Haynes and Boone Secures Fifth Circuit Win for Nicaraguan Distributor in Cross-Border Litigation
DALLAS – The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Haynes and Boone, LLP client -- Nicaraguan distributor Café Soluble, S.A. -- in an appeal of a lawsuit brought in U.S. federal court by Mars, Inc.
The case raised important jurisdictional issues regarding whether an American manufacturer like Mars can sue a foreign distributor in a United States court where the relationship was centered primarily outside the United States.
The case arose from a dispute over a 1994 distribution agreement between Mars and Café Soluble involving the distribution of Mars candy and pet food products in Nicaragua. In October 2010, Mars notified Café Soluble that it would not renew their agreement and immediately sued Café Soluble in federal court in the Southern District of Mississippi, seeking a declaratory judgment and an injunction prohibiting Café Soluble from suing Mars in Nicaragua and using Mars trademarks.
Haynes and Boone, on behalf of Café Soluble, filed a motion to dismiss the action on a variety of grounds, including lack of personal jurisdiction. On April 18, 2011, U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr. issued a 13-page decision dismissing Mars’ lawsuit against Café Soluble in its entirety. Judge Guirola found that exercising personal jurisdiction over Café Soluble with respect to Mars’ contract claims would violate due process.
In a unanimous opinion, the Fifth Circuit affirmed. In agreeing with the arguments raised by Haynes and Boone lawyers, the Fifth Circuit concluded that there was no jurisdiction over Café Soluble, denied Mars’ request for an injunction, and dismissed the case.
Café Soluble was represented by a Haynes and Boone team consisting of Dallas partners Jeremy Kernodle, Michael Hood and Larry Pascal and Dallas associate Katie Dolan-Galaviz. Mars was represented by Chadbourne & Parke.
This is the second win of this kind of case for Haynes and Boone attorneys recently. In January, Haynes and Boone won a similar appeal in a lawsuit Mars filed against a Costa Rican client. The firm currently represents Central American clients from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras in contract litigation against Mars.
The Haynes and Boone Latin American Practice, which has lawyers licensed in Mexico, Argentina, Spain, and Peru working in its U.S. offices, has been recognized as one of the leaders in Latin America by numerous business organizations and publications, including Latin Lawyer and Chambers USA. For the second straight year, Chambers Latin America 2011 researchers recognized the Haynes and Boone Latin America Practice for its handling of high-profile mergers and acquisition matters across Latin America. The firm’s Latin American Practice has also been regularly recognized by industry publications for its work in Central America.
About Café Soluble
Café Soluble began operations in 1959 when a group of Nicaraguan and North American businessmen decided to produce coffee beans and export high-quality instant coffee. Since then, the company has placed its own products on the market, as well as products produced by other internationally known local and foreign companies. For more information, please see the company website at www.cafesoluble.com
About Haynes and Boone
Haynes and Boone, LLP is an international corporate law firm with offices in Texas, New York, California, Washington, D.C., Mexico City and Moscow, providing a full spectrum of legal services. With more than 525 attorneys, Haynes and Boone is ranked among the largest law firms in the nation by The National Law Journal. The firm has been named one of the "Best Corporate Law Firms in America" (Corporate Board Member Magazine, 2001-2011) and recognized as a “Top 20 Law Firm” for culture and for diversity with respect to both women and minorities (Vault, 2012).