Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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Plaintiff filed suit against her employer, the Office of Attorney General for the State of Louisiana (DOJ), alleging failure to accommodate, harassment, and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law (LEDL). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in the DOJ's favor, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether plaintiff has established a prima facie case on any of her disability-based claims. In regard to the failure to accommodate claim, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that she was a qualified individual, i.e., that she can perform the essential functions of her job unaided or with the assistance of a reasonable accommodation; in regard to the disability-based harassment claim, the difficulties plaintiff managed while attempting to manage her serious illness and employment were not sufficient to create a hostile work environment; and the record did not support that any of the DOJ's actions were taken in retaliation for plaintiff's protected activity. View "Credeur v. Louisiana" on Justia Law

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After the University found that two former students violated the University's sexual misconduct policy, the students filed suit alleging that they were denied constitutional due process and were discriminated against in violation of Title IX. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the University and the individual defendants, holding that the students did not meet their summary judgment burden to demonstrate a genuine factual dispute that the process surrounding their disciplinary cases was constitutionally defective. The court rejected the students' allegations of selective enforcement and deliberate indifference. In this case, there was no sound basis for an inference of gender bias and the pleadings here did not meet the high standard of misconduct for deliberate indifference. View "Plummer v. University of Houston" on Justia Law

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On September 26, 2014, plaintiff filed suit against the school district, alleging discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation claims (Welsh I). On December 16, 2014, the school district filed a plea to the jurisdiction in Welsh I, wherein the school district maintained, inter alia, that plaintiff's claims were barred by the statute of limitations because she filed her lawsuit more than two years after she filed her charge. The state district court granted the plea and dismissed the claims in Welsh I. On May 12, 2005, plaintiff filed this case against the school district (Welsh II), alleging claims for discrimination under Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), as well as retaliation claims. The Fifth Circuit held that the only claims in Welsh II that were barred under res judicata were those that were mature at the time that plaintiff filed her petition in Welsh I. The court vacated and remanded because the parties have not brief this issue under this framework and because at least some facts supporting plaintiff's alleged claims clearly were not extant at the time Welsh I was filed such that a claim could not have been mature based upon those facts. View "Welsh v. Fort Bend Independent School District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the constitutionality of a Mississippi statute, HB 1523, asserting that the state government disapproves of and is hostile to same-sex couples, to unmarried people who engage in sexual relations, and to transgender people. HB 1523 provides that the state government shall not take any discriminatory action against persons who act in accordance with certain beliefs in an enumerated set of circumstances. The district court issued a preliminary injunction against the implementation of HB 1523. The Fifth Circuit reversed the preliminary injunction and rendered a judgment of dismissal for want of jurisdiction, holding that plaintiffs did not have standing. In regard to Establishment Clause injury, the court held that the religious display cases did not provide a basis for standing to challenge the endorsement of beliefs that exist only in the text of a statute. Furthermore, neither the religious exercise cases generally, nor Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000), provide support for plaintiffs' standing. In the alternative, plaintiffs have failed to show an injury in fact. The court also held that plaintiffs did not have taxpayer standing to challenge HB 1523 and the Barber plaintiffs did not have standing under the Equal Protection Clause. View "Barber v. Bryant" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The Fifth Circuit granted a certificate of appealability on two issues: (1) a Mills claim that the omission of a jury instruction—required under Texas law—that jurors need not agree on what particular evidence they found mitigating created a substantial risk that the jurors may have mistakenly believed mitigating evidence needed to be accepted unanimously and (2) that petitioner's trial counsel's failure to object to the missing instruction constituted ineffective assistance of counsel under Strickland v. Washington. In regard to the Mills claim, the court held that, given the record, there did not exist a reasonable likelihood or substantial probability that reasonable jurors may have thought they were precluded from considering any mitigating evidence unless all 12 jurors agreed on the existence of a particular such circumstances. Therefore, the state courts did not unreasonably apply Mills. Assuming arguendo that failing to object to the absent jury instruction was deficient performance, defendant failed to show prejudice. Accordingly, the Texas state courts' application of Strickland to defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims was not unreasonable. The court affirmed the denial of habeas relief. View "Young v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging a provision in the Texas Administrative Code regulating advertising in the field of dentistry, Tex. Admin. Code 108.54. Section 108.54 prohibits dentists from advertising as specialists in areas that the ADA does not recognize as specialties. The district court enjoined defendants from enforcing section 108.54 and granted summary judgment for defendants on plaintiffs' remaining Fourteenth Amendment claims. The Fifth Circuit held that plaintiffs' proposed speech was not inherently misleading; even if it were, the Board may regulate potentially misleading speech if the regulation satisfied the remaining elements of the Central Hudson test; the Board had a substantial interest in ensuring the accuracy of commercial information in the marketplace, establishing uniform standards for certification, and protecting consumers from misleading professional advertisements; but the Board failed to meet its burden to show that section 108.54 advances the asserted interests in a direct and material way. Even if the Board demonstrated that section 108.54 directly advanced the interests asserted, it failed to demonstrate that it was not more extensive than was necessary to serve those interests. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "American Academy of Implant Dentistry v. Parker" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a wrongful termination suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1988, alleging violations of procedural and substantive due process stemming from legislation that abolished the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) and the University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings with respect to plaintiff's section 1983 claims because plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he had a constitutionally protected interest in employment or tenure at UTRGV or the UT System at large. The court explained that plaintiff's protected property interests were limited to an interest in continuing appointment at the institution that granted him tenure, UTPA, an interest which terminated when the university was abolished. Furthermore, the court denied by implication plaintiff's motion for leave to amend pleadings, and denied plaintiff's motion to alter or amend the judgment. The court also declined to exercise jurisdiction over and dismissed plaintiff's declaratory judgment claim. View "Edionwe v. Bailey" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging claims arising out of injuries he sustained while he was detained at a facility operated by Nueces County and was under the care of the facility's medical professionals, Deborah Charette and Chelsea Johnson. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not err in concluding that plaintiff's claims against Charette and Johnson were barred by the statute of limitations. However, the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's claims against the County because the amended complaint pleaded facts sufficient to support a municipal liability claim that was plausible on its face. View "Balle v. Nueces County" on Justia Law