Articles Posted in Business Law

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Brand Services appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Irex on Brand Services's Louisiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act (LUTSA) claim and its common law conversion claim. The Fifth Circuit affirmed as to the common law conversion claim based on trade secrets. The court held that LUTSA preempts a common-law claim for conversion of trade secrets, but does not preempt a common-law conversion claim for confidential information that is not a trade secret. In this case, the court reversed as to the LUTSA claim and Brand Services's common law claim for conversion of allegedly non-trade secret information outside the definition of a trade secret without reaching the merits of that claim. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Brand Services, LLC. v. Irex Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

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IAS filed suit against defendant and his company, alleging claims of fraud, fraudulent inducement, fraud by nondisclosure, and breach of contract. Defendant filed a counter suit for breach of his employment contract with IAS. The Fifth Circuit reversed the dismissal of IAS's fraudulent inducement claim where the district court's assessment that there was no fraud did not appear to have been based on any assessment of the evidence presented at trial. The court affirmed the judgment in favor of defendants on IAS's breach of contract claim where the district court's finding that IAS did not suffer any damages as a result of any breach of the asset purchase agreement was plausible in light of the record as a whole. Finally, the court vacated the severance pay award in favor of defendant because, even assuming that defendant was terminated for reasons other than cause, he failed to satisfy the second condition precedent to his receipt of severance pay: execution of the required release and waiver. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "IAS Service Group, LLC v. Jim Buckley & Assoc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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This appeal stemmed from a dispute between Jaguar and Autobahn concerning chargebacks of around $300,000 in incentive payments the distributor had made to the dealer. The Board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles declared the chargebacks invalid, and Jaguar exercised its statutory right of review in the state appellate court. During the pending of the appeal, Autobahn filed suit for damages based on the Board's findings, claiming violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and breach of contract. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Autobahn and remanded, holding that Autobahn's antecedent failure to exhaust divested the district court of power to decide the claim when it did. View "Autobahn Imports, L.P. v. Jaguar Land Rover North America" on Justia Law

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Federal law does not prevent a bona fide shareholder from exercising its right to vote against a bankruptcy petition just because it is also an unsecured creditor. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court's dismissal of the bankruptcy petition as unauthorized. The court held that, under these circumstances, the issue of corporate authority to file a bankruptcy petition was left to state law. In this case, the debtor was a Delaware corporation, governed by that state's General Corporation Law, and the court found nothing that would nullify the shareholder's right to vote against the bankruptcy petition. View "Franchise Services of North America, Inc. v. United States Trustee" on Justia Law

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Federal law does not prevent a bona fide shareholder from exercising its right to vote against a bankruptcy petition just because it is also an unsecured creditor. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court's dismissal of the bankruptcy petition as unauthorized. The court held that, under these circumstances, the issue of corporate authority to file a bankruptcy petition was left to state law. In this case, the debtor was a Delaware corporation, governed by that state's General Corporation Law, and the court found nothing that would nullify the shareholder's right to vote against the bankruptcy petition. View "Franchise Services of North America, Inc. v. United States Trustee" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of judgment as a matter of law to defendants, concluding that federal law preempted ThermoTek's unfair competition claim and that ThermoTek failed to prove its damages for fraud. ThermoTek designs, manufacturers, and sells the VascuTherm system, which consists of a medical device and specially designed wraps that provide thermal and compression therapy. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in reaching the preemption defense on the merits. On the merits, the court held that federal copyright and patent laws preempted the unfair-competition-by-misappropriation claim. View "Motion Medical Technologies, LLC v. Thermotek, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to enjoin state court civil proceedings until the conclusion of the government's criminal investigation, or for a period of one year, whichever first occurred. The court held that the district court had authority to enjoin the state court proceedings where the general prohibition against federal courts granting injunctions to stay state court proceedings did not apply when the United States, as here, seeks the injunction. The company in this case was pursuing a civil lawsuit in state court seeking, among other things, return or ownership of electronic devices currently held by federal investigators. If not enjoined, further proceedings in state court, including civil discovery, could undermine the federal criminal investigation into the company. View "In re: Grand Jury Subpoena" on Justia Law

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Claimants appealed the denial of civil claims under the Settlement Program that was established following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Claimants submitted Individual Economic Loss (IEL) claims for lost wages as employees of their architectural firm. The firm had already received a Business and Economic Loss (BEL) award under the Settlement Program. The Fifth Circuit held that the BEL framework, by compensating the business for the owners' lost wages through the fixed-cost designation of their wages, precluded compensating those same owners for the same wages through an IEL claim. Because the Settlement Program did not contemplate the requested compensation, the court affirmed the judgment. View "In Re: Deepwater Horizon" on Justia Law

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ASARCO filed suit against MRI, challenging MRI's refusal to bring ASARCO back into a partnership in a Montana copper mine. MRI argued that ASARCO's decisions during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing prevent it from suing for reinstatement. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of MRI's motion for summary judgment on preclusion and estoppel grounds. The court held that the district court correctly determined that ASARCO was not precluded from bringing its breach of contract claim and the claim was not barred by res judicata. The court explained that the claim was contingent on future events and thus ASARCO could not have brought it during the adversary proceeding. The court also held that ASARCO's disclosure of the right to reinstate, though scant, was sufficient. Finally, the court left it to the district court to decide in the first instance the nature of the provision and whether, if it is executory, the ride-through doctrine applies. View "ASARCO v. Montana Resources" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's order holding Crystal and two of its officers jointly and severally liable for a payment that Crystal received pursuant to the BP settlement. The district court granted a clawback motion without a hearing, holding that there was no genuine dispute of material fact that Crystal was a failed business under the terms of the settlement agreement and that Crystal's sworn statement to the contrary constituted fraud. The Fifth Circuit held that there was no genuine dispute of material fact that Crystal materially misrepresented itself as an ongoing business when it filed its claim in 2012; Crystal either knew or should have known that it was a failed business when it filed its claim in 2012; and Crystal lacked standing to champion the rights of its officers because they have not sought to appeal the judgment of the district court and because Crystal failed to identify a genuine obstacle preventing the officers from filing their own appeal. View "In Re: Deepwater Horizon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law