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Federal 5th Circuit to hear arguments at Tulane Law March 1

February 24, 2016


A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which usually sits at the John Minor Wisdom Courthouse in New Orleans, is set to hear arguments in three cases March 1 at Tulane Law School.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals makes its annual visit to Tulane Law School for a round of arguments on March 1.

A three-member panel of Judges Edith H. Jones, Jacques L. Wiener Jr. (L ’61) and Stephen A. Higginson is scheduled to hear arguments in a trio of cases, starting at 9 a.m. in the Wendell H. Gauthier Appellate Moot Court Room 110 of Tulane’s Weinmann Hall, 6329 Freret St. in New Orleans.

The session is open to the public, as are all of the court’s argument proceedings. However, certain rules apply:

— Seating is first-come, first-served. The classroom will open at 8:15 a.m., and entry/exit will be allowed only between cases. Each argument is expected to last 40 minutes.

— No cell phones, cameras, book bags, recording devices, etc., will be allowed in the classroom during the sitting. Students are advised to leave these items in their lockers.

The cases set for March 1 involve the validity of a forum-selection clause in an employment contract, a Title IX claim and an issue of supplemental jurisdiction in a trade secrets dispute:

No. 15-10757: Jonathan Barnett, Appellant v. Dyncorp International 

Jonathan Barnett worked for DynCorp International in Kuwait under a contract that required any disputes to be resolved in Kuwait under that country’s laws. Barnett sued DynCorp in Texas after his job was eliminated and he wasn’t paid wages he was due. He argues that Texas law invalidates the employment contract provision requiring any such suit to be brought in Kuwait. The district court ruled that the contract is enforceable because Barnett didn’t prove the forum-selection contract clause was unreasonable.

No. 15-20350: Natalie Plummer & Ryan McConnell, et al. v. University of Houston, et al. 

The University of Houston expelled Natalie Plummer and Ryan McConnell for violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy. Video footage indicates that, in 2011, McConnell took an intoxicated, unconscious female fellow student to his apartment and sexually touched her. Plummer videotaped the incident and later posted a nude photo of McConnell and the female student on Facebook. After the female student filed a sexual assault complaint with the university, officials conducted an investigation. Following appeals before separate panels, Plummer and McConnell were expelled. They sued the university, claiming their due process and other rights were violated. The district court ruled, among other things, that the individual administrators sued have qualified immunity and that Plummer and McConnell have no Title IX claims because no gender bias or harassment occurred.

No. 15-20184: Wellogix Inc. v. SAP America Inc., et al. (consolidated with No. 15-20187, SAP America Inc. v. Wellogix Inc.)

Wellogix and SAP America had a contract to create specialized tracking software for oil and gas producers. The contract required disputes to be resolved in Germany under German law. After Accenture was convicted of stealing Wellogix’s intellectual property (which enabled SAP to steal its customers), Wellogix tried unsuccessfully to sue SAP in the United States. But because SAP asked a federal court in Texas for a declaratory judgment on federal patent claims in the dispute, Wellogix argues that it can pursue state trade secret claims. The district court dismissed Wellogix’s claims because of the requirement to sue in Germany.


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