Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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Provider Plaintiffs and Individual Plaintiffs filed suit seeking a preliminary injunction against the OIG's decision to terminate the Medicaid provider agreements to Planned Parenthood affiliates throughout the state. The district court held that the Individual Plaintiffs possessed a private right of action under the "qualified-provider" provision of the Medicaid Act and issued a preliminary injunction. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred in evaluating the evidence de novo, rather than under the arbitrary and capricious standard, and in applying the reasoning in Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast v. Gee, 862 F.3d 445 (5th Cir. 2017), to its determination of a "qualified" provider in this context. Therefore, the district court erred legally and plaintiffs were unlikely to show a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim. Accordingly, the court vacated the preliminary injunction and remanded for the district court to limit its review to the agency record under an arbitrary-and-capricious standard. View "Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Family Planning and Preventative Health Services v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's final judgment in an action alleging that an IRS test for determining certain liabilities was facially unconstitutional. The court held that Freedom Path did not have standing to bring this facial challenge and therefore the court dismissed the action based on lack of jurisdiction. In this case, plaintiff's claimed chilled speech injury was not fairly traceable to the text of Revenue Ruling 2004-6. View "Freedom Path, Inc. v. IRS" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Chief Justice Valdez in his individual and official capacities, arguing that Valdez intervened in plaintiff's hiring as retaliation for plaintiff filing a complaint against Valdez. The Fifth Circuit held that Valdez is entitled to qualified immunity because it was not clearly established as of May 2014 that where a briefing attorney swore as part of his employment to comply with a code of conduct requiring him to report judicial misconduct to a specific state authority, he nonetheless spoke as a citizen in reporting a judge to that authority. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's order denying Valdez's motion for summary judgment in both his official and individual capacity. View "Anderson v. Valdez" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant in an action alleging race and discrimination claims. After an internal affairs investigation regarding the injury of an arrestee was conducted, plaintiff and others were transferred to positions in the corrections department which defendant, the sheriff, believed were less likely to result in arrests. Plaintiff decided to quit rather than accept the transfer. Plaintiff never applied to resume work. In regard to the discrimination claim, the court held that plaintiff failed to create a genuine issue of material fact with respect to whether he was treated less favorably than other similarly situated employees outside the protected group and as to whether he was replaced with someone outside his protected class. In regard to the retaliation claim, the court held that plaintiff failed to produce evidence creating a genuine issue of material fact showing that his employer took an adverse employment action against him and that a causal connection existed between the protected activity and the adverse employment action. View "Thomas v. Tregre" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action alleging claims of wrongful imprisonment, free speech retaliation, and procedural due process against Defendant Reed (District Attorney for Washington Parish, Louisiana) and Defendant Cox (a minister in Franklinton, Louisiana). The court held that the district court erred by relying on Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), to dismiss plaintiff's wrongful imprisonment and free speech retaliation claims, and by resolving a genuine dispute of material fact at the summary judgment stage to dismiss plaintiff's due process claim. In this case, after plaintiff informed the FBI about defendants' unlawful business dealings, plaintiff was arrested and incarcerated for 101 days based on a "DA Hold," which the parties agree was not recognized by law. View "Magee v. Reed" on Justia Law

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After Laura S. was killed shortly after returning to Mexico, her representatives filed suit under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999 (1971), against a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent and his supervisor. In this case, Laura entered the country illegally, was detained in CBP custody, and subsequently signed a form indicating her decision to repatriate voluntarily. Plaintiffs alleged that Laura was coerced into signing the voluntary removal form and was denied her due process rights, causing her death. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants, holding that special factors precluded the extension of a Bivens remedy to this new context. The court also held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity where the agent's conduct was not objectively unreasonable. View "Maria S. v. Doe" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his employer, BNSF, for disability discrimination and retaliation after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and later placed on medical leave by the company. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for BNSF on plaintiff's disability discrimination claim, holding that even assuming BNSF's alleged safety concerns were legitimate and non-discriminatory, the totality of the circumstances created a material fact issue as to whether BNSF's proffered reasons for refusing to reinstate plaintiff were merely pretextual. The court affirmed the district court's judgment regarding the retaliation claim and held that plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence to support a causal link between the filing of his EEOC claim and his continued placement on medical leave. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Nall v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of qualified immunity to defendant, the chief of police, on plaintiff's hostile work environment claim where plaintiff, a police sergeant, sufficiently alleged that he sustained harassment that undermined his ability to work and defendant was deliberately indifferent to this racially hostile work environment. The court also affirmed the district court's denial of qualified immunity on 42 U.SC. 1981 claims where plaintiff's allegations of a retaliatory shift change supported a claim of unlawful retaliation that a reasonable officer would know was unlawful. However, the court reversed as to plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 First Amendment retaliation claim where defendant was entitled to qualified immunity, because it was not clearly established that an internal complaint of discrimination made only to supervisors, primarily to vindicate one's own rights, qualified as speech made as a citizen rather than as an employee. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Johnson v. Halstead" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's request for an evidentiary hearing and denial of his application for a certificate of appealability (COA). Petitioner was a member of the "Texas Seven," a group that escaped from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and violently took hostages and stole guns and ammunition. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying an evidentiary hearing where an evidentiary hearing would not enable petitioner to establish a right to federal habeas relief. The court also denied a COA on petitioner's claim that the state trial court violated his constitutional rights by preventing him from offering the Ranking Document as mitigating evidence, Brady violation claim, ineffective assistance of counsel claim, Enmund/Tison culpability claim, and ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claim. View "Halprin v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for habeas corpus relief, holding that the Mississippi Supreme Court's decision was not contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established law. The court held that Grim v. Fisher, 816 F.3d 296 (5th Cir. 2016), barred petitioner from habeas relief. Grim applied Bullcoming v. New Mexico, 564 U.S. 647 (2011), to a case in which a crime laboratory supervisor -- rather than an analyst, as in the case here -- testified at trial, and held that such testimony did not violate clearly established law. View "Jenkins v. Hall" on Justia Law