Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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Under Texas law, an attorney is immune from civil suits brought by a non-client when the conduct at issue occurred within the scope of the attorney's representation of a client. The Fifth Circuit agreed with the district court and rejected three purported exceptions to this doctrine. This case related to the R. Allen Stanford Ponzi Scheme and an attorney that was practicing at Greenberg Traurig who was involved in the scheme. Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants under a respondeat superior theory, alleging that the attorney conspired with Stanford to further the fraud. Denying the motion for certification, the court held that it was not persuaded that the Supreme Court of Texas would apply the attorney immunity doctrine in the non-litigation context; criminal conduct does not automatically negate immunity, but in the usual case it will be outside the scope of representation; immunity can apply even to criminal acts so long as the attorney was acting within the scope of representation; and the Supreme Court of Texas would not consider itself sure that the Texas Legislature intended to abrogate attorney immunity in the context of Texas Securities Act claims. View "Troice v. Greenberg Traurig, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's denial of attorneys' fees in plaintiff's action under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Although the district court correctly determined that Farrar v. Hobby, 506 U.S. 103 (1992), provided the relevant legal framework in this case, the court held that the district court was in the best position to determine whether this lawsuit achieved a compensable public goal justifying a fee award. Plaintiff argued that this was an unusual case justifying a fee award because the litigation secured an ASL interpreter for Nelson Arce, achieved recognition of the rights of deaf probationers and prisoners to disability accommodations, deterred future ADA violations, and prompted necessary reforms in the defendants' policies toward deaf individuals. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Shelton v. Louisiana State" on Justia Law

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After Brown Sims, a Houston law firm, successfully obtained a favorable result for its client, AJR, the client colluded with the opposing party, CNA and its attorneys, to consummate a settlement just between themselves. After settlement, the district court dismissed the case as moot. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction over Brown Sims's claims against CNA. The court also held that Brown Sims met all of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24's criterion for intervention as of right and the district court erred in concluding otherwise. Furthermore, the district court erred in denying the Rule 60(b)(5) and (b)(6) motions. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further consideration. View "Adam Joseph Resources v. CNA Metals Limited" on Justia Law

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In this trademark infringement action, the district court granted Alliance for Good Government summary judgment on its trademark infringement claim against Coalition for Better Government, enjoined Coalition from the use of both its logo and its trade name, and then awarded Alliance attorney's fees incurred in bringing the lawsuit. The Fifth Circuit affirmed in part and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Alliance was entitled to fees. The court remanded for the district court to reassess the amount of fees, because the court has since modified the district court's injunction to permit Coalition to use its trade name. View "Alliance for Good Government v. Coalition for Better Government" on Justia Law

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In 2005, during Hurricane Katrina, a barge moored by Lafarge hurtled through a floodwall and unleashed catastrophic flooding in the Lower 9th Ward. Richard T. Seymour represented New Orleans residents, but withdrew from the Barge Litigation in 2011. After the Barge Litigation settled several years later, he moved to intervene in order to pursue his fees and expenses. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision as to intervention of right and dismissed Seymour's appeal for lack of jurisdiction as to permissive intervention. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Seymour's motion to intervene came too late. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying permissive intervention because it was also untimely. View "St. Bernard Parish v. Lafarge North America, Inc." on Justia Law

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Law firm Schiff Hardin challenged the denial of its Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the complaint and rejection of its attorney immunity defense in an action alleging negligent misrepresentation. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred in rejecting the firm's attorney immunity defense because the conduct sued on occurred during the representation of the firm's client. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's denial of the firm's motion and rendered judgment dismissing the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). View "Ironshore Europe DAC v. Schiff Hardin, LLP" on Justia Law

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In this school desegregation case, at issue was the reimbursement of expenses for a court-appointed oversight official. After the district court ordered an increase in the official’s compensation, the school board appealed and the official prevailed. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's reimbursement of the official's appellate expenses, as well as the timing and quantity of the reimbursement, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. View "Moore v. Tangipahoa Parish School Board" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit held that attorneys appearing pro se can not recover fees under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The court affirmed the district court's judgment in an action brought by an immigration attorney under FOIA to obtain government documents. In this case, plaintiff was unsatisfied with the government's responses to his FOIA requests and thus filed three separate pro se lawsuits where he was ultimately considered the prevailing party. Plaintiff was awarded costs, but denied attorney fees under FOIA. View "Gahagan v. US Citizenship & Immigration Services" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees. The court held that there were special and unusual circumstances justifying the denial of attorney's fees. In this case, plaintiff's counsel charged duplicative and excessive fees. The court agreed with the district court's reasoning and the magistrate judge's stunned reaction to plaintiff's request for $130,000 in attorneys' fees and concurred that the record reflected neither the legal work necessary for the requested hourly billing rate of $450 per hour, nor the quantity of work claimed. View "Davis v. Credit Bureau of the South" on Justia Law

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Under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, a defendant is not eligible for fees when the plaintiff obtains a dismissal without prejudice because such a dismissal does not establish the winner of the dispute. The Fifth Circuit held that taking the lead early in the lawsuit did not make defendants eligible for fees, nor did the trial court's postponement of the litigation when it allowed plaintiff to dismiss the federal suit without prejudice. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of fees. View "Dunster Live, LLC v. LoneStar Logos Management Co." on Justia Law