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

March 2017 Archives

Crawfish Producers' Suit Revived Against Southern Natural Gas

A judge erred by not reconsidering a decision based on new evidence crawfishermen discovered in a case against a gas company, a federal appeals court said.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an order denying a motion for reconsideration In re. Louisiana Crawfish Producers. The appellate panel said the trial judge should have considered deposition testimony and other evidence acquired after the defendant's motion for summary judgment.

"There are 'two important judicial imperatives' relating to a motion for reconsideration: '(1) the need to bring litigation to an end; and (2) the need to render just decisions on the basis of all the facts,'" Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod wrote in the unanimous opinion.

Court Revives Long-Running Sex-Bias Suit

A federal appeals court revived a Southern University professor's gender discrimination case, saying that she could allege a hostile work environment through continuous conduct going back two years before she filed her complaint.

The decision is significant because it clears up questions facing trial judges about the continuing violation doctrine in gender discrimination cases. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said it applies to claims of hostile work environment, allowing the Louisiana plaintiff to allege discriminatory conduct more than 300 days, and beyond the one-year statute of limitations, before filing the complaint.

"Claims alleging discrete acts are not subject to the continuing violation doctrine; hostile workplace claims are," the court said in Heath v. Board of Supervisors for the Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College.

"Hostile environment claims are 'continuing' because they involve repeated conduct, so the 'unlawful employment practice' cannot be said to occur on any particular day," Judge Gregg Costa wrote for the unanimous panel.

The long-running dispute over Texas's restrictive voter ID law took another turn last week, as the Department of Justice dropped one of its key objections to the law. The DOJ will no longer argue that the Texas law was enacted with discriminatory intent, the Department announced last Monday.

Texas's voter ID law, SB14, is one of the strictest in the country. After it was adopted in 2011, both the Department of Justice and civil rights groups sued, arguing that the law disenfranchised Texas voters, particularly poor and minority Texans. They won a significant victory last summer, when an en banc Fifth Circuit found that the law violated the Voting Rights Act. But the Fifth declined to rule on the DOJ's claim that the act was intentionally discriminatory, remanding that question the district court for further investigation.

Just south of New Orleans' central business district, a short walk from the Superdome, stands the Robert E. Lee Monument, a pillar-mounted statue of the Confederate general. Stands for now, that is. Lee's statue is one of four monuments celebrating the state's confederate past scheduled to come toppling down, after the City Council voted to remove the statues in 2015.

And that toppling can begin post haste, now that the Fifth Circuit has rejected a challenge to the statues' removal brought by local preservation societies and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Fraudster to Stay in Prison for Fake Disneyland Scam

Thomas W. Lucas Jr. presented a grand vision to investors. It would be big, of course, because this was Texas.

"Frontier Disney DFW," he called it, complete with theme parks, a water park, a new airport, a train, hotels, villas, sports facilities, and a shopping mall. He showed them elaborate park maps, floor plans, and mock-ups of the facilities.

Lucas raised more than $60 million from investors to buy land around the Disney park, and then the truth came out. It was all a lie.