January 6, 2022, opinions

Designated for publication

  • Seguin v. Remington Arms Co., 17-30499, appeal from E.D. La.
    • Southwick, J. (Owen, Dennis, Southwick), Dennis, J., dissenting; products liability, jurisdiction
    • Certifying question to the Louisiana Supreme Court of whether plaintiff’s products liability claim against gun manufacturer arising from injury from accidental discharge of her father’s hunting rifle on a hunting trip was barred by La. R.S. § 9:2800.60.
    • The Court first ruled as to its jurisdiction under the diversity jurisdiction requirement. The plaintiff had alleged diversity jurisdiction on the basis that she was a Louisiana citizen and that Remington was a North Carolina and Delaware citizen on the basis that it was incorporated in Delaware and had its principal place of business in North Carolina. However, Remington was an LLC whose citizenship instead must be determined by the domicile of its members. While an analysis of its members’ domiciles revealed that the allegation of Delaware and North Carolina citizenship was still correct, “the reasons those were the correct states were inaccurately detailed” in the plaintiff’s complaint. The parties directed a joint letter to the Court stipulating the correct states of citizenship based on a corporate disclosure statement filed in another action involving Remington. The Court then required the plaintiff to file an amended complaint. This allowed the Court to conclude that “a substantial likelihood of diversity was supported by the record,” such that remand to the district court to remedy the jurisdictional pleadings was unnecessary.
    • As to the merits of certification, the Court noted the district court’s resolution of the summary judgment issue in favor of the plaintiff: “The parties stipulated that the LPLA exclusively governs Seguin’s claims. Remington is a ‘firearms manufacturer’ under Section 60; Seguin is a ‘claimant’ under Section 53(4); and Seguin’s only products liability claim was for a design defect under Section 56 and not for a manufacturing defect under Section 55. Based on these stipulations, the district court concluded that summary judgment turned on a single statutory interpretation question: Does LPLA Section 60(B) permit Seguin to recover for a design defect claim against Remington? The district court held that Section 60(B) did not bar Seguin’s Section 9:2800.56 design-defect claim against Remington. The court reasoned that Section 60(B) was susceptible to two interpretations and was thus ambiguous. The court also determined that applying either interpretation would lead to an absurd result. As a result of that conclusion, the district court considered the legislative intent and history of Section 60(B) and found that its purpose was not to preclude legitimate design defect claims.”
    • Section 9:2800.60(B) provides, “No firearm manufacturer or seller shall be liable for any injury, damage, or death resulting from any shooting injury by any other person unless the claimant proves and shows that such injury, damage, or death was proximately caused by the unreasonably dangerous construction or composition of the product as provided in R.S. 9:2800.55.” Remington took the position that 60(B) insulates it from all product liability claims except for manufacturing defect claims under subsection 2800.55, thus precluding the plaintiff’s design-defect claim. Because no Louisiana court has confronted this question or provided any guidance for use in a federal court’s Erie guess, the Court certified this question to the Louisiana Supreme Court: “Does § 9:2800.60(B) of the Louisiana Products Liability Act bar an individual, who is shot and injured by a third-party, from bringing a design defect claim under § 9:2800.56 against a firearm manufacturer or seller?”
    • Judge Dennis dissented because “(1) it [the certified question] is not determinative of this cause independently of any other question involved in this case; and (2) there are clear controlling precedents in the Louisiana Supreme Court decisions that require this court to affirm the district court’s judgment without seeking an answer to a novel question that favors a party’s litigation position.” He agreed with the district court’s finding that the proposed interpretations of 60(B) would lead to absurd results: “I agree that applying §60(B) literally to the present case would lead to absurd consequences, viz., treating all firearm injury or death claims as if they were construction or composition claims, contrary to the intent of design or warning defect claimants; incentivizing the corrupt efforts of special interest lobbyists; and misshaping the development of Louisiana products liability law in ways that are incongruous and inappropriate to a shocking degree.”

Unpublished

  • Bonds v. Lumpkin, 19-11318, appeal from N.D. Tex.
    • Smith, J. (Smith, Elrod, Oldham), habeas corpus
    • Affirming district court’s denial of habeas relief, finding that the decisions the petitioner challenges were objectively reasonable.
  • U.S. v. Huerta, 19-41018, appeal from S.D. Tex.
    • Higginson, J. (Jones, Higginson, Duncan), criminal, supervised release
    • Affirming substance-abuse-program requirements of supervised release conditions.
  • Kam v. Dallas County, 20-11199, appeal from N.D. Tex.
    • per curiam (Owen, Haynes, Costa), Rule 60
    • Affirming denial of Rule 60(B) motion filed as to judgment dismissing claims more than two years prior.
  • Matthews v. Healey, 20-20496, appeal from S.D. Tex.
    • per curiam (Smith, Higginson, Willett), prisoner suit
    • Dismissing as frivolous appeal from dismissal of prisoner’s lawsuit against county officials for failure to investigate or prosecute his claims of sexual assault.
  • Whitaker v. McDonald, 20-40569, appeal from E.D. Tex.
    • per curiam (Jones, Higginson, Duncan), prisoner suit
    • Affirming dismissal of prisoner’s lawsuit against police officers for beating him five years earlier.
  • Pierre v. Vasquez, 20-51032, appeal from W.D. Tex.
    • Davis, J. (Davis, Elrod, Oldham), Oldham, J., concurring in part; § 1983
    • Reversing dismissal of plaintiff’s § 1983 claim against state officials seeking to enjoin them from requiring plaintiff to register as a sex offender, and remanding for further proceedings.
    • Judge Oldham concurred in part. He concurred that the plaintiff has standing because he has stated an injury-in-fact, but not with the portion of the majority opinion that he opined conflated standing with the merits in finding that the plaintiff did not have standing for his Due Process claim because that claim would fail on the merits.
  • Salazar v. Garland, 20-60222, petition for review of BIA order
    • per curiam (Jones, Higginson, Duncan), immigration
    • Denying Mexican citizen’s petition for review of BIA order determining that he is ineligible for cancellation of removal.
  • Soriano-Salinas v. Garland, 20-60449, petition for review of BIA order
    • per curiam (Jones, Higginson, Duncan), immigration
    • Denying Honduran citizen’s petition for review of BIA order dismissing appeal of IJ order denying her requests for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture.
  • Aggie Investments, L.L.C. v. Continental Casualty Co., 21-40382, appeal from E.D. Tex.
    • per curiam (Stewart, Haynes, Graves), insurance
    • Affirming dismissal of business’s claims against its insurer for business interruption losses due to government shutdown during pandemic.
  • Partain v. Morrow, 21-40672, appeal from E.D. Tex.
    • per curiam (Jones, Duncan, Engelhardt), prisoner suit
    • Dismissing as frivolous appeal from dismissal of prisoner’s suit for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.
  • U.S. v. Victorina-Tista, 21-50653, c/w 21-50671, appeal from W.D. Tex.
    • per curiam (Higginbotham, Higginson, Duncan), criminal, sentencing
    • Granting summary affirmance of conviction and sentence for illegal reentry and revocation of supervised release.