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


If there was a prize for most tragic case dismissed on appeal, the case filed by John Gorman's wife would certainly be a contender.

The facts of Gorman v. Sharp really are tragic. After a recent promotion, Gorman attended an officer firearm safety training session, which he was required to attend for his job as the director of investigations with the Mississippi Gaming Commission. Unfortunately, the Special Agent in charge of training, Robert Sharp, forgot to replace his regular real firearm that he carried with a dummy firearm for a roleplaying exercise. As a result of the instructor's own negligence, he shot and killed John Gorman during that exercise.

Despite a recent ruling from the United States Supreme Court seeming to put Bobby Moore in relative safety (well, off death row), it was not long lived thanks to Texas's Supreme Court.

The state high court took the opinion of the nation's High Court quite literally and adopted the DSM-5 standard for intellectual disability. Then, it applied the new standard to Moore's case and concluded that Moore was not intellectually disabled, and thus could be executed. However, whether that will actually happen is a different, more political, story.

In an appeal to the Fifth Circuit, an injured former employee of Tyson Foods sought to reverse the trial judge's refusal to grant a new trial, as well as a peculiar request seemingly on behalf of the appellant's attorney involving the jury.

In short, the underlying case, Benson v. Tyson Foods, involved a claim of disability discrimination, which was undercut at trial by evidence and testimony the jury relied on to find that the plaintiff-appellant was not actually disabled. Although the plaintiff did suffer a severe injury, medical experts testified that the injury had fully healed, and the plaintiff testified that she was able to play basketball and work two jobs where she stood for most of the time.

Fifth Circuit Ends 'Straw Vote' Election Controversy

Drawing straws is no way to sort out an election, but that's what they did to break a tie for a legislative seat in Mississippi.

The proper way to resolve disputes in most of America is to sue. They did that, too, in the contest between Bo Eaton and Mark Tullos.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals finally settled the matter, ruling the federal courts have no jurisdiction to intervene in such state elections. Fortunately for a scant majority of voters, the election is finally over.

Johnson & Johnson Wins Reversal of Hip Replacement Verdict

Reversing a $151 million judgment, a federal appeals court said Johnson & Johnson deserved a new trial over metal-on-metal hip replacements.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed on various grounds, but emphasized tainted evidence and "unequivocally deceptive" trial tactics. The appeals court said the plaintiffs' attorney misled jurors by saying his expert witnesses were unpaid and the defense experts were "bought testimony."

The problem in Christopher v. DePuy Orthopaedics, the appeals court said, was the plaintiffs' lawyer paid the experts after the trial. That, and the judge allowed "inflammatory character evidence" against the company.

5th Circuit Upholds Texas Voter ID Law

A federal appeals court upheld a controversial voter ID law in Texas, concluding that the state legislature remedied discriminatory elements that were at issue in a previous version of the law.

The prior law -- SB14 -- had required residents to present government identification when they voted, resulting in a judicial ruling that the law discriminated against certain minorities. Then the legislature incorporated changes proposed by the federal court into SB5.

Opponents then sued to invalidate the new law, but the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said it was acceptable in Veasey v. Abbott.

$16 Million Award Upheld for Defective Brake Design

A bag of cattle feed fell on the accelerator of a utility vehicle, causing it to run over Gini Nester and break her neck.

A jury awarded nearly $16 million because the manufacturer knew the parking brake was unsafe and didn't fix it. Textron appealed, but an appeals court affirmed.

Among other problems for the defendant, there was a video -- but not of Nester's accident. The jury saw a video of a similar accident, and that's one reason the defendant appealed in Nester v. Textron, Inc.

The federal district court for the Southern District of Texas issued a ruling that could bring the state up to speed with many others. Judge Lee Rosenthal, while ruling against a transgender plaintiff, explained that LGBT employees are in fact protected under Title VII.

Although the plaintiff's attorney expressed disappointment at the ruling against his client, he believes the decision to be "earth-shattering" for the fact that a Texas federal court is recognizing LGBT protections under Title VII. Apparently, it is the first time a Texas court has recognized LGBT protections under Title VII.

Federal Judge OKs Challenge to Male-Only Draft

Women aren't suing for equal everything, like registering for the military draft.

But the National Coalition for Men wants to change all that. The organization sued, alleging that male-only mandatory enlistment discriminates against men, and a judge says the plaintiffs have a case.

However, they still have a long way to go in National Coalition of Men v. Selective Service System. They filed in 2013, and just got standing to proceed.

Sometimes, justice takes a long time. But the old saying, "justice delayed is justice denied" isn't just a rallying cry of civil rights plaintiff lawyers, it's truth according to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

And for the Fifth Circuit, a panel of judges had the unfortunate duty to essentially chastise a district court judge for taking too long to rule on a duo of motions. And if you think you have the right to complain because some judge made you wait a couple months to get a hearing or ruling, thing again; the parties in the underlying matter had waited four years for a ruling on two motions.