Articles Posted in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiffs, members of the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee for the Chinese Drywall MDL, claimed that technology counsel for Cataphora made defamatory statements that were aimed at, and caused harm in, Louisiana, thereby grounding personal jurisdiction in that state. The court concluded that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over defendants because plaintiff failed to make a showing that the statements' focal point was Louisiana. The court vacated the district court's dismissal and remanded with instructions to transfer the matter to the United States District Court of the Northern District of California in the interest of justice. View "Herman, et al. v. Cataphora, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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The Corps contracted with Atlantic for the construction of a child development center and Atlantic entered into a Subcontract Agreement with J-Crew for labor and materials. The Subcontract Agreement included a forum-selection clause, which provided that disputes shall be litigated in Virginia courts. Ignoring the forum-selection clause, J-Crew filed suit against Atlantic in Texas. Applying 28 U.S.C. 1404(a), the district court denied Atlantic's motion to transfer, finding that Atlantic had not met its burden of showing why the interest of justice or the convenience of the parties and their witnesses weighed in favor of transferring the case to Virginia. Atlantic subsequently petitioned the court for a writ of mandamus to dismiss or transfer the case. Because the court found that the district court did not clearly abuse its discretion by considering enforcement of the forum-selection clause under section 1404(a), instead of under Rule 12(b)(3) and section 1406; and by conducting its analysis under section 1404(a), the court denied the petition. View "In re: Atlantic Marine Const Co. Inc." on Justia Law

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This case concerned the remedy under Louisiana law for the purchaser of a newly constructed home with a construction defect that has not resulted in actual physical damage to the home. The court held that the Louisiana New Home Warranty Act, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 9:3141, 9:3150, provided the exclusive remedy against a builder for a purchaser of a new home. The court also held that a claim brought under the Act must allege that the defect in question resulted in actual physical damage to the home. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the case. View "Gines v. D.R. Horton, Inc., et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, owners of condominium units that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, sued defendants after defendants failed to complete construction of the rebuild. Plaintiffs appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants, based on the district court's finding that the 24-month construction obligations in the Purchase Agreements were not illusory and, therefore, the parties' contracts were exempted from the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosures Act (ILSA), 15 U.S.C. 1701, et seq. The court found that the language of the Purchase Agreements did not negate plaintiffs' abilities to seek damage and specific performance remedies. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment. View "Hillman, et al v. Loga, III, et al" on Justia Law

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This case arose from a contract entered into by the parties where Ewing agreed to construct tennis courts for the school district. At issue was the interpretation of a Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance policy under Texas law. The district court held that a CGL policy's contractual liability exclusion applied in this case and that no exception restored coverage. The insured construction company faced liability, if at all, because it contracted to construct usable tennis courts for the school district and it had allegedly failed to perform. The court held that the district court correctly interpreted the contractual liability exclusion and correctly applied that exclusion with respect to the insurer's duty to defend the construction company. The court held, however, that the district court was premature in applying the exclusion to the insurer's duty to indemnify. View "Ewing Construction Co., Inc. v. Amerisure Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Three primary insurers and one excess carrier appealed the district court's determination on summary judgment of their duties to defend a contractor who allegedly was responsible for a fire that occurred during construction. The district court held that the three primary insurers must split the costs initially spent by one of them defending the insured, while the excess insurer could not recover any of its defense costs from the primary insurers. The court concluded that National Union could seek reimbursement for its defense costs from Continental, Columbia, and North American through contractual subrogation. The district court did not err in its allocation of Continental's defense costs among Continental, Columbia, and North American. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment in part and reversed in part, and the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Continental Casualty Co. v. North American Specialty Ins., et al." on Justia Law

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The City of New Orleans appealed a jury verdict for Rosedale Missionary Baptist Church finding that the city violated the church's Fourteenth Amendment right to due process by demolishing the church building without notice. At issue was whether the suit should be dismissed because the church's procedural and substantive due process claims were unripe. The court dismissed the suit as unripe where the church did not allege a substantive due process claim that was independent of its procedural due process claim and where the court could not address the procedural due process claim without knowing the outcome of the takings claim, which was not before the court.

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Appellants appealed their convictions and sentences for aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute phencyclidine ("PCP"), a controlled substance. Appellants raised issues regarding the admissibility of certain evidence and contested the basis for their sentences. The court held that the district court properly denied the first defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained during the search of a certain house where, under the circumstances and in light of his failure on appeal to demonstrate that Los Angeles police were dishonest or reckless in relying on the house warrant, the good faith exception applied. The court also held that evidence from the second house at issue was inextricably intertwined with evidence tending to prove that the second defendant aided and abetted to possess with intent to distribute PCP and, in light of evidence implicating the second defendant in a scheme to aid and abet possession with intent to distribute PCP, any error in admitting evidence of the July 2008 controlled buy was harmless. The court further held that the district court's factual findings and application of U.S.S.G. 3C1.1 were not erroneous where certain material assertions were not worthy of credence in light of the weight of the physical evidence and were flatly contradicted by other witnesses and the ultimate finding of the jury. The court finally held that the sentencing enhancement for the first defendant's leadership role was based on an erroneous recitation of facts and therefore, was vacated and remanded for resentencing.