Eric Borcik v. Crosby Tugs, L.L.C.
PUBLISHED OPINION FILED. [15-30435 Remanded ] Judge: TMR , Judge: EGJ , Judge: JWE Mandate pull date is 06/22/2017 [15-30435]
Date Filed: 06/01/2017
IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
United States Court of Appeals
June 1, 2017
Lyle W. Cayce
Plaintiff - Appellant
CROSBY TUGS, L.L.C.,
Defendant - Appellee
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Louisiana
Before REAVLEY, JOLLY, and ELROD, Circuit Judges.
Eric Borcik brought this whistleblower suit against Crosby Tugs,
alleging that Crosby had fired him in retaliation for reporting environmental
violations. Under Louisiana law, Borcik can only recover if he reported the
violation in “good faith.” La. Stat. Ann. § 30:2027. The case was tried to a jury,
which was instructed that “good faith” meant that “the plaintiff had an honest
belief that an environmental violation occurred and that he did not report it
either to seek an unfair advantage or to try to harm his employer or another
employee.” The jury found via special interrogatory that Borcik did not report
the violation in good faith, resulting in a defense verdict. Borcik appealed,
Date Filed: 06/01/2017
arguing that the district court erred by failing to instruct the jury correctly on
the definition of “good faith.”
On appeal, we determined that we were not in a position to make an Erie
guess as to the meaning of “good faith” and certified the following question to
the Louisiana Supreme Court:
What is the meaning of “good faith” as that term is used in the
Louisiana Environmental Quality Act, Louisiana Revised Statutes
Borcik v. Crosby Tugs, L.L.C., 656 F. App’x 681, 685 (5th Cir. 2016). The
Louisiana Supreme Court accepted the question and answered it as follows:
The term “good faith,” as used in R.S. 30:2027, means an employee
is acting with an honest belief that a violation of an environmental
law, rule, or regulation occurred.
Borcik v. Crosby Tugs, L.L.C., 2016-1372, --- So. 3d ---, 2017 WL 1716226 (La.
Based on the definition of the term provided by the Louisiana Supreme
Court, the district court erred by instructing the jury that “good faith” required
more than “an honest belief that a violation of an environmental law, rule, or
Accordingly, we remand for such orders and further proceedings as the
district court, in its discretion, deems necessary and appropriate.
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