Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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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 Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's choice of jury instructions; held that Trooper Smith was properly admitted to testify as an expert on accident investigation; and affirmed the district court's decision to uphold the jury's award for past and future loss of consortium. The court reversed and remanded to the district court for the sole purpose of calculating the appropriate settlement credit amount and modifying its final judgment accordingly. In this case, plaintiff agreed that RXC was entitled to settlement credits. View "Puga v. RCX Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of an apartment complex and others in an action brought by plaintiff after she was injured by inhaling smoke and fumes from her apartment's heating unit after the apartment replaced the unit's motor. Determining that it had jurisdiction over the appeal, the court held that the district court correctly interpreted section 9:3221 of the Louisiana Statutes and applied its elements to the facts in this case. Under section 9:3221, defendants may be held liable for injuries caused by defects in the premises only if they knew or should have known of the defect or had received notice thereof and failed to remedy it within a reasonable time. The court held that summary judgment for defendants was proper because plaintiff failed to provide evidence sufficient to raise disputes of material fact for each element of section 9:3221 essential to her case. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying plaintiff's motion to amend the judgment. View "Lamb v. Ashford Place Apartments LLC" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in this maritime case involving an allision, holding that the owner of the stationary, "innocent" vessel does not have to be reimbursed for the medical expenses of an employee who fraudulently claimed his preexisting injuries had resulted from the allision. In this case, because the employee's back condition did not result from the allision, Enterprise Marine did nothing that caused or contributed to a need for maintenance and cure for that particular medical problem. Therefore, Enterprise Marine did not owe reimbursement for the back surgery. Furthermore, Enterprise Marine did not have a contractual obligation to reimburse where an agreement between the parties did not cover a situation in which it later became clear that the employee's claims were fraudulent. View "4-K Marine, LLC v. Enterprise Marine Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the vessel owner in an action alleging that the vessel owner breached its duties under the Jones Act to provide plaintiff with prompt and adequate medical care after he suffered a stroke while working aboard the vessel. The court held that plaintiff failed to show that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the vessel owner acted negligently by calling 911. Furthermore, there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether the vessel owner was vicariously liable for the Teche Regional Medical Center physicians' alleged malpractice. View "Randle v. Crosby Tugs, LLC" on Justia Law

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Under Texas law, a driver's neurobiological response to a smartphone notification cannot be a cause in fact of a car crash. Plaintiffs filed suit against Apple, alleging that a tragic car accident was caused by Apple's failure to implement the patent on the iPhone 5 covering lock-out mechanisms for driver handheld computing devices and by Apple's failure to warn iPhone 5 users about the risks of distracted driving. In this case, a driver looked down at her text message after she heard a notification and then caused an accident killing two adults and rendering a child a paraplegic. Because the court declined to consider "neurobiological compulsion" a substantial factor under Texas law, the court held that the iPhone 5 could not be a cause in fact of the injuries in this case. Therefore, the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' claims and denial of their motion for leave to amend. View "Meador v. Apple, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's summary judgment dismissal of plaintiff's action for negligence against three defendants. The court held that the district court erred by denying the motion to remand this action to state court due to the absence of diversity jurisdiction. In this case, plaintiff stated a claim upon which relief could be granted and it was Alcoa's burden to negate the possibility that PMIC's negligence contributed to plaintiff's injuries. The court held that PMIC was not improperly joined and the parties were not completely diverse. View "Cumpian v. Alcoa World Alumina, LLC" on Justia Law

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Smith was killed while driving a 2013 Jeep Wrangler, manufactured by Chrysler. Days after the crash, Chrysler sent out a Recall Notice: the transmission oil cooler (TOC) tube of some 2012 and 2013 Wranglers might leak, which could cause a fire in the underbody of the vehicle. Smith’s Jeep was never inspected for the defect before his accident and the wrecked Jeep was not preserved for a post-accident inspection. Days after the crash, the scene of the accident was photographed, showing what appears to be charred grass along the path Smith’s Jeep traveled after leaving the road. Smith’s family sued, asserting strict products liability, negligence, breach of warranty, and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, claiming that the recall defect caused a fire in the Jeep's underbody, filling the passenger compartment with carbon monoxide, so that Smith lost consciousness and ran off the road. The Fifth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Chrysler. The court properly excluded a supplemental report by plaintiff’s expert, which failed adequately to connect newly disclosed information and conclusions that Smith’s Jeep had a defect and that the alleged defect caused a fire. Even if there was a defect, there was no evidence that it caused a fire in Smith’s Jeep or that the fire caused the crash. The court upheld an award of costs to Chrysler, despite plaintiffs’ “impoverished condition.” View "Smith v. Chrysler Group, L.L.C." on Justia Law

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After Dr. Alan Sandifer was pierced in the head by the cable guard of his 2007 Hoyt Vulcan XT500 bow, his family filed suit against Hoyt Archery and its insurers under the Louisiana Products Liability Act (LPLA) alleging that the compound bow was defectively designed. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding most of the testimony of plaintiffs' primary expert. In this case, plaintiffs failed to show how the accident occurred, because the expert's response to Hoyt's theory was based on unscientific and unhelpful propensity evidence that was not reasonably relied upon by experts in the biomechanical field and consequently failed to satisfy Daubert's requirements for the admissibility of expert opinion. View "Sandifer v. Hoyt Archery, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against defendants after plaintiff's daughter died from inhaling a large quantity of aerosol dust remover in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The court held that plaintiff's negligence claim based on premises liability failed because she did not plead that there were any issues with the conditions of the premises, and because Wal-Mart did not owe the daughter any duty of care regarding her purchase or abuse of dust remover. Furthermore, Wal-Mart was not liable for negligent entrustment under Restatement (Second) of Torts 390 and under Texas laws, and Wal-Mart employees were not liable in their individual capacities. The court affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to remand and motion to alter or amend the complaint. View "Allen v. Walmart Stores, LLC" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff lost his arm when his vehicle collided with a piece of farm equipment being towed by a truck, plaintiff filed suit against Progressive, the company that leased the equipment to the driver of the truck, alleging that the company was negligent in failing to warn the driver of the dangers associated with towing the equipment with a pickup truck instead of a tractor. The district court granted summary judgment for Progressive on the failure to warn claim. The Fifth Circuit affirmed and held that plaintiff failed to create a factual dispute regarding the essential element of proximate cause. In this case, plaintiff failed to put forth any evidence that corroborated his conclusory assertion that the truck's lack of control over the farm disc led to his accident. View "Funches v. Progressive Tractor and Implement Co." on Justia Law