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

March 2013 Archives

Texas Post-Conviction Petition Filed When Delivered to Prison

Kenneth Richards was convicted of possessing a cell phone while an inmate, and sentenced to 25 years. After exhausting his state remedies, he moved to file a habeas corpus petition. The district court dismissed his application as time-barred because it was filed after the one-year deadline under 28 U.S.C. §2244.

Richards appealed, arguing that the district court erred in deeming the clerk-of-court-stamped date on his petition as the date he filed the petition. He claimed that Texas law treats the pleadings of pro se inmates as filed at the time they are delivered to prison authorities, not at the time they are stamped by the clerk of court.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that Richards was right in light of Texas’ Campbell v. State ruling.

Undertakers' Undertaking Fails: Court Strikes La. Casket Rules

It’s official: Barring Supreme Court review, the St. Joseph Abbey monks can sell caskets in Louisiana.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that Louisiana morticians had failed to offer a rational basis for a state rule limiting casket sales to licensed funeral directors, The Associated Press reports.

No Workers' Comp for Mississippi Inmate Injured in Work Program

Is a county jail inmate entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained while participating in a work detail program?

Timmy Vuncannon, an inmate, was part of a Tippah County work program under the sheriff’s supervision. He earned $10 per day for his services, which was credited “toward any and all charged of F.T.A./cash bonds owed to the county.” Vuncannon was seriously injured in a forklift accident while helping law enforcement officials as part of the work program.

While Vuncannon’s state and federal claims stemming from the accident were dismissed, Shelby County Health Care Corporation, which owns the hospital where Vuncannon was treated, wants to get paid for Vuncannon’s medical bills, which are more than $640,000.

Student with Special Needs Gets Second Shot at Section 504 Claim

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that a student with special needs who sued the Waco Independent School District for failing to her prevent sexual abuse at school should get another shot at making her case.

The court’s ruling, however, highlights the importance of a well-pleaded claim. When remanding the matter, the Judge Haynes noted that the pleading was “not a model of detail” and suggested that the student replead.

Contract or Tort: Which Applies to Faulty Work on a Liftboat?

Associated Gas & Oil Company, Limited bought two self-elevating liftboats -- Nicole and Kaitlyn -- from Offshore Marine Inc. (OMI) pursuant to an asset purchase agreement. Under the agreement, OMI agreed to install additional living quarters and accessories on the two vessels. OMI used its sister corporation, Tram Shipyards, Inc. to purchase the materials and complete the additional work.

In the course of installing the additional living quarters on the Nicole, Tram cut, extended, and re-welded the crane boom cradle stanchion of the hydraulic pedestal crane. Transporting the liftboats from Louisiana to Nigeria for an Associated contract proved problematic. The flotilla encountered rough seas, and the stanchion snapped at the site of the weld, causing the crane boom on the Nicole to swing wildly and crash into the additional living quarters.

There was damage. The boats had to divert from their course before ultimately returning to Louisiana for repairs, and they didn't make it to Nigeria for the contract. Associated suffered "a crippling loss of profits." So what's the proper path to remedy? Contract or tort?

Dog-Scent Lineup Fraud? Court Affirms Convictions

Here on the FindLaw blog team, we like puppies. We write about puppies. We select pooches as FindLaw Top Dogs. If there are cat people in our group, they are a silent, sadly marginalized minority.

But even though we believe that "puppies" are the answer to any question worth asking, we'll concede that a dog-scent lineup may not be the solution to a police department's criminal investigation problems. Dog-scent lineup supporters say the tests are "a powerful crime-fighting tool helping investigators crack cases." Opponents -- like The Innocence Project of Texas (IPT) -- call the practice "junk science that's being used by prosecutors and judges to convict people," CNN reports.

BP Prevails in Deepwater Horizon Insurance Dispute

While the legal profession clearly is not recession-proof, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill litigation has kept lawyers busy.

Lawyers are arguing civil liability, criminal liability, continuances, deposition appearances. The list just keeps going.

Last week, at least one of the many questions in the BP litigation was resolved. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that BP is covered by a Transocean insurance policy for up to $750 million in oil spill damages, Bloomberg reports.