Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

by
Plaintiff designated his nephew as his health care agent and attorney-in-fact using an advance health care directive and power of attorney for health care decisions form developed by the California Medical Association (the Advance Directive). After the execution of the Advance Directive, Plaintiff was admitted to a skilled nursing facility. Nineteen days later, his nephew executed an admission agreement and a separate arbitration agreement purportedly on Plaintiff’s behalf as his “Legal Representative/Agent”. The sole issue on appeal is whether the nephew was authorized to sign the arbitration agreement on Plaintiff’s behalf.   In answering the relevant question on appeal, the Second Appellate District held that an agent’s authority to make “health care decisions” on a principal’s behalf does not include the authority to execute optional arbitration agreements. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s order denying the motion to compel arbitration. The court explained that its conclusion that the execution of an arbitration agreement is not a “health care decision” finds support in the regulatory history of the recently enacted federal regulatory scheme prohibiting nursing facilities participating in Medicare or Medicaid programs from requiring a resident (or his representative) to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of admission. Specifically, in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (i.e., the agency’s) responses to public comments published in the Federal Register. These comments and responses demonstrate that practically speaking, arbitration agreements are not executed as part of the health care decision-making process, but rather are entered into only after the agent chooses a nursing facility based on the limited options available and other factors unrelated to arbitration. View "Logan v. Country Oaks Partners" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court denying the cross-motions for summary judgment filed by the parties in this case, holding that summary judgment should have been granted to Rema Kolda as a matter of law on counts one, two, and four.DT-Trak Consulting, Inc., a medical consulting firm and independent contractor, sued Kolda, its former employee, for alleged violations of multiple provisions of a non-complete agreement. Kolda counterclaimed for barratry. Thereafter, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, which the circuit court denied. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Kolda was not in violation of the non-compete provision of the agreement, and summary judgment should have been granted on this count; and (2) Kolda was entitled to summary judgment on count four, which alleged the existence of a trade secret, and count one, which alleged the existence of a trade secret in addition to proprietary information and "confidential information." View "Dt-Trak Consulting, Inc. v. Kolda" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court dismissing Constance Mouanda's complaint against Jani-King International (Jani-King) and Cardinal Franchising, Inc. (Cardinal) alleging fraud, breach of contract, and unconscionability, holding that the trial court erred in granting Cardinal's and Jani-King's motion to dismiss.Mouanda formed The Matsoumou's LLC, for which Cardinal provided the necessary legal documents. The LLC entered into a franchise agreement with Cardinal and began operating as a unit franchisee. Mouanda later brought suit alleging fraud, breach of contract, and unconscionability and seeking damages for Cardinal and Jani-King's failure to comply with Kentucky's wage and hour laws. Cardinal and Jani-King moved to dismiss based on Mouanda's failure to bring the lawsuit on behalf of the LLC. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the franchise agreement contained nothing that would preclude a wage and hour claim by Mouanda individually and that the fraud claim was not dependent on the LLC being a party to the action. The Court remanded the case to allow the parties to develop the record so the trial court can determine whether Mouanda has a valid wage and hour claim and/or fraud claim. View "Mouanda v. Jani-King International" on Justia Law

by
Corwell’s insurance broker told him that Coventry would essentially provide free life insurance for a couple of years before an assignment of the policy to those who had funded it from the beginning, at no expense or risk to the insured. In 2006, Corwell, age 78, applied to Sun Life for a $5 million life insurance policy, indicating that his family L.P. would be the primary beneficiary and Corwell would be the owner. The annual premium, $300,000 per year, exceeded Corwell’s income almost every year. Corwell falsely stated that the premiums would not involve premium financing. Sun would not have issued the policy if it had known that Corwell would be using a non-recourse loan to pay the premiums. At the end of the loan’s 30-month term, Coventry notified Corwell that the balance was $569,572; Corwell could either repay it or relinquish the policy. As expected, Corwell relinquished the policy, which the lender sold to Coventry. Sun Life rejected a 2017 death claim and sought a declaratory judgment that the policy was void as an illegal wagering contract, procured for the benefit of strangers who lacked an insurable interest, in violation of Illinois law. The district court granted Sun summary judgment and allowed it to keep almost all of the premiums.The Seventh Circuit affirmed with the exception of part of the premiums. Illinois law looks beyond the form of the transactions and considers the substance to determine whether a purchase was supported by an insurable interest. This funding arrangement was an unlawful wager by strangers on Corwell’s life. View "Sun Life Assurance Company of v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Family Medicine Associates (FMA) and one of its members (together, Defendants) and dismissing this lawsuit alleging breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and nonpayment of wages, holding that Plaintiff's claims on appeal were unavailing.Plaintiff, a licensed physician, brought this lawsuit against his former employer nearly three years after his employment relationship was terminated. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants' breached their oral promise of a partnership that was never committed to writing. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on all counts. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to put forth sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment. View "Guldseth v. Family Medicine Associates LLC" on Justia Law

by
This appeal involved a breach of contract claim arising out of an indemnitee’s refusal to repay money advanced pursuant to an LLC Agreement. Under the Agreement, a Person was entitled to indemnification if the Person acted in good faith and in a manner believed to be in or not opposed to the best interests of the Company. The indemnification payments were further conditioned on the Person’s written undertaking to repay all amounts advanced under the LLC Agreement if it was later determined that the Person did not satisfy the standard of conduct, and thus, was not entitled to indemnification. New Wood Resources operated a plywood and veneer manufacturing facility in Mississippi known as Winston Plywood & Veneer LLC (“WPV”). Dr. Richard Baldwin (“Baldwin”) served as a manager of New Wood starting in September of 2013, and served as a member of New Wood’s Board of Managers. Baldwin was asked to invest in New Wood, and to oversee the revitalization of a newly acquired plywood mill in Louisville, Mississippi. The WPV manufacturing facility in Louisville had been dormant for years and was in need of repair. New Wood began to make repairs so that it could operate a mill. However, prior to the WPV facility’s completion, the facility was destroyed by an EF-4 tornado. WPV received funding from FEMA, and Baldwin took the lead role on behalf of New Wood to restore the WPV facility and transform it into a functioning and profitable plywood manufacturing facility. In 2016, just before the WPV mill was set to begin operations, Baldwin was terminated from his position as the President and General Manager of WPV. The Delaware Court addressed the narrow issue of whether the LLC Agreement pertinent here contained an implied covenant of good faith that would require the determination of a Person’s entitlement to indemnification to be made in good faith. After review of the Agreement, the Court held that it did. It therefore reversed and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Baldwin v. New Wood Resources LLC" on Justia Law

by
In this dispute between Boston Executive Helicopters (BEH) and the Town of Norwood, the First Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court denying BEH's motions to enforce the parties' settlement agreement as construed by BEH and to rescind the settlement agreement, holding that Norwood breached one provision of the settlement agreement.The settlement agreement at issue temporarily resolved the parties' dispute, but BEH later moved the district court to enforce the agreement as construed by BEH. On appeal from the district court's denial of the motion, BEH filed a motion to rescind the settlement agreement or, in the alternative, to reconsider its denial of the motion to enforce. The district court denied the requests. The First Circuit largely affirmed, holding (1) remand was required for consideration of BEH's motion for enforce the agreement as it pertained to one issue; and (2) otherwise, the district court's judgment was without error. View "Boston Executive Helicopters, LLC v. Maguire" on Justia Law

by
R&C, run by two employees, entered an agreement to haul equipment for American Wind. The agreement’s arbitration clause provides: any claim, dispute or controversy including, but not limited to the interpretation of any federal statutory or regulatory provisions purported to be encompassed by this Agreement; or the enforcement of any statutory rights emanating or relating to this Agreement shall be resolved on an individual basis (and not as part of a class action) exclusively between Contractor and Carrier by final and binding arbitration.R&C alleges that American Wind failed to make agreed-upon detention payments, resulting in a cash shortfall, forcing R&C to sell its trucks. R&C continued to haul equipment for American Wind but on behalf of the trucks’ new owner. R&C filed suit, alleging breach of contract and contending that the arbitration clause was unenforceable because R&C is a transportation worker operating under a contract of employment, exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). R&C also argued that the arbitration provision was unconscionable. After R&C refused to arbitrate, the case was dismissed for failure to prosecute. The Third Circuit affirmed, noting that R&C had not sought interlocutory review of the order compelling arbitration, as permitted by the FAA. The interlocutory order was not part of the final order, so the court concluded it lacked jurisdiction to review it. View "R & C Oilfield Services LLC v. American Wind Transport Group, LLC" on Justia Law

by
TIG Insurance Company (“TIG”) appeals from a judgment and order of the district court. TIG asserts that Judge Ramos erred in ordering it to arbitrate a coverage dispute with ExxonMobil Oil Corporation (“Exxon”). Even if it was required to arbitrate, TIG contends that Judge Ramos erred in awarding Exxon prejudgment interest when confirming the arbitral award. After entering judgment, and after TIG had appealed, the district court clerk notified the parties that it was brought to Judge Ramos’s attention that he owned stock in Exxon when he presided over the case. Nothing in the record suggests that Judge Ramos was aware of his conflict at the time he rendered his decisions, and the parties do not suggest otherwise. TIG moved in the district court to vacate the judgment. The case was reassigned to a different judge, who denied the motion to vacate. TIG appealed from that denial as well.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion to vacate and the district court’s order compelling arbitration, reversed in part its decision granting Exxon’s request for prejudgment interest, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. The court explained that vacatur was not required because this case presents only questions of law, and a non-conflicted district judge reviewed the case de novo. As to the merits, the court held that the district court did not err in compelling arbitration because the parties were subject to a binding arbitration agreement, but that the district court erred in ordering TIG to pay pre-arbitral-award interest. View "ExxonMobil Oil Corporation v. TIG Insurance Company" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from a district court's order denying injunctive relief, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal.Plaintiffs were ten students at Creighton University who brought this petition seeking to enjoin Creighton from administratively withdrawing students who did not comply with its COVID-19 vaccine policy. After a hearing, the district court denied the petitions, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to show irreparable harm or a likelihood of success on the merits. Plaintiffs appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the court's denial of a temporary injunction was not a final order, and therefore, this Court lacked jurisdiction over the appeal. View "Ramaekers v. Creighton University" on Justia Law