Montgomery McCracken Secures Landmark Appellate Win for Pro Bono Client Before Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

May 16, 2024

Types : Press Releases

Montgomery McCracken is proud to announce a precedent-setting appellate victory for its pro bono client, a former federal inmate, before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. After briefing and oral argument, the Fifth Circuit reversed a district court’s grant of summary judgment against our client in a unanimous published opinion. 

Our client sued the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), alleging that he had been brutally attacked by prison officials while in his cell. The district court dismissed his case at summary judgment, concluding that the record of his injuries failed to satisfy a de minimis legal threshold. In our briefing and at oral argument, we argued both that, as a matter of law, the district court erred when it applied the de minimis injury standard and that there was ample evidence of significant injury in the record.

The Fifth Circuit panel agreed with both points and issued a published opinion reversing the district court and clarifying the law on the use of the de minimis standard in FTCA claims. This is a rare victory—federal courts of appeals publish less than 14% of their opinions each year— that not only vindicates our client’s rights, but also sets a clarifying precedent for future cases involving similar circumstances.

The Montgomery McCracken team included Robert Day, who was appointed by the Court to serve as pro bono counsel and argued the appeal, Leah Tedford and Stefania Rosca.