The Fifth Court’s recent ERCOT opinion found that matter appropriate for en banc review when, between its original panel opinion and the present proceedings, the Texas Supreme Court had ruled on immunity issues in a way that undermined a key assumption of the panel opinion about ERCOT’s immunity. (“In the most recent of these three opinions, the supreme court stated: ‘Though we have contemplated it, we have yet to extend sovereign immunity to a purely private entity—one neither created nor chartered by the government—even when that entity performs some governmental functions.’”).

At least nominally, that analysis puts the case in the “just right” category of my Goldilocks article about intermediate-court en banc review, although the importance of the subject matter may make it a “big splash” case as well.

The ERCOT dissent suggests another, fragrance-based approach to decisions about en banc review: “To be clearly erroneous, a decision must strike us as more than just maybe or probably wrong, it must . . . strike us as wrong with the force of a five-week old, unrefrigerated dead fish.”  (citing Parts & Elec. Motors, Inc. v. Sterling Elec., Inc., 866 F.2d 228, 233 (7th Cir. 1988).

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