Articles Posted in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Vista, plaintiff's employer, appealed the district court's denial of Vista's motion to compel arbitration of plaintiff's on-the-job injury claim. The court held that even if the Benefit Plan and the Arbitration Agreement were properly considered as part of a single contract, the termination provision found in the Benefit Plan did not apply to the Arbitration Agreement. Accordingly, the court concluded that the Arbitration Agreement was not illusory under Texas law because Vista's power to terminate the Arbitration Agreement was properly constrained. The court reversed and remanded for the district court to enter an order compelling arbitration. View "Lizalde v. Vista Quality Markets" on Justia Law

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USW appealed the district court's vacatur of an arbitral award against Conoco involving dismissal of a refinery employee who failed a workplace drug test. The court affirmed the district court's judgment that Conoco did not clearly and unmistakably agree to arbitrate arbitrability and affirmed the district court's determination that the employee's discharge was not arbitrable under the collective bargaining agreement and its decision to vacate the arbitration award. View "ConocoPhillips, Inc. v. Local 13-0555 United Steelworkers Int'l Union" on Justia Law

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D.R. Horton petitioned for review of the Board's holding that D.R. Horton had violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. 151 et seq., by requiring its employees to sign an arbitration agreement that, among other things, prohibited an employee from pursuing claims in a collective or class action. After addressing issues regarding the composition of the Board, the court concluded that the Board's decision did not give proper weight to the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 2. The court upheld the Board, though, on requiring D.R. Horton to clarify with its employees that the arbitration agreement did not eliminate their rights to pursue claims of unfair labor practices with the Board. View "D.R. Horton, Inc. v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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Adam appealed the district court's denial of its motion to appoint an arbitrator under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq., after determining that the challenges to the appointment presented procedural questions to be decided by the International Centre for Dispute Resolution. As a preliminary matter, the court concluded that the district court had ancillary jurisdiction over Adam's post-judgment motion to appoint an arbitrator under Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am. On the merits, the court rejected Adam's argument on appeal that the district court was required to intervene on grounds that a lapse had occurred in the appointment process; rejected Adam's argument that the district court was required to reach the merits of Adam's request to reinstate the mediator; and rejected Adam's remaining arguments. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Adam Technologies Int'l v. Sutherland Global Servs." on Justia Law

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Vinmar appealed a judgment confirming an arbitration panel award to Tricon for damages and post-award interest on those damages at 8.5% because Vinmar breached a contract. Vinmar claimed that the parties never agreed to arbitrate and Tricon cross-appealed, contending that the district court improperly granted postjudgment interest at the statutory rate instead of the rate assigned by the arbitrators. The court concluded that the evidence conclusively demonstrated that Tricon and Vinmar reached a binding agreement to arbitrate even though they did not sign the contract. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. The court also affirmed the award and concluded that the arbitrators in this case did not award postjudgment interest, but post-award interest. View "Tricon Energy Ltd. v. Vinmar Int'l, Ltd." on Justia Law

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This case arose out of the payment of benefits pursuant to an Aflac accident insurance policy. Defendant and the decedent's siblings challenged the district court's entry of summary judgment and order compelling arbitration of defendant's claims against Aflac and its agents. At issue was whether defendant's affidavit, which included her opinion that the signature on the arbitration acknowledgment form was a forgery, was sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact. The court concluded that defendant's affidavit was never made part of the summary judgment record before the district court and therefore failed to create a genuine issue of material fact on the authenticity of the decedent's signature. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "American Family Life Assurance Co. of Columbus v. Biles, et al" on Justia Law

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This dispute arose out of a video game publishing agreement entered into by Timegate and Gamecock. Under the terms of the agreement, Timegate was to be the developer and Gamecock was to be the publisher of a futuristic military-style video game entitled "Section 8." When their business relationship deteriorated, the parties proceeded with arbitration and the arbitrator awarded Gamecock monetary compensation and a perpetual license in the video game's intellectual property. The district court vacated the arbitrator's award, determining that the perpetual license was not consistent with the "essence" of the underlying contract. Because the agreement bestowed broad remedial powers upon the arbitrator and because it was fraudulently induced and irreversibly violated by Timegate, the perpetual license was a rational and permissible attempt to compensate Gamecock and maintain the agreement's essence. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded, finding that the perpetual license was a remedy that furthered the essence of the publishing agreement. View "TimeGate Studios, Inc. v. Southpeak Interactive, L.L.C., et al" on Justia Law

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Nabors appealed the district court's denial of its motion to compel the arbitration of plaintiff's age discrimination claim. When plaintiff began working for Nabors, plaintiff signed an Employee Acknowledgment Form indicating his agreement to resolve disputes through the Nabors Dispute Resolution Program. The court reversed the district court's order and remanded for entry of an order compelling arbitration because the court found that plaintiff agreed to conclusively resolve this dispute through arbitration. View "Klein v. Nabors Drilling USA, L.P." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a Title VII discrimination suit against his employer, the Department of Homeland Security. At issue on appeal was whether the parties had reached an enforceable settlement. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by finding that plaintiff was bound by the terms of his attorney's settlement offer. Further, the court never held that the Fifth Amendment's due process guarantee was implicated by defective representation in Title VII proceedings and plaintiff had introduced no evidence to suggest that his attorney's representation was less than competent. View "Quesada v. Napolitano" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from a dispute over annuity payments. Counter Defendants, RSL, appealed the district court's decision to abstain based on the doctrine of Colorado River Water Conservation District v. United States. Under the Colorado River doctrine, a court could abstain from a case that was part of parallel, duplicative litigation under "exceptional circumstances." The court examined the six relevant factors under Colorado River and reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On remand, the district court should determine whether RSL was entitled to compel arbitration under 9 U.S.C. 3. The district court must determine in the first instance whether any issues or claims decided by the state court were entitled to preclusive effect. View "Saucier v. Aviva Life and Annuity Co." on Justia Law