Congratulations to KD&P Partner, Peter Kelly, and Of Counsel, Dana Levy, who secured two reversals in the Fifth Circuit in the last two weeks of June!
The first, Garcia v. Wal-Mart Stores Texas, involved a slip-and-fall in which the Court reversed a summary judgment finding that circumstantial creation evidence—evidence that the owner of a premises created the dangerous condition—can support an inference of knowledge on the part of the owner. You can read that opinion here.
The second opinion, Littell v. Houston Indep. Sch. Dist., involved a civil rights case in which, in the Court’s words, “[d]uring a sixth-grade choir class, an assistant principal allegedly ordered a mass, suspicionless strip search of the underwear of twenty-two preteen girls. All agree the search violated the girls’ constitutional rights under Texas and federal law. Even so, the district court dismissed the girls’ lawsuit against the school district for failure to state a claim. We reverse.” The school district argued that it had a constitutionally-qualified policy regarding body searches of students. Peter and Dana argued that having a written policy in a notebook on a shelf is useless unless teachers and administrators are actually trained in those policies. At oral argument, Peter quoted James Brown to make the point: “Sayin’ it and doin’ it is two different things.” The Fifth Circuit rejected the school district’s arguments, allowing all of the claims (1983, state constitutional, and injunctive) to proceed on the merits. This second win garnered Peter “Appellate Lawyer of the Week” honors from Texas Lawyer. You can read the opinion here, and John Council’s Texas Lawyer article about the case here.