Iraqi v. Louisiana Law on Limitations

In McGee v. Arkel Int’l, the Court addressed the thorny choice-of-law issue raised by a conflict between limitations provisions.  No. 10-30393 (Feb. 16, 2012).  It found that Iraqi law was adequately proven under Fed. R. Civ. P. 44.1 through an expert’s affidavit, which included a translation and cited a generally consistent website.  Op. at 13-14 (noting that defendant “did not put forth any alternative translation and has not suggested how the [plaintiff’s] translation might be inaccurate”).  The Court found that the action was time-barred under Louisiana law, was not shown to be time-barred under Iraqi law, and thus fell within a rarely-used Louisiana law allowing the action to proceed as “warranted by compelling considerations of remedial justice.”  Op. at 18 (citing La. Civ. Code art. 3549).

Presumptions under the Federal Rules of Evidence

In a complicated case about jurisdiction over a challenge to administrative action, the Court addressed the general effect of presumptions under the Federal Rules of Evidence and Rule 301 in particular.  City of Arlington v. FCC (No. 10-60039, Jan. 23, 2012).  The Court reminded that under the “bursting-bubble” approach of Rule 301, “the only effect of a presumption is to shift the burden of producing evidence with regard to the presumed fact.”  Op. at 42.  Accordingly, “once a party introduces rebuttal evidence sufficient to support a finding contrary to the presumted fact, the presumption evaporates,” and “[t]he burden of persuasion with respect to the ultimate question at issue remains with the party on whom it originally rested.”  Id. 

Hearsay Within Hearsay

The Court does not publish many opinions outside of the Daubert area that construe the Federal Rules of Evidence.  New judge Stephen Higginson, in a technical opinion about conditions of prison release for medical treatment, addressed an uncommon hearsay issue in Sealed Appellee v. Sealed Appellant, No. 10-11163 (5th Cir. Dec. 19, 2011).  The Court affirmed the admissibility of a probation officer’s letter under the “public records” exception of Fed. R. Evid. 803(8), despite its observation that the letter “does attribute some statements to [Appellant’s] sister.”  Op. at 7 (citing analysis of a similar issue in  Moss v. Ole South Real Estate, 933 F.2d 1300, 1309-10 (5th Cir. 1991)).