Articles Posted in Contracts

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

Posted in: Contracts

by
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

by
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

Posted in: Contracts

by
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

by
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

by
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

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

by
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