BELCHATOW POLAND - MAY 02 2013: Modern white keyboard with colored social network buttons.

By A. Edward Hardin, Jr.

Social media use by employees, and employers’ social media policies, continue to appear in the legal headlines.  Much of the recent news coverage has touched on action by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and its assessment of employer social media policies.  However, recent legal action in Pennsylvania does not address the NLRB and its actions, but returns to somewhat traditional litigation.  The Charlotte Observer recently reported on a lawsuit filed by two American Airlines flight attendants who claimed they were subjected to sexual and gender harassment through social media.  The plaintiffs alleged that they reported the conduct to human resources, but that American Airlines failed to take action, and failed to enforce its own social media policy.  Although the allegations include the use of technology as tools of alleged abusive behavior, the underlying employee conduct appears to be typical of the kind of conduct that leads to litigation.  For more on the suit, click here.

stock

By David P. Hamm, Jr.

In In re Books-A-Million, Inc. Stockholders Litigation, the Delaware Court of Chancery dismissed a suit by minority stockholders (the “Plaintiffs”) alleging that several fiduciaries breached their duties in connection with a squeeze-out merger (the “Merger”) through which the controlling stockholders of Books-A-Million, Inc. (the “Company”) took the Company private.[1]  The decision, authored by Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster, provides additional guidance regarding the utilization of the business judgment rule in the context of controller buyout.

The MFW Requirements

The default standard of review in the context of a controller buyout is the entire fairness test.[2]  However, the business judgment rule serves as the operative standard of review if the six requirements set forth by the Delaware Supreme Court in Kahn v. M&F Worldwide Corp. (the “MFW Requirements”) are satisfied, namely:

“(i) the controller conditions the procession of the transaction on the approval of both a Special Committee and a majority of the minority stockholders; (ii) the Special Committee is independent [and disinterested]; (iii) the Special Committee is empowered to freely select its own advisors and to say no definitely; (iv) the Special Committee meets its duty of care in negotiating a fair price; (v) the vote of the minority is informed; and (vi) there is no coercion of the minority.”[3]

Bad Faith and the Second MFW Requirement

In Books-A-Million, the court concluded that all of the MFW Requirements were satisfied. In so doing, the court shed significant light on the second MFW Requirement; namely, that the Special Committee be independent and disinterested.[4]  The most significant contribution of the case was the court’s treatment of the plaintiffs’ allegation of bad faith as a basis for their claim that the second MFW Requirement had not been satisfied. The court acknowledged the novelty of the plaintiffs’ claim by stating the following:

“It is not immediately clear how an argument regarding bad faith fits within the M&F Worldwide framework. The Delaware Supreme Court did not discuss whether a plaintiff could seek to call into question the independence of a director by contending that although appearing independent, the director did not in fact act independently for the benefit of the stockholders but rather in pursuit of some other interest, such as to benefit the controlling stockholder.”[5]

The heart of the plaintiffs’ bad faith claim was the fact that a third-party offer existed that was greater than the controller offer. The third party offer was $0.96 more per share. The court summarized the plaintiffs’ argument as follows: “The Complaint contends that it is not rational for a director to take a lower priced offer when a comparable, higher priced offer is available. Because no one rationally would do that, the plaintiffs contend that the independent directors must have had some ulterior motive for not pursuing [the third party offer].”[6]

In rejecting the plaintiffs’ argument, the court quoted extensively from Chancellor Allen’s analysis in Mendel v. Carroll.[7]  In Carroll, Chancellor Allen distinguished a third-party offer and a controller offer on the grounds of a control premium:

“The fundamental difference between these two possible transactions arises from the fact that the Carroll Family [the controller] already in fact had a committed block of controlling stock. Financial markets in widely traded corporate stock accord a premium to a block of stock that can assure corporate control.”[8]

The court in Books-A-Million applied the control premium concept as follows in relation to the relative levels of the third-party and controller offers:

“On the facts alleged, one can reasonably infer that Party Y’s [the third party] offer was higher because Party Y was seeking to acquire control and that the Anderson Family’s [the controller] offer was lower because it took into account the family’s existing control over the Company.”[9]

In a footnote, the court cited several sources establishing recognized control premiums and signaled that control premiums falling outside of an acceptable range could potentially give rise to an inference that a company’s fiduciary duties acted in bad faith. [10]

Application of the Business Judgment Rule

Given the satisfaction of each of the MFW Requirements, the court utilized the business judgment rule as the operative standard of review. The utilization of the business judgment rule, as is typically the case, was the death knell for the plaintiffs. The court went so far as to say that: “It is not possible to infer that no rational person acting in good faith could have thought the Merger was fair to the minority. The only possible inference is that many rational people, including the members of the Committee and the numerous minority stockholders, thought the Merger was fair to the minority.”[11]

Conclusion

While Books-A-Million is helpful on several points, the case breaks new ground on the treatment of a bad faith claim within the MFW Framework.  Controllers and their counsel should take note of the importance of any control premium falling within the acceptable range cited by the court; namely, from 30% to 50%. Any premium in excess of the range cited could potentially expose a corporation’s fiduciaries to an allegation of bad faith, thereby triggering the entire fairness test as the operative standard of review.

____________________________

[1] C.A. No. 11343-VCL, slip. op. (Del. Ch. Oct. 10, 2016, available here.

[2]  Id. at 16 (citing Kahn v. Tremont Corp., 694 A.2d 422, 428 (Del. 1997)).

[3]  88 A.3d 635, 645 (Del. 2014).

[4]  The plaintiffs did not contest the satisfaction of the third, fifth, and six MFW Requirements. The court’s analysis in the context of the first and fourth MFW Requirements do not advance any new ground and, therefore, are not discussed in this brief article.

[5]  Books-A-Million, C.A. No. 11343-VCL, slip op. at 23.

[6]  Id. at 25-26.

[7]  651 A.3d 297 (Del. Ch. 1994).

[8]  Id. at 304.

[9]  Books-A-Million, C.A. No. 11343-VCL, slip op. at 34.

[10]  Id. at 35 & n.16.

[11]  Id. at 42.

 

 

wet

By Trey S. McCowan, Claire E. Juneau, and Tyler Moore Kostal

On March 3, 2017, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its long-awaited opinion in the matter of Board of Commissioners of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, et al. vs. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, LLC, et al., No 15-30162, Slip Op. (5th Cir. 3/3/17). The Fifth Circuit’s decision affirmed the U.S. Eastern District Court of Louisiana’s decision to dismiss an action brought by the Flood Protection Authority against ninety-seven oil and gas and pipeline companies claiming that historic oil and gas exploration, production and transportation activities contributed to wetland loss in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes.

The Flood Protection Authority’s lawsuit asserted claims for recovery based on theories of negligence, strict liability, violations of the natural servitude of drain, public and private nuisance and breach of contract. The Flood Protection Authority also asserted that it was a third-party beneficiary of various wetland permits issued to members of the oil and gas industry. The Flood Protection Authority sought damages and injunctive relief claiming that each canal dredged by defendants would have to be backfilled and revegetated. The Flood Protection Authority also claimed that the industry members were responsible for the costs of “wetlands creation, reef creations, land bridge construction, hydrologic restoration, shoreline protection, structural protection, bank stabilization and ridge restoration” throughout wetlands located in an area in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes described as the “buffer zone.”

The complaint described “a longstanding and extensive regulatory frame work under both federal and state law” that protects against the effects of dredging activities. According to the Flood Protection Authority, these regulations imposed legal duties on defendants to remedy wetland loss caused both directly and indirectly by dredging activities. The complaint specifically enumerated four main components of this framework including the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899;[1] the Clean Water Act of 1972;[2] “regulations related to rights-of-way granted across state-owned lands and water bottoms administered by the Louisiana Office of State Lands” and the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972.[3] However, the Flood Protection Authority claimed that it was relying solely on state law for recovery.

The Flood Protection Authority’s lawsuit was removed to the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on multiple jurisdictional grounds including federal question jurisdiction under a narrow exception to the well-pleaded complaint rule as set forth in Grable & Sons Metal Products, Inc. vs. Darue Engineering and Manufacturing, 545 U.S. 308, 125 S. Ct. 2363, 162 L. Ed. 2d 257 (2005) and Gunn v. Minton, ___U.S.____, 133 S. Ct. 1059, 185 L. Ed. 2d 72 (2013).

After the Flood Protection Authority’s motion to remand was denied, defendants filed a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the ground that the Flood Protection Authority’s complaint failed to state viable causes of action against defendants. The district court agreed with the defendants and dismissed all claims. The Flood Protection Authority appealed. After taking the matter under advisement for over a year, the Fifth Circuit issued its opinion affirming the district court’s decision finding federal jurisdiction and dismissing the case.

The Fifth Circuit first affirmed the district court’s decision finding federal jurisdiction. The Fifth Circuit held that the claims in the Flood Protection Authority’s suit, although couched in terms of state law, fell within the exception set forth in Grable and Gunn finding that three of the Flood Protection Authority’s claims necessarily raised federal issues: “the negligence claim, which purportedly draws its requisite standard of care from three federal statutes; the nuisance claims which rely on the same standard of care; and the third-party breach of contract claim, which purportedly is based on permits issued pursuant to federal law.”

Under the limited Grable/Gunn exception to the well-pleaded complaint rule, federal jurisdiction exists where “(1) resolving a federal issue is necessary to the resolution of the state-law claim; (2) the federal issue is actually disputed; (3) the federal issue is substantial; and (4) federal jurisdiction will not disturb the balance of federal and state judicial responsibilities.”

In finding that the Flood Protection Authority’s claims relied solely on interpretations of federal law, the Fifth Circuit rejected the Authority’s claim that Louisiana’s coastal use regulation requiring restoration of mineral exploration and production sites “to the maximum extent practicable” imposed an obligation on the defendants. The Fifth Circuit held that “the ‘maximum extent practicable’ language is “a regulatory determination that entails ‘a systematic consideration of all pertinent information regarding the use, the site and the impacts of use… and a balancing of their relative significance.’” No Louisiana court has used this or any related provision as the basis for imposing state tort liability. The Fifth Circuit further stated that “the Louisiana Supreme Court has explicitly rejected the prospect that a statutory obligation of ‘reasonably prudent conduct’ could require oil and gas lessees to restore the surface of dredged land.”[4]

With respect to the second prong of the Grable test, the Fifth Circuit held that there were in fact, federal issues in dispute, i.e. the interpretation of the scope of obligations under the River and Harbors Act and the Clean Water Act. Consequently, this element of the Grable test was satisfied.

The Fifth Circuit next found that the federal issues were substantial noting the “importance of the issue to the federal system as a whole.”[5] Since the Levee Authority’s claims implicated “an entire industry” and conduct subject to an extensive federal permitting scheme that were issues of “national concern,” the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s finding that the federal issues were substantial and that the third Grable factor was satisfied.

With respect to the final Grable factor, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s finding that the ruling would not cause and enormous shift of traditionally state cases into federal courts reasoning that the Flood Protection Authority was relying on federal law to establish liability and that resolution of its claims could affect coastal land management in multiple states as well as the national oil and gas market.

Finding that the district court had properly retained jurisdiction, the Fifth Circuit next addressed the substantive defenses raised by the defendants and affirmed the district court’s ruling dismissing the Flood Protection Authority’s claims.

First, the court found that the Flood Protection Authority failed to state claims based on negligence and strict liability because the defendants owed no duty to the Authority under federal or state law. Quite simply, the enunciated rules and principles of law cited by the Flood Protection Authority did not extend to and were not intended to “protect this plaintiff from this type of harm arising in this manner.” The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision that the River and Harbors Act, the Clean Water Act, the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act and state law did not create a duty that bound defendants to protect the Flood Protection Authority from increased flood protection costs that arise out of coastal erosion allegedly caused by defendants’ dredging activities.

With respect to the Flood Protection Authority’s claims based on servitude of natural drain, the Fifth Circuit held that there is no basis in law for “finding that a natural servitude of drain may exist between non-adjacent estates with respect to coastal storm surge.” The court also noted that storm surge did not constitute “surface waters that flow naturally from an estate situated above” as specified in the Civil Code articles pertaining to the servitude of natural drain.

Finally, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that the Flood Protection Authority failed to state a valid “nuisance” claim under Louisiana Civil Code article 667 because the Authority did not sufficiently allege in its complaint that it was a “neighbor” of any of defendant’s property. Although, the Flood Protection Authority was correct in its argument that there is no rule of law compelling “neighbor” to be interpreted as requiring certain “physical adjacency or proximity,” the Fifth Circuit has previously found that there must be “some degree of propinquity, so as to substantiate the allegation that activity on one property has caused damage on another.” Consequently, a nuisance claim under article 667 requires more than simply a “causal nexus,” and the Flood Protection Authority failed to set forth sufficient factual allegations mandating dismissal of the nuisance claims.

It remains to be seen if the Flood Protection Authority will pursue further review in its lawsuit against the oil and gas industry in either the Fifth Circuit or United States Supreme Court.

****************

[1] 33 U.S.C. §§ 401-467.

[2] 33 U.S.C. §§ 1251-1388.

[3] 16 U.S.C. §§ 1451-1466.

[4] Terrebonne Parish School Board vs. Castex Energy, Inc., 893 So. 2d 789, 801 (La. 2005)(“We hold that, in the absence of an express lease provision, Mineral Code article 122 does not impose an implied duty to restore the surface to its original, pre-lease condition absent proof that the lessee has exercised its rights under the lease unreasonably or excessively.”).

[5] Citing, Gunn v. Minton, 133 S. Ct. 1059, 1066 (2013) and Smith v. Kansas City Title and Trust Co., 255 U.S. 180, 198-202 (1921).

text

By Sam Lumpkin

The US District Court for the Western District of North Carolina recently held that even text messages are subject to the duty to preserve electronically stored information (ESI). In Shaffer v. Gaither, the plaintiff asserted claims against her former boss – a US District Attorney – for constructive dismissal based on sexual harassment and creation of a hostile work environment. The plaintiff also added a claim of defamation, based on an allegation that the former boss had falsely spread rumors plaintiff was fired for having a sexual relationship with a married member of the defense bar. Although the plaintiff admitted that the relationship existed, the defamation claim was based on what plaintiff argued was a false reason for her termination.

The defendant contended that plaintiff had sent her paramour text messages about the termination in which she admitted that she was fired because of the relationship. However, the text messages were lost when plaintiff purportedly dropped her cell phone in a bathroom. The court therefore had to address whether, in light of the claims pending at the time the text messages were lost, the plaintiff had failed to preserve relevant ESI.

Under the recent amendments to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(e), the duty to preserve ESI arises when litigation is “reasonably anticipated,” and the loss of ESI is sanctionable if reasonable steps to preserve the ESI are not taken and the information cannot be restored or replaced through additional discovery. Dismissal is not an automatic remedy for spoliation, and some remedies are only available when the spoliating party acted with intent to deprive the opposing party of evidence.

The court in Shaffer found that before the messages were destroyed, plaintiff had threatened litigation and her attorney had discussed the messages with the defendant’s attorney. The messages were therefore clearly relevant to the defamation claim, and both plaintiff and her attorney knew they had a duty to preserve the messages at least five months before the messages were destroyed. The court did not immediately find that the destruction of the plaintiff’s phone was intentional, and because similar evidence might be available through the testimony of various parties who had viewed the texts before they were destroyed, the court did not order dismissal of the defamation claim.

However, the court did provide guidance to potential litigants: “Once it is clear that a litigant has ESI that is relevant to reasonably anticipated litigation, steps should be taken to preserve that material, such as printing out the texts, making an electronic copy of such texts, cloning the phone, or even taking possession of the phone and instructing the client to simply get another one.” Although the plaintiff in Shaffer did not face dismissal due to the circumstances of the case, other litigants may not be so fortunate.

bench

By Daniel B. Stanton

Nearly everyone who has practiced civil litigation long enough has experienced a case so meritless that allegations of frivolity and the need for sanctions are thrown around. Despite these feelings, the typical result is a simple dismissal of the case and the defendant footing the bill. Rarely are sanctions ever actually awarded against the frivolous plaintiff or his counsel for filing the suit, despite the intent of Rule 11 and their appropriateness of the sanction. Even rarer are instances where a defendant is sanctioned for defending itself at trial.

Recently, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court reviewed such a case from the WDLA. Our earlier blog article covering the trial court opinion in Dr. George T. Moench, et al. v. M/V Salvation, et al. may be found here. What makes this case unusual is the sanction of attorneys’ fees against the defendant based on the court’s belief that the defendant (or its counsel) essentially wasted everyone’s time by trying liability. According to the court, Marquette “clearly knew the extent of its liability based on the circumstances of the case and the actions of its captain … [and] was fully aware of the fact that [plaintiff] had no liability whatsoever for this allision.” Because attorneys’ fees are not a recoverable item of damages in admiralty cases, the plaintiff made no request for them. Instead, by invoking its inherent authority, the district court sua sponte awarded the full amount of Plaintiff’s expended attorneys’ fees ($295,000) as a punitive sanction against Marquette. For these reasons, among others, Marquette appealed the trial court’s ruling.

On appeal, the 5th Circuit considered the prudence of the attorney’s fees award. Despite the unavailability of attorneys’ fees as a recoverable damage, a court may award attorneys’ fees as a sanction against a party that has acted in “bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive reasons.” This includes raising frivolous arguments or even meritorious ones simply for the sake of harassment. Such behavior constitutes a sanctionable abuse of the judicial process. While every litigant has a right to vigorously defend or prosecute its claim, the 5th Circuit noted that advocacy designed for no other purpose than to burden an “opponent with unnecessary expenditures of time and effort” is an abuse of the judicial process. In this case, the district court found that Marquette’s defense warranted sanctions for two reasons: (1) Marquette refused to concede liability and (2) Marquette relied on expert valuations that were glaringly inaccurate.

By uncontested testimony from Marquette’s captain, Marquette’s vessel struck the plaintiff’s moored vessel after the captain left the helm unattended during a period of dangerously high waters in the Atchafalaya River. By the time the captain returned the wheel, the Marquette vessel and its tow were out of control, and the captain chose to strike the plaintiff’s vessel to avoid significant damage to his tow. In the face of law and facts to the contrary, Marquette continued to not only deny liability but also argue that the plaintiff’s stationary vessel somehow caused the allision. The district court found that such a meritless defense was made in bad faith and deserving of sanctions. The 5th Circuit found no fault in the district court’s determination that Marquette’s continued contestation of liability was abusive.

Compounding the liability issue, the 5th Circuit also found – like the district court – that Marquette’s use of experts challenging Dr. Moench’s damages claim was also abusive. In support of its damages defense, Marquette used two experts who produced woefully unreliable reports with amazing errors in their damage evaluations. Marquette’s first expert opined on value “without including any comparables, without considering the equipment on the vessel, without an accurate description of the vessel, and without reliable underlying information,” and its second expert “not only failed to correct the glaringly incorrect information set forth in the first expert’s report, but incorporated it into his own.” Given these findings, the 5th Circuit found no abuse of discretion by the district court.

While both the district court and 5th Circuit considered other issues in this case, the discussion of a court’s inherent authority to award attorneys’ fees as a sanction bears great attention. “Zealous” or “vigorous” advocacy is often thrown around, usually unsuccessfully, in defense of a lawyer’s conduct when it is the subject of a sanctions motion. The 5th Circuit’s ruling stands as a continued warning to all litigants that “vigorous advocacy” does not include advancing far-fetched legal theories or legitimate legal theories with obviously unreliable evidence. And while sanctions for abuse of the judicial process are still the exception rather than the rule, attorneys and their clients alike should take note when developing their claims, evidence, and defenses to ensure that are not asserting frivolous arguments, or even meritorious ones that could be perceived as harassing an opponent or wasting the Court’s time.

 

LouisianaPaddleboatStamp

By G. Trippe Hawthorne and Mallory McKnight Fuller

Click here to review a Practice Note explaining how to enforce arbitral awards in the state and federal courts in Louisiana.  This Note explains the procedure for confirming an arbitration award in Louisiana, and the grounds on which a party may challenge enforcement under Louisiana and federal law, including the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), and the Louisiana Binding Arbitration Law (BAL). This Note also briefly explains the procedure for vacating, modifying, or correcting an arbitral award in Louisiana.

 

social

By Jason R. Cashio

Continuing a trend among other courts, a recent ruling from U.S.D.C., Middle District of Louisiana, recognized the discoverability of plaintiff’s social media postings.  Baxter v. Anderson, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110687 (M.D. La. Aug. 18, 2016).  In Baxter, Magistrate Judge Bourgeois addressed the discoverability of social media in a recent discovery ruling on August 19, 2016.  The discovery requests calling for production of plaintiff’s social media information, as propounded, were overly broad.  However, the court was still willing to permit the discovery with some limitations. 

Magistrate Judge Bourgeois was not willing to permit unfettered access to a plaintiff’s social media account just because a personal injury lawsuit was filed, which placed plaintiff’s mental and physical conditions at issue.  However, the ruling permitted access to any postings that met one of the following criteria:

  1. Postings by the plaintiff that relate to the accident;
  2. Postings related to any emotional distress or treated received that relate to the accident;
  3. Postings or photographs that relate to alternative potential emotional stressors, or that are inconsistent with the alleged mental injuries;
  4. Postings that relate to physical injuries sustained as a result of the accident and any treatment therefor;
  5. Postings that relate to other, unrelated physical injuries; and,
  6. Postings or photographs that reflect physical capabilities that are inconsistent with the alleged injuries at issue.

Accordingly, the court acknowledged that social media posts/photographs are subject to discovery, which is consistent with numerous other rulings within Louisiana, as well as around the nation.  

 

medical

By Jennifer J. Thomas

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) published a Proposed Rule in the September 20, 2016 Federal Register that would change the structure and expand the authority of State Medicaid Fraud Control Units (“MFCU”). The OIG wants to change the Federal participation in the costs attributable to establishing and operating a MFCU as well as incorporate into the rule statutory and policy changes that have occurred since 1977. Those changes include:

  1. raising the Federal matching rate for ongoing operating costs from fifty (50) to seventy-five (75) percent;
  2. establishing a Medicaid State plan requirement that a State must operate an “effective MFCU”;
  3. establishing standards under which MFCUs must be operated;
  4. allowing MFCU’s to seek approval from the Inspector General to investigate and prosecute violations of State law related to fraud in any aspect of the provision of health care services under any Federal health care program, including Medicare, as long as the fraud is primarily related to Medicaid; and
  5. giving MFCUs the option to investigate and prosecute patient abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of patient funds regardless of whether the providing facility receives Medicaid payments.

The Proposed Rule adds or revises several definitions to expand the authority of the MFCU to prosecute. For example, “board and care facility” would be added so that under item (5) listed above the MFCUs investigative authority would now include complaints of abuse or neglect at facilities at non-Medicaid assisted living facilities. The definition of “provider” would be amended to include those who are required to enroll in a State Medicaid program, such as ordering and referring physicians. The intent of this amendment is to clarify the providers who are not furnishing items or services for which payment is claimed directly under Medicaid, such as those providers enrolled in managed care, can be the subject of a MFCU investigation and prosecution. A definition of “fraud” is to be added to clarify the MFCU’s authority to investigate and prosecute both criminal and civil fraud.

The Proposed Rule would change MFCU staffing requirements to require all employees, whether part-time or full-time, to devote their “exclusive effort” to MFCU functions. Each MFCU must employ a director who would supervise all MFCU employees. The MFCU must be a “single identifiable entity in State government” and would operate under its own budget separate from that of its parent agency.

All MFCU’s under the Proposed Rule would be required to submit all convictions to the OIG for purposes of program exclusion within 30 days of sentencing. MFCUs would also be required to make information on investigations involving the same suspects or allegations to the OIG investigators and attorneys.  If the MFCU discovers an overpayment made to a provider or facility, the MFCU must either recover the overpayment or refer the matter to the proper State agency for collection.

The MFCU changes outlined in the Proposed Rule are not yet final. Any person can submit comments to the OIG by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on November 21, 2016. If the changes in the Proposed Rule are made, it could result in increased investigations and prosecutions by State MFCUs against a broader scope of providers and facilities.

middle

By Brittany Buckley Salup

Chief Judge Brian Jackson issued an “Omnibus Order Suspending All Deadlines” for cases pending or to be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.  The Order explains that the court has been inaccessible—a key term in the Federal Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure—since August 12, 2016 due to historic flooding in the region.  Until further notice from the Middle District, all deadlines and delays in cases pending or to be filed in the Middle District are suspended.  This suspension expressly applies to prescriptive and peremptive periods.  In addition, all pending criminal cases in the Middle District are temporarily excluded from the time requirements of the Speedy Trial Act.

The Middle District’s Order follows similar Executive Orders from Governor Edwards, which suspended deadlines in Louisiana state courts due to flooding.  More information about the Governor’s Orders is available here.

A copy of the Middle District’s Order (M.D. La. General Order 2016-10) is available here.

 

 

seal

By Claire Juneau

On August 17, 2016, Governor Edwards amended Executive Order JBE 2016-57 which had suspended the running of prescription, peremption, and all legal delays from August 12, 2016 until September 9, 2016. The amendment to Executive Order JBE 2016-57 modifies the suspension of deadlines as follows:

  • Liberative prescription and peremptive periods continue to be suspended throughout Louisiana until Friday, September 9, 2016.
  • Deadlines in legal proceedings currently pending in state courts, administrative agencies, and boards in Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana, Parishes, continue to be suspended until Friday September 9, 2016. This suspension includes all deadlines set forth in the Louisiana Civil Code, the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure, Title 9 (Civil Code Ancillaries) Title 13 (Courts and Judicial Procedure), Chapter 11 of Title 18 (Election Campaign Financing); Chapter 10 of Title 23 (Worker’s Compensation); Chapter 5, Part XXI-A of Title 40 (Malpractice Liability for State Services); Chapter 5, Part XXIII, of Title 40 (Medical Malpractice), and Title 49, Chapter 13 (Administrative Procedure) of the Louisiana Revised Statutes. This is a modification from the original Exeuctive Order JBE 2016-57 which suspended deadlines statewide.
  • Except for the suspension of prescriptive and peremptive periods and the suspension of deadlines in the parishes listed above, the suspension provided for in original Executive Order JBE 2016-53 shall end Friday, August 19, 2016. If a party can show an inability to meet the deadlines caused the flooding, the court, administrative agency, or board shall suspend deadlines specific to that matter until September 9, 2016.

A copy of the amendment can be found here: JBE-16-57-Amended-Emergency-Suspension-of-Deadlines-in-Legal-Proceedings

A copy of the original executive order can be found here.