U.S. Fifth Circuit

U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


Worker's Emotional Distress Damages for Retaliation Upheld by 5th Cir.

A federal appeals court ruled that a worker can claim emotional distress damages for an employer's retaliation on a wage claim.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals joined other federal circuits in considering remedies available to workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The appellate court said the FLSA authorizes emotional damages as "legal and equitable relief" on account of employer retaliation.

In reversing and remanding, the appeals panel said the trial court must consider additional evidence of emotional distress and award damages accordingly. Santiago Pineda won only overtime and retaliation damages at trial.

Overtime Case on Maximum Overdrive

The Fifth Circuit will expedite a case to decide whether overtime wages will potentially double for millions of Americans.

In a one-page order, the circuit court said it will fast-track the appeal of a preliminary injunction blocking overtime rules that would have taken effect on Dec. 1, 2016. A district court judge had enjoined the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing its new overtime rules, which could have raised the minimum salary level from $455 per week to $913 per week for white-collar workers.

The appeals court set a briefing schedule that will challenge the participants to work through the holidays. Briefs are due Dec. 16, 2016; Dec. 23, 2016; Jan. 17, 2017; Jan. 23, 2017; and Jan. 31, 2017. A hearing will be set to follow at that time.

Patent Infringement Can't Give Rise to Antitrust Liability, 5th Cir. Rules

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals let the air out of a $340 million verdict against a syringe manufacturer, sending the case back to the trial court for a recalculation of damages.

The court reversed the anti-trust portion of the verdict, but upheld a false advertising claim. As a result, the trial judge will have to undo damages that were awarded under the Sherman Anti-trust Act and determine any potential damages under the Lanham Act. Becton Dickinson & Co., the largest manufacturer of syringes in the country, still faces substantial liability for falsely advertising that it had the "the world's sharpest needle" and that it had "the lowest waste space."

"First, patent infringement, which operates to increase competition, is not anticompetitive conduct," the appeals court said in reversing the anti-trust decision. Second, the justices said, the false advertising claim was nonexistent for an anti-trust claim.

Company Policy Must Bend to State Gun Laws

A man who, contrary to his employer's policy, kept a locked gun in his car in the company parking lot can sue for wrongful termination under Mississippi law, says the Fifth Circuit.

This case is fundamentally about the clashing of state laws with company policy with regard to dangerous arms. The circuit court's ruling recognizes a new public policy exception to the doctrine of at-will employment.

A ten-year long battle over sno-balls, those frozen cones of shaved ice and sugary syrup, made its way into the Fifth Circuit recently, and it wasn't for the first time. The legal battle over sno-ball syrup flavors and trademarks has brought a pair of Louisiana sno-ball purveyors, SnoWizard and Southern Snow, through just about every court imaginable: Louisiana state court, federal district court, the Patent and Trademark Office, the Federal Circuit, and the Fifth Circuit, multiple times.

In the Fifth's most recent ruling in the long-running dispute, the circuit found that Southern Snow's claims that its competitors were involved in a criminal racket and violating unfair trade practices laws were barred by res judicata.

5th Cir.: Mississippi's Gun Laws Trump Company Policy

In a case about the clashing of state laws and company policy with regards to firearms, the Fifth Circuit has sided with the state.

A man who, contrary to his employer's policy, kept a locked gun in his car in the company parking lot can sue for wrongful termination under Mississippi law, the Fifth Circuit ruled on Monday. The unanimous three-judge panel reversed a lower court finding that state public policy opinions couldn't trump employer's policy on guns, reviving Robert Swindol's lawsuit against his former employer, Aurora Flight Sciences Corp.

5th Cir. Applies Equitable Tolling to Reopening Removal Proceedings

In what looks to be a somewhat rare display of compassion (by immigration standards, that is), the Fifth Circuit remanded an immigration case back to the lower tribunals with the admonishment not to apply certain legal principles "too harshly." Whoa.

Immigration advocacy groups have applauded the decision, calling it a recognition of the realities facing immigrants who may be "poor, uneducated, unskilled in the English language, and effectively unable to follow developments in the American legal system--much less read and digest complicated legal decisions."

Mississippi's governor and its executive director of the state's Department of Human Services are asking the Fifth Circuit to stay a federal court's preliminary injunction against the state's Religious Liberty Accommodations Act, known as HB 1523. That law seeks to protect opponents of gay marriage in both public and private services, who take actions "based upon or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction."

Judge Carlton W. Reeves blocked the law just moments before it would have gone into effect on July 1st. "There are almost endless explanations for how HB 1523 condones discrimination against the LGBT community, but in its simplest terms it denies LGBT citizens equal protection under the law," Judge Reeves wrote. Afterword, the Mississippi attorney general refused to appeal that ruling. Now the governor and human services director are stepping into his place.

Texas Voter ID Law Deemed Unconstitutional by 5th Circuit

The Fifth Circuit has just ruled that a Texas law requiring persons to produce a government-issued ID before casting their ballots is discriminatory and is in violation of the Voting Rights Act, according to Reuters. What is most surprising is that this circuit court is generally known to be one of the most conservative in the nation.

The decision was lauded by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. "This decision affirms our position that Texas's highly restrictive voter ID law abridges the right to vote on account of race or color and orders appropriate relief before yet another election passes," she said.

5th Circuit: No Fundamental Right to Machine Guns Under 2nd Amendment

According to the Fifth Circuit, citizens do not have a fundamental right to own or possess machine guns under the Bill of Rights. It's a blow to Rambo and Commando fans nationwide.

The case of Hollis v. ATF might very well be the next case to draw a line in the sand after Heller with respect to Americans and their guns.