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

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The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals just affirmed the Southern District Court of Texas's ruling that Walmart cannot be held liable for the death of Karalee Williams.

Karalee died in her car in a Texas Walmart's parking lot. She died due to excessive huffing of canned air, a.k.a. dusting (you know, those aerosol air dusters meant for tech), which is a serious problem across the country. Notably, during a 27 hour period, Karalee made several visits to the same Walmart and purchased approximately 60 cans of the stuff and a towel. Despite unbelievable undisputed facts, the courts agreed that Walmart did not owe Karalee any duties.

Louisiana Abortion Restrictions Upheld

A federal appeals court restored a Louisiana law that requires abortion doctors have credentials to work at hospitals.

In June Medical Services v. Gee, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court decision that struck down the law as unconstitutional. Act 620 provides that treating doctors at abortion clinics must have credentials at a hospital within 30 miles.

The appeals panel said the law was intended to protect "maternal health" and "unborn life." But one dissenting judge said it was an "undue burden" on women's rights.

The Alvarez v. City of Brownsville case is one that criminal law and civil rights attorneys and advocates will want to review.

In short, the matter concerns whether a Brady violation occurs if a defendant accepts a plea bargain. Both a panel, and a majority of the full, en banc Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Brady doesn't apply to plea bargains.

In the great state of Louisiana, the state's attorney general and commissioner of alcohol and tobacco have been fighting a fight that exotic dancers just don't think are right.

In 2016, the state both defined and raised the minimum age requirement for exotic dancers in establishments that serve alcohol. While the industry had always presumed the minimum age was 18, this was not actually stated in the law. In 2016, the new law passed and set the minimum age at 21, which as a result, caused many dancers between the ages of 18 and 21 to be out of a job, or forced to take other positions which pay significantly less.

Judge Strikes Texas Fetal Abortion Law

A high-profile feud over abortion laws continues in Texas, where a judge stopped -- again -- a law that would require abortion providers to bury or cremate fetuses.

The fetal burial law, set to take effect in February, applies to abortions, miscarriages, and ectopic pregnancies. The decision was a defeat for lawmakers and the state Attorney General's Office, which defended the statute in Whole Women's Health v. Smith.

Judge David A. Ezra said the law violated due process rights and interfered with a woman's decision to have an abortion. He also re-ignited his own inter-court battle over the controversial law.

When it comes to guns, few states are as gung-ho as Texas. After all, Yosemite Sam was almost named "Texas Tiny" for a reason.

In keeping with the gung-ho mentality, the recent decision in Glass v. Paxton explains that a 2015 Texas law allows handgun owners with concealed carry permits to carry their concealed handguns on college campuses and even inside college classrooms.

The case focused on a challenge to that law due to the fact that teachers that wanted to ban guns in their own classrooms would face discipline from their institutions, and were prohibited from doing so.

5th Circuit Rejects Texas Teen Love Triangle Case

Zamora v. Stephens would hardly merit a case note, except for one sensational thing: Diane Zamora murdered her boyfriend's teenaged lover.

It stemmed from a one-night stand that turned into years of stories, a book, a movie, and life sentences for Zamora and David Graham, who was also convicted in a love-triangle that ended the life of Adrianne Jones. They were all teenagers.

Zamora is 40 now, and just lost her appeal in a civil rights suit against a prison. In four pages, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said she didn't have a case.

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.

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.

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.