Articles Posted in Contracts

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in an action arising from a property insurance policy that Lexington issued to LWL to insure construction equipment that LWL leased from Sierra. The court held that the equitable lien doctrine did not apply to Sierra, who was not a party to the insurance policy, and Sierra did not have standing to sue Lexington. In this case, the agreement between Sierra and LWL did not require that LWL obtain insurance with a loss payable clause to Sierra, and the Lexington policy did not contain such a clause. View "Sierra Equipment, Inc. v. Lexington Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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This appeal stems from a long-running dispute between the parties over a contract regarding Akaushi cattle. The court held that sufficient evidence existed for the jury to find that HeartBrand suffered a cognizable injury from Bear Ranch's misrepresentation; the district court did not abuse its discretion when it exercised its "wide latitude in determining the admissibility" of a valuation expert's testimony; the district court did not abuse its discretion when it chose not to modify the injunction in April 2016 as there was no showing of a significant change in circumstances; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding $3.2 million to HeartBrand in attorney's fees. However, the court reversed the district court's award of $1,825,000 in exemplary damages to HeartBrand. Finally, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it set the Constructive Trust Threshold at $3,796 per head. View "Bear Ranch, LLC v. Heartbrand Beef, Inc." on Justia Law

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GE appealed the district court's partial grant of summary judgment and award of attorneys' fees in favor of its former employee and AmSpec in an action brought by GE against the employee and AmSpec, alleging that the employee concealed her intention to work for a competitor. The court held that the district court correctly held that there was no evidence that the non-solicitation agreement was breached. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to that claim. The court also affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the misappropriation of trade secrets claim, as well as the claims for illegal use of confidential information and breach of a common-law duty with respect to confidential information, which tracked the misappropriation claim. Furthermore, summary judgment was proper on the tortious-interference-with-prospective-business-relationships claim. However, the court held that the employer was not entitled to recover attorneys' fees where there was no evidence that when GE executed the non-solicitation agreement with her, GE knew the covenant was unreasonable, and she had not met the requirements of Texas Business and Commerce Code 15.51(c). Accordingly, the court vacated the award of attorneys' fees. View "GE Betz, Inc. v. Moffitt-Johnston" on Justia Law

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The Williams Parties brought suit against Fannie Mae and Wells Fargo, asserting claims against defendants for breach of contract premised on a violation of the notice terms in a Deed of Trust, violations of the Texas Property Code, and wrongful foreclosure. On appeal, the Williams Parties appealed the dismissal of their breach of contract claims against Fannie Mae and the grant of summary judgment in favor of Wells Fargo. The court held that the district court did not err in holding that Wells Fargo was not liable for breach of the Deed of Trust where the competent summary judgment evidence reflected that Wells Fargo was never a party to or an assignee of the Deed of Trust. Therefore, Wells Fargo had no liability and summary judgment for Wells Fargo was appropriate. The district court did not abuse its discretion by granting a motion for reconsideration and, on the merits, Fannie Mae's agreement in the deed of trust to give notice of foreclosure was independent of the Williams Parties' agreement under the note to pay monthly installments to satisfy the debt. Therefore, the court affirmed as to Wells Fargo, reversed as to the claim that Fannie Mae breached the deed of trust by failing to give notice, and remanded the claim against Fannie Mae for further proceedings. View "Williams v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Contracts

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FWP and its designees filed suit against Chesapeake and related entities to recover payment allegedly due under a provision of a Surface Use Agreement governing Chesapeake's use of FWP's land. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court determining that the payment provision was a covenant that ran with the surface of the land and that FWP accordingly forfeited the benefit of this covenant when it sold that land. Because FWP consequently forfeited its right to payment under this paragraph when it sold the surface of the land at issue to Chesapeake, the court did not address the district court's alternative holding. View "Fort Worth 4th Street Partners v. Chesapeake Energy Corp." on Justia Law

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Renasant Bank purchased a Financial Institution Bond (the Bond), which covers losses caused by employees only when certain criteria are met. A Mississippi statute, Miss. Code Ann. 81-5-15, requires bank employees to post fidelity bonds that protect against "acts of dishonesty." The Fifth Circuit held that, assuming arguendo that the Bond was governed by section 81-5-15, the Bond's terms were enforceable as written because they were consistent with the statute. The court agreed with the district court that the Bank failed to produce evidence necessary to support its breach-of-contract claim and thus was entitled to summary judgment. View "Renasant Bank v. St. Paul Mercury Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Contracts

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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

Posted in: Contracts

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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

Posted in: Contracts

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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

Posted in: Contracts

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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