Appeals

Dallas Court of Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment in Favor of Purchasers of Estate Property.

June 13, 2018 in Case Summaries

In a long-running dispute between Stanley Graff and the purchasers of a multi-million-dollar apartment complex owned by the estate of Graff’s father, Levinger PC persuaded the Dallas Court of Appeals to affirm the probate court’s summary judgment rejecting Graff’s effort to rescind or recover damages arising from the October 2000 purchase of the complex.  Among other rulings, the Court held that Graff’s claims of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud accrued by August 2002 and thus were barred by the four-year statute of limitations; that the independent executor had the authority to sell the real property and thus the transaction should not be rescinded; and that Graff’s claims for aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty against the purchasers failed because there was no evidence that they assisted an appraiser in his valuation of the property.  Graff v. 2920 Park Grove Venture, Ltd., No. 05-16-01411-CV, 2018 WL 2949158 (Tex. App.—Dallas June 13, 2018, pet. filed) (mem. op.).

Courts:  Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts

Subject Matter:  Business Litigation, Ethics & Professional Liability

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Multi-Million Dollar Counterclaim Against Autobahn Imports Dismissed Because Of Failure To Exhaust Administrative Remedies

Multi-Million Dollar Counterclaim Against Autobahn Imports Dismissed Because Of Failure To Exhaust Administrative Remedies

April 3, 2018 in Case Summaries

 

Levinger PC persuaded the Fifth Circuit to affirm the dismissal of a multi-million dollar breach of contract counterclaim asserted by Jaguar Land Rover North America against Autobahn Imports, a franchised automobile dealer in Fort Worth. Rejecting JLRNA’s argument that the counterclaim did not allege any violation of the Texas Motor Vehicle Code and therefore did not invoke the jurisdiction of the Board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, the Court held that the “underlying facts still require determinations governed by the Code” and thus the counterclaim fell within the Board’s exclusive jurisdiction. The Court also held that dismissal rather than abatement was appropriate because the counterclaim raised many of the same allegations that the Board had already adjudicated against JLRNA in a related case. In successfully arguing this exhaustion-of-remedies argument, Levinger PC had to overcome a previous Fifth Circuit opinion that could be read to suggest that the Board did not have exclusive jurisdiction over contractual disputes between dealers and manufacturers. Autobahn Imports, LP v. Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC, No. 17‑10349, 2018 WL 1612252 (5th Cir. Apr. 3, 2018).

 

Courts: Federal Courts of Appeals

Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Procedural & Evidentiary Issues

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Dallas Court of Appeals Affirms $351 Million Judgment in Favor of Highland Capital Affiliate Against Credit Suisse

Dallas Court of Appeals Affirms $351 Million Judgment in Favor of Highland Capital Affiliate Against Credit Suisse.

February 20, 2018 in Case Summaries

Jeff Levinger assisted the trial team at Reid Collins & Tsai in securing the affirmance of a $351 million judgment in favor of an affiliate of Highland Capital Management against Credit Suisse. The judgment consisted of $211 million in actual damages and $140 million in pre- and post-judgment interest, and was based on fraud and breach of contract claims regarding an inflated appraisal that Credit Suisse used to induce the Highland affiliate to finance the Lake Las Vegas development. Applying New York law, which the parties had chosen to govern their relationship, the Dallas court of appeals rejected Credit Suisse’s argument that certain disclaimers in the loan documents protected it from liability for the falsified appraisal. The court also rejected Credit Suisse’s contention that a jury’s award of out-of-pocket damages for fraudulent inducement foreclosed the trial court from subsequently awarding rescissory damages in a bench trial on the remaining claims. Credit Suisse AG, Cayman Islands Branch v. Claymore Holdings, LLC, 2018 WL 947902 (Tex. App. ‑‑ Dallas Feb. 20, 2018, pet. filed) (mem. op.).

 

Courts: Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts

Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Oil & Gas/Real Estate

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Dallas Court of Appeals Reverses Trial Court’s Assertion of Personal Jurisdiction Over Mexican Reinsurance Broker

Dallas Court of Appeals Reverses Trial Court’s Assertion of Personal Jurisdiction Over Mexican Reinsurance Broker.

August 22, 2017 in Case Summaries

Levinger PC teamed with trial lawyer Thomas Cook of Zelle LLP to persuade the Dallas Court of Appeals to reverse the trial court’s assertion of personal jurisdiction over Cooper Gay Mexico, a reinsurance broker based in Mexico City. Elamex, S.A. de C.V., a Mexican food manufacturer with plants in Juarez and El Paso, had sought to hold Cooper Gay Mexico liable for more than $25 million as a result of an excess insurer’s refusal to pay Elamex for fire damages to its Juarez plant. After an extensive analysis of Cooper Gay Mexico’s efforts in seeking to obtain the excess insurance and in placing the reinsurance for the excess policy, the court of appeals concluded that Cooper Gay Mexico neither had any contacts with Texas nor sought any benefit by trying to avail itself of jurisdiction in Texas. Rather, the evidence showed that all of Cooper Gay Mexico’s relevant contacts were either with its affiliate in Florida or the excess insurer in Mexico. Cooper Gay Martinez del Rio y Asociados Intermediaros de Reaseguro S.A. de C.V. v. Elamex, S.A. de C.V., No. 05‑16‑01436‑CV, 2017 WL 359960 (Tex. App. ‑‑ Dallas Aug. 22, 2017, no pet.).

Courts: Texas Intermediate Appellate Courts

Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Procedural and Evidentiary Issues

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Fifth Circuit Vacates Entirety of Tax Court Ruling Against Owners of the Bosque Canyon Ranch in West Texas

Fifth Circuit Vacates Entirety of Tax Court Ruling Against Owners of the Bosque Canyon Ranch in West Texas

August 11, 2017 in Case Summaries

In a ruling that attracted national attention, a tax court in 2015 disallowed over $15 million in charitable contribution deductions taken by the owners of the 3700-acre Bosque Canyon Ranch. The tax court also imposed a 40 percent gross valuation misstatement penalty and held that the entirety of the limited partners’ contributions were made in exchange for “disguised sales” subject to taxation as ordinary income. The owners appealed, and Levinger PC successfully convinced the Fifth Circuit to vacate all of these tax court rulings. First, over the dissent of Judge Dennis, Judges Wiener and Haynes held that the owners’ donation of conservation easements satisfied the “perpetuity” requirement of IRC section 170, notwithstanding the reserved right to modify the boundaries of homesite parcels within the easements. Second, the panel unanimously held that the tax court clearly erred in finding the “baseline documentation” relating to the easements to be inadequate. Third, the panel vacated the gross valuation misstatement penalty because the tax court’s disallowance of the deduction was not based on the easements’ values. And fourth, the panel rejected the tax court’s determination that the entirety of the partners’ contributions were made in exchange for “disguised sales” of partnership property. The Fifth Circuit remanded the case to the tax court to consider certain issues raised by the IRS but not decided in the first proceeding. Bosque Canyon Ranch v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 867 F.3d 547 (5th Cir. 2017).

Courts: Federal Courts of Appeals
Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Oil & Gas/Real Estate

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