Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

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The First Circuit vacated the district court's damages award and certain of its other rulings in this dispute between sophisticated parties concerning intellectual property rights, holding that the district court erred in applying the pertinent principles to the documents at issue.Plaintiffs brought suit alleging that Defendants violated the terms of a license by failing to pay certain royalties and sublicensing fees. The district court granted partial summary judgment for Plaintiffs. The First Circuit vacated the judgment in favor of Plaintiffs as to the breach of contract claim and directed the district court to enter judgment granting Defendants' motion to dismiss that claim and vacated the judgment as to audit-and-account and reformation claims without prejudice, holding that the district court erred. View "General Hospital Corp. v. Esoterix Genetic Laboratories, LLC" on Justia Law

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Nathan Smith appealed a district court order granting summary judgment in favor of his former employer, Kount, Inc., and denying his cross motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the compensation agreement he signed unambiguously required Smith to remain employed until a specified date to earn the bonus compensation, and Smith resigned before that date. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Smith v. Kount Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court remanded these consolidated actions against two insurance companies to the superior court for further proceedings, holding that inherent diminished value (IDV) damages, if adequately proved, are recoverable under part 4 of the standard Massachusetts automobile insurance policy, 2008 edition.The three plaintiffs in these actions each owned an automobile that was involved in a collision with an automobile owned or operated by a party insured by either of the two insurance company defendants. Defendants compensated Plaintiffs' for the cost to repair their automobiles to their precollision condition but did not pay Plaintiffs for alleged IDV damages to the vehicles. The judge granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the motion judge erred in allowing summary judgment with respect to Plaintiffs' claims of breach of contract; and (2) the motion judge properly granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiffs' unfair business practices claims. View "McGilloway v. Safety Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Peggy Baltar’s home was destroyed by wildfire in 2014. She had a new house built on the same property. Her insurer, CSAA Insurance Exchange (CSAA), paid the full amount charged by her contractor for construction of the new house. Altar sued for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. According to Baltar, CSAA breached the policy by, among other things, failing to provide her with a complete and accurate estimate for replacing the original house, which would have provided her with a budget for the construction of the new house. Without such a budget, she claimed she was forced to build a cheaper house than the one destroyed by the fire. She claimed this, and other asserted breaches of the policy, amounted to bad faith and entitled her to punitive damages. The trial court granted CSAA’s motion for summary judgment and entered judgment in favor of the company. Baltar appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Janney v. CSAA Insurance Exchange" on Justia Law

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Lakeside, a Michigan corporation, fabricates stone countertops in Michigan. Cambria a Minnesota LLC, is a nationwide manufacturer of countertop products. Lakeside buys “solid surface products” from manufacturers like Cambria. In 2011, the two companies executed a Business Partner Agreement (BPA) including a Credit Agreement, a Security Agreement, Order Terms and Conditions, Lifetime Limited Warranty, and a Business Operating Requirements Manual Acknowledgment Form. The BPA’s choice-of-law provision and forum-selection clause, in a single paragraph, state: This agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Minnesota. Any proceeding involving this Agreement and/or any claims or disputes relating to the agreements and transactions between the parties shall be in the ... State of Minnesota. Pursuant to the BPA, Lakeside opened a fabrication facility in 2017. Discussions about Lakeside becoming Cambria’s sole Michigan fabricator led to Lakeside terminating the relationship.Lakeside filed suit in the Western District of Michigan, alleging breach of contract, violations of the Michigan Franchise Investment Law (MFIL), UCC violations, and promissory estoppel. The Sixth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the suit, finding the forum-selection clause unenforceable. MFIL’s prohibition on forum-selection clauses is a strong Michigan public policy and enforcing the forum-selection clause here would clearly contravene that policy. The MFIL claim is not Lakeside’s only claim, and the choice-of-law provision may be applied, as appropriate, to claims within its scope. View "Lakeside Surfaces, Inc. v. Cambria Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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Masiello Real Estate, Inc. appealed a superior court’s conclusions of law on its breach-of-contract, quantum-meruit, and negligent-misrepresentation claims following a bench trial. Masiello’s claims stemmed from seller Dow Williams’ refusal to pay it a real estate commission under their right-to-market agreement. Seller owned a 276-acre property in Halifax and Guilford, Vermont. In 2013, he executed a one-year, exclusive right-to-market agreement with Chris Long, a real estate broker who worked for Masiello. Seller and broker agreed on a $435,000 asking price and a fixed $25,000 broker commission. The agreement had a one-year “tail” that compelled seller to pay the commission if, within twelve months of the agreement’s expiration, seller sold the property and Masiello was the procuring cause. The listing agreement would be renewed several times after negotiations with prospective buyers failed. Michelle Matteo and Torre Nelson expressed an interest in the property. Nelson, having obtained seller’s contact information from seller’s neighbor, contacted seller directly and asked if he was still selling. Between August and September 2016, Nelson and seller discussed the fact that seller wanted $400,000 for the property and buyers wanted seller to consider a lower price. No offer was made at that time. The tail of a third right-to-market agreement expired on September 30, 2016. Between September and November of that year, Nelson and Matteo looked at other properties with the other realtor and made an unsuccessful offer on one of those other properties. Returning to seller, Nelson, Matteo and seller negotiated until they eventually agreed to terms. Believing that it was improperly cut out of the sale, Masiello sued seller and buyers. The superior court concluded that because the property was not sold during the tail period, and because Masiello was not the procuring cause, no commission was due under the contract. The court further held that there was no negligent misrepresentation and that Masiello was not entitled to recovery under quantum meruit. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Masiello Real Estate, Inc. v. Matteo, et al." on Justia Law

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EC contracted to repair the Navy ships Thunderbolt, Tempest, and Hurricane. The Navy claimed $474,600 in liquidated damages under the Tempest contract because of late delivery. Having already paid for the Tempest work, it withheld $473,600 under the Hurricane contract. EC claimed the Navy caused the delay and, after the contracting officer denied its claim, sued under the Tempest contract, referring specifically to the $473,600 setoff. While the litigation proceeded, EC sought additional compensation under the Hurricane contract for unexpected work on that ship and appealed to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, seeking payment of the $473,600 “withheld from payments due under [the Hurricane] contract.”The parties settled the Tempest suit: EC released the government “from any and all actions, claims, . . . and liabilities of any type, whether known or unknown, suspected or unsuspected, foreseen or unforeseen, or open or hidden, which have existed, presently exist, or may exist in the future, arising out of or in any way relating to the [Tempest] Contract.” The government released EC from “any and all” claims “arising out of or in any way relating to the issues that were raised ... or could have been raised in the pleadings.”In 2019, EC asserted a right to the same $473,600 in a third request to the contracting officer, then filed suit. The Fourth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the government. The settlement agreement barred EC’s claims. View "East Coast Repair & Fabrication, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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In this case coming to the Supreme Court on certification from a federal district court, the Court was asked to decide questions regarding Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-572g. The Court answered the questions as follows: (1) "the amount of indebtedness then outstanding in connection with the credit transaction" is the amount of indebtedness outstanding at the time of the buyer's written demand on the seller for purposes of limiting an assignee's liability under section 52-572g; (2) an assignee can avoid liability under the statute only if the promissory note, contract, or other instrument is reassigned back to the seller prior to the buyer making such a demand; and (3) if a retail installment contract includes the Federal Trade Commission "holder rule" language mandated by 16 C.F.R. 433.2, an assignee's liability under that rule is cumulative to its liability under section 52-572g. View "Hernandez v. Apple Auto Wholesalers of Waterbury, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered a certified question from federal court about whether Arkansas law prevented Plaintiffs from pursuing their breach of contract claim when the first breach occurred outside of the state of limitations period, holding that a separate statute of limitations period began as each monthly oil-and-gas royalty payment became due.The contract in this case required monthly oil-and-gas payments. Plaintiffs brought this action alleging that Defendants had been underpaying those royalties for several years. In response, Defendant raised the affirmative defense of statute of limitations. The federal district court certified a question of law to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered that, under Arkansas law, the existence of royalties outside the limitations period did not bar recovery for monthly underpayments within the limitations period. View "Pennington v. BHP Billiton Petroleum, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the trial court awarding postjudgment, offer of compromise interest to Plaintiff under Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-192a and Practice Book 17-18, holding that the trial court's award of postjudgment, offer of compromise interest was improper.Plaintiff, an employment staffing agency that providers workers for temporary assignments, commenced this action against Defendant to recover a debt by filing a complaint for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff and awarded Plaintiff interest. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court's award of postjudgment interest under section 52-192a and Practice Book 17-18 was improper. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment as to the award of postjudgment interest under section 52-192a, holding that the award of post judgment, offer of compromise interest was improper under Gionfriddo v. Avis Rent A Car system, Inc., 472 A.2d 316 (Conn. 1984). View "Kelly Services, Inc. v. Senior Network, Inc." on Justia Law