Shipyard Contracts, Southwest Airlines Employment, and Katrina Insurance Matters - U.S. Fifth Circuit
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Shipyard Contracts, Southwest Airlines Employment, and Katrina Insurance Matters

Offshore Drilling Co. v. Gulf Copper & Mfg. Corp., No. 08-40885, concerned a declaratory judgment action claiming that an indemnity provision in plaintiff's contract with defendant released plaintiff from liability for the destruction of a ship in plaintiff's shipyard.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for plaintiff, on the ground that the parties' factual disagreements did not create a material issue of fact concerning control of the vessel.  However, the court reversed the denial of attorney's fees where, because plaintiff's indemnity claim arose under the contract, it was entitled to the costs of its defense under the indemnity provision.

Carmona v. Southwest Airlines Co., No. 08-51175, involved an action claiming that the termination of plaintiff's employment violated Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The court of appeals reversed judgment as a matter of law for defendant, holding that 1) plaintiff presented sufficient evidence that he was substantially limited in the major life activity of walking; and 2) there was no dispute that plaintiff was able to perform the essential functions of his job as a flight attendant when he showed up to work.  Additionally, the court of appeals vacated the district court's order denying reinstatement in light of the Fifth Circuit's holding that it was error to grant defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law.

Nunez v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 09-30034, concerned an action against an insurer based on Hurricane Katrina-related damage to plaintiffs' home.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendant, on the grounds that 1) according to the plain meaning of the term "replace," plaintiffs' purchase of their Houston home did not constitute a substitute or replacement under the policy; and 2) rulings of other judges in the Eastern District of Louisiana and the facts propounded by defendant demonstrated that a determination to exclude plaintiffs' expert testimony under Fed. R. Evid. 702 did not amount to an abuse of discretion.

Bollinger Shipyards Inc. v. Director, Office of Wkrs. Comp. Programs, No. 09-60095, concerned a petition for review of an order of the Benefits Review Board awarding benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) to claimant, an undocumented immigrant who fell and injured himself while employed by petitioner.  The court of appeals denied the petition on the grounds that 1) claimant was an employee within the intendment of the statute and was thus eligible for workers' compensation benefits; 2) awarding workers' compensation benefits under the LHWCA was a non-discretionary remedy; and 3) the LHWCA expressly provided for the award of benefits to nonresident aliens.

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