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

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The claims on appeal relate to the 2010 explosion aboard the "Deepwater Horizon," an offshore drilling rig, and the consequent discharge of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This is an interlocutory appeal from the district court's order certifying a class action and approving a settlement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. The court concluded that the district court was correct to conclude that the applicable requirements of Rule 23 were satisfied in this case. Whether or not BP's arguments regarding Exhibits 4B and 4C were correct as a matter of contract interpretation, neither class certification nor settlement approval were contrary to Article III in this case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order. View "In Re: Deepwater Horizon, et al." on Justia Law

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The State filed six in parens patriae complaints in state court alleging that six credit card companies (defendants) violated the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act (MCPA), Miss. Code Ann. 75-24-1, by charging consumers for products they did not want or need. Defendants removed to federal court arguing that there was federal subject matter jurisdiction because this was a mass action under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d), 1453, 171 1-171 5, and because the State's MCPA claims were preempted by the federal National Banking Act (NBA), 12 C.F.R. Part 37. The court reversed and remanded, concluding that neither CAFA nor complete preemption by the NBA provided the basis for subject matter jurisdiction. View "Hood, et al. v. JP Morgan Chase & Co., et al." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform oil spill. On appeal, BP challenged the district court's decision upholding the Claims Administrator's interpretation of the settlement agreement between it and the class of parties injured in the oil spill and the district court's dismissal of its action for breach of contract against the Administrator and denial of its motion for a preliminary injunction. The court concluded that the balance of equities favored a tailored stay where those who experienced actual injury traceable to loss from the Deepwater Horizon accident continued to receive recovery but those who did not receive their payments until this case was fully heard and decided through the judicial process weighed in favor of BP. Accordingly, the court reversed the denial of the preliminary injunction and instructed the district court to expeditiously craft a narrowly-tailored injunction that allowed the time necessary for deliberate reconsideration of significant issues on remand. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of BP's suit against the Claim Administrator. View "In Re: Deepwater Horizon" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, members of a certified class of securities fraud plaintiffs whose certification order was vacated in 2004 (the Drnek action), filed a class action in 2009 reciting the same claims previously outlined in the Drnek action. The district court concluded that plaintiffs' claims have been extinguished because they filed their class action more than five years after the Drnek court vacated its certification order. The court held that the Drnek court's vacatur of certification caused American Pipe & Construction Co. v. Utah tolling to cease and the statute of repose to resume running. Because plaintiffs brought this action after the statute of repose expired, their claim has been extinguished. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Hall, et al. v. Variable Annuity Life Ins. Co., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought a class action suit under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., alleging various breaches of fiduciary duty to plan participants. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The court concluded that the district court correctly dismissed Counts I and IV of the amended complaint which alleged that Idearc Defendants breached their fiduciary duties by allowing plan participants to buy and hold Idearc stock when it was no longer prudent to do so where the amended complaint failed to allege sufficient facts to overcome the "presumption of prudence" the court adopted in Kirschbaum v. Reliant Energy Inc. The court also concluded that the district court correctly dismissed plaintiff's claim for inaccurate disclosures and nondisclosures (Count II) where plaintiff alleged no specific circumstance or specific injury mandating the Idearc Defendants disclose non-public information to plan participants and no general duty to disclose non-public information existed under ERISA or under the court's precedents. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's remaining claims. View "Kopp v. Klein, et al." on Justia Law

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A putative class of plaintiffs sought to recover damages from defendants for securities fraud under section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 78j(b). This litigation arose out of alleged misrepresentations by Halliburton concerning three primary aspects of its operations. Based on its finding that common issues predominated and that the other Rule 23 class prerequisites were satisfied, the district court certified the class. The court agreed with the district court that defendants were not entitled to use evidence of no market price impact to rebut the fraud-on-the-market presumption of reliance at class certification. The court concluded that Halliburton's price impact evidence did not bear on the question of common question predominance, and was thus appropriately considered only on the merits after the class had been certified. The court rejected the Fund's waiver challenge. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Erica P. John Fund, Inc. v. Halliburton Co., et al" on Justia Law

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This case arose when plaintiffs filed a class action suit in state court against the Levee District and Flood Protection Agency. Plaintiffs then initiated a second state court suit against the Levee District and the Agency. Subsequently, plaintiffs filed an amended petition, joining the Corps as a defendant, seeking declaratory judgment that defendants did not possess a servitude over their property. The Corps then removed the case to federal district court, the district court granted in part and denied in part the Corps' motion to dismiss, and the United States petitioned for permission to appeal. At issue on appeal was whether plaintiffs' action against the Corps fell within the scope of the Quiet Title Act (QTA), 28 U.S.C. 2409a, so as to waive the United States' immunity to suit and authorize federal subject matter jurisdiction. Because the title dispute here concerned ownership of the purported servitude - a title dispute between plaintiffs and a third party - and because it was plausible to read the QTA as only authorizing suit when the underlying title dispute was between plaintiff and the United States, the court reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Lonatro, et al v. United States" on Justia Law

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Appellant, a former TWL employee, commenced a class action adversary proceeding within TWL's bankruptcy suit, alleging violations of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, 29 U.S.C. 2101-2109. The district court affirmed the bankruptcy court's order denying appellant's related motion for class certification and dismissed the adversary proceeding. Because the reasons for the bankruptcy court's order were unclear, the court vacated in toto the orders and remanded to the district court to remand to the bankruptcy court for reconsideration. The court expressed no view as to the outcome the bankruptcy court should reach on remand in reconsidering appellant's motion for reclassification and the Trustee's motion to dismiss the adversary proceeding. View "Teta v. TWL Corp., et al" on Justia Law

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Homeowners, who were represented by the Mostyn Law Firm, filed claims against State Farm in Texas state court after Hurricane Ike. State Farm removed several cases to federal court on diversity grounds. The Firm and State Farm then entered into an agreement whereby the Firm promised to abandon its clients' claims against individual adjusters and forgo suing them in the future in exchange for State Farm's promise not to remove any Hurricane Ike cases to federal court. At issue on appeal was whether the phrase "any Hurricane Ike cases," in a contract covering "all Hurricane Ike cases that either have been filed or will be filed in the future," encompassed class-action lawsuits. The court affirmed and agreed with the district court's conclusion that the negotiated contract covered all past, present, and future lawsuits filed by the Firm against State Farm on behalf of homeowners, as individuals or part of a class, whose properties were damaged during Hurricane Ike. View "Horn, et al v. State Farm Lloyds" on Justia Law

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Defendants, manufacturers and distributors of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, jointly removed this case to federal district court on the grounds that (1) the action was a class action under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(1)(B), or (2) the action was a mass action under the CAFA. The State moved to remand the case to state court and the district court granted the motion. Because it was undisputed that there were more than 100 consumers, the court found that there were more than 100 claims at issue in this case. Further, no disqualifying exceptions to the term "mass action" was applicable. Consequently, the suit qualified as a mass action under the CAFA and the court found removal to be proper. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "State of Mississippi v. AU Optronics Corp., et al" on Justia Law