Federal Courts of Appeals

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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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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Fifth Circuit Upholds Jury’s Vindication of Dillon Gage in Fraudulent Transfer Suit Bought by Stanford Receiver

Fifth Circuit Upholds Jury’s Vindication of Dillon Gage in Fraudulent Transfer Suit

Bought by Stanford Receiver

May 5, 2017 in Case Summaries

In a published opinion addressing numerous aspects of the Texas Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, the Fifth Circuit upheld a July 2015 jury verdict in favor of Levinger PC client Dillon Gage Incorporated of Dallas in a long-running dispute with Ralph Janvey, the court-appointed receiver in the Stanford Ponzi scheme litigation.  The Court held that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s finding that Stanford Coins & Bullion did not have an intent to hinder, delay, or defraud creditors when it made six payments totaling $5.1 million to Dillon Gage, a coin and bullion wholesaler, in the weeks leading up to the receivership.  In particular, the Court emphasized evidence showing that SCB intended to satisfy its obligations to all of its retail customers, as well as the Receiver’s failure to establish that SCB was insolvent at the time of the transfers.  Finally, the Court rejected the Receiver’s complaints about four aspects of the jury charge, including an instruction that a fraudulent intent cannot be inferred from a debtor’s mere intent to prefer one creditor over another.  Janvey v. Dillon Gage Incorporated of Dallas, 856 F.3d 377 (5th Cir. 2017).

Courts: Federal Courts of Appeals
Subject Matter: Business Litigation, Procedural & Evidentiary Issues

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Dispute Over Sale of Gold Bars Ends With Fifth Circuit Affirmance of Jury Verdict Favoring Dillon Gage

Dispute Over Sale of Gold Bars Ends With Fifth Circuit Affirmance of Jury Verdict Favoring Dillon Gage

February 29, 2016 in Case Summaries

Jeff Levinger successfully represented Dillon Gage Metals, a large wholesaler of rare coins and bullion, in its long-running dispute with the Gagosian Gallery, a prominent New York art gallery, over the acquisition of 100 bars of gold. In 2009, the Gallery paid $3 million to Stanford Coins & Bullion, a business owned by the now-disgraced financier Allen Stanford, to acquire the gold for a major art installation. SCB, in turn, ordered the gold from Dillon Gage. Before the transaction could be completed, however, SCB was placed into federal receivership, and when the Gallery did not receive the gold, it sued Dillon Gage on the theory that the Gallery was a third-party beneficiary of the sales contract between SCB and Dillon Gage. After a multi-day trial, a jury found that the Gallery was not a third-party beneficiary of the SCB-Dillon Gage contract. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the judgment in favor of Dillon Gage, agreeing with Levinger’s arguments that sufficient evidence supported the verdict and that the jury charge accurately expressed Texas law on third-party beneficiary status. Pre-War Art, Inc. v. Stanford Coins and Bullion, Inc., No. 1510033, 2016 WL 791042 (5th Cir. Feb. 29, 2016).

Courts: Federal Courts of Appeals
Subject Matter: Business Litigation

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Fifth Circuit Revives Antitrust Suit Against Monopolistic Broker of Veterinary Insurance

Fifth Circuit Revives Antitrust Suit Against Monopolistic Broker of Veterinary Insurance

September 23, 2015 in Case Summaries

In a 2-1 opinion, the Fifth Circuit reversed the summary judgment dismissal of an antitrust suit brought by Levinger PC client Sanger Insurance Agency against HUB International, an insurance broker that sells professional liability and other types of insurance products to veterinarians across the country. Although the Court held that HUB’s anti-competitive conduct was exempt from federal antitrust scrutiny under the McCarran-Ferguson Act, it revived Sanger’s claims under the Texas Free Enterprise and Antitrust Act and various common law theories and remanded them for trial. Over the dissent of Judge Edith Jones, Judges Gregg Costa and Jerry Smith held that Sanger had established that it was sufficiently prepared to enter the market for selling veterinary insurance, and thus reversed the district court’s determination that Sanger lacked standing to challenge HUB’s conduct. Sanger Insurance Co. v. HUB Int’l, Ltd., 802 F.3d 732 (5th Cir. 2015)

Courts: Federal Courts of Appeals
Subject Matter: Business Litigation

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