Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Cardtronics in a breach of contract action alleging that Cardtronics failed to correct certain account information, which resulted in approximately $250,000 of misdirected funds. The court held that the district court misread the contract and that Cardtronics was obligated to use correct account information after receiving updated Terminal Set-up Forms to ensure proper set up of Star Financial's ATMs. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to determine in the first instance whether Cardtronics breached its obligation under the contract and the appropriate damages, if any. View "Star Financial Services, Inc. v. Cardtronics USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment in favor of Western in an action alleging breach of three personal guarantees. In this case, defendant signed the guarantee agreements in conjunction with a real estate development project and Western financed the project. Western filed suit against defendant after the borrowers defaulted on the underlying loans and Western foreclosed on the property. The court held that the district court correctly identified the governing law; the two-year limitations period in TEX. PROP. CODE 51.003(a) is procedural and applied insofar as it barred Western's claim for recovery of unpaid debt under the Construction Loan; the district court shall evaluate on remand whether the Mezzanine Loan's promissory note waived notice of acceleration, and in turn, shall examine the ultimate timeliness of the Mezzanine Guarantee claim and its constituent parts under the four-year limitations period; the Completion Guarantee claim was timely; and the court upheld that district court's denial of Western's attorney’s fees and post-foreclosure construction costs. View "Western-Southern Life Assurance Co. v. Kaleh" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit considered this case en banc to modify the criteria set forth in Davis & Sons, Inc. v. Gulf Oil Corp. for determining whether a contract for performance of specialty services to facilitate the drilling or production of oil or gas on navigable waters was maritime. The court adopted a simpler, more straightforward test consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Kirby for making this determination. The court adopted a two-prong test to determine whether a contract in this context was maritime: First, was the contract one to provide services to facilitate the drilling or production of oil and gas on navigable waters? Second, if the answer to the above question was "yes," did the contract provide or do the parties expect that a vessel will play a substantial role in the completion of the contract? Applying the new test to this case, the court held that the contract was nonmaritime and controlled by Louisiana law, which barred indemnity. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for LDI and granted summary judgment for STS. View "Larry Doiron, Inc. v. Specialty Rental Tools & Supply" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Provident on breach-of-contract and tortious-breach-of-contract claims stemming from two disability insurance policies that Provident issued to plaintiff. The Fifth Circuit held that plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to raise a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether his disability resulted from injury and arthritis, in which case he would be entitled to lifelong benefits. Therefore, the court reversed the grant of summary judgment as to the breach-of-contract claim. Even if plaintiff had not waived his claim for punitive damages based on the theory that Provident tortiously breached the contract, he failed to offer evidence showing that Provident lacked an arguable reason for administering his claim under the sickness provisions. Accordingly, the court affirmed as to this issue. View "Cox v. Provident Life & Accident Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Mainali filed suit against Covington for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, and violations of the Texas Insurance Code and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Covington on all of Mainali's claims. The court rejected Mainali's contention that the appraisal award was incomplete because it excluded damage to items covered by the policy where Mainali cited nothing in the record to show that these items were not included. The court also held that Covington did not violate the Prompt Payment of Claims Act where Covington was not trying to avoid payment of the claim; it was invoking a contractually agreed to mechanism for assessing the amount it owed. View "Mainali Corp. v. Covington Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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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