On May 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit reversed a district court’s decision to dismiss a suit against a creditor that sold portfolios of delinquent and defaulted debt, ruling that the disputed portion of the contract between the two parties was enforceable.

According to the opinion, the defendant sold portfolios of delinquent accounts to the plaintiff. The plaintiff and the defendant entered a “forward flow” agreement, where the defendant agreed to continue to send the plaintiff accounts during a specific timeline. Under the agreement, the defendant agreed to deliver “additional accounts,” which would be the same quality as the other accounts that had been sold. The parties could not settle on an agreement regarding the pricing for accounts that were submitted under the forward flow agreement, and the defendant sued the plaintiff for breach of contract. A district court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, which the plaintiff appealed.

The appellate court found that the district court erred on its decision that the term “additional accounts” was indefinite and therefore unenforceable. The court stated that “[t]aken together, the plain meaning of the word ‘additional,’ the contract’s clear architecture, and various settled principles of interpretation reveal that ‘additional accounts’ refers to all qualifying accounts that accrue quarterly.” The appellate court also noted that it “cannot ignore that this argument was not presented to the district court,” and that it will not speculate on why [the defendant-appellee did not] reached for this low-hanging factual fruit.”