Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that defendants unlawfully used WCTL to calculate the base value of total loss vehicles. Plaintiffs alleged that using WCTL, instead of lawful sources such as the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Guidebook or the Kelly Blue Book (KBB), resulted in their vehicles being assigned a lower base value and accordingly resulted in plaintiffs receiving lower payouts on their insurance claims. Plaintiffs contended that damages can be calculated by replacing defendants' allegedly unlawful WCTL base value with a lawful base value, derived from either NADA or KBB, and then adjusting that new base value using defendants' current system for condition adjustment. The Fifth Circuit found that plaintiffs' damages methodology was sound and did not preclude class treatment. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's certification of a fraud class where plaintiff failed to show that class issues will predominate. Defendant argued for the first time on appeal that by accepting defendants' condition score calculation as is, plaintiffs may have impermissibly waived unnamed class members' ability to assert a future claim contesting defendants' computation of the condition factor. Because this argument was not expressly raised to the district court, and may present important certification questions, the Fifth Circuit remanded the certification order as to the contract and statutory claims. View "Slade v. Progressive Security Insurance" on Justia Law

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Jacked Up and Sara Lee signed a licensing agreement whereby Sara Lee would produce and sell energy drinks developed by Jacked Up. Sara Lee sold its beverage division to the J.M. Smucker Company and Smucker decided not to assume Sara Lee's licensing agreement. After Sara Lee formally terminated the agreement, Jacked Up filed suit against Sara Lee, alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and fraudulent inducement. Jacked Up joined claims against Smucker for, among other things, tortious interference with a contract and trade secret misappropriation. The district court granted summary judgment against Jacked Up on all claims. In regard to claims against Sara Lee, the court reversed the district court's conclusion that Section 14(b) of the agreement unambiguously permitted Sara Lee to terminate the licensing agreement at will; there are genuine disputes about whether Sara Lee breached the contract and whether Jacked Up performed under the contract, and thus the court reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Sara Lee on Jacked Up's breach of contract claim; the court affirmed as to the breach of fiduciary claim because Jacked Up failed to point to sufficient evidence that would support finding a fiduciary relationship between the parties; the court reversed as to the fraud and fraudulent inducement claim because, at the very least, there is a genuine dispute of fact as to whether Jacked Up's reliance on Sara Lee's representations was justifiable. In regard to claims against Smucker, the court affirmed summary judgment in favor of Smucker on the tortious interference claim; affirmed as to the trade secret misappropriation claim; affirmed the denial of Jacked Up's Rule 56(d) motion for a continuance; and the court left it to the district court to determine whether Jacked Up has put forth sufficient evidence of damages. View "Jacked Up, LLC v. Sara Lee Corp." on Justia Law

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Peachtree filed suit against Rapid for tortious interference with its contracts. Peachtree and Rapid are two companies in the business of identifying individuals who are the beneficiaries of structured settlements, which provide a stream of payments, much like an annuity, usually over an extended period of years; once an annuitant is identified, the companies offer to purchase the stream of payments in return for a lump sum. The district court dismissed the claims and both parties appealed. The court held that plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of establishing either federal question or federal diversity jurisdiction. Therefore, federal courts have no subject matter jurisdiction over this case. The court vacated and remanded with directions to remand the case to state court. View "Settlement Funding, LLC v. Rapid Settlements" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of a dispute over a construction contract between Golden Nugget and Yates. On appeal, Yates challenged the dismissal of its claim for a statutory lien under the Louisiana Private Works Act (LPWA), La. Stat. Ann. 9:4822, which grants general contractors a privilege to secure payment for their work. However, the LPWA requires that the contractor must preserve their lien by filing a statement of claim or privilege in a timely manner. In this case, although Yates did not file a lien statement within the time required by statute, the court found that because Golden Nugget never filed a notice of substantial completion, Yates's lien statement was timely filed. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Golden Nugget Lake Charles v. W. G. Yates & Son" on Justia Law

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In this insurance coverage dispute, Liberty Mutual, OES's insurer, denied OES's claim for reimbursement of funds OES spent defending against, and ultimately settling, the underlying tort suit. On appeal, Liberty Mutual claimed that the district court erred by permitting OES and Anadarko to equitably reform their master services contract (MSC), and that the district court interpreted the OES-Liberty Mutual policy erroneously by concluding that the policy obligated Liberty Mutual to reimburse OES for all of the attorney's fees OES incurred in connection with the tort suit, rather than a pro-rata portion of those fees. The court affirmed as to the MSC issue. In this case, OES and Anadarko met the higher clear-and-convincing evidence burden of establishing mutual error in the contract's creation. However, the court concluded that the insurance policy only obligated Liberty Mutual to pay a pro-rata share of the attorney's fees, and modified the attorney's fees award, determining that the policy entitled OES to attorney's fees totaling $168,695.96. View "Richard v. Anadarko Petroleum" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a dispute over a contract to perform flow-back services to improve the performance of an offshore natural-gas well when performance eventually required the use of a crane barge. At issue was the applicability of maritime or state law. The court agreed with the district court, applied the approach in Davis & Sons, Inc. v. Gulf Oil Corp., and concluded that the oral work order was the relevant contract and that it is a maritime contract. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Larry Doiron, Inc. v. Specialty Rental Tools & Supply" on Justia Law

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This case concerns BP's obligations under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement. Appellant is a company that filed Business Economic Loss claims under the settlement agreement on behalf of five of its stores. The CSSP and the Appeal Panel determined that the stores were not tourism businesses and denied the claims for failure to satisfy the causation requirement. In this consolidated appeal, appellant challenged the district court's denial of discretionary review. The court concluded that there was no abuse in discretion in classifying the stores under North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 441310 as automotive parts and accessories stores. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Claimant ID 100212278 v. BP Exploration & Production" on Justia Law

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Three publicly traded real estate companies (the Publics) and Pillar filed a declaratory judgment against Prime LLC, Prime Inc., and Hometown in state court, seeking a declaration that the Publics and Pillar were not the alter egos of Prime LLC and Prime Inc. Hometown removed to federal district court and filed the instant action against Prime LLC as well as Prime Inc., the Publics, Pillar, and individual defendants who served as officers or directors of Prime LLC, alleging, among other things, a claim for fraudulent transfer under the Texas Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (TUFTA), Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. 24.001-.013. On appeal, Hometown argues that the district court should not have dismissed its TUFTA claims, and that finding Prime LLC's Advisory Agreements were not assets under TUFTA was error. Determining that it has subject matter jurisdiction, the court held that contractual payments due during a required sixty-day notice period prior to termination of contractual rights constitute "assets" under TUFTA. Accordingly, the court reversed the dismissal of the TUFTA claims and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hometown 2006-1 1925 Valley View v. Prime Income Asset Management" on Justia Law

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Love Field airport is owned by the City and leased in part to Southwest Airlines. The City sought a declaration determining whether it must order Southwest to accommodate Delta at Love Field under the Lease Agreement or otherwise. Delta, Southwest, and the City filed competing motions for preliminary injunctions. The district court denied Southwest's motion and entered a preliminary injunction in favor of Delta essentially permitting Delta to continue operating five flights daily until a final decision on the merits. On appeal, Southwest argues that Delta is not a third party beneficiary and that the Lease Agreement does not require the accommodation Delta seeks. The court agreed with the district court that Delta and the City have shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits on the claim that the Lease Agreement requires Delta to be accommodated. In this case, the Lease Agreement plainly establishes a duty to accommodate by both Southwest and the City, and the scope of that duty is determined largely through the interpretation of language which the Lease Agreement itself leaves undefined. Interpreting such language, the district court found - and the court found persuasive - that Southwest owed the duty to accommodate Delta under these circumstances. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order terminating the City's motion as moot; rendered judgment granting the City's motion for a preliminary injunction and ordering the accommodation of Delta; and affirmed the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction for Southwest. View "City of Dallas v. Delta Air Lines" on Justia Law

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Centaurus and Grand View filed suit against Helix in Texas state court, alleging breach of contracts and requesting a declaratory judgment to determine rights under the Mutual Confidentiality Agreement (MCA). Helix then filed suit against Grand View and Centaurus in California federal court and removed the Texas suit to the federal court a quo. The district court granted Centaurus and Grand View's motion to remand to state court. The court affirmed, agreeing with the district court that it did not have jurisdiction because defendants had granted sole and exclusive jurisdiction to the state courts in the Forum Selection Clause of the MCA. View "Grand View PV Solar Two v. Helix Electric" on Justia Law