Comer v. Murphy Oil U.S.A.

Decision Date28 May 2010
Docket NumberNo. 07-60756.,07-60756.
Citation607 F.3d 1049
PartiesNed COMER; Brenda Comer; Eric Haygood, husband of Brenda Haygood; Brenda Haygood; Larry Hunter, husband of Sandra L. Hunter; Sandra L. Hunter; Mitchell Kisielweski, husband of Johanna Kisielweski; Johanna Kisielweski; Elliott Roumain, husband of Rosemary Roumain; Rosemary Roumain; Judy Olson; David Lain, Plaintiffs-Appellants,v.MURPHY OIL USA; Universal Oil Products (UOP); Shell Oil Company; Exxonmobil Corp.; AES Corp.; Allegheny Energy, Inc.; Alliance Resource Partners LP; Alpha Natural Resources, Inc.; Arch Coal, Inc.; BP America Production Company; BP Products North America, Inc.; Cinergy Corp.; ConocoPhillips Company; Consol. Energy, Inc.; The Dow Chemical Company; Duke Energy Corp.; EON AG; E.I. Dupont De Nemours & Co.; Entergy Corp.; Firstenergy Corp.; Foundation Coal Holdings, Inc.; FPL Group, Inc.; Honeywell International, Inc.; International Coal Group, Inc.; Massey Energy Co.; Natural Resource Partners LP; Peabody Energy Corp.; Reliant Energy, Inc.; Tennessee Valley Authority; Westmoreland Coal Co.; Xcel Energy, Inc.; Chevron USA, Inc.; The American Petroleum Institute, Defendants-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit


F. Gerald Maples (argued), Carl Dwight Campbell, III, Machelle Ra Lee Hall, Carlos A. Zelaya, II, F. Gerald Maples, P.A., New Orleans, LA, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Kerry J. Miller, Benjamin Melvin Castoriano, Paul C. Thibodeaux, Frilot, L.L.C., New Orleans, LA, Shellye V. McDonald, Richard Patrick Salloum, Franke & Salloum, P.L.L.C., Gulfport, MS, for Murphy Oil, USA.

Michael Raudon Phillips, Louis Matthew Grossman, Anthony Michael Williams, Kean, Miller, Hawthorne, D'Armond, McCowan & Jarman, L.L.P., Benjamin Melvin Castoriano, Frilot, L.L.C., New Orleans, LA, Shellye V. McDonald, Richard Patrick Salloum, Franke & Salloum, P.L.L.C., Gulfport, MS, for Universal Oil Products, Honeywell Intern., Inc.

Mary S. Johnson, Johnson Gray McNamara, L.L.C., Mandeville, LA, Damiel Paul Collins, Munger, Tolles & Olson, L.L.P., Los Angeles, CA, David Lee Martindale, Cypress, TX, Thomas M. McNamara, Johnson Gray McNamara, L.L.C., Lafayette, LA, for Shell Oil Co.

Jonathan D. Hacker, O'Melveny & Myers, L.L.P., Washington, DC, John F. Daum, O'Melveny & Myers, Los Angeles, CA, Richard L. Forman, Forman, Perry, Watkins, Krutz & Tardy, L.L.P., Jackson, MS, for ExxonMobil Corp.

Thomas Lynn Carpenter, Carr, Allison, Pugh, Howard, Oliver & Sisson, P.C., Gulfport, MS, Rick Richmond, Brent L. Caslin, Kenneth Kiyul Lee, Kelly Marie Morrison, Jenner & Block, L.L.P., Los Angeles, CA, for AES Corp.

William Lee Watt, Bennett, Lotterhos, Sulser & Wilson, P.A., Jackson, MS, for Allegheny Energy, Inc., Reliant Energy, Inc. Kathleen Taylor Sooy, Tracy Roman, Scott L. Winkelman (argued) Crowell & Moring, L.L.P., Washington, DC, Robert Donald Gholson, Gholson Burson Entrekin & Orr, P.A., Laurel, MS, for Alliance Resource Partners, LP, Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., Arch Coal, Inc., Consol. Energy, Inc., Foundation Coal Holdings, Inc., Intern. Coal Group, Inc., Massey Energy Co., Natural Resource Partners, LP, Peabody Energy Corp., Westmoreland Coal Co.

Michael B. Gerrard, Nancy Gordon Milburn, Arnold & Porter, L.L.P., New York City, John Gwin Wheeler, Mitchell, McNutt & Sams, P.A., Tupelo, MS, for BP America Production Co., BP Products North Amer., Inc.

Peter D. Keisler, Quin Mikael Sorenson, Sidley Austin, L.L.P., Washington, DC, for Cinergy Corp., Duke Energy Corp.

Kenneth W. Barton, Benjamin McRae Watson, Butler, Snow, O'Mara, Stevens & Cannada, P.L.L.C., Ridgeland, MS, for ConocoPhillips Co.

Timothy S. Bishop, Chad Matthew Clamage, Justin Bishop Grewell, Herbert L. Zarov, Mayer Brown, L.L.P., Chicago, IL, Ronald G. Peresich, Michael Edward Whitehead, Page, Mannino, Peresich & McDermott, P.L.L.C., Biloxi, MS, Charles Stephen Kelly, Mayer Brown, L.L.P., Houston, TX, for Dow Chemical Co.

Lawrence E. Abbott, Abbott, Simses & Kuchler, Covington, LA, Raymond Michael Ripple, Donna L. Goodman, Wilmington, DE, for E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Co.

Charles Edwin Ross, William B. Lovett, Jr., Wise Carter Child & Caraway, P.A., Jackson, MS, for Entergy Corp.

Edwin Warren Small, Asst. Gen. Counsel, Harriet Andrea Cooper, Knoxville, TN, for Tennessee Valley Authority.

Thomas E. Fennell, Michael L. Rice, Jones Day, Dallas, TX, John G. Corlew, Kathy K. Smith, Corlew, Munford & Smith, P.L.L.C., Jackson, MS, Kenneth Patrick Holewinski, Jones Day, Washington, DC, for Xcel Energy, Inc.

Robert E. Meadows, Jonathan Lawrence Marsh, Tracie Jo Renfore, King & Spalding, L.L.P., Houston, TX, Paul D. Clement, King & Spalding, L.L.P., Washington, DC, David Lee Martindale, Cypress, TX, for Chevron USA, Inc.

Robert Allen Long, Jr., Covington & Burling, L.L.P., Washington, DC, for Amer. Petroleum Institute.

Raymond Bernard Ludwiszewski, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, L.L.P., Washington, DC, Ellen J. Gleberman, Arlington, VA, for Assoc. of Inter. Auto. Manufacturers, Inc., Amicus Curiae.

Edgar Robert Haden, Michael David Freeman, Balch & Bingham, L.L.P., Birmingham, AL, F. William Brownell, Norman W. Fichthorn, Allison D. Wood, Hunton & Williams, L.L.P., Washington, DC, Mark Wendell DeLaquil, David Boris Rivkin, Jr., Baker & Hostetler, L.L.P., Washington, DC, Jonathan Paul Dyasl, Ben H. Stone, Balch & Bingham, L.L.P., Gulfport, MS, Douglas Alton Henderson, Troutman Sanders, L.L.P., Atlanta, GA, Shawn Patrick Regan, Hunton & Williams, L.L.P., New York City, for Edison Elec. Institute, Amer. Public Power Ass'n, Nat. Rural Elec. Cooperative Ass'n, Amci Curiae.

Douglas Alton Henderson, Troutman Sanders, L.L.P., Atlanta, GA, for Amer. Farm Bureau Federation, Nat. Ass'n of Manufacturers, Amer. Tort Reform Ass'n, Affordable Power Alliance, Amici Curiae.

James Robert May, Wilmington, DE, for Law professors, Amicus Curiae.

Sean Hoe Donahue, Donahue & Goldberg, L.L.P., Washington, DC, for David E. Adelman, Lynn E. Blais, James

R. Gordley, Olivera A. Houck, Ronald J. Rychalk, Wendy E. Wagner, Keith Werham, Amici Curiae.

Robert R. Gasaway, Kirkland & Ellis, L.L.P., Washington, DC, for Chamber of Commerce of U.S.

Richard Oran Faulk, John Stoetzer Gray, Gardere Wynne Sewell, L.L.P., Houston, TX, for Amer. Chemistry Council, Public Nuisance Fairness Coalition, Amer. Coatings Ass'n, Property Cas. Insurers Ass'n of Amer., Texas Civil Justice league, Tex. Chemical Counsel, Nat. Petrochemical and Refiners Ass'n.

Damien Michael Schiff, Luke Anthony Wake, Pacific Legal Foundation, Sacramento, CA, for Pacific Legal Foundation.

Mark C. Baker, Sr., Gen. Atty., Baker Law Firm, P.C., Brandon, MS, for Lamar Smith, F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.,

Tristan Layle Duncan, William F. Northrip, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, L.L.P., Kansas City, MO, Manuel Lopez, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, L.L.P., Houston, TX, for Natso, Inc.

William Spencer Consovoy, Wiley Rein, L.L.P., Washington, DC, Ilya Shapiro, Washington, DC, for Cato Institute.

John Reed Clay, Jr., James C. Ho, Solicitor, James Patrick Sullivan, Asst. Solicitor Gen., Austin, TX, for State of Texas, State of Ark., State of Idaho, State of Ind., State of Ohio, State of S.C., State of Wash., State of Wyo.

Andrew Layton Schlafly, Far Hills, NJ, Karen Bryant Tripp, Houston, TX, for Eagle Forum Educ. and Legal Defense Fund.

Cary Silverman, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, L.L.P., Washington, DC, for Nat. Federation of Independent Bus. Small Bus. Legal Center.

Mark Wendell DeLaquil, David Boris Rivkin, Jr., Baker & Hostetler, L.L.P., Washington, DC, Jonathan Paul Dyasl, Balch & Bingham, L.L.P., Gulfport, MS, Edgar Robert Haden, Balch & Bingham, L.L.P., Birmingham, AL, for Nat. Mining Ass'n.

F. William Brownell, Norman W. Fichthorn, Hunton & Williams, L.L.P., Washington, DC, Mark Wendell DeLaquil, David Boris Rivkin, Jr., Baker & Hostetler, L.L.P., Washington, DC, for Steven G. Calabresi, Ronald A. Cass, Robert A. Destro, Donald Gifford, F. Scott Kieff, Michael P. Moreland, Lumen Mulligan, Stephen B. Presser, Robert J. Pushaw, Ronald D. Rotunda, Mark F. Schultz, William Van Altyne.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

Before JOLLY, Acting Chief Judge, and DAVIS, SMITH, STEWART, DENNIS, CLEMENT, PRADO and OWEN, Circuit Judges.*


This case was voted en banc by a duly constituted quorum of the court consisting of nine members in regular active service who are not disqualified. Fed. R.App. P. 35(a); 28 U.S.C. § 46(d).

The grant of rehearing en banc in this case “vacate[d] the panel opinion and judgment of the court and stay[ed] the mandate.” 5th Cir. R. 41.3.; see also Thompson v. Connick, 578 F.3d 293 (5th Cir.2009) (en banc) (same).

After the en banc court was properly constituted, new circumstances arose that caused the disqualification and recusal of one of the nine judges, leaving only eight judges in regular active service, on a court of sixteen judges, who are not disqualified in this en banc case. Upon this recusal, this en banc court lost its quorum. Absent a quorum, no court is authorized to transact judicial business. See Nguyen v. United States, 539 U.S. 69, 82 n. 14, 123 S.Ct. 2130, 156 L.Ed.2d 64 (2003) (quoting Tobin v. Ramey, 206 F.2d 505, 507 (5th Cir.1953)).

The absence of a quorum, however, does not preclude the internal authority of the body to state the facts as they exist in relation to that body, and to apply the established rules to those facts.

In arriving at our decision, directing the clerk to dismiss this appeal, this en banc court has considered and rejected each of the following options:

1. Asking the Chief Justice to appoint a judge from another Circuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 291. We have rejected this argument as precluded by our precedent United States v. Nixon, 827 F.2d 1019 (5th Cir.1987), and because § 291 provides an inappropriate procedure, unrelated to providing a quorum for the en banc court of a circuit.
2. Declaring that there is a quorum under the provisions of Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 35(a). We believe

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