Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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Air Evac filed suit against state defendants, claiming that, as applied to air-ambulance entities, Texas' workers'-compensation system was federally preempted. Air Evac argued that, because the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), 49 U.S.C. 4173(b)(1), expressly preempted all state laws related to a price, route, or service of an air carrier, Texas may not use state laws to regulate air-ambulance services. The district court granted state defendants' motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1). The court concluded that Air Evac had Article III standing because it had a pecuniary injury that could be redressed with injunctive and declaratory relief; Shaw v. Delta Air Lines, Inc. conferred federal-question jurisdiction because Air Evac's complaint sought injunctive relief on the basis that the ADA preempted Texas law; the Ex parte Young exception applied to this case where, to the extent Ex parte Young required that the state actor "threaten" or "commence" proceedings to enforce the unconstitutional act, state defendants' pervasive enforcement satisfied that test; and the court declined to exercise abstention under Colorado River Water Conservation District v. United States. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Air Evac EMS, Inc. v. State of Texas, Department of Insurance" on Justia Law

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Love Field airport is owned by the City and leased in part to Southwest Airlines. The City sought a declaration determining whether it must order Southwest to accommodate Delta at Love Field under the Lease Agreement or otherwise. Delta, Southwest, and the City filed competing motions for preliminary injunctions. The district court denied Southwest's motion and entered a preliminary injunction in favor of Delta essentially permitting Delta to continue operating five flights daily until a final decision on the merits. On appeal, Southwest argues that Delta is not a third party beneficiary and that the Lease Agreement does not require the accommodation Delta seeks. The court agreed with the district court that Delta and the City have shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits on the claim that the Lease Agreement requires Delta to be accommodated. In this case, the Lease Agreement plainly establishes a duty to accommodate by both Southwest and the City, and the scope of that duty is determined largely through the interpretation of language which the Lease Agreement itself leaves undefined. Interpreting such language, the district court found - and the court found persuasive - that Southwest owed the duty to accommodate Delta under these circumstances. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order terminating the City's motion as moot; rendered judgment granting the City's motion for a preliminary injunction and ordering the accommodation of Delta; and affirmed the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction for Southwest. View "City of Dallas v. Delta Air Lines" on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed the NTSB's final decision affirming the initial decision of the ALJ which upheld the FAA's sixty day suspension of petitioner's air transport pilot certificate. The suspension order stated that petitioner, as pilot-in-command, had filed a flight plan for and operated the flight of N497RC in reduced vertical separation (RVSM) airspace, even though no operator was authorized to do so at the time. The court concluded that the NTSB did not err reversibly in rejecting (1) petitioner's assertion that the ALJ improperly limited his cross-examination of several witnesses and (2) his affirmative defense of reasonable reliance. Therefore, the court affirmed as to those determinations. However, the court held that the NTSB’s decision affirming the ALJ’s rejection of petitioner’s defense of waiver of sanction under the Aviation Safety Report (ASR) procedure was arbitrary and capricious as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court reversed as to those rulings and rendered judgment that petitioner is entitled to waiver of all sanctions - expressly including the sixty day suspension of his air transport pilot certificate - by virtue of his timely compliance with the FAA’s ASR procedure. The court remanded to the NTSB with instructions to expunge its suspension of petitioner’s certificate and to take any other steps that might be required to complete these proceedings. View "Boeta v. FAA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Korean Air claiming that the airline’s failure to place her in the wheelchair that she requested when she booked her flight was an “accident” under Article 17 of the Warsaw Convention. The Warsaw Convention sets forth air carrier liability for a passenger’s injuries if the accident causing the injury took place on board the aircraft, or during the process of embarking or disembarking. The court concluded that the district court was correct in holding that plaintiff’s injuries were not the result of an “accident” under the Warsaw Convention because her failure to be placed in a wheelchair was not an “unexpected or unusual” event. In this case, it would not have been “unexpected or unusual” for Korean Air employees to assume plaintiff simply did not want a wheelchair, and to refrain from tracking her down in the airport to provide her with the same empty wheelchair she just walked past. Because plaintiff did not suffer an “accident” under Article 17, the court need not determine whether the failure to place plaintiff in a wheelchair was a “link in the chain” of causes leading to her injuries. The court affirmed the judgment. View "Nguyen v. Korean Air Lines Co." on Justia Law