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Brittania-U Nigeria, Ltd. v. Chevron USA, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

August 9, 2017

BRITTANIA-U NIGERIA, LIMITED, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
CHEVRON USA, INCORPORATED; ALI MOSHIRI; MONCEF ATTIA, Defendants - Appellees

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas

          Before HIGGINBOTHAM, SMITH, and HAYNES, Circuit Judges.

          HAYNES, Circuit Judge

         Plaintiff Brittania-U Nigeria, Limited ("Brittania-U") sued Defendants Chevron U.S.A. Inc. ("Chevron"), Ali Moshiri, and Moncef Attia (collectively, "Defendants") for fraud, misrepresentation, and tortious interference with business relations arising out of a bidding process for oil leases in Nigeria. Brittania-U now appeals the district court's denial of its motion to remand and the grant of Defendants' motions to dismiss based on an arbitration provision in a confidentiality agreement between Brittania-U and Chevron. Finding no error, we AFFIRM.

         I.

         In 2013, Chevron Nigeria, Limited, a division of Chevron, opened a bidding process for the sale of its interests in three Oil Mining Leases ("leases") in Nigeria.[1] BNP Paribas Securities Corp. ("BNP Paribas") served as Chevron's financial advisor and agent for the potential transaction. Attia, then an employee of BNP Paribas, invited Brittania-U to participate in the bidding process. Chevron employee Moshiri was also involved in the negotiations.

         Early in the bidding process Brittania-U signed a confidentiality agreement, which Chevron also executed. The confidentiality agreement contained an arbitration provision:

If the dispute is not resolved pursuant to direct negotiations . . . then the dispute shall be finally resolved by binding arbitration and either Party may initiate such arbitration by giving notice to the other Party. The arbitration shall be conducted in accordance with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law ("UNCITRAL") Arbitration Rules, except to the extent of conflicts between the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.

         The confidentiality agreement's arbitration provision also stated that "[t]he arbitrator(s) has the power to rule on objections concerning jurisdiction, including the existence or validity of this arbitration provision and existence or the validity of this Agreement."

         Brittania-U did not win the leases, despite the fact that it bid higher than the winning party. As a result, on May 18, 2016, Brittania-U filed suit against Chevron, Attia, and Moshiri in Texas state court alleging fraudulent inducement in the bidding process against each defendant and tortious interference with prospective business relations against only Attia.

         Chevron removed the case to federal court. Brittania-U filed a motion to remand, and each defendant filed a motion to dismiss. The district court denied Brittania-U's motion to remand and granted Defendants' motions to dismiss. Brittania-U now timely appeals.

         II.

         We review a denial of a motion to remand de novo. Int'l Energy Ventures Mgmt., L.L.C. v. United Energy Grp., Ltd., 818 F.3d 193, 199 (5th Cir. 2016). We also review de novo a motion to dismiss in favor of ...


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