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Kansas distinguishes between legal malpractice claims: some sound in contract, others sound in tort. Plaintiff Cory Sylvia sued his former attorneys, James Wisler and David Trevino, for legal malpractice allegedly sounding in tort and breach of contract arising from their representation of Sylvia in a suit for wrongful termination against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (“Goodyear”), his former employer. Later, Sylvia amended his complaint to add as a defendant Xpressions, L.C. (“Xpressions”), a limited liability company formerly known as the Wisler Law Office, L.C. Sylvia’s initial complaint characterized his claims as sounding both in tort and in contract. Specifically, he faulted: (1) both individual defendants for failing to include in, or to later amend, his complaint to aver a workers’ compensation retaliation claim; and (2) solely Wisler for voluntarily dismissing Sylvia’s case on the erroneous belief that all claims could be refiled, causing one of his claims to become barred by the statute of limitations. For each of these claims, Sylvia advanced both tort and contract theories of liability. This case presented a difficult question of Kansas law for the Tenth Circuit's review: when do legal malpractice claims involving a failure to act sound in tort rather than contract? After review, the Tenth Circuit reversed in part and vacated in part the district court’s judgment dismissing Sylvia’s tort-based legal malpractice claims. However, regarding the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the defendants on the breach of contract claims, the Court affirmed. View "Sylvia v. Wisler" on Justia Law

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted allowance of appeal in this case to determine when the statute of limitations begins to run on an uninsured motorist (UM) claim under an insurance policy. Specifically, the issue reduced to whether the statute of limitations begins to run on an insured’s ability to initiate a court action to enforce a UM claim in a policy containing an arbitration agreement. The Superior Court held that, for the purpose of UM and underinsured motorist (UIM) claims, the statute of limitations begins to run when a claimant injured in an automobile accident first learns that the other driver is uninsured or underinsured. However, the Supreme Court determined this conclusion was not adequately grounded in the pertinent statutory text, prevailing statute of limitations doctrine, or significant public policy concerns. Accordingly, the Court held that statute of limitations principles attending contract claims apply, and that the running of the statute was commenced upon an alleged breach of a contractual duty, which in this case would be occasioned by the insurer’s denial of coverage or refusal to arbitrate. The Court therefore reversed the Superior Court’s order to the contrary. View "Erie Insurance Exchange v. Bristol" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court declined to grant mandamus relief to the Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, which sought a writ to compel the circuit court to stay arbitration of the Authority’s claims in its petition for a declaratory judgment and to reinstate the cause on the circuit court’s docket. The Authority, which leased a training facility to the St. Louis Rams, LLC, filed a three-count petition for declaratory judgment against the Rams seeking to void provisions in the lease. The Rams filed a motion to compel arbitration, asserting that the Authority’s claims fell within the scope of the lease’s arbitration provisions. The circuit court sustained the Rams’ motion to compel arbitration. In this original action, the Supreme Court held that the parties’ intent to arbitrate disputes involving the lease was clear and that any doubt as to arbitrability must be resolved in favor of the application of the arbitration clause. View "State ex rel. Regional Convention & Sports Complex Authority v. Honorable Michael D. Burton" on Justia Law

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Traill Rural Water District ("TRWD") appealed a judgment that granted damages for overdue rent to Daniel and Marlene Motter ("the Motters"). In 2006 Melba Motter, through her estate's conservator Alerus Financial, leased approximately forty acres of land in rural Steele County to TRWD at $250 per acre for ninety-nine years. Attorneys for both Melba's estate and TRWD negotiated the leases. In January 2011 Daniel Motter, grandson of Melba, and Daniel's wife Marlene acquired title to the land, including the leases. Daniel received offers from TRWD to renegotiate the leases during the period from 2006 to 2011, when he farmed the land but did not own it. Daniel reviewed the TRWD leases in 2014 and claimed back rent of $10,000 per year for the full forty acres from 2011 through 2014. TRWD offered $4,500 compared to Motter's initial calculation of $31,300. The district court acknowledged the mathematical error and adjusted to $51,500 for the five years from 2011 to 2015. The parties' different interpretations led to this lawsuit. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in denying reformation of two leases on the Motters' land and did not abuse its discretion in granting a new trial. View "Motter v. Traill Rural Water District" on Justia Law

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General Motors provides sales incentives to dealers who sell cars to GM employees, retirees, and their family members at a discounted rate. The dealer must collect a signed agreement from the purchaser that establishes his eligibility for the program. In 2014, GM audited one of its Ohio dealers, Sims, and discovered transactions in which Sims had failed to collect the agreement from purchasers within the timeline set by GM in a 2012 dealership bulletin. GM debited Sims’ account $47,493.28 for improper incentive payments. Sims is located near a large GM plant in Lordstown, and the Purchase Program accounts for 80% to 90% of its sales. Sims filed suit alleging breach of contract and violations of the Ohio Dealer Act. The district court granted GM summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The parties’ dealership arrangement permitted the debit and a timely filed Consumer Dealer Agreement constitutes “material documentation” under Section 4517.59(A)(20)(a) of the Ohio Dealer Act. View "Sims Buick-GMC Truck, Inc. v. General Motors, LLC" on Justia Law

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Jesse Craig appealed a judgment awarding TJ Haugrud $120,000 plus interest on Haugrud's breach of contract claim against Craig, dismissing Craig's counterclaims against Haugrud, and sanctioning Craig's attorney $5,000. Haugrud and Craig formed Acquisition, LLC, for the purpose of developing, owning and managing real estate, and each were 50 percent owners of the limited liability company. In October 2016, Haugrud and Craig entered into a written agreement for Craig to purchase Haugrud's interest in the company for $130,000 payable in two installments. Craig paid $10,000 by November 1, 2016 for the first installment, but did not pay the $120,000 second installment which was due by December 1, 2016. Haugrud sued Craig for breach of contract seeking the unpaid installment of $120,000. Craig filed a counterclaim against Haugrud alleging actual fraud, constructive fraud, deceit, unintentional misrepresentation, and civil conspiracy in connection with the parties' business dealings, including transactions between their respective business entities that were not made parties to the lawsuit. The district court granted summary judgment on Haugrud's breach of contract claim because Craig "conceded" he failed to make the second installment payment required by the contract. The court also dismissed Craig's counterclaims for failure to state claims upon which relief can be granted because Craig "treats [Haugrud] as an individual with respect of his sole interest" in the limited liability companies, Craig "made no allegation to pierce the corporate veil," and Craig "treats his own interest" in the limited liability companies "as giving rise to personal claims" which belong to the separate entities. The court further found Craig's "attempt to make [Haugrud] responsible as a shareholder of a corporation, the obligations of the corporation, is not grounded in law" and awarded Haugrud $5,000 in attorney fees as a sanction assessed against Craig's counsel. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on Haugrud's breach of contract claim. The Court reversed dismissal of Craig's counterclaims on the pleadings and the sanction, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Haugrud v. Craig" on Justia Law

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Keith Candee appealed the grant of summary judgment to his parents, Lyla and Douglas Candee, awarding them an $884,508.83 deficiency judgment following foreclosure of properties in California and North Dakota. Keith and his parents executed a settlement agreement and mutual release of claims in 2013 relating to earlier disputes between the parties about the management of their family assets. Under the settlement agreement, Keith agreed to pay $2.2 million to Lyla and Douglas. The $2.2 million settlement amount was secured by real property in California and North Dakota. A deed of trust in favor of Lyla and Douglas secured the California property, and a mortgage secured the property in North Dakota. The deed of trust securing the California property included a power of sale provision allowing Lyla and Douglas to foreclose the property in a nonjudicial manner via a trustee's sale. After Keith failed to make payments under the settlement agreement, Lyla and Douglas foreclosed the California property. They proceeded with a nonjudicial foreclosure and in January 2014 purchased the property at a trustee's sale for a credit bid of $200,000. Lyla and Douglas foreclosed the North Dakota property and purchased the property for $975,000 at a July 2015 sheriff's sale. In September 2015, Lyla and Douglas sued Keith in North Dakota for a deficiency judgment for the difference between the amount Keith owed under the settlement agreement and the amount Lyla and Douglas obtained through foreclosure of the properties. Keith argued a deficiency judgment was not available under the agreement because California law applied and a deficiency judgment was prohibited under California law. The district court concluded California law applied only to the California property and granted summary judgment to Lyla and Douglas. The court entered an $884,508.83 deficiency judgment against Keith. On appeal, Keith maintained the California anti-deficiency statutes applied to the settlement agreement, and those statutes barred a deficiency judgment in this case. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed and remanded, concluding California law barred a deficiency judgment in this case as a matter of law. View "Candee v. Candee" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Allstate after the insurance company denied their homeowner's insurance claim. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Allstate's motion for judgment as a matter of law. In regard to the breach of contract claim, the court held that plaintiffs failed to present sufficient evidence of the home's value and the personal property's value before or after the fire. Furthermore, a bankruptcy filing was insufficient to establish value. In this case, plaintiffs could have submitted an estimate of the personal property's value immediately before the fire, but they did not. Values on their proof-of-loss list were estimates of original purchase prices and it did not account for deterioration, obsolescence, or other depreciation as required by the policy and under Missouri law. Because plaintiff's vexatious refusal claim was derivative of their breach of contract claim, the court affirmed as to that claim. View "Aziz v. Allstate Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s complaint and Defendant’s counterclaim for damages and declaratory judgment. This case stemmed from a purchase agreement entered into by the parties in which Plaintiff was to provide various equipment and services to Defendant for a telecommunications switch room. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court incorrectly concluded that Plaintiff breached the purchase agreement by filing a petition for bankruptcy protection under chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code; and (2) the trial court erred in determining that Defendant was within its rights to terminate the purchase agreement upon Plaintiff’s initiation of bankruptcy proceedings. View "CCT Communications, Inc. v. Zone Telecom, Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the City of Fairmont, which entered into a lease purchase agreement for equipment with Comvest, Ltd., may assert claims and defenses against Blue Ridge Bank - to whom Comvest assigned its interest in the lease purchase agreement, including its right to the City’s monthly payments - based on Comvest’s conversion of funds designated for the purchase of the equipment. The Supreme Court held (1) the Bank took its assignment subject to the City’s claims and defenses arising from Comvest’s breach of the lease purchase agreement; and (2) therefore, the City may assert claims and defenses against the Bank based on Comvest’s conversion. View "Blue Ridge Bank, Inc. v. City of Fairmont" on Justia Law