Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

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In this dispute between a general contractor, Bacon Construction Co., Inc., and a subcontractor, NESC, Inc., regarding an agreement to install flooring in a college dormitory the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor NESC and awarding NESC $125,733.67 in damages, holding the trial justice did not clearly err in denying Bacon's motion for a new trial, appropriately denied Bacon's request for a remittitur and properly denied NESC's cross appeal. NESC brought this suit alleging, inter alia, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Bacon filed a counterclaim against NESC alleging breach of contract and negligence. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of NESC. On appeal, Bacon challenged the trial justice's decision denying Bacon's motion for a new trial and its alternative request for a remittitur. NESC cross appealed from the denial of its motion to amend and its motion to reconsider its motion to amend. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment and orders of the superior court, holding that the court did not err. View "NESC, Inc. v. Bacon Construction Co." on Justia Law

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The patent for Lexapro, an anti-depressant, was expiring, creating a potentially lucrative opportunity to sell a generic version, escitalopram. BioPharm, a generic drug manufacturer, and Antrim planned to sign an updated version of the terms for a previous venture, but never signed a contract for the escitalopram venture. The FDA approved Antrim’s Abbreviated New Drug Application for escitalopram. Bio-Pharm manufactured the first batch but never shipped it to Antrim because the companies never signed a new agreement. Antrim sued Bio-Pharm for breaching an oral contract. Bio-Pharm counterclaimed, arguing promissory estoppel or breach of the claimed oral contract. Antrim unsuccessfully argued the court should preclude testimony by Bio-Pharm’s expert on how the FDA regulates ANDA holders. BioPharm successfully argued the court should preclude testimony by Antrim’s expert on industry practices and how Bio-Pharm’s alleged breach impaired the value of Antrim’s business. The court rejected Antrim’s proposed Jury Instruction that under FDA policy an ANDA holder owns the product underlying that ANDA and denied Antrim’s motion to bar Bio-Pharm from requesting lost profits in its counterclaim, despite missing the Rule 26(a)(1) disclosure deadline. A jury ruled in favor of Bio-Pharm on Antrim’s claim and in favor of Antrim on Bio-Pharm’s counterclaim. Neither party was awarded damages. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting Antrim’s challenges to the jury instructions, evidentiary rulings, and allowing Bio-Pharm to request lost profits. View "Antrim Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Bio-Pharm, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on Appellant's federal law claims under the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, and on the state-law claims for discrimination, retaliation based on a complaint of age discrimination, and failure to investigate and vacated the summary judgment on the state law claims for retaliation based on a report of gender discrimination, breach of contract, intentional interference with contractual relations, and defamation, holding that the court erred in granting summary judgment as to these claims. This lawsuit arose from events that led to Appellant's retirement from his position as Fire Chief for the Fire Department of the Town of Marshfield, Massachusetts. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Town on all of Appellant's federal and state law claims. The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) summary judgment was properly granted as to some of Appellant's claims; but (2) as to the remaining state law claims, there was no analogue to the common law claims in the federal law claims that were addressed, and rather than attempt to resolve the state law issues that were in dispute as to these claims, their dismissal was directed without prejudice. View "Robinson v. Town of Marshfield" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of an insurer on the grounds that the plaintiff's contractual assignment was unenforceable, holding that a residential contractor acting as an unlicensed public adjuster cannot enforce its post-loss contractual assignment of insurance benefits against the homeowner's insurer. The contractor in this case represented homeowners as an assignee of their insurance claim for storm damage to their home. The district court concluded that the contractor's contractual assignment was invalid because the contractor acted as an unlicensed public adjuster. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in ruling that the contractor acted as an unlicensed public adjuster and that the assignment contract was void and unenforceable under Iowa Code 103A.71(5). View "33 Carpenters Construction, Inc. v. IMT Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for an insurer on the grounds that the plaintiff's contractual assignment was unenforceable, holding that a residential contractor acting as an unlicensed public adjuster cannot enforce its postloss contractual assignment of insurance benefits against the homeowner's insurer. Iowa Code 103A.71(5) declares void contracts entered into by residential contractors who perform public adjuster services without the license required under Iowa Code 522C.4. The contractor in this case represented homeowners as an assignee of their insurance claim for hail damage to their home. The district court concluded that the contractor's contractual assignment was invalid under section 103A.71(5) because the contractor acted as an unlicensed public adjuster. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in ruling that the contractor acted as an unlicensed public adjuster and that the assignment contract was unenforceable and void under Iowa law. View "33 Carpenters Construction, Inc. v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Cincinnati Insurance Company in this insurance dispute, holding that, for the reasons set forth in 33 Carpenters Construction, Inc. v. State Farm Life & Casualty Co., __ N.W.2d __ (Iowa 2020), an assignment contract entered into by a residential contractor acting as an unlicensed public adjuster is void under Iowa Code 103A.71(5). After a hailstorm and windstorm damaged Gregg Whigham's residence, Whigham and 33 Carpenters Construction, Inc. entered into an agreement under which 33 Carpenters would repair the damage in exchange for Wigham's insurance proceeds. A 33 Carpenters representative and Whigham then signed an assignment of claim and benefits. Later, 33 Carpenters sued Whigham's insurer, Cincinnati, claiming that Cincinnati breached the insurance policy by failing to by 33 Carpenters all benefits due and owing under the policy that had been assigned to it. The district court granted summary judgment to Cincinnati, concluding that the purported assignment of Whigham's insurance claim was invalid. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because 33 Carpenters was operating as an unlicensed public adjuster, the assignment contract was unenforceable. View "33 Carpenters Construction, Inc. v. Cincinnati Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In this case concerning the interpretation of a contingency fee for legal services between the City of Falls City, Nebraska and two law firms, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court concluding that no fees were due under the agreement or on the firms' equitable claim and granting summary judgment for Falls City as to the claims under the fee agreement, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing both the contract and equitable claims. This appeal centered around a fee dispute between Falls City and the attorneys representing Falls City in prior litigation. The district court concluded that the contingency under the fee agreement was not met and that, thus, the first were not entitled to a fee under the agreement. The district court further concluded that the firms had no equitable rights to assert against Falls City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no merit to the firms' claim that they were entitled to a fee under the agreement and that there was no merit to the firms' equitable claim. View "DH-1, LLC v. City of Falls City" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Midwest Renewable Energy, LLC's motion to quash execution of a judgment, holding that there was no merit in Midwest Renewable's appeal. In 2010, a judgment against Midwest Renewable, the judgment debtor in this case, was transcribed. This was the second appeal brought by Midwest Renewable challenging the ownership of that judgment. Midwest Renewable argued in the first appeal that the original judgment creditor, Western Ethanol, had no interest in the judgment because it had been assigned to Douglas Vind, the managing member of Western Ethanol who requested execution after Western Ethanol dissolved. Here Midwest Renewable argued that there was no valid assignment to Vind. The district court agreed, finding that the judgment had been assigned to Vind. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Midwest Renewable's assignments of error were without merit. View "Western Ethanol Co. v. Midwest Renewable Energy" on Justia Law

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Travelers won summary judgment in this duty-to-defend insurance dispute with its insured, KLA. The superior court concluded that the language of the commercial liability insurance policies, which covered claims for “malicious prosecution,” could not have created an objectively reasonable expectation that Travelers would defend a “Walker Process claim” against KLA. The Walker Process claim that KLA tendered to Travelers alleged that KLA had fraudulently procured a patent and used that patent to attempt to monopolize the market for a product. KLA argued that it was objectively reasonable for it to expect the “malicious prosecution” coverage in its policies to extend to this Walker Process claim. The court of appeal affirmed. Coverage language is construed as of the time of issuance of the policy, so the construction of that language cannot depend on the precise allegations made in a subsequent complaint. The history of prior litigation between the parties did not change the basis for this claim into one for malicious prosecution because there were no allegations of any legal proceedings involving the patent. View "Travelers Property Casualty Co. of America v. KLA-Tencor Corp." on Justia Law

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Amey Nelson brought a negligence claim against Stefani Kaufman, the Idaho Falls Anytime Fitness, and AT Fitness, LLC. Nelson was using a weight machine at the Idaho Falls Anytime Fitness under the direction of Kaufman, a personal trainer, when Nelson injured a metacarpal bone in her hand. Nelson filed suit alleging that Kaufman had improperly instructed her on the machine’s use, which caused her injury. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Kaufman, holding that Kaufman was an express or apparent agent of Anytime Fitness and therefore released from liability under the terms of the Member Assumption of Risk and Release form Nelson signed when she joined the gym. Nelson unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration, and appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court determined Nelson did not waive her appeal by failing to expressly challenge the district court's finding of an express agency relationship. The Court determined the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Kaufman on the basis that Kaufman was an express agent of Anytime Fitness. Further, the court erred in apply the apparent agency doctrine defensively to find Kaufman was covered by the specific terms of the Membership Agreement. With judgment reversed, the Supreme Court remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings. View "Nelson v. Kaufman" on Justia Law