Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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A certified class of minor children in the Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC) of DFPS filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, seeking injunctive relief and alleging that Texas' maintenance of its foster care system exposes them to a serious risk of abuse, neglect, and harm to their physical and psychological well-being. The district court granted plaintiffs a permanent injunction requiring sweeping changes to the state's foster care system. The Fifth Circuit held that facts in the record adequately supported the finding that a policy or practice of maintaining overburdened caseworkers directly causes all PMC children to be exposed to a serious risk of physical and psychological harm; the district court correctly found that the State was deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of serious harm to the Licensed Foster Care (LFC) subclass as a result of its insufficient monitoring and oversight, and that these deficiencies were a direct cause of the constitutional harm; the district court erred in concluding that inadequate placement array causes constitutionally cognizable harm to the LFC subclass and that the State was deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of serious harm; and to the extent that the lack of awake-night supervision may have sustained a constitutional claim under the circumstances, the remaining policies and their effects did not cause foster group homes (FGH) children an amplified risk of harm sufficient to overcome the threshold hurdle. The court also held that Rule 23-specific arguments were waived. While the district court entered an expansive injunction mandating dozens of specific remedial measures and it was entitled to grant plaintiffs injunctive relief, the court held that the injunction was significantly overbroad. Accordingly, the court vacated the injunction and remanded with instructions to remove the remedial provisions related to placement array and FGHs, and to strike provisions that were not necessary to achieve constitutional compliance. View "M.D. v. Abbott" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Southwest in an action filed by plaintiff under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), alleging claims of interference and retaliation. The court held that the district court correctly determined that plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether she provided the required notice to her employer to sustain her FMLA claims. Even if plaintiff had made a prima facie showing for her FMLA interference claim, she was still required, and failed, to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Southwest's proffered nondiscriminatory reason for terminating her employment was merely pretextual. View "DeVoss v. Southwest Airlines Co." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's grave-risk defense in plaintiff's action seeking return of their child to Mexico pursuant to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The court rejected defendant's claims that the district court improperly used a heightened standard in making its rulings. The court held that the record demonstrated that the district court's reference to "objective evidence" did not compel ruling that the findings of fact were "based on a misconception of the underlying legal standard." The court also held that defendant failed to show that the district court "labored under" the mistaken "assumption that threats against a parent can never create a grave risk of harm to his or her children." View "Ontiveros Soto v. Contreras" on Justia Law

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Father petitioned the district court to order mother to return their three-year-old daughter to Paraguay, where she lived with both parents from October 2014 to October 2016. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's determination that Paraguay was the daughter's habitual residence and that mother had wrongfully removed her to the United States. The court held that the district court did not legally err in assessing the parties' shared intent about their child's habitual residence; nor did the district court clearly err in finding that they agreed that their daughter would habitually reside in Paraguay; and any purported evidentiary error was harmless. View "Cartes v. Phillips" on Justia Law