Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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Defendants sought to vacate the district court's judgment stemming from defendants' breach of an agreement with plaintiffs to purchase, renovate, and sell Katrina-damaged properties. Plaintiffs contend that the district court should have required both defendants to pay the full $94,000 in damages. Defendants argued that the jurisdictional defects warrant vacating the judgment. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the judgment and posttrial order awarding attorneys' fees and costs as to Defendant Karry Causey. In regard to Defendant Garry Causey, the court remanded for the district court to engage in additional findings concerning the attempts to serve Garry. View "Norris v. Causey" on Justia Law

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After Exxon settled the underlying personal injury lawsuit, it sought reimbursement from ERS and ORIC, contending that ERS's contractual obligation to insure Exxon as an additional insured and the insurance policy issued by ORIC required ERS and ORIC to pay for the settlement of the suit and the cost of litigation. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment as to ERS's duty to pay the deductible; reversed the portion of the judgment pertaining to the interest award and remanded for calculation of a new interest award; vacated the portion of the judgment that held ORIC jointly and severally liable with ERS for the entire judgment and remanded for modification; reversed the denial of Exxon's attorney's fees for the initial appeal and remanded for determination of amounts; and affirmed the denial of Exxon's previously unrequested attorney's fees. View "ExxonMobil Corp. v. Electrical Reliability Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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SCA filed suit against Yahoo, alleging breach of contract because Yahoo failed to pay contractual cancellation fees. The court held that SCA's interpretation of the Cancellation Fees Provision of the Contingent Prize Contract was reasonable, and the Contract was not ambiguous because Yahoo failed to provide a reasonable alternate interpretation. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Yahoo and vacated its award to Yahoo; reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment to SCA and rendered judgment in favor of SCA; and dismissed as moot SCA's appeal of the district court's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(a) order. The court affirmed the district court's judgment as to Yahoo's counterclaims regarding (1) breach of the confidentiality provision in a previous agreement; and (2) breach of the Contract's coverage requirement. View "SCA Promotions, Inc. v. Yahoo!, Inc." on Justia Law

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GIC contracted with Freightplus to arrange for transport of a tugboat to Nigeria. Freightplus contracted with Yacht Path, who in turn contracted with IMC, as the vessel-operating common carrier. GIC filed suit against Freightplus when the tugboat did not discharge at the correct port, and Freightplus filed a third-party action against IMC. The court held that the non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) and the vessel-operating common carrier (VOCC) relationship may give rise to a claim for maritime tort indemnity to the extent articulated in this case. Because the district court correctly determined that Freightplus was operating as an NVOCC and because its conclusion that IMC was negligent was not clearly erroneous, the court upheld its determination that IMC was liable to Freightplus. The court agreed with the district court's determination that Freightplus was not entitled to recover attorneys' fees from IMC. Because Freightplus has not demonstrated that IMC intended to release it from liability for the unpaid freight, the court affirmed the district court's judgment in this regard. Finally, the district court erred in barring IMC from proceeding against the tugboat in rem. Accordingly, the court reversed as to this issue and affirmed in all other respects. View "Gic Services, LLC. v. Freightplus USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's claims relating to his mortgage and the foreclosure of his home. The court held that the district court did not err in determining that diversity jurisdiction exists in this case; the district court did not err in dismissing plaintiff's claims for lack of standing to foreclose, quiet title, and breach of contract given that each of those claims was based on the assignment being void; in light of the district court's reasoning and the circumstances of this case, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff leave to replead his promissory estoppel claim; and plaintiff waived his argument that the district court erred in denying his motion to amend. View "Bynane v. The Bank of New York Mellon" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against the condo owners association after the foreclosure sale of their condo unit, alleging common law claims for breach of contract, wrongful foreclosure, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of fiduciary duty, as well as violations of the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Texas Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (TFDCPA), and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (TDTPA). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on all claims, holding that regardless whether the district court abused its discretion, any evidentiary error the district court made was harmless. In this case, the issue whether the late fee increase was properly adopted by the Association was not dispositive of any claims, so it did not affect the outcome of the litigation and did not affect their substantial rights. The court also held that plaintiffs' could not maintain their suit for breaches of the Condominium Declaration when they have themselves been in default of the contract; there was no authority supporting plaintiffs' conclusion that an inaccurate balance included in a default notice constitutes a defect in the foreclosure proceedings; and plaintiffs failed to cite specific negligent misrepresentations by defendants. The court rejected plaintiffs' remaining claims. View "Mahmoud v. De Moss Owners Association, Inc." on Justia Law

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After a jury found that a staffing company violated the terms of the stock purchase agreement by which it had acquired another company, the district court entered a judgment against the staffing company for approximately $1.3 million in actual and liquidated damages. The Fifth Circuit affirmed and held that the staffing company's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence failed; the staffing company's argument that the liquidated damages clause was an illegal and unenforceable penalty provision failed because it forfeited the argument under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 and 50, as well as failed to establish on the merits that the clause provided for a penalty; the challenge to the amount of the liquidated damages award failed because the district court's calculation of the damages was supported by the language of the stock agreement; and challenges to the jury instructions were rejected. View "NewCSI, Inc. v. Staffing 360 Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law

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The rights that flow through a subrogation clause allow an insurer to seek reformation of a contract between its insured and a third party. After Associated paid the portion of the underlying settlement that was in excess of the Westfield policy, Associated sought reimbursement from Scottsdale, an insurer that issued a commercial umbrella policy to Alpha. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred in reading reformation’s privity requirement to necessitate a specific connection to the Alpha-Scottsdale insurance policy. Rather, privity in Texas focuses on the relationship to a party. In this case, the subrogation clause in the Associated-Alpha policy provided that connection. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Associated International Insurance Co. v. Scottsdale Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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This appeal involved a dispute between the parties over the Monster Jam Merchandise License Agreement. Traxxas argued that it clearly owed no additional royalties under the plain language of the contract, while FMS insisted that the plain language showed Traxxas owed royalties on the entire Stampede line of RC vehicles. The Fifth Circuit held that Traxxas sufficiently preserved its interlocutory legal issue by raising its argument in Rule 50 motions following a jury trial on the merits, and therefore the court had jurisdiction to consider Traxxas's appeal. The court also held that the invited error doctrine did not apply here; the district court properly determined that the Agreement was ambiguous and denied Traxxas's summary judgment and Rule 50 motions; and, under New York law, the district court appropriately left the interpretation of this ambiguous contract to the jury. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Feld Motor Sports, Inc. v. Traxxas, L.P." on Justia Law

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MHA filed suit against defendants, two former employees, based on the alleged breach of non-compete and non-solicitation provisions in its employment contracts, tortious interference, and theft of computer files. The Fifth Circuit vacated the award of exemplary damages to MHA because there was insufficient evidence to support the award; affirmed the district court's evidentiary rulings; affirmed the district court's denial of a motion for judgment as a matter of law where the jury's verdict was consistent; affirmed the district court's take-nothing judgment in favor of Defendant Bowden; affirmed the award of attorneys' fees; and affirmed the district court's denial of equitable remedies. View "Merritt Hawkins & Assocs. v. Gresham" on Justia Law