L.A. Public Insurance Adjusters, Inc. v. Nelson, No. 20-20319 (5th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
After LAPIA terminated defendant's employment, it filed suit against him in state court seeking damages for disparaging comments defendant allegedly made about the company while soliciting his former clients, as well as an injunction enforcing a non-compete clause in defendant's employment contract. Defendant counterclaimed, seeking to recover unpaid commissions, and then removed the case to federal court. For nearly two years, LAPIA failed to file an answer to defendant's counterclaims, only finally seeking leave to file the document after the parties had fully briefed cross summary judgment motions. The district court accepted LAPIA's answer without explanation, then granted the company summary judgment based on a new defense theory that had been raised for the first time in LAPIA’s belated answer.
The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to LAPIA and its denial of defendant's motion for partial summary judgment, because LAPIA failed to demonstrate that its failure to initially file an answer was the product of "excusable neglect," as is required to obtain an extension of time once a filing period has elapsed under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court remanded for further proceedings.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on June 14, 2021.