Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Contracts

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Baker Hughes filed suit against UE for breach of contract and express and implied warranties after a containerized air booster compressor manufactured by UE ruptured and injured a Baker Hughes contractor. The express warranty pertinent to the claims at issue was contained in section 28 of the LOGIC Terms. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of UE, holding that this was a claim of breach of warranty, not breach of contract; the express warranty for defects correction expired, taking with it Baker Hughes's remedy for the defective booster; the implied warranties were displaced by Section 28's express warranty and by Section 4.3's complete allocation of responsibility for the boosters' design to Baker Hughes; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding monetary sanctions against Baker Hughes in light of its delay in shipping the valve at issue. View "Baker Hughes Process & Pipeline Services, LLC v. UE Compression, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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After plaintiff disputed discounts applied by MultiPlan under his agreement with PHCS to charges for services he provided to patients that were covered by workers' compensation insurance, he filed suit against PHCS and Multiplan. Plaintiff's claims for civil conspiracy and breach of contract proceeded to trial and were subsequently dismissed after the district court granted defendants' motions for judgment as a matter of law. The Fifth Circuit held that plaintiff failed to show that the district court erred in determining that plaintiff did not establish an underlying "unlawful purpose" or unlawful activity on which to base his civil conspiracy claim. However, the court held that a reasonable jury could find based on the evidence presented that defendants breached the parties' agreement, and thus the district court erred in granting defendants' renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law as to the breach of contract claim. The court upheld the district court's ruling prohibiting additional evidence on punitive damages and the issue of punitive damage from reaching the jury. Finally, the court concluded that the district court's ruling prohibiting Attorney Gordon from participating in trial on plaintiff's behalf did not provide grounds for disturbing any of its judgments. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "MultiPlan, Inc. v. Holland" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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Brock filed suit against a former employee for violating his employment agreement's non-compete provision and requested a preliminary injunction. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the injunction, holding that the agreement was not geographically overbroad. In this case, when defendant signed the agreement, he knew that he could be prohibited from working in the identified parishes, and that the restriction was the only one the district court enforced following reformation. The court also held that the district court did not err in admitting parol evidence and in determining that the parties' intent as to the meaning of subsection 7.1(a) of the agreement regarding where defendant needed to be working for Apache in order to violate the provision; the district court's reliance on evidence of customer solicitation was unnecessary to the finding of breach; and thus the district court did not err in finding a likelihood of success on the merits. In this case, defendant has not shown that the district court abused its discretion in finding the balance of harm and public interest weigh in Brock's favor; the burden to plaintiff was minimal; and the injunction did not disserve the public. View "Brock Services, LLC v. Rogillio" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit certified the following question of law to the Supreme Court of Texas: Is a lender entitled to equitable subrogation, where it failed to correct a curable constitutional defect in the loan documents under section 50 of the Texas Constitution? The court also held that a secondary lender is not entitled to contractual subrogation without a valid contract. In this case, without a signature, Freddie Mac has no ability to enforce the contract itself or its subrogation provision. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Freddie Mac's contractual subrogation claim. View "Zepeda v. Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit certified the following question to the Supreme Court of Mississippi: Is the waiver of subrogation between the school district and Sullivan Enterprises limited to damages to the Work or does it also apply to damages to non-Work property? View "Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. v. Fowlkes Plumbing, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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After a successful plugging and abandonment operation of three offshore oil and gas wells, Apache sought payment from its non-operator partner, W&T. The jury subsequently awarded Apache $43.2 million for W&T's breach of the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of W&T's motion for judgment as a matter of law, holding that Louisiana Civil Code Article 2003 did not bar Apache's entitlement to damages. The court affirmed the district court's denial of W&T's motion for summary judgment, holding that the jury needed to resolve the question of the parties' intent in light of the ambiguity of Section 6.2 of the JOA. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's denial of W&T's motion for entry of judgment and motion for a new trial, because W&T was not entitled to an offset. View "Apache Deepwater, LLC v. W & T Offshore, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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After a group of oil companies agreed to cooperatively develop oil prospects, EnerQuest acquired an interest in the specified area after the agreement took effect, but then refused to offer a share of those interests to the other parties. Other parties to the agreement filed suit against EnerQuest, alleging that it breached the contract by refusing to offer a pro-rata share of the newly acquired interests. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment and rendered judgment for EnerQuest, holding that EnerQuest did not breach the agreement. The court held that, although the contract requires that the parties share interests acquired within the area of mutual interest (AMI), the contract excludes interests already owned by parties from the AMI. Therefore, what was excluded from the AMI at the outset may never be included without a new agreement. View "Glassell Non-Operated Interests Ltd. v. Enerquest Oil & Gas, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Allstate and its agent for breach of contract after Allstate refused to pay a claim for flood damage. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of Allstate, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on the breach of contract claim because the claim was time-barred. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying petitioner's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) motion. View "Cohen v. Allstate Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a dispute over who was liable for damages from an oil rig that caught fire and exploded. Statoil operated the rig, Halliburton fracked at the rig site, and Ironshore insured Statoil. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred when it held that Ironshore waived its subrogation rights under the Master Services Agreement between Statoil and Halliburton. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's arbitration ruling in appeal No. 17-20678. However, the court held that the district court correctly determined that it lacked personal jurisdiction over Ironshore. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's personal jurisdiction ruling in appeal No. 18-20239. View "Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. v. Ironshore Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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After a jury found that Westcoast was liable for breaching a contract it entered with RCS, Westcoast raised claims of error regarding the finding of a bad-faith breach, the language of the verdict form, and the award of attorney fees. In this case, the jury had awarded RCS $304,189 on the bad faith breach of contract claim, $66,450 under the state Prompt Payment Act, $130,517.60 in attorney fees, and $400 in costs. The Fifth Circuit vacated and remanded the penalty amount determined under the Louisiana Prompt Payment Act, holding that the jury awarded damages exceeding those permitted under the clear language of the Act. The court also vacated and remanded the award of attorney fees for reconsideration of the amount after the statutory penalty was reconsidered. View "Alonso v. Westcoast Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts