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

Articles Posted in Contracts

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Debtor brought an adversary proceeding against Kestrel for breach of contract, alleging that Kestrel failed to pay for services owed that debtor provided Kestrel to help it collateralize a corporate debt offering with life settlements. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment upholding the bankruptcy court's holding that the contract was voidable because debtor failed to register as an investment adviser in violation of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The court held that debtor contracted with Kestrel to advise it about life settlements, and the life settlements contemplated in the origination agreement were investment contracts within the meaning of the Act. View "Living Benefits Asset Management v. Kestrel Aircraft Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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In this action involving a Texas mortgage dispute, the Fifth Circuit held that there was ambiguity in the contract's escrow provisions and thus the district court erred by granting summary judgment to defendants on claims arising from that ambiguity. The court noted that, at this stage, it was premature to conclude that defendants were entitled to their foreclosure counterclaim. Therefore, the court vacated the foreclosure ruling and remanded for reconsideration. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants on the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act claim, and the district court's judgment on the Texas Debt Collection Practices Act claim. View "Wease v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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Volvo filed suit against defendant for breach of contract after he defaulted on payments under eight separate promissory notes. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Volvo, holding that Mississippi Code 15-1-23 did not bar Volvo from bringing deficiency claims on Notes 001–004. The court held that the most reasonable interpretation of section 15-1-23, when applied to the facts of this case, was that the sale of all property securing a note must be complete to trigger the statute of limitations. The court also affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend the judgment, holding that Mississippi Code 75-9-615(d)(1) and (d)(2), section 75-9-616(a) and (c), and section 75-9-617(a) were not determinative in this case. View "Volvo Financial Services v. Williamson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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IberiaBank filed suit against defendant in state court under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), seeking a declaratory judgment that IberiaBank was not required to pay defendant, a former employee, his success bonus. After the parties agreed to close arbitration and pursue claims in federal court, the district court granted summary judgment on some claims and, at a bench trial, a magistrate judge resolved the remaining claims. Both parties appealed. The Fifth Circuit held that the trial court did not clearly err by concluding that defendant breached the Change-in-Control Severance Agreement; that IberiaBank did not breach its employment agreement with defendant; and that defendant violated the CFAA because there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court's finding that defendant lacked authorization to delete IberiaBank files. The court declined to resolve whether there was a Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act violation in this case and remanded for the trial court to consider the claim. The court held that the district court correctly held that IberiaBank's litigation behavior did not demonstrate actual malice. Finally, the court affirmed the rulings on attorneys' fees. View "IberiaBank v. Broussard" on Justia Law

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Conn Credit filed suit against TF Loan for breach of contract and TF Loan counterclaimed for breach. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's judgment in favor of Conn, holding that Conn's representations and warranties in Section 8.5 of the Sale Agreement were false because Conn's failure to refund canceled retail service agreement (RSA) accounts violated Section 1304.159(c) of the Texas Occupations Code. Therefore, Conn did not satisfy the condition precedent in Section 10.2, and its claim for breach of contract failed. The court also held that the district court erred as a matter of Texas law by imposing a prejudice requirement on TF Loan; Conn failed to show that anything in the Sale Agreement imposed a materiality requirement on the Section 10.2 condition; Conn failed to show that TF Loan waived the condition precedent in Section 10.2; and Conn's remaining claims failed. Finally, the court held that TF Loan was entitled to repurchase of accounts in the Bulk Sale and Deliveries One and Two with canceled RSAs. View "Conn Credit I, LP v. TF Loanco III, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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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 the parties' dispute over Lone Star's proposed adjustments to a Revenue Calculation that provided payment to Sunbelt. The arbitrator agreed with Lone Star's upward judgment to the revenue attributable to its former customers, but reformed the contract after concluding that the parties had made a mutual mistake when their agreement listed the revenue target for the former Lone Star clients. The court affirmed and remanded for reconsideration of the mutual mistake claim. The court held that, because the parties did not agree in either the asset purchase agreement or the engagement letter to have the arbitrator decide reformation, the court must decide the issue. View "Hebbronville Lone Star Rentals, LLC v. Sunbelt Rentals Industrial Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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A general construction contractor, S&P, filed suit against its secondary insurance provider, US Fire, after US Fire refused to cover damages S&P incurred when a courthouse construction project went awry. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to US Fire, holding that US Fire's policy allowed it to count the arbitration agreements as "Other Insurance." The court explained that an indemnity agreement fell under the plain language of the "Other Insurance" provision of US Fire's policy because it was a mechanism by which an insured arranged for funding of legal liabilities for which US Fire's policy also provided coverage. Under the reasoning of RSR Corp. v. International Insurance Co., 612 F.3d 851 (5th Cir. 2010), settlement proceeds resulting from an indemnity agreement also counted as "Other Insurance." The court also held that S&P failed to meet its burden to show allocation of the settlement proceeds between covered and noncovered damages. View "Satterfield and Pontikes Construction v. US Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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A Himalaya Clause that protects downstream carriers from suit by a cargo owner does not, in and of itself, limit the cargo owner's ability to receive the recovery to which it is entitled. After Royal SMIT's transformers were damaged during shipment from the Netherlands to Louisiana, Royal SMIT and its insurers filed suit against the carriers with whom the intermediary had contracted. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the carriers, holding that the through bill of lading’s Himalaya Clause protected downstream carriers from being sued by Royal. The court rejected Royal's claims that there was a material issue of fact as to whether the parties agreed to be bound by the Himalaya Clause and held that Royal failed to articulate a basis for overriding the clear terms of the through bill of lading. View "Royal SMIT Transformers BV v. Onego Shipping & Chartering, BV" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for an insurer, in an action seeking a declaratory judgment that the insurer owed no coverage under a commercial property insurance policy. The insured then counterclaimed for declaratory judgment, breach of the insurance contract, and violations of the Texas Insurance Code. The court held that the insured failed to meet its burden to offer evidence that would allow a trier of fact to segregate covered losses from non-covered losses. Therefore, because the insured failed to meet its burden to show what portion, if any, of the claimed damage occurred during the coverage period, the insurer was entitled to summary judgment on its claim seeking declaratory judgment. The insured's counterclaims failed for the same reason. View "Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London v. Lowen Valley View, LLC" on Justia Law