Justia Civil Rights Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
Thompson v. City of Waco, TX
Plaintiff filed suit against the City under 42 U.S.C. 1981 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e-1, for racial discrimination. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to allege an adverse employment action under Rule 12(b)(6). The court concluded that, viewing the factual allegations in the light most favorable to plaintiff, plaintiff plausibly alleged that he was subject to the equivalent of a demotion. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Thompson v. City of Waco, TX" on Justia Law
Luna, et al. v. Texas Dept. of Public Safety
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging excessive use of force from the shooting and death of Israel Leija, Jr. by a DPS trooper. The district court denied the trooper's motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity because multiple genuine disputes of material fact existed as to the qualified immunity analysis. The court concluded that whether Leija was posing a substantial and immediate risk of danger to other officers or bystanders, sufficient to justify the use of deadly force at the time of the shooting, is a disputed fact. Because on this record, the immediacy of the risk posed by Leija cannot be resolved as a matter of law at the summary judgment stage, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Luna, et al. v. Texas Dept. of Public Safety" on Justia Law
Davis v. Fort Bend Cnty.
Fort Bend hired Davis in 2007 as a Desktop Support Supervisor for 15 information technology technicians. Cook was the IT Director, and in 2009, hired his friend and fellow church member, Ford, as Davis’s supervisor. In 2010, Davis complained to human resources that Cook subjected her to constant sexual harassment and assaults. Fort Bend placed Davis on Family Medical Leave Act leave during its investigation, which substantiated the allegations and led to Cook’s resignation. According to Davis, Ford immediately began retaliating when she returned to work. She alleged that Ford “effectively” demoted her by reducing the number of her direct reports to four; removed her from projects she had previously managed; superseded her authority; removed her administrative rights from the computer server; and assigned her tasks that similarly situated employees were not required to perform. When a special installation was scheduled for the weekend of July 4, 2011, all employees were required to be present. On June 28, Davis informed Ford that she would not be available on the morning of Sunday July 3, “due to a previous religious commitment.” Davis claimed that she had arranged for a replacement. After Davis attended her church event and did not report to work, Fort Bend terminated her employment. Davis filed suit, alleging retaliation and religious discrimination under Title VII, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The district court dismissed. The Fifth Circuit affirmed in part. Summary judgment was proper as to the retaliation claim, but not as to the religious discrimination claim. View "Davis v. Fort Bend Cnty." on Justia Law
Hurst v. Lee County
Plaintiff, a corrections officer, filed suit against the County, acting through its Sheriff, alleging that plaintiff was terminated from his employment in violation of his First Amendment right to free speech. The court held that plaintiff's statements to the news reporter was ordinarily within the scope of plaintiff's duties and did not merely concern those duties. Therefore, plaintiff was not speaking as a citizen for First Amendment purposes and his communications were not constitutionally insulated from employer discipline. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of the County. View "Hurst v. Lee County" on Justia Law
Mc Allen Grace Brethren Church, et al. v. U.S. Attorney General
Plaintiffs filed suit against the Department seeking a declaration of rights that the Department's enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), 16 U.S.C. 703, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Protection Act), 76 Pub. L. No 567, 54 Stat. 250, violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. 2000bb, because it prohibits American Indians who are not members of federally recognized tribes from possessing bald and golden eagle feathers. The district court found that the Department's implementation of the Eagle Protection Act was narrowly tailored to a compelling governmental interest. The court reversed the district court's grant of the Department's motion for summary judgment because the Department did not provide sufficient evidence that the policy limiting permits for the possession of eagle feathers to members of federally recognized tribes survives the scrutiny required by RFRA. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Mc Allen Grace Brethren Church, et al. v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law
Munn v. City of Ocean Springs, MS
Plaintiff, owner of a bar and nightclub, filed suit challenging the noise ordinance of Ocean Springs, arguing that the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague. The court focused on the language of the ordinance that prohibits noise that "annoys... a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities." The court concluded that this language imposed an admittedly objective standard of conduct in its enforcement. Therefore, the court held that the ordinance sets an explicitly objective standard in accordance with Supreme Court precedent, and therefore it is not unconstitutionally vague. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Munn v. City of Ocean Springs, MS" on Justia Law
Catholic Leadership Coalition v. Reisman
Plaintiffs, three general-purpose political committees and one nonprofit corporation, raised facial and as-applied First Amendment challenges general-purpose committee regulations. Plaintiffs challenged the treasurer-appointment requirement, the ten-contributor requirement, and the 60-day, 500 dollar contribution and expenditure limit. Some plaintiffs also raised a First Amendment challenge to the corporate contribution ban as-applied to a proposed contribution of an email contact list from the nonprofit corporation to the general-purpose committee. As a preliminary matter, the court concluded that plaintiffs can invoke the disputes capable of repetition, yet evading review exception to mootness and the court had jurisdiction to hear the appeal. The court held that the treasurer-appointment requirement and the corporate contribution ban are constitutional. The court concluded, however, that the 60-day, 500 dollar contribution and expenditure limit as well as the ten-contributor requirement are facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed and rendered in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Catholic Leadership Coalition v. Reisman" on Justia Law
Thompson, et al. v. Mercer, et al.
Keith Thompson was killed when a county sheriff ended a two-hour high-speed chase by firing an assault rifle into the vehicle Keith had stolen. Plaintiffs, Keith's parents, filed suit against the sheriff and the County under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the sheriff used excessive force. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's grant of defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court concluded that there was no constitutional violation in the sheriff's use of deadly force and he was entitled to qualified immunity. Because there was no Fourth Amendment violation of the seizure of Keith, plaintiffs' section 1983 claims failed as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Thompson, et al. v. Mercer, et al." on Justia Law
Nobach v. Woodland Village Nursing Ctr., et al.
Plaintiff, a nursing home activities aide, filed suit against her employer, Woodland, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., after she was discharged because she refused to pray the Rosary with a patient. Plaintiff alleged that Woodland discharged her for exercising her religious beliefs. The court found that there was no evidence in the record that Woodland knew of plaintiff's beliefs before discharging her and held that a reasonable jury would not have had a legally sufficient basis to find that Woodland violated Title VII by discharging her. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's denial of Woodland's motion for judgment as a matter of law, vacated the judgment, and remanded for entry of judgment. View "Nobach v. Woodland Village Nursing Ctr., et al." on Justia Law
Jackson Women’s Health Org., et al. v. Currier, et al.
Plaintiffs filed suit challenging Mississippi's H.B. 1390, which requires that all physicians associated with the abortion facility must have admitting privileges at a local hospital and staff privileges to replace local hospital on-staff physicians. On appeal, the State challenged the district court's entry of a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of the admitting privileges provision of H.B. 1390. The provision effectively will close the state's only abortion clinic. The court held that, assuming a rational basis inquiry is a necessary step in deciding the constitutionality of an abortion regulation, H.B. 1930 satisfied rational basis review; Gaines v. Canada instructs the court to consider the effects of H.B. 1390 only within Mississippi in conducting an undue burden analysis; JWHO, the only licensed abortion clinic in the state, has demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on its claim that H.B. 1390's admission privileges requirement imposes an undue burden on a woman's right to choose an abortion in Mississippi and is unconstitutional as applied to plaintiffs; and, to the extent the preliminary injunction enjoined enforcement of H.B. 1390 against parties other than plaintiffs, it was overly broad and was modified to apply only to the parties in this case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court with modifications. View "Jackson Women's Health Org., et al. v. Currier, et al." on Justia Law