U.S. Fifth Circuit

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


Running a law practice costs money, and business expenses are often deductible from one's taxes. But if you've entered into a partnership, as many lawyers do, beware that your partnership agreement could greatly restrict your ability to deduct routine business expenses.

Attorney Peter McLauchlan learned that lesson the hard way. The Fifth Circuit recently ruled against him in a tax dispute after he deducted items that seemed routine (advertising, contract labor, wages) but were not listed as reimbursable in his partnership agreement.

The opinion provides guidance about being vigilant when drafting your partnership agreement, as well as when requesting reimbursement from your firm.

Texas. It's the land of steak, pick-up trucks, football, and for far too long, patent holding companies and trolls.

The Eastern District of Texas's high success rate for patent holders (57.5 percent, per a recent study [PDF] by PricewaterhouseCoopers) and decently high rankings for median damages and time to trial, are just some of the reasons why non-practicing entities (NPEs, or patent trolls) love incorporating in Texas and bringing suit in that district. Other reasons include judges' frequent deferral to juries on patent issues (meaning trials happen often, rather than summary judgment) and reticence to grant venue transfers.

That last habit may change, however, after the Federal Circuit applied the Fifth Circuit's venue transfer rule, one that is far, far more friendly to defendants than the standard initially applied by the trial court in the Eastern District of Texas.

Walmart v. Dukes is one of those landmark decisions that will confuse law students for decades to come, but it was more than an interesting legal citation. The Supreme Court's holding decertified a class of 1.5 million current female employees of the retail giant, shortly after the Ninth Circuit had already removed a separate group, former employees, from the class.

It's this last group, led by named plaintiff Stephanie Odle, which will continue its fight in a district court in Dallas, after the Fifth Circuit revived her putative class action, approximately thirteen years after she first brought suit as part of the larger Dukes class.

Texas' most recent abortion regulations, found in H.B. 2, were upheld by the Fifth Circuit on Thursday.

Finding that the district court both misapplied standards and misconstrued evidence, the Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas v. Abbott Court found that both the medical abortion and "admitting privileges" regulations were constitutional and not an undue burden to women. This ruling threatens the Fifth Circuit's other pending abortion case in Mississippi, which is scheduled for hearing in April.

How did the court come to support these abortion regulations?

Arbitration agreements often seem one-sided, and in some employment cases, they may seem downright predatory.

But as the Fifth Circuit affirmed in their most recent look at arbitration agreements, even an agreement that allows the employer to unilaterally terminate is not illusory -- it's legal.

Another admitting privileges case is making its way to the Fifth Circuit, this time from a Mississippi abortion law.

On Monday, the Fifth Circuit notified the parties that it would hear oral arguments on April 28 from both the state of Mississippi and the Jackson Women's Health Organization as to whether the Mississippi "admitting privileges" requirement should apply to the clinic.

This case should remind you of the recently passed Texas law, and it may not be coincidence that neither case has been resolved yet.

Tribal court jurisdiction can be tricky, but the Fifth Circuit seemed to simplify it in a case where a Native American minor was allegedly molested at a Dollar General.

Dolgencorp, which operates a Dollar General on a Choctaw Reservation in Mississippi, is being sued by a Choctaw minor who was employed in the store as part of a Youth Opportunity Program (YOP) training program. Unfortunately, while employed there, the minor alleges that the manager, a non-tribe member, molested him.

The Fifth Circuit found that the tribal courts do have jurisdiction over the minor's tort claim against Dolgencorp, but why?

MoveOn.org is being hauled into federal court for allegedly using Louisiana's motto on a billboard criticizing Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne filed a federal suit against MoveOn.org in his official capacity as both lieutenant governor and commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism claiming that the advocacy group used the state's service mark and motto without permission, reports The Times-Picayune.

Can a political billboard crib a state's motto like that?

A Texas law firm's SLAPP appeal has been denied by the Fifth Circuit, which found that the firm's ads were not protected under Texas' anti-SLAPP laws.

Anti-SLAPP jurisprudence is still evolving, and this was a new issue for the Fifth Circuit: whether law firm ads disparaging a Texas dentist could escape liability under the Lanham Act through an anti-SLAPP motion.

Here's why this ruling left the Texas firm no longer smiling:

Homestead exceptions are a nice public policy "plus" of bankruptcy law. They attempt to ensure that those filing for bankruptcy will have somewhere to go and lick their financial wounds after the case is finished.

But can the proceeds from selling your home be protected permanently from bankruptcy? The Fifth Circuit says no.