Cases & Deals

R.J. Reynolds successfully defends dismissal of unfair trade practices suit in Fifth Circuit appeal

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

On July 10, 2019, the Fifth Circuit unanimously ruled in favor of Jones Day client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJRT), affirming the district court's dismissal of a suit brought by Caldwell Wholesale Company, L.L.C. (Caldwell). Caldwell had previously been a direct distributor of RJRT products, but RJRT ended the relationship in 2004. Caldwell brought a suit twelve years later, asserting that RJRT's alleged continuing refusal either to enter into a new relationship or to extend to Caldwell the benefits of a contractual relationship with RJRT constituted tortious interference with Caldwell's business relationships, as well as a violation of the Louisiana unfair trade practices statute. Caldwell argued that these claims were timely under the "continuing-tort" doctrine.

The district court dismissed Caldwell's claims with prejudice, holding that they were time-barred. Caldwell appealed to the Fifth Circuit, which affirmed the dismissal. The Fifth Circuit agreed with RJRT that the continuing-tort doctrine did not apply to either claim. Accordingly, it concluded that both claims were time-barred, and that the district court had properly denied Caldwell leave to amend its complaint.

Jones Day represented RJRT in the district court, as well as in the Fifth Circuit.

Caldwell Wholesale Co., L.L.C. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 18-30707 (5th Cir.); No. 5:17-cv-00200-SMH-MLH (W.D. La.)