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

April 2013 Archives

5th Circuit Won't Reconsider Under-21 Gun Sale Ban

You don’t have to be 21 to get a gun; 18-to-20-year-olds can legally possess and use handguns. Parents or guardians may gift handguns to 18-to-20-year-olds. The under-21 set can even purchase handguns through unlicensed, private sales. Federal law, however, provides that you must be 21 to purchase a gun from a federally-licensed dealer.

In October, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel unanimously upheld the handgun purchase age restriction, noting that Congress “deliberately adopted a calibrated, compromise approach.” Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit voted against reconsidering that decision en banc.

It was a close vote.

City Razes Building Without Telling Owner. Meh, No Big Deal.

In 2008, the City of San Antonio demolished RBIII’s building. That building was arguably dilapidated, but the City didn’t actually notify RBIII before razing the structure.

In the legal world, you’ll recall that we characterize such behavior as “not cool.”

RBIII sued San Antonio, asserting a variety of state and federal claims, but the district court granted summary judgment for the city on all but two claims. (If you guessed that the surviving claims were a Fourteenth Amendment due process claim and a Fourth Amendment unreasonable search and seizure claim, give yourself a gold star.) The remaining claims went to a jury, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of RBIII.

San Antonio, unsatisfied with tearing down RBIII’s building and mostly-prevailing at summary judgment, appealed.

Post-PLIVA Plaintiff Loses Failure to Warn Claim

According to the Supreme Court, brand name drug manufacturers can be sued for failure to warn, even though the federal government — through the Food and Drug Administration — gives approval to put drugs on the market. FDA approval is not a defense.

The Supreme Court reached the opposite concluding regarding generic drugs: Generic drug manufacturers cannot be sued on a failure to warn theory.

Those conflicting rulings have forced plaintiffs with claims against generic drug manufacturers to think outside the box to keep their cases alive. Unfortunately, as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals noted this week, those attempts are frequently unsuccessful.

No Lenience Required for Thrice-Removed Defendant

Rene Valeriano Diaz Sanchez has been removed from the U.S. three times. He thinks that he should get a break on his unlawful reentry sentence for the most recent infraction due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding his return.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals disagrees.

Dickie Scruggs Loses Honest Services Appeal

If Dickie Scruggs had closed up shop after his wins against the asbestos industry and Big Tobacco, he could be enjoying a gorgeous Oxford, Mississippi spring, browsing in the best bookstore in America, and rolling around in the millions he collected as one of the top plaintiffs’ lawyers of his time.

Instead, Scruggs decided that he really needed a win a fee-sharing dispute and persuaded Hinds County Judge Robert “Bobby” DeLaughter to tip the scales of justice in his favor.

Granted, the DeLaughter judicial bribery scandal wasn’t the only time Scruggs reportedly bribed a judge. It’s just the case we’re discussing today because the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Scruggs’ convictions in the DeLaughter matter this week.

Court Affirms Another FEMA Trailer FTCA Dismissal

Last year, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that displaced hurricane evacuees may not sue the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for formaldehyde exposure under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) because the plaintiffs lacked subject matter jurisdiction.

That case only involved Mississippi plaintiffs, but the outcome doesn’t change when the plaintiffs hail from Louisiana.

5th Circuit Has an 'IDEA' about Prevailing Party Attorneys' Fees

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that public educational institutions identify and effectively educate disabled children, or pay for their education elsewhere if they require specialized services that the public institution cannot provide. Schools must identify children in need of special education services, and provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to disabled students. Parents can pursue administrative remedies, and eventually a lawsuit, to compel a school to comply.

Today, we're discussing a Fifth Circuit opinion addressing an attorneys' fees dispute stemming from an IDEA enforcement action.

Peer-to-Peer Child Porn Storage Supports Distribution Conviction

Bennie Richardson doesn't deny that he had child pornography on his computer. He just argues that he shouldn't have been convicted for distributing child pornography by storing those images in a shared folder that was accessible on a peer-to-peer computer network.

Is anyone surprised that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with him?