August 15, 2022, opinions

(While I was on vacation/college-touring around the Northeast, then dealing with the Covid gathered from somewhere in the Northeast, I tracked 5th Circuit opinions for purposes of the gathering of opinion statistics from July 20 through August 12, but those opinions are not summarized here. So, picking back up with August 15 …)

Designated for publication

  • Chandler v. Phoenix Services, L.L.C., 21-10626, appeal from N.D. Tex.
    • Duncan, J. (Wiener, Graves, Duncan), antitrust, standing, timeliness
    • Affirming district court’s dismissal of Walker Process antitrust suit arising from oilfield service company’s enforcement of fraudulent fracking patent for lack of standing and as time-barred.
    • The Court first accepted the case as an inter-Circuit transfer from the Federal Circuit after that Circuit found that there were no live patent issues before it. The Court noted that its precedent was that it did not have appellate jurisdiction over Walker Process cases, but that this differed from the Federal Circuit’s holding on the issue; because it did not find the transfer implausible, however, the Court accepted jurisdiction over the transfer per the Supreme Court’s directive in Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 486 U.S. 800, 819 (1988).
    • The Court held that the plaintiff did not have standing for one set of its claims because it failed to demonstrate injury-in-fact because it failed to prove that the defendant’s cease-and-desist letter materially harmed its business.
    • As to the remaining claims, the Court held that the district court correctly found them to be time-barred under the four-year statute of limitations, and that the plaintiff failed to show fraudulent concealment sufficient to toll the limitations period.
  • Perez v. McCreary, Veselka, Bragg & Allen, P.C., 21-50958, appeal from W.D. Tex.
    • Smith, J. (Davis, Smith, Engelhardt), class action, standing
    • Vacating class-certification order on 23(f) appeal, and remanding with instructions to dismiss suit for want of jurisdiction due to a lack of standing.
    • Defendant had brought a 23(f) appeal from an order certifying a class of Texans with time-barred debt who had received a form letter from the Defendant to collect the debt on behalf of various Texas municipalities; suit was brought by the plaintiff under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
    • The Court held that, even though standing was not a briefed issue in the 23(f) appeal from the class certification order, it always had jurisdiction to review the existence of subject matter jurisdiction.
    • The Court held that there was no concrete injury-in-fact caused by the plaintiff’s receipt of the form letter seeking to collect on the time-barred debt.
  • Grand Famous Shipping Ltd. v. China Navigation Company Pte., Ltd., 22-20002, appeal from S.D. Tex.
    • Clement, J. (Smith, Clement, Haynes), Haynes, J., concurring in judgment only; maritime law
    • Affirming summary judgment in time-charterer’s favor in claims arising from time-chartered vessel’s allision with a barge and a dock in the Houston Ship Channel.
    • The Court held “that the time charterer did not function as the vessel’s de facto owner, nor did it negligently discharge its duties as her time charterer.” The Court rejected the argument that the time charterer exercised sufficient operational control over the vessel such that it should be considered the de facto owner. The Court then rejected the argument that a time charterer has a duty to vet a vessel owner prior to executing a charter party.

Unpublished

  • Allen v. Sherman Operating Co., 21-40913, appeal from E.D. Tex.
    • per curiam (Clement, Southwick, Engelhardt), ERISA, personal torts
    • Affirming summary judgment dismissal of employee’s and her husband’s claims for ERISA violations, premises liability, and loss of household services against employer arising from employee’s tripping over a phone cord at work.
  • Sealed Appellant v. Sealed Appellee, 22-10116, appeal from N.D. Tex.
    • per curiam (Jolly, Willett, Engelhardt), qui tam, attorneys’ fees
    • Affirming order denying attorneys’ fees to qui tam relator after settlement and dismissal of matter with prejudice, where appellant was not a defendant to the original qui tam complaint.
  • Tarlton v. D G Louisiana, LLC, 22-30498, appeal from W.D. La.
    • per curiam (Higginbotham, Duncan, Wilson), stay
    • Granting order for administrative stay pending ruling.