New Fifth Circuit blog

David Coale, former head of the State Bar appellate section, has started a new blog about the Fifth Circuit. It’s called 600 Camp, after the address of the John Minor Wisdom Courthouse in New Orleans.

Mandatory appellate mediation turns out to be mandatory

Disputing has a post about what happens when a party walks out before a court-ordered appellate mediation has run its course. The title gives away the ending: “Texas Court of Appeals Dismisses Appeal Because Appellant Walked Out of the Court-Ordered Mediation”

This happened in the Waco Court of Appeals. The court’s notice specified that dismissal would follow if the appellant did not attend the mediation. The court’s opinion is here.

Election season is underway

Morgan Smith of the Texas Tribune has the first piece I’ve seen about the 2012 court elections. Her story is about former Justice Steve Smith’s filing to, once again, run against Justice Willett for the Republican nomination.

Oral Arguments This Week

You can check out past and current arguments on the St. Mary’s video archives page.


  • SafeShred, Inc. v. Louis Martinez, III, No. 10-0426. Are there exemplary damages for a Sabine Pilot claim (wrongful firing for an employee refusing to do an illegal act) and, if so, was the amount of exemplary damages awarded here excessive? (>> earlier post)

  • Shell Oil Company, et al. v. Ralph Ross, No. 10-0429. Broadly, the case is about how the statute of limitations applies to royalty claims when there is an allegation of fraudulent concealment.

  • Weeks Marine, Inc. v. Maximino Garza, No. 10-0435. A Jones Act (maritime) case about how to divide responsibility between the worker and the employer. >> earlier post


  • Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America v. William Justiss, et al., No. 10-0451. In a nuisance claim about a reduction in property value alleged to have been caused by the gas pipeline: (1) how much worse must the condition get to re-start the statute of limitations and (2) what evidence is proper to show the reduction in property value? A potentially much broader issue here is the petitioner’s request for the Court to limit the “property owner rule” that (traditionally) lets an owner testify as to its value without the need to hire an expert witness.

  • Hearts Bluff Game Ranch, Inc. v. The State Of Texas and the Texas Water Development Board, No. 10-0491. Can the State’s actions, which were alleged to have directly interfered with the issuance of a federal permit, constitute a taking under state law? >> earlier Texas Tribune article

  • Matthew W. Wasserman, M.D. v. Christina Bergeron Gugel, No. 10-0513. Do “health care liability claims” include allegations of assault or sexual assault by health-care providers? >> earlier post


  • Port Elevator-Brownsville, LLC V. Rogelio Casados, et al., No. 10-0523. Does the bar against lawsuits created by the workers compensation law apply equally to suits by temporary workers?

  • In re United Scaffolding, Inc., No. 10-0526. How much specificity is needed in an order granting a new trial based on the great weight of the evidence?

  • Rusk State Hospital v. Dennis Black, et al., No. 10-0548. What should courts do when a government agency raises sovereign immunity during a limited interlocutory appeal challenging something completely different?