Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

by
The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of Cherry Knoll's complaint against the City of Lakeway, the city manager, and HDR Engineering in a dispute over a plat of land that Cherry Knoll had purchased in Lakeway. Cherry Knoll asserted a claim against the City under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violating its rights to procedural due process, substantive due process, and equal protection by filing the Subdivision Plats without its consent and over its objection. The court held that these allegations satisfied the standard for official municipal policy under Pembaur v. City of Cincinnati and the district court erred in finding otherwise. The court also held that the district court erred in determining that the city manager was entitled to the protection of qualified immunity at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage. Finally, the court held that Cherry Knoll's well-pleaded factual allegations and supporting documents make plausible its claim that HDR was a "willful participant in joint action" for purposes of section 1983. Accordingly, the court remanded the matter and reinstated Cherry Knoll's state law claims. View "Cherry Knoll, LLC v. Jones" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal with prejudice of Fair Housing Act claims asserted against the owners and management company of apartment complexes in the greater Dallas area that declined to participate in the federal Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. The court held that the Supreme Court's language in Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 2507 (2015), was stricter than the regulation itself and thus applied the stricter version of the burden-shifting analysis. The court held that the district court did not err in determining that the allegations of ICP's complaint regarding defendants' "no vouchers" policies failed to allege facts sufficient to provide the robust causation necessary for an actionable disparate impact claim. The court also held that the vague and conclusory allegations of disparate treatment that ICP asserted collectively against defendants were legally insufficient to support a reasonable inference of intentional race discrimination; the district court did not err by dismissing the disparate treatment liability claim against Lincoln; and the district court did not err by dismissing the advertising liability claim against Lincoln. View "Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. v. Lincoln Property Co." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants in an action alleging claims under the Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act (RESPA); the Texas Debt Collection Act (TDCJ); promissory estoppel; and the Declaratory Judgment Act. The Fifth Circuit held that plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact regarding defendants' compliance with 12 C.F.R. 1024.41 and properly dismissed his RESPA claims. The court also held that the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's TDCA claims and, because plaintiff's remaining claims were based on the underlying RESPA and TDCA claims, they were moot. Accordingly, the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's action with prejudice. View "Germain v. US Bank National Association" on Justia Law

by
Jatera filed suit against the Bank and SPS in state court, seeking a judgment declaring the lien on the property at issue void because defendants failed to initiate foreclosure proceedings within the four-year statute of limitations. After removal to federal district court, the district court held that the homeowner lacked standing as a plaintiff because she no longer retained an interest in the property. The district court also concluded that detrimental reliance runs to the benefit of the party asserting it, and Jatera had failed to show it detrimentally relied on the acceleration notice. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Jatera's motion for summary judgment and granted defendants' summary judgment motion. The court held that detrimental reliance was not an exception to the lender's right to unilaterally withdraw an acceleration notice under Texas law. Therefore, in this case, the court need not determine whether there was such reliance, including whether Jatera was assigned the homeowner's detrimental-reliance claim, or whether the homeowner suffered such reliance. View "Jatera Corp. v. US Bank National Assoc." on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit denied the petition for rehearing, withdrew the prior opinion, and substituted the following opinion. The court reversed the breach of contract claim and held that there was ambiguity in a mortgage contract's escrow provisions and thus the district court erred by granting summary judgment to defendants on claims arising from that ambiguity. In this case, plaintiff was entitled to proceed to trial on his claim that Ocwen breached the contract by paying his 2010 taxes before they became delinquent. Furthermore, the district court erred as a matter of law by determining that Ocwen had provided contractually adequate notice of its revocation of the Waiver Agreement. The court affirmed the district court's summary judgment for Ocwen in plaintiff's unclean hands cause of action, which was mislabeled as an affirmative defense. Because it was premature to conclude that Ocwen was entitled to summary judgment on its foreclosure counterclaim, the court vacated the foreclosure ruling and remanded for reconsideration. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Ocwen on plaintiff's Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) claim and Texas Debt Collection Practices Act (TDCPA) claim. View "Wease v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

by
In this action involving a Texas mortgage dispute, the Fifth Circuit held that there was ambiguity in the contract's escrow provisions and thus the district court erred by granting summary judgment to defendants on claims arising from that ambiguity. The court noted that, at this stage, it was premature to conclude that defendants were entitled to their foreclosure counterclaim. Therefore, the court vacated the foreclosure ruling and remanded for reconsideration. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants on the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act claim, and the district court's judgment on the Texas Debt Collection Practices Act claim. View "Wease v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claim that the bank was vicariously liable for the failure of the bank's loan servicer to comply with the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The court held that plaintiff did not plead an agency relationship between the bank and the loan servicer, an essential element of a vicarious liability claim. Furthermore, even if the bank had an agency relationship with the loan servicer, the bank cannot be held vicariously liable, as a matter of law, for the servicer's alleged RESPA violations. View "Christiana Trust v. Riddle" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for HSBC in an action seeking to foreclose on defendant's property. The court held that HSBC was the holder of the home equity note and that defendant failed to present evidence raising an issue of material fact as to HSBC's ownership of the note. The court also held that HSBC's suit was timely because defendant's bankruptcy suit tolled the statute of limitations for 127 days. Finally, the court held that defendant waived his argument that the district court erred when it signed and entered a final judgment that authorized a foreclosure sale of the property, without complying with Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 309. View "HSBC Bank USA, NA v. Crum" on Justia Law

by
After the magistrate judge concluded, on remand, that defendants met the remaining requirements to foreclose on their mortgage under Texas law, the Fifth Circuit reversed and rendered judgment in favor of Deutsche Bank. The court held that the magistrate judge defied a previous mandate and contravened the law of the case doctrine by concluding that the court's prior opinion was clearly erroneous and that failure to correct the error would result in manifest injustice. In this case, the magistrate judge found no impediment to foreclosure other than a supposed defect in the assignment, and any such imperfection did not change the fact that MERS and its successors and assigns were entitled to foreclose on defendants' property. View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Burke" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of claimants' motion to release property under civil forfeiture law. The property at issue stemmed from the sale of synthetic cannabinoids that were a controlled substance or controlled substance analogues intended for human consumption. Determining that the court had jurisdiction over the appeal, the court held that, assuming arguendo, Supplemental Rule G(2)(f) applied in reviewing pretrial property restraints outside the motion-to-dismiss context, the district court used the right standard. In this case, the district asked whether the government's complaint "demonstrated with sufficient particularity for the current stage of the proceedings that defendants intentionally commingled tainted funds with untainted funds for the purpose of facilitating the alleged money laundering.” The court held that the facts here were sufficient to support this standard. The court also held that probable cause for forfeiture existed based on the charge for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. View "United States v. $472,871.95 in Funds Seized" on Justia Law