Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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The Fifth Circuit certified two questions regarding the "unpaid commission due" under the Texas Sales Representative Act to the Supreme Court of Texas: (1) What timing standard should courts use to determine the existence and amount of any "unpaid commissions due" under the treble damages provision of TEX. BUS. & COM. CODE 54.004(1)? (2) May a plaintiff recover reasonable attorney's fees and costs under TEX. BUS. & COM. CODE 54.004(2), if the plaintiff does not receive a treble damages award under TEX. BUS. & COM. CODE 54.004(1), and under what conditions? View "JCB, Inc. v. Horsburgh & Scott Co." on Justia Law

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Under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, a defendant is not eligible for fees when the plaintiff obtains a dismissal without prejudice because such a dismissal does not establish the winner of the dispute. The Fifth Circuit held that taking the lead early in the lawsuit did not make defendants eligible for fees, nor did the trial court's postponement of the litigation when it allowed plaintiff to dismiss the federal suit without prejudice. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of fees. View "Dunster Live, LLC v. LoneStar Logos Management Co." on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from RPD's purchase of a patent license from multiple debtors in bankruptcy sales of their estates. Tech Pharm alleged that RPD did not have rights under the license to Tech Pharm's patented invention. The bankruptcy court held that RPD did not have rights and the district court agreed. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that the patent license was a rejected executory contract and could not have been transferred by the bankruptcy sales in question. In this case, because the license agreement was an executory contract deemed rejected by operation of law, RPD could not and did not acquire the license from any of the Grapevine, Western Pennsylvania, and Waco estates—and no bankruptcy court order held otherwise. Finally, the court held that the bankruptcy court did not exceed its authority in addressing RPD's rights through purchase of the OnSite machines, and did not err in reading the license agreement to require that third parties operate OnSite machines in the same locations where they were placed at the time of sale. View "RPD Holdings, LLC v. Tech Pharmacy Services" on Justia Law

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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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Brand Services appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Irex on Brand Services's Louisiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act (LUTSA) claim and its common law conversion claim. The Fifth Circuit affirmed as to the common law conversion claim based on trade secrets. The court held that LUTSA preempts a common-law claim for conversion of trade secrets, but does not preempt a common-law conversion claim for confidential information that is not a trade secret. In this case, the court reversed as to the LUTSA claim and Brand Services's common law claim for conversion of allegedly non-trade secret information outside the definition of a trade secret without reaching the merits of that claim. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Brand Services, LLC. v. Irex Corp." on Justia Law

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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

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This appeal stemmed from a dispute between Jaguar and Autobahn concerning chargebacks of around $300,000 in incentive payments the distributor had made to the dealer. The Board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles declared the chargebacks invalid, and Jaguar exercised its statutory right of review in the state appellate court. During the pending of the appeal, Autobahn filed suit for damages based on the Board's findings, claiming violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and breach of contract. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Autobahn and remanded, holding that Autobahn's antecedent failure to exhaust divested the district court of power to decide the claim when it did. View "Autobahn Imports, L.P. v. Jaguar Land Rover North America" on Justia Law

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Federal law does not prevent a bona fide shareholder from exercising its right to vote against a bankruptcy petition just because it is also an unsecured creditor. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court's dismissal of the bankruptcy petition as unauthorized. The court held that, under these circumstances, the issue of corporate authority to file a bankruptcy petition was left to state law. In this case, the debtor was a Delaware corporation, governed by that state's General Corporation Law, and the court found nothing that would nullify the shareholder's right to vote against the bankruptcy petition. View "Franchise Services of North America, Inc. v. United States Trustee" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of judgment as a matter of law to defendants, concluding that federal law preempted ThermoTek's unfair competition claim and that ThermoTek failed to prove its damages for fraud. ThermoTek designs, manufacturers, and sells the VascuTherm system, which consists of a medical device and specially designed wraps that provide thermal and compression therapy. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in reaching the preemption defense on the merits. On the merits, the court held that federal copyright and patent laws preempted the unfair-competition-by-misappropriation claim. View "Motion Medical Technologies, LLC v. Thermotek, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to enjoin state court civil proceedings until the conclusion of the government's criminal investigation, or for a period of one year, whichever first occurred. The court held that the district court had authority to enjoin the state court proceedings where the general prohibition against federal courts granting injunctions to stay state court proceedings did not apply when the United States, as here, seeks the injunction. The company in this case was pursuing a civil lawsuit in state court seeking, among other things, return or ownership of electronic devices currently held by federal investigators. If not enjoined, further proceedings in state court, including civil discovery, could undermine the federal criminal investigation into the company. View "In re: Grand Jury Subpoena" on Justia Law