Top 5 Business Cases from the Fifth Circuit, 3Q 2014

  1. General jurisdiction is not general.  “It is . . . incredibly difficult to establish general jurisdiction in a forum other than the place of incorporation or principal place of business.”  Monkton Ins. Servs. v. Ritter, __ F.3d ___ (5th Cir. Sept. 26, 2014) (applying Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746 (2014)).
  2.  “Gateway” arbitration has a gate.   A party must only “arbitrate gateway questions of arbitrability if the argument that the dispute falls within the scope of the agreement is not wholly groundless.”  In Douglas v. Regions Bank, an agreement about a bank account did not control a later, unrelated embezzlement case.  757 F.3d 460 (5th Cir. 2014).
  3. “Based on” = Arbitration.  The contract said: “Terms and conditions are based on the general conditions stated in the [attached].”  While “based on” may have “multiple interpretations . . . in the abstract,” no such reading worked here, given the length and scope of the attachment compared to the contract.   Rushaid v. National Oilwell Varco, Inc., 757 F.3d 416 (5th Cir. 2014).
  4. No actual damages = No civil penalties.  Forte v. Wal-Mart Stores, ___ F.3d ___ (5th Cir. Aug. 25, 2014) (rehearing pending).
  5. Analytical GAAP.   An expert reviewed financial documents from A and tax returns from B.  His opinions about the finances of C and D were stricken: “It is by no means clear how a [CPA] can obtain personal knowledge of the effects of the actions of one entity on other parties without reviewing the latter’s financial documents . . . .”  Meadaa v. K.A.P. Enterprises LLC, 756 F.3d 875 (5th Cir. 2014).

BONUS: Lipan Apaches may use eagle feathers in religious rituals — for now at least.  McAllen Grace Brethren Church v. Salazar, ___ F.3d ___ (5th Cir. Aug. 20, 2014).

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