Top Five 5th Circuit Cases – 1st Quarter 2014

  1. How close does Twombly come to Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b)?  Consider Merchants & Farmers Bank v. Coxwell, affirming the dismissal of a pleading: “The complaint did not specify what court issued the order, when it was issued, or to whom it was directed; [and] the complaint did not describe what the order required . . . .”  No. 13-60368 (5th Cir. Feb. 7, 2014, unpublished).
  2. Credibility questions create fact issues.  See Vaughan v. Carlock Nissan of Tupelo, No. 12-60568 (5th Cir. Feb. 4, 2014, unpublished) (reversing a summary judgment about a manager’s “bad faith,” noting credibility questions about his claimed justifications for a firing, ambiguity in other statements, and the timing of the termination).
  3. Forum non conveniens factors – the “availability of witnesses” factor is reviewed by Royal Ten Cate USA, Inc. v. TT Investors, Ltd.  No. 13-50106 (5th Cir. March 25, 2014, unpublished), and Indusoft, Inc. v. Taccolini, No. 13-50042 (March 19, 2014, unpublished).
  4. Conflicting documents about arbitration are harmonized in Lizalde v. Vista Quality Markets, ___ F.3d ___ (5th Cir. March 25, 2014) (enforcing an arbitration agreement despite a benefit plan with a broad termination right, noting that both agreements’ termination provisions “clearly demarcate their respective applications”).
  5. Settlement efforts as prerequisite for arbitration.  This language — “the parties agree to negotiate in good faith toward resolution of the issues, and to escalate the dispute to senior management personnel in the event that the dispute cannot be resolved at the operational level” — does not create a requirement of negotiation by senior management before arbitration is invoked.  21st Century Financial Services v. Manchester Financial, ___ F.3d ____ (5th Cir. March 31, 2014).

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