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

Articles Posted in Contracts
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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment of dismissal without prejudice based on forum non conveniens. The district court enforced a disputed forum selection clause requiring litigation in the 19th Judicial District Court in and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana.The court held that the forum selection clause contained in Section 107.01 of the 2006 Standard Specifications governs the dispute at issue, is mandatory, and is enforceable. The court also held that appellant has waived any argument that public-interest factors require retention of this suit in the federal court system. View "PCL Civil Constructors, Inc. v. Arch Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from a contract dispute between Pizza Inn and defendant, a franchisee of Pizza Inn. Defendant held an option to renew but failed to timely notify Pizza Inn that he wished to do so; Pizza Inn did not honor the tardy notice of renewal and did not renew; and a jury subsequently awarded damages to defendant after finding that Pizza Inn breached the contract. The district court upheld the verdict and awarded defendant attorneys' fees.The Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that the district court incorrectly applied the equitable-intervention doctrine. The court held that, because strict compliance with the agreement does not result in unconscionable hardship, equitable intervention is inapplicable. The court rejected defendant's asserted hardships: forfeiture of a portion of his initial investment, forfeiture of future profits, and shuttering a Pizza Inn franchise store. The court also held that the district court erred in awarding attorneys' fees. The court rendered judgment in favor of Pizza Inn. View "Pizza Inn, Inc. v. Clairday" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts
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A federal whistleblower statute, 41 U.S.C. 4712, does not render unenforceable an arbitration agreement between plaintiff and his former employer, Intratek. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court correctly enforced the arbitration agreement between plaintiff and Intratek. However, the court held that the district court erred in compelling arbitration of claims not covered by that agreement. Finally, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying plaintiff's motion to amend the complaint. Therefore, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Robertson v. Intratek Computer, Inc." on Justia Law

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After plaintiffs contracted with Regions Bank for it to manage, as their agent, their mineral interests in a large tract of land, Regions signed a lease extension with a third party, intending to extend the lease for only a small part of the property. However, the lease was unlimited and applied to the entire tract of land. Region's unintentional mistake cost plaintiffs tens of millions of dollars.The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' action for breach of contract against Regions, holding that Louisiana's ten year statute of limitations period for contract claims applies to plaintiffs' suit. In this case, plaintiffs alleged that Regions breached their contracts by acting negligently. The court stated that, under Louisiana law, they had the choice to sue Regions for this alleged breach in tort or in contract. Because plaintiffs chose contract, their claim is subject to the ten year statute of limitations. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Franklin v. Regions Bank" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts
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D2 filed suit for breach of contract, quantum meruit, violations of the Texas prompt pay statute, and to foreclose on a statutory and constitutional lien. Thompson, in turn, alleged that D2 breached the excavation contract between the parties. The district court held in D2's favor on all claims and ordered Thompson to pay for unpaid work and for "excess" excavating work, as well as interest and attorneys' fees.The Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not clearly err by finding that management of the site was so deficient that D2 had to regrade the same areas as many as six times and was unable to complete its work in other parts of the site, justifying D2's cessation of work. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment for the $81,068 in unpaid work and the related prompt payment statute and lien remedies for that breach of contract. However, the court held that neither breach of contract nor quantum meruit allows D2 to recover for "excavation of unanticipated excess soil." Thus, the court reversed the district court's judgment of $257,588.53 for the "excavation of unanticipated excess soil" and rendered judgment for Thompson on those breach of contract and quantum meruit claims. The court remanded for modification of the judgment. View "D2 Excavating, Inc. v. Thompson Thrift Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal, for failure to state a claim, of UIG's complaint alleging claims for fraud and detrimental reliance. UIG obtained a loan from Pedestal Bank and Wolters Kluwer provided written certification that the property subject to the loan was not in a flood hazard area. When the loan came up for renewal, the bank informed UIG that the property was in a special flood hazard area and required flood insurance. Because the company was unable to afford flood insurance, the bank foreclosed on the property.After determining that it had jurisdiction over the appeal, the court held that the district court did not err in ruling that UIG failed to state a claim for fraud. In this case, the only relevant fact that UIG has alleged beyond what little it alleges "on information and belief" is that Wolters Kluwer provided "written certification that the property subject to the loan was not in a flood hazard area that required insurance under FEMA regulations pursuant to the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973." The court held that this fact alone can ground nothing more than speculation as to the cause of the error. Likewise, UIG's claim of detrimental reliance failed. View "Umbrella Investment Group, LLC v. Wolters Kluwer Financial Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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After Buyers purchased two care facilities from Sellers, Buyers filed suit alleging that Sellers made fraudulent or, at best, negligent misrepresentations in the parties' sale agreements. Buyers also brought claims against Sellers' representatives in their individual capacities.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Buyers' claims with prejudice for failure to state a claim. The court held that the district court properly dismissed Buyers' non-fraud claims for negligent misrepresentation and breach of contractual representations and warranties because these claims were subject to arbitration. In regard to the remaining claims, the court held that Buyers have not adequately pleaded a misrepresentation with respect to both facilities and thus they failed to meet the particularity requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b). Therefore, because there was no misrepresentation, there was no fraud. View "Colonial Oaks Assisted Living Lafayette, LLC v. Hannie Development, Inc." on Justia Law

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JDC sought a preliminary injunction against its former employee for breach of a non-compete agreement. The district court denied the motion for a preliminary injunction in all its parts and with no concessions.The Fifth Circuit held that the district court, after acknowledging the agreement to be overbroad, erred in declining to adjudicate reformation of the agreement. In this case, the district court should have considered reformation of the agreement in the process of deciding the preliminary injunction motion. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded to the district court to allow relevant evidence and argument from the parties concerning reformation. Furthermore, the court noted that the district court should then decide what reformation, if any, would be reasonable under Texas law, and proceed to adjudicate the preliminary injunction motion in the light of its findings on reformation. View "Calhoun v. Jack Doheny Companies, Inc." on Justia Law

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Six Dimensions filed suit against a former employee and a competitor, Perficient, alleging claims for breach of contracts, unfair competition, and misappropriation of trade secrets.The Fifth Circuit reversed the part of the judgment holding that the employee breached an employment contract and owed damages to Six Dimensions. The court held that the district court abused its discretion in denying the employee an opportunity to extend the arguments she had already made about the 2014 Agreement and have them apply to the 2015 Agreement. However, the court held that the district court did not reversibly err in interpreting California law and concluding that California's strict antipathy towards restraint of trade of any kind in California Business and Professions Code section 16600 voids the nonsolicitation provision here. The court also found no error in the district court's refusal to apply California's Unfair Competition Law, and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to find the jury's verdict contrary to the weight of the great evidence as to the misappropriation claim. Therefore, the court otherwise affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Six Dimensions, Inc. v. Perficient, Inc." on Justia Law

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After Acadian entered into two contracts with QT to perform lab testing, Acadian filed suit alleging that QT breached both agreements. The jury ultimately awarded Acadian damages for QT's breach of both agreements and both parties appealed.In regard to QT's contentions, the court held that the district court properly granted summary judgment on QT's liability for breaching the agreements and the district court did not err by excluding evidence about Acadian's business dealings. The court also held that Acadian's request for the entry of judgment of a higher damages figure is meritless. The court explained that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide several ways for a federal litigant to seek a different damages figure than that which the jury awards, and Acadian chose exactly none of them. Therefore, by failing to file any motions in the district court, Acadian forfeited its ability to seek appellate review of the jury verdict. View "Acadian Diagnostic Laboratories, LLC v. Quality Toxicology, LLC" on Justia Law