Leading Nicaraguan Company Successfully Defended in Cross-Border Litigation by Haynes and Boone


– A team of Haynes and Boone, LLP attorneys has successfully defended Nicaraguan distributor Café Soluble, SA in connection with a lawsuit brought in U.S. federal court by Mars, Inc. and one of its international affiliates.

Café Soluble had been distributing Mars candy and pet food products in Nicaragua under a 1994 distributor agreement. In October 2010, Mars gave notice that it was not renewing the distributor agreement and immediately filed suit against Café Soluble in federal court in the Southern District of Mississippi, seeking a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief against any action being brought in Nicaragua and discontinuance of the use of Mars trademarks. Café Soluble filed a motion to dismiss the action on a variety of grounds, including lack of personal jurisdiction, contending that the contract was performed in Nicaragua and not Mississippi.

On April 18, 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 because it would be unfair and unreasonable to assert jurisdiction based on the facts of the case. The Judge dismissed Mars’ contract claims with prejudice and the trademark claims without prejudice.

Café Soluble was represented by a Haynes and Boone team consisting of Dallas partners Michael Hood and Larry Pascal and Dallas associate Katie Dolan-Galaviz. Mars was represented by the Washington D.C. office of McDermott Will & Emery.

“This decision represents a great outcome for our client and we are delighted to be in a position to serve Café Soluble and continue our work in Central America,” said Dallas partner Larry Pascal, chair of Haynes and Boone's highly recognized Americas Practice Group.

This is the second recent win of this type for Haynes and Boone attorneys. In November 2010, Haynes and Boone obtained a similar court decision dismissing a federal court lawsuit Mars filed against another one of its Central American distributors. That case is on appeal before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

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.

The Haynes and Boone Latin American practice, which has lawyers licensed in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, 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 2010 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.

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