Justia Business Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
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The Supreme Court of Texas answered two certified questions, holding that the time for determining the existence and amount of unpaid commission due under Tex. Bus. & Com. Code section 54.001(1) is the time the jury or trial court determines the liability of the defendant, whether at trial or through another dispositive trial-court process such as a summary judgment; and that a plaintiff may recover attorney's fees and costs under section 54.004(2) even if the plaintiff does not receive treble damages, if the factfinder determines that the fees and costs were reasonably incurred under the circumstances. The Fifth Circuit held that CPTS was not entitled to treble damages, and the district court was thus correct to grant summary judgment to Horsburgh on the treble damages claim. In this case, there were no unpaid commissions due at the time of judgment, because Horsburgh had already paid all of its outstanding commissions, plus interest. The court also held that CPTS was eligible for attorney's fees simply by virtue of Horsburgh's breach. Therefore, the district court correctly concluded that CPTS was not entitled to treble damages, but erred by granting summary judgment to Horsburgh without awarding CPTS reasonable attorney's fees and costs. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "JCB, Inc. v. The Horsburgh & Scott Co." on Justia Law

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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

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The Fifth Circuit granted a petition for panel rehearing and vacated the original opinion, substituting this opinion certifying a question to the Supreme Court of Texas: Is the Texas Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act's "good faith" defense against fraudulent transfer clawbacks, as codified at Tex. Bus. & Com. Code 24.009(a), available to a transferee who had inquiry notice of the fraudulent behavior, did not conduct a diligent inquiry, but who would not have been reasonably able to discover that fraudulent activity through diligent inquiry? View "Janvey v. GMAG, LLC" on Justia Law

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After JME filed five claims for compensation with the Settlement Program, the Settlement Program determined that JME was a "failed business" under the meaning of the Settlement Agreement and calculated JME's compensation according to the Failed Business Economic Loss framework. The district court then granted discretionary review and agreed that JME was a failed business under the Settlement Agreement. Applying de novo review, the Fifth Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that the district court misinterpreted the Settlement Agreement's first and third definition of a "failed business" and erroneously concluded that the Settlement Program correctly classified JME as a failed business because JME ceased operations and wound down, or otherwise initiated or completed a liquidation of substantially all of its assets. View "Claimant ID 100081155 v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc." on Justia Law

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This case involved ten years of litigation regarding an attempt to simultaneously sell a restaurant and license associated intellectual property. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling that the Bill of Sale assigned all Camellia Grill Trademark rights to Hicham Khodr; affirmed the district court's ruling that the Bill of Sale assigned the trade dress associated with the Carrollton restaurant; affirmed the district court's finding that infringement damages were unwarranted; reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment on the trade-dress breach of contract claim and remanded for proceedings to determine if Khodr breached the License Agreement by using the alleged trade dress at the Chartres restaurant; and affirmed the district court's compensable damages ruling. View "Uptown Grill, LLC v. Camellia Grill Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this Lanham Act case, the Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that neither disgorgement of profits nor further injunctive relief would be equitable in an action where the jury found that BD falsely advertised its products for years. In this case, RTI has presented no reason to conclude that the district court clearly erred in this determination or that it abused its discretion by denying further injunctive relief. Furthermore, the district court's denial of disgorgement of profits from RTI's competitor was made against the larger backdrop of its prosecution of a meritless antitrust claim against BD for conduct in the marketplace—during a time in which RTI nearly doubled its own sales and increased its share of the retractable syringe sub-market to two-thirds. View "Retractable Technologies, Inc. v. Becton Dickinson & Co." on Justia Law

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Encompass filed suit against Blue Cross for violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), breach of contract, defamation, and tortious interference with business relations. After Blue Cross largely prevailed at trial, the district court granted a new trial because of error in the jury charge. At the second trial, Encompass prevailed on all claims. The Fifth Circuit held that charging the jury with an incorrect standard of liability supported granting a new trial, and thus the district court did not abuse its discretion by granting Encompass a new trial on the breach of contract claims. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by granting a new trial on the tort claims considering the interdependence of the tort and contract issues. Finally, the court held that the application of contra non valentem was not wrong as a matter of law, and Blue Cross abused its discretion by arbitrarily denying Encompass's claims for covered services under ERISA. View "Encompass Off Solutions, Inc. v. Louisiana Health Service & Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

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The parties entered into an overlapping series of agreements regarding management and revenue of a YouTube channel -- YouTube.com/VideoGames, featuring reviews of video games and digital recordings of players' screens. Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, alleging various claims stemming from the agreements. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court had subject-matter jurisdiction to try the case and did not err in dismissing a nondiverse partnership as dispensable, nor err in its entry of judgment upon the jury's verdict. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment and remanded to the district court for the sole purpose of fashioning any appropriate protective measures to prevent duplicative litigation. View "Moss v. Princip" on Justia Law

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After the Settlement Agreement Appeal Panel affirmed the Claim Administrator's classification of the Arcadia Facility as a "Failed Business," Graphic Packaging sought and was denied discretionary review from the district court. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of discretionary review, holding that the Appeals Panel did not misapply the Settlement Agreement. Even if it did, Graphic Packaging merely disputed the correctness of a discretionary administrative decision in the facts of a single claimant's case. The court rejected Graphic Packaging's remaining claim that the decision merits review because it contradicts a previous Appeals Panel decision. View "Claimant ID 100262194 v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc." on Justia Law

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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