Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

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LS, a trucking company, also operates as a broker of construction trucking services. Under a 2009 oral agreement between LS and Cheema, Cheema purchased a Super Dump Truck, with the understanding that LS would purchase the truck’s detachable box from Cheema. As the box owner, LS would give priority to Cheema in dispatching assignments to Cheema as a subhauler. The parties entered a written “Subhauler and Trailer Rental Agreement” under which Cheema would submit to LS completed freight bills for all hauling that he performed for LS; LS would prepare statements showing the amount billed payable to Cheema, less a 7.5 percent brokerage fee and, if the work was performed with a box owned by LS, a 17.5 percent rental fee. Cheema began providing hauling services. Cheema claimed that because LS failed to pay him the $32,835.09 purchase price of the box, it remained his, and LS was not entitled to deduct rental fees from the payments due him. In June 2010, LS began paying Cheema $1,000 a month for nine months, noting on the checks that the payments were repayment of a “loan.” Cheema recovered damages from L.S. for having been underpaid and untimely payments. The court of appeal affirmed but remanded for calculation of prejudgment interest and penalty interest (Civil Code 3287, 3322.1), rejecting LS’s argument that the parties’ oral agreement for Cheema to sell it the box, justifying its deductions for rental, was enforceable. View "Cheema v. L.S. Trucking, Inc." on Justia Law

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National, hoping to contract with the federal government to provide student loan collection services, reached an Agreement with Net Gain, which procured networking relationships for its clients. In return for introductions, National agreed to pay a finder’s fee for any related contract that National “consummated” during the Agreement’s term. A few years later, Net Gain assigned the Agreement to Fed Cetera. During the effective period of the Agreement, National signed a contract with the government. It did not begin performance on that contract until after the Agreement’s applicable period ended. National refused to pay the finder’s fee, arguing that it had not “consummated” the federal contract. The district court ruled in favor of National. The Third Circuit reversed. The Agreement did not require some degree of performance while the Agreement was in force in order for a contract to be “consummated.” A Fee Transaction is consummated when it is formed, not when performance has begun. The economics of the contract are plausible only if Fed Cetera’s compensation turns on the satisfactory completion of its function—not events, like performance by National, that post-date the only service Fed Cetera performs and are outside of its control. View "Fed Cetera LLC v. National Credit Services Inc" on Justia Law

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Sapa manufactures aluminum extruded profiles, pre-treats the metal and coats it with primer and topcoat. For decades, Sapa supplied “organically coated extruded aluminum profiles” to Marvin, which incorporated these extrusions with other materials to manufacture aluminum-clad windows and doors. This process was permanent, so if an extrusion was defective, it could not be swapped out; the whole window or door had to be replaced. In 2000-2010, Marvin bought about 28 million Sapa extrusions and incorporated them in about 8.5 million windows and doors. Marvin sometimes received complaints that the aluminum parts of its windows and doors would oxidize or corrode. The companies initially worked together to resolve the issues. In the mid-2000s, there was an increase in complaints, mostly from people who lived close to the ocean. In 2010, Marvin sued Sapa, alleging that Sapa had sold it extrusions that failed to meet Marvin’s specifications. In 2013, the companies settled their dispute for a large sum. Throughout the relevant period, Sapa maintained 28 commercial general liability insurance policies through eight carriers. Zurich accepted the defense under a reservation of rights, but the Insurers disclaimed coverage. Sapa sued them, asserting breach of contract. The district court held that Marvin’s claims were not an “occurrence” that triggered coverage. The Third Circuit vacated in part, citing Pennsylvania insurance law: whether a manufacturer may recover from its liability insurers the cost of settling a lawsuit alleging that the manufacturer’s product was defective turns on the language of the specific policies. Nineteen policies, containing an Accident Definition of “occurrence,” do not cover Marvin’s allegations, which are solely for faulty workmanship. Seven policies contain an Expected/Intended Definition that triggers a subjective-intent standard that must be considered on remand. Two policies with an Injurious Exposure Definition also include the Insured’s Intent Clause and require further consideration. View "Sapa Extrusions, Inc. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court in this landlord-tenant dispute, holding that the parties' rent-to-buy agreement was not a land-sale contract but a rental agreement subject to Indiana's residential landlord-tenant statutes. Plaintiffs and Defendants entered into a purported rent-to-buy contract regarding a house. When Defendants fell behind in their payments, Plaintiffs tried to evict them. The case resulted in a small claims court order allowing Plaintiffs to retake possession. On appeal, Plaintiffs sought damages and attorney's fees, plus costs to clean and re-rent the property. Defendants asserted various counterclaims, including failure to meet landlord obligations under the residential landlord-tenant statutes. The trial court entered judgment for Defendants, concluding, inter alia, that the agreement was unlawful and unenforceable. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) the parties' agreement was subject to the protections afforded by the residential landlord-tenant statutes; and (2) Defendants' claim that Plaintiffs violated Indiana's Deceptive Consumer Sales Act was without merit. View "Rainbow Realty Group, Inc. v. Carter" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of their state tort claims against defendants, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress, tortious interference with contract, and negligent supervision or retention. Plaintiffs' claims stemmed from the actions of Fox News employees after their son, Seth Rich, was murdered during a botched robbery. A Fox News Reporter, Malia Zimmerman, and a Fox News commentator, Ed Butowsky, recruited a contributor to infiltrate the Rich family in order to find information to give credence to a conspiracy theory that Seth had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks and was assassinated for doing so. Applying de novo review, the Second Circuit held that the allegations in the complaint sufficiently stated a claim for intentional or reckless "extreme and outrageous" conduct against the Riches on the part of defendants; the complaint plausibly alleged that defendants tortiously interfered with the contract between the Riches and the contributor, who the Riches hired as a private investigator to look into the circumstances of Seth's death; and an amended complaint could likely cure any defect in plaintiffs' claim of negligent supervision or retention regarding the employment relationship between Fox News and Zimmerman and Wheeler. The court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Rich v. Fox News Network, LLC" on Justia Law

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Parke Bancorp (“Parke”) made a loan to 659 Chestnut LLC (“659 Chestnut”) in 2016 to finance the construction of an office building in Newark, Delaware. 659 Chestnut pleaded a claim in the Superior Court for money damages in the amount of a 1% prepayment penalty it had paid under protest when it paid off the loan. The basis of 659 Chestnut’s claim was that the parties were mutually mistaken as to the prepayment penalty provisions of the relevant loan documents. Parke counterclaimed for money damages in the amount of a 5% prepayment penalty, which it claimed was provided for in the agreement. After a bench trial, the Superior Court agreed with 659 Chestnut and entered judgment in its favor. After review, the Delaware Supreme Court reversed and directed entry of judgment in Parke’s favor on 659 Chestnut’s claim. Although Parke loan officer Timothy Cole negotiated on behalf of Parke and represented to 659 Chestnut during negotiations that there was a no-penalty window, the parties stipulated that: (1) everyone knew that Cole did not have authority to bind Parke to loan terms; and (2) everyone also knew that any terms proposed by Cole required both final documentation and approval by Parke’s loan committee. It was evident to the Supreme Court that 659 Chestnut did not offer clear and convincing evidence that Parke’s loan committee agreed to something other than the terms in the final loan documents. Accordingly, it Directed entry of judgment for Parke. View "Parke Bancorp Inc., et al. v. 659 Chestnut LLC" on Justia Law

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Baker Hughes filed suit against UE for breach of contract and express and implied warranties after a containerized air booster compressor manufactured by UE ruptured and injured a Baker Hughes contractor. The express warranty pertinent to the claims at issue was contained in section 28 of the LOGIC Terms. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of UE, holding that this was a claim of breach of warranty, not breach of contract; the express warranty for defects correction expired, taking with it Baker Hughes's remedy for the defective booster; the implied warranties were displaced by Section 28's express warranty and by Section 4.3's complete allocation of responsibility for the boosters' design to Baker Hughes; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding monetary sanctions against Baker Hughes in light of its delay in shipping the valve at issue. View "Baker Hughes Process & Pipeline Services, LLC v. UE Compression, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this breach of contract case the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Appellant's Wyo. R. Civ. P. 60(b) motion, holding that neither documents in a party's possession nor public records in existence at the time of trial are newly discovered evidence if, with due diligence, they could have been discovered prior to trial. In its rule 60(b) motion Appellant argued that two pieces of evidence - one of which it possessed and the other which was a matter of public record at the time of trial - constituted newly discovered evidence. The trial court denied the motion. Appellant appealed, arguing that it was not for a lack of due diligence that it did not discover the documents in its physical possession or data available on a website prior to trial. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding the evidence was not newly discovered because Appellant failed to exercise due diligence. View "SWC Production, Inc. v. Wold Energy Partners, LLC" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from the parties' longstanding dispute over the literary works of John Steinbeck. In this case, a federal jury in Los Angeles unanimously awarded plaintiff, as executrix of Elaine's estate (Elaine was the widow of Steinbeck), compensatory damages for slander of title, breach of contract, and tortious interference with economic advantage, and punitive damages against defendants. Determining that it had jurisdiction, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the orders granting summary judgment and striking defendants' defenses to tortious interference on grounds of collateral estoppel. Furthermore, the panel explained that it follows that the district court's decisions to exclude evidence related to defendants' different understanding of the agreement at issue or the validity of the prior court decisions were not abuses of discretion. The panel affirmed the compensatory damages award, holding that the record contained substantial evidence to support the awards on each cause of action independently. Furthermore, the compensatory damages were not speculative. The panel held that there was more than ample evidence of defendants' malice in the record to support the jury's verdict, thus triggering entitlement to punitive damages. However, the panel vacated and remanded with instructions to dismiss the punitive damages claims against Gail, Steinbeck's daughter-in-law, based on lack of meaningful evidence of Gail's financial condition and her ability to pay. View "Kaffaga v. The Estate of Thomas Steinbeck" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of their claims against Sequoia Fund, alleging that Sequoia Fund breached a contractual obligation not to concentrate its investments in a single industry. The Second Circuit agreed with the district court's alternative holding and affirmed the judgment. The court assumed, without deciding, that plaintiffs plausibly alleged the existence of a contract that included the Concentration Policy as an enforceable term that could not be changed without a shareholder vote. Even assuming the existence of a binding contract, however, the court held that plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege a breach. In this case, because the SEC's 1998 Guidance ‐‐ and by extension the Concentration Policy ‐‐ allows for the passive increases at issue, plaintiffs have failed to allege a violation of the Concentration Policy. View "Edwards v. Sequoia Fund, Inc." on Justia Law