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The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment in favor of Western in an action alleging breach of three personal guarantees. In this case, defendant signed the guarantee agreements in conjunction with a real estate development project and Western financed the project. Western filed suit against defendant after the borrowers defaulted on the underlying loans and Western foreclosed on the property. The court held that the district court correctly identified the governing law; the two-year limitations period in TEX. PROP. CODE 51.003(a) is procedural and applied insofar as it barred Western's claim for recovery of unpaid debt under the Construction Loan; the district court shall evaluate on remand whether the Mezzanine Loan's promissory note waived notice of acceleration, and in turn, shall examine the ultimate timeliness of the Mezzanine Guarantee claim and its constituent parts under the four-year limitations period; the Completion Guarantee claim was timely; and the court upheld that district court's denial of Western's attorney’s fees and post-foreclosure construction costs. View "Western-Southern Life Assurance Co. v. Kaleh" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant for causes of action arising out of defendant's breach of contract, and for fraud. Plaintiff and defendant had entered into a contract under which plaintiff paid the purchase price for a Malibu residence to be held by defendant as the "nominal owner." The trial court rejected plaintiff's fraud claim, but found that defendant had breached the contract. The trial court denied plaintiff's request for rescission, but ordered that the property be sold and the proceeds apportioned between the parties in accordance with the contract. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court did not err by granting plaintiff relief based on defendant's breach of contract; defendant's challenge to particular provisions of the judgment were rejected; and plaintiff's appeal from an order denying his motion for leave to amend was moot. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Guan v. Hu" on Justia Law

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As Oilgear’s CEO, Hitt held restricted stock. When Hitt left his position in 2014, Oilgear exercised its option to repurchase the shares. Oilgear and Hitt agreed that he would receive $753,000: $108,000 immediately and $215,000 (plus interest) each June for the next three years. Oilgear also owes money to JPMorgan Chase Bank. Hitt, Oilgear, and the Bank signed an agreement acknowledging that Oilgear’s debt to Hitt is subordinate to Oilgear’s debt to the Bank and that Hitt will not be paid while Oilgear is in default of its obligations to the Bank. After paying the 2015 installment, Oilgear defaulted on an obligation to the Bank. The Bank agreed to waive most consequences of the default if Oilgear promised the Bank that it would not resume paying Hitt without the Bank’s consent. The Bank did not consent to the payment of Hitt’s 2016 installment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed a declaratory judgment that Oilgear is entitled to defer payment of the 2016-2017 installments. Oilgear paying Hitt without the Bank’s consent would vitiate the Bank’s waiver and a default “would exist.” View "Oilgear Co. v. Hitt" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the district court’s order dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff’s complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff, an attorney, filed a complaint for breach of contract against Defendant. The trial court dismissed the complaint with leave to amend. Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint including claims for tortious conversion and a violation of Nebraska’s Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, holding (1) neither general nor specific personal jurisdiction over Defendant existed; but (2) the district court erred in dismissing the complaint with prejudice. The court modified the district court’s order to a dismissal without prejudice. View "Nimmer v. Giga Entertainment Media, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 1995, Peoria signed a lease that allowed RTC to construct and operate a gas conversion project at the city’s landfill, providing that when the lease terminated, the city had an absolute right to retain, at no cost, the “structures” and “below‐grade installations and/or improvements” that RTC installed. Years later, RTC entered bankruptcy proceedings. Banco provided RTC with postpetition financing secured with liens and security interests in effectively all of RTC’s assets. RTC defaulted. Litigation ensued. The city notified RTC that it was terminating the lease and would retain the structures and installations. After RTC stopped operating the gas conversion project, Peoria modified the system to comply with environmental regulations for methane and other landfill gasses and continued to use the property. Banco sued, alleging unjust enrichment and arguing that it had a better claim to the property because its loan was secured by a lien on all of RTC’s assets and the bankruptcy court had given its loan “super-priority” status. The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the city. No matter the priority of its claim to RTC’s assets, Banco has no claim to Peoria’s assets. By the terms of the lease between RTC and the city, the disputed structures and installations are city property. The lease gave RTC no post‐termination property interest in that property. View "Banco Panamericano, Incorporat v. City of Peoria, Illinois" on Justia Law

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The patent, entitled “Full Duplex Single Clip Video Codec” lists co-inventors, Woo, Li, and Hsiun, and was created while they were Infochips employees. Infochips’ “receivables,” pledged as security, were seized by LM when Infochips went out of business in 1993; in 1995, LM sold Infochips’s assets to Woo. Woo assigned his interest in the patent to AVC. In 1995, AVC filed the patent's parent application. Woo and Li assigned their interests to AVC. Hsiun refused to do so. The PTO permitted AVC to prosecute the application without that assignment. AVC claimed that it obtained Hsiun’s interests by Hsiun's 1992 Employment Agreement with Infochips. The patent was issued to AVC, which later dissolved, after purporting to transfer its assets to its successors (Advanced Video). In 2011, Advanced Video filed patent infringement lawsuits. The district court found that AVC had not complied with Delaware statutes governing dissolved corporations and that no patent rights had transferred to Advanced Video. The cases were dismissed. The state court appointed a Receiver to transfer AVC's patent rights to Advanced Video. After the transfer, Advanced Video filed new infringement lawsuits, arguing that its acquisition of Hsiun’s interest was effected by the Employment Agreement’s “will assign,” trust and quitclaim provisions. The court rejected the argument and, because Hsiun was not a party to the suit, dismissed for lack of standing. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Hsiun never actually assigned her rights, despite her promises to do so. View "Advanced Video Technologies, LLC v. HTC Corp." on Justia Law

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This case involved an implied covenant to market gas. Energen owned and operated oil and gas wells in the San Juan Basin in northwestern New Mexico and southern Colorado. Its wells were subject to leases and other agreements (many of which were quite old) requiring it to pay a monthly royalty or overriding royalty on production to the Anderson Living Trust, the Pritchett Living Trust, the Neely-Robertson Revocable Family Trust (N-R Trust), and the Tatum Living Trust. Believing Energen was systematically underpaying royalties, the Trusts filed a putative class action complaint against it. The New Mexico Trusts claimed Energen was improperly deducting from their royalties their proportionate share of (1) the costs it incurs to place the gas produced from the wells in a marketable condition (postproduction costs) and (2) a privilege tax the State of New Mexico imposes on natural gas processors (the natural gas processors tax). They also alleged Energen had not timely paid royalties or interest thereon, as required by the New Mexico Oil and Gas Proceeds Payments Act. Both the New Mexico Trusts and the Tatum Trust further claimed Energen was wrongfully failing to pay royalty on the gas it used as fuel. The district judge dismissed the New Mexico Trusts’ marketable condition rule claim for failure to state a claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and entered summary judgment in favor of Energen on the remaining claims. All of the Trusts appealed those judgments. For the most part, the Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court. The Tenth Circuit’s analysis differed from that of the district court relating to: (1) the fuel gas claims made by the N-R Trust and Tatum Trust; and (2) the New Mexico Trusts’ claim under the New Mexico Oil and Gas Proceeds Payments Act. As to the former, the N-R Trust’s overriding royalty agreement required royalty to be paid on all gas produced, including that gas used as fuel. And the Tatum Trust’s leases explicitly prohibited Energen from deducting post-production costs (Energen treats its use of the fuel gas as an in-kind postproduction cost). Moreover, the “free use” clauses and royalty provisions in the Tatum Trust’s leases limited the free use of gas to that occurring on the leased premises. Because use of the fuel gas occurred off the leased premises, Energen owed royalty on that gas. With regard to the latter, the district court was right in permitting Energen to hold funds owed to the N-R Trust in a suspense account until a title issue concerning a well was resolved in favor of that Trust. However, the district court did not address whether the N-R Trust was entitled to statutory interest on those funds. It was so entitled, yet the current record (at least in the Tenth Circuit’s analysis) did not show interest to have been paid on the funds. View "Anderson Living Trust v. Energen Resources" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit considered this case en banc to modify the criteria set forth in Davis & Sons, Inc. v. Gulf Oil Corp. for determining whether a contract for performance of specialty services to facilitate the drilling or production of oil or gas on navigable waters was maritime. The court adopted a simpler, more straightforward test consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Kirby for making this determination. The court adopted a two-prong test to determine whether a contract in this context was maritime: First, was the contract one to provide services to facilitate the drilling or production of oil and gas on navigable waters? Second, if the answer to the above question was "yes," did the contract provide or do the parties expect that a vessel will play a substantial role in the completion of the contract? Applying the new test to this case, the court held that the contract was nonmaritime and controlled by Louisiana law, which barred indemnity. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for LDI and granted summary judgment for STS. View "Larry Doiron, Inc. v. Specialty Rental Tools & Supply" on Justia Law

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Burkhalter Kessler Clement & George LLP (Burkhalter) subleased a portion of its office space to the Eclipse Group LLP (Eclipse). The sublease contract had a provision for an award of reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party in the event of a lawsuit. Burkhalter later filed a complaint against Eclipse alleging breach of contract; Burkhalter also named Jennifer Hamilton, a managing partner of Eclipse, as an alter ego defendant. The two defendants were jointly represented by Avyno Law P.C. (Avyno). Burkhalter prevailed against Eclipse on the breach of contract claim; Hamilton prevailed against Burkhalter on the alter ego theory (she was dismissed with prejudice). The trial court granted Burkhalter’s motion for its attorney fees, but denied Hamilton’s motion for her attorney fees. There was no explanation for the court’s denial. Hamilton appealed, and the Court of Appeal reversed: here, both Burkhalter and Hamilton were prevailing parties on the contract. On remand, the trial court was directed to award Hamilton reasonable attorney fees that were incurred by Avyno solely in her defense, subject to the court’s sound discretion. View "Burkhalter Kessler Clement & George, LLP v. Hamilton" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to at-will employees in an action alleging breach of contract against Panera. Plaintiffs filed suit on behalf of themselves and a class of similarly situated store managers, alleging that Panera violated employee agreements by imposing a bonus cap. The court noted that under Missouri law, the agreements amounted to offers by Panera to enter into an unilateral contract; the court held that the Supreme Court of Missouri would conclude that an offerree must merely begin performance; and since each of the managers in the class here had at least begun performing under the offer, Panera could not modify the offer terms as to any manager. The court rejected Panera's contention that it reserved the power to modify or terminate its bonus offer before the managers began performing in accordance with that offer, and Panera's derivative argument that the district court should have revisited its decision to certify the class after determining that the bonus offers were offers to make a unilateral contract. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's rejection of Panera's novation, waiver, estoppel, and commercial frustration defenses. View "Boswell v. Panera Bread Co." on Justia Law