Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Harrison Co., L.L.C. executed a credit agreement with A-Z Wholesalers, Inc. to supply A-Z with tobacco products and other goods. Barkat Ali personally guaranteed A-Z’s payment. A-Z fell behind $2.6 million on payments for the goods it received, so Harrison sued for breach of contract and breach of guaranty actions against A-Z and Ali. The district court granted summary judgment for Harrison.A-Z and Ali argue there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the sales that Harrison is seeking payment for were, in reality, sales from Imperial following the merger of the two companies. The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court wrote that Imperial and Harrison are—and always have been—separate entities with their own employees, customers, and warehouses. As the district court explained, A-Z and Ali do not allege, let alone present evidence, “that A-Z experienced any changes in ordering procedures, pricing, delivery schedules, type or brand of goods, inventory availability, or any other indicia that . . . [shows] it was no longer doing business with Harrison.” Therefore, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment. View "Harrison Company v. A-Z Whsle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court finding that there was no default of the loan in this case and issuing a wide-ranging preliminary injunction reaching matters that were not argued or briefed, holding that the district court erred in disregarding the loan agreements' provisions setting forth what constituted a default.At issue before the Supreme Court was the conditions under which a lender or its assignee is entitled to the appointment of a receiver after a borrower defaults on a real property loan agreement. Once Borrower in this case assumed ownership of properties housing multi-family apartment complexes the lender observed a significant decrease in occupancy. Observing that significant repairs were needed and relying on specific provisions in the loan agreements Lender demanded deposits into repair and replacement escrow accounts. Lender deemed a default when Borrower did not make the deposits. Lender sued and sought a receiver. Borrower countersued alleging breach of contract and seeking injunctive relief. The district court granted judgment for Borrower. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court (1) abused its discretion in refusing to appoint a receiver on Borrower's default; and (2) abused its discretion in issuing a preliminary injunction. View "Federal National Mortgage Ass'n v. Westland Liberty Village, LLC" on Justia Law

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The United States Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington certified a question of law to the Washington Supreme Court. Cox Construction was the general contractor of a remodeling project. Cox hired Baker & Son Construction, Inc. as a subcontractor. A Baker employee allegedly caused a two-by-four to fall from a railing and strike Ronnie Cox, owner of Cox Construction, who later died from his injury. Baker allegedly called an insurance agent to alert them of the incident. The agent told Baker that no action needed to be taken because at that time, no claim existed. A few months later, Baker received a wrongful death claim from an attorney representing Cox’s widow. Baker notified its insurer, Preferred Contractors Insurance Company (PCIC) of the claim. PCIC denied coverage, but agreed to defend Baker under a reservation of rights. The certified question to the Washington Supreme Court related to the “claims-made” nature of the policy and the timing of Baker’s tender of Ms. Cox’s claim. The Supreme Court replied to the certified question that in light of RCW 18.27, a contractor’s commercial general liability insurance policy that requires the loss to occur and be reported within the same policy year, and provides neither neither prospective nor retroactive coverage violates Washington’s public policy. View "Preferred Contractors Ins. Co. v. Baker & Son Constr., Inc." on Justia Law

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AFC Franchising is an Alabama LLC with its principal place of business in Shelby County, Alabama. Defendant is a resident of New York. Defendant signed a “Master Developer Agreement” with another company, Doctors Express Franchising, to develop urgent-care centers in New York and Connecticut.   After a series of acquisitions, AFC was assigned Doctors Express’s end of the bargain in 2013, and Defendant was notified of the assignment When the parties’ relationship soured, Purugganan threatened to sue AFC in either Connecticut or New York. AFC believed that the floating forum-selection clause required Defendant to sue in Alabama, where AFC had its principal place of business. It thus sought a declaratory judgment in Alabama state court (1) that the parties had to litigate their dispute in Alabama and (2) that AFC hadn’t breached the Master Developer Agreement.   The district court sided with Defendant on the personal jurisdiction issue. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s decision and held that, in the circumstances presented, the clause is applicable and enforceable. The court explained that the court erred in dismissing for lack of personal jurisdiction. By voluntarily agreeing to an applicable and enforceable floating forum-selection clause, Defendant waived his right to contest personal jurisdiction in this dispute. Further, Defendant offers no reason why he might have consented to personal jurisdiction but not venue. View "AFC Franchising, LLC v. Danilo Purugganan" on Justia Law

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Taizhou, a Chinese manufacturer, entered into a Cooperation Agreement with Z Outdoor, a Wisconsin company owned by Casual Products: Taizhou would manufacture outdoor furniture and other related items for Z Outdoor to sell to customers. Z Outdoor eventually stopped paying Taizhou. The Cornings, on behalf of Z Outdoor, made false statements about future business, forthcoming payments, and causes for the delays. Taizhou continued to fill customer orders without receiving compensation. In 2018, AFG (a Wisconsin LLC also owned by Casual) started submitting purchase orders to Taizhou. AFG never signed the Cooperation Agreement. Taizhou filled the orders and sent AFG invoices. AFG eventually stopped paying Taizhou and made false statements regarding payment delays. The total due from Z Outdoor and AFG accrued to $14 million for purchase orders sent, 2017-2019.The district court entered a default judgment against the corporate defendants on Taizhou's contract claims but ruled against Taizhou on unjust enrichment, fraud, and conversion claims, finding the fraud and conversion claims barred by Wisconsin’s economic loss doctrine and q “mere repackaging of Taizhou’s ‘straightforward breach of contract claim.’” The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Any fraud was interwoven with the Cooperation Agreement, so the economic loss doctrine applies. To the extent the damages amounted to lost profits or lost business, those are also economic losses under Wisconsin law. View "Taizhou Yuanda Investment Group Co., Ltd. v. Z Outdoor Living, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiffs' hybrid breach of contract and fair representation claim, their Takings Clause claim, and their claim for declaratory relief, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.Plaintiffs, five sergeants in the City of Cranston Police Department, brought this lawsuit against the City of Cranston, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 301 (the Union), and Matthew Josefson. Plaintiffs were promoted to the rank of sergeant during the time period between Josefson's demotion and reinstatement and then, after Josefson's reinstatement, moved down one position in sergeant rank seniority. Plaintiffs brought suit, alleging several claims. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants on all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs' claims failed. View "Barth v. City of Cranston" on Justia Law