Rulings in Bankruptcy, Civil Rights, Criminal, Employment, Injury, Interstate Comity and Securities Cases

By FindLaw Staff on February 19, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

On February 18, the Fifth Circuit posted eleven opinions on bankruptcy, civil rights, criminal, employment, injury, interstate comity and securities issues on its site.

In Archdiocese of Milwaukee Supporting Fund, Inc. v. Halliburton Co., No. 08-11195, plaintiffs appealed from the denial of class certification in a securities fraud class action.  The Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that, because plaintiff presented no evidence that a false, non-confirmatory positive statement by defendant caused a positive effect on the stock price, plaintiff had to show 1) that an alleged corrective disclosure causing the decrease in price was related to the false, nonconfirmatory positive statement made earlier, and 2) that it was more probable than not that it was this related corrective disclosure, and not any other unrelated negative statement, that caused the stock price decline.

Johnson v. DiversiCare Afton Oaks LLC, No. 08-20827, involved an action by a nursing home employee who allegedly suffered retaliation due to reporting a violation of law.  The district court granted summary judgment for defendants.  The court of appeals affirmed, holding that an employee only had a cause of action under Texas Health and Safety Code 242.133(b) if he or she made a "report" of a violation of law, and plaintiff did not do so.

Davis v. US, No. 08-31119, concerned an action by the family of a person killed during a Hurricane Katrina rescue operation.  The district court dismissed the complaint.  The court of appeals affirmed on the ground that the Federal Tort Claims Act discretionary function exception barred the claim because the attempted rescue was a discretionary act by government employees.

In US v. Underwood, No. 08-31243, defendant appealed the denial of his 28 U.S.C. section 2255 motion to vacate his sentence.  The Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that defendant failed to object, and thus implicitly consented, to a magistrate judge presiding over his guilty plea colloquy.

In Good v. Curtis, No. 09-10341, plaintiff alleged that defendant violated plaintiff's rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments when he manipulated a photographic lineup in an effort to procure a false identification from the victim in a rape case.  The district court denied defendants' motion for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds.  The Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that 1) defendant allegedly made a concerted effort to "frame" plaintiff by manipulating a photo for a photo lineup to produce a false identification; and 2) defendant could not have reasonably believed that he had probable cause to arrest plaintiff.

In US v. Gonzalez-Guzman, No. 09-20043, the Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence for illegal reentry into the U.S. on the ground that defendant concealed his true identity, and this constituted relevant conduct that occurred within two years after his release from prison under U.S.S.G. section 4A1.1(e).

Adar v. Smith, No. 09-30036, involved an injunction action against defendant, the Louisiana State Registrar, to compel her to issue a new original birth certificate for an infant born in Louisiana.  The district court granted summary judgment to plaintiffs.  The court of appeals affirmed, holding that 1) Louisiana owed full faith and credit to a prior New York adoption decree and 2) full faith and credit required Louisiana, under the plain language of its own statute and under the constitutional requirement of "evenhanded" enforcement of that judgment, to issue a certificate for the infant that listed both adoptive parents as his parents.

In Peacock v. US, 09-30044, plaintiff alleged breaches in the standard of care by veterans hospitals that operated on plaintiff.  The district court dismissed the action.  The Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that 1) the physician who operated on plaintiff was an independent contractor and thus the Federal Tort Claims Act did not apply to him; and 2) there was no indication that the government engaged in willful misconduct by failing to bring the physician's independent contractor status to plaintiff's attention sooner.

In Bryant v. Military Dept. of Miss., No. 09-60182, plaintiff alleged retaliation against him for his reporting of misconduct by the Mississippi Air National Guard.  The district court granted summary judgment for defendants.  The court of appeals affirmed, holding that 1) plaintiff failed to point to specific facts showing there was a genuine issue whether the individual defendants acted under color of state law; 2) the class-based animus requirement of 42 U.S.C. section 1985(3) applied equally to causes of action under the second clause of section 1985(2); and 3) the continuing tort doctrine did not apply, and thus plaintiff's assault and battery claim was time-barred.

Finally, in In re: Barner, No. 09-60394, the debtor appealed from the bankruptcy court's holding that the automatic stay did not apply to a foreclosure sale of her home.  The court of appeals affirmed on the grounds that 1) 11 U.S.C. sections 362(d)(4) and (b)(20) did not prohibit enforcement of a 2004 order lifting the automatic stay as to debtor's residence; and 2) the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act did not modify or affect orders issued in cases filed before its effective date.

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