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

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This appeal concerns the Texas PUC's interpretation and implementation of a federal statutory and regulatory scheme governing the purchase of energy between public utilities and certain energy production facilities known as Qualifying Facilities. Exelon, qualifying wind generation facilities, challenged a state rule and order which prohibited it from forming Legally Enforceable Obligations when selling power. The court vacated the portion of the judgment regarding Exelon's challenge to the PUC's order and directed the district court to dismiss for want of subject matter jurisdiction. The court reversed as to the remaining challenges to the rule and remanded because PUC acted within its discretion and properly implemented the federal regulation at issue. View "Exelon Wind 1, L.L.C., et al. v. Nelson, et al." on Justia Law

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") issued Austin Industrial Specialty Services, L.P. a citation for violations of hazardous-chemical regulations promulgated under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. After a hearing, the administrative law judge affirmed two items in the citation: (1) failure to identify and evaluate respiratory hazards in the workplace; and (2) failure to provide employee training regarding certain hazardous chemicals. The ALJ vacated the other three items. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission denied discretionary review, and Austin filed a petition in this court, seeking to overturn the administrative law judge's decision on several grounds. Finding no reversible error, the Fifth Circuit denied Austin's petition. View "Austin Industrial Spclt Svc v. OSHC, et al" on Justia Law

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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

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Relators filed suit under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, alleging that appellants committed numerous FCA violations concerning improper incentives for patient referrals. Assuming arguendo that qualified immunity is an available defense, the court held on the merits that appellants are not entitled to qualified immunity against these FCA claims where relators sufficiently pleaded that appellants violated the FCA and the courses of conduct allegedly taken by appellants were objectively unreasonable in light of clearly established law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of appellants' motion to dismiss. View "United States ex rel Parikh" on Justia Law

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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

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Belle filed suit challenging the Corps' issuance of a jurisdictional determination (JD) stating that the property owned by Belle contains wetlands that are subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the JD was not a "final agency action" and was therefore not reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 500 et seq. View "Belle Co., L.L.C., et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and his family filed suit against Lewisville for damages and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiff and his family challenged the constitutionality of a Lewisville ordinance prohibiting registered child sex offenders from residing within 1,500 feet of "where children commonly gather." Plaintiff, a registered child sex offender, asserts that he and his family cannot find a house to rent or buy based on the challenged ordinance. The district court dismissed the claims based on lack of standing and, alternatively, as moot. The court concluded that the family's inability to find a home in Lewisville is fairly traceable to the challenged ordinance and it was likely that a judgment in the family's favor would at least make it easier for them to find a residence to rent or buy in Lewisville. Although the family has moved to another town, their claims for monetary relief are sufficient to defeat mootness. Therefore, the court reversed the judgment of the district court because the family has met the traceable and redressable requirements of standing and their claim is not moot. View "Duarte, et al. v. City of Lewisville, TX" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, the widow of the deceased, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging claims that individual defendants used excessive force against her husband and that defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment as to all of plaintiff's claims. The court concluded that the record presented genuine issues of material fact from which a jury could conclude that excessive force was used against the husband. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for the district court to consider in the first instance whether any or all of the individual defendants may proceed to trial on a theory of direct liability for use of force or, in the alternative, on a theory of bystander liability. The district court should also consider whether individual defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in regards to the deliberate indifference claim and the municipal liability claim for failing to provide adequate training. View "Kitchen v. Dallas County Texas, et al." on Justia Law

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The Tribe filed suit against the United States and others alleging, inter alia, violations of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 500 et seq., and federal common law. The Tribe claimed that the Government breached its fiduciary duties under federal law to protect the land and natural resources subject to the aboriginal title of the Tribe. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction because the Tribe failed to allege "agency action" sufficient to meet the requirements of the sovereign immunity waiver in section 702, which is necessary to maintain its claims against the federal government and its agencies. View "Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of TX v. United States, et al." on Justia Law

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Petitioners, owners of two power plants, challenged the legal sufficiency of the notice of violation issued by the EPA under Section 7413(a) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7413(a). The EPA filed a second, amended notice of violation and moved to dismiss the petitions for want of jurisdiction. Petitioners challenged the sufficiency of the second notice. The court dismissed the petitions for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction because the notices were not "final actions" of the EPA. View "Luminant Generation Co., L.L.C, et al. v. EPA, et al." on Justia Law