accident and its TxDOT-documented inspection deficiencies after the accident did not cause Jeffery's death. Furthermore, material disputes of fact precluded plaintiffs' premises liability claim. Finally, the court vacated the grant of summary judgment on the gross negligence claim and remanded for reconsideration. View "Hoyt v. Lane Construction Corp." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the United States in an action brought by a foreign national from Honduras under the Federal Tort Claims Act, alleging that he was falsely imprisoned by federal immigration authorities. The court held that 8 U.S.C. 1252(g) and 1226(e) did not preclude the district court from having jurisdiction over this case. On the merits, the court held that the district court correctly determined that Border Patrol and ICE agents acted with authority of law to arrest and detain plaintiff. In this case, plaintiff illegally entered the United States and Border patrol agents lawfully apprehended him at that time. View "Hernandez Najera v. United States" on Justia Law

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In this personal injury Jones Act case, the Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not err by failing to act on an allegation that defendant provoked plaintiff's attorney to withdraw. In this case, all evidence in the record indicated that the attorney made a showing of good cause and provided reasonable notice to his client; the district court took procedural care in resolving the withdrawal motion; and plaintiff's claims to the contrary failed. However, the court held that the district court erroneously granted summary judgment to defendant because plaintiff lacked expert medical evidence of causation. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Gowdy v. Marine Spill Response Corp." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit granted a pending joint motion for clarification and withdrew the prior panel opinion, substituting the following opinion. Plaintiff and his wife filed suit after a contract driver for RCX, a licensed motor carrier, crashed into plaintiff's truck and significantly injured him. A jury found RCX liable for the driver's negligence and awarded plaintiff damages and his wife loss of consortium damages. The court affirmed the district court's ruling with respect to all issues except the wife's award for past consortium damages in light of West Star Transportation, Inc. v. Robison, 457 S.W.3d 178, and remanded for the exact calculation of the wife's maximum recovery. Finally, RCX was entitled to a settlement credit under Texas law and the court remanded for the district court to calculate that amount. View "Puga v. About Tyme Transport, Inc." on Justia Law

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NBA player David West negotiated a contract with the New Orleans Hornets before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. West received the full $45 million amount specified in his contract, but still submitted an "Individual Economic Loss Claim" under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement. The Claims Administrator for the Agreement awarded West almost $1.5 million in "lost" earnings. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of discretionary review of the Settlement Appeal Panel's decision affirming the award and held that the district court abused its discretion in this case when the decision not reviewed actually contradicted or misapplied the Agreement. Under the circumstances, West expected to earn in the absence of the spill precisely what he did earn after it. Therefore, he did not suffer unexpected damages, and Exhibit 8A did not apply to him. The court also held that West did not suffer actual or unexpected "losses" or damages, because he earned exactly what he was entitled to receive under his contract. The court explained the fact that he received less money in 2010 than in 2009 did not mean he "lost" anything or was "damaged" in any way. Rather, it meant only that he agreed to a front-loaded contract, and he agreed to do so many years before the spill. View "BP Exploration & Production, Inc. v. Claimant ID 100281817" on Justia Law

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In an action where plaintiff was exposed to asbestos at the Avondale shipyard and eventually contracted mesothelioma, Avondale removed the action to federal court under the federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's remand to state court, holding that the court was bound by the series of cases post-dating the 2011 amendment to section 1442(a)(1) that continue to cite Bartel v. Alcoa S.S. Co., Inc., 805 F.3d 169, 172 (5th Cir. 2015), while drawing a distinction for removal purposes between claims for negligence (not removable) and strict liability (removable) under the causal nexus test. Applying the causal nexus test, the court held that plaintiff's claims were the same failure to warn claims that both Zeringue v. Crane Company, 846 F.3d 785, 793 (5th Cir. 2017), and Legendre v. Huntington Ingalls, Inc., 885 F.3d 398, 400 (5th Cir. 2018), held implicated no federal interests, and thus this case did not meet the causal nexus requirement. The court noted that Bartel should be reconsidered en banc, because the court was out of step with Congress and its sister circuits. View "Latiolais v. Huntington Ingalls, Inc." on Justia Law

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The insurer of a Louisiana sugarcane farm raised several arguments that the farm was entitled to statutory immunity under Louisiana workers' compensation law from an action brought by two injured cane planters. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of plaintiffs, holding that plaintiffs were neither employees of the farm nor its independent contractors. Rather, plaintiffs were employees of the farm's independent contractor. Therefore, the farm was not entitled to statutory immunity from suit. View "Jorge-Chavelas v. Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Co." on Justia Law