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Wakaya Perfection, LLC and its principals sued Youngevity International Corp. and its principals in Utah state court. The Youngevity parties responded by bringing their own suit against the Wakaya parties in a California federal district court, then removing the Utah case to federal court. These steps resulted in concurrent federal cases sharing at least some claims and issues. The California litigation progressed; and in November 2017, the federal district court in Utah ordered dismissal. The issues presented for the Tenth Circuit's review centered on whether: (1) the federal district court should have abstained from exercising jurisdiction under the Colorado River Water Conservation District v. United States, 424 U.S. 800 (1976) test; and (2) and arbitrator would have needed to decide the arbitrability of Wakaya's claims. The Tenth Circuit reversed on both grounds: the federal trial court applied the wrong abstention test and erroneously ruled that an arbitrator should have decided whether Wakaya's claims were arbitrable. View "Wakaya Perfection, LLC v. Youngevity International" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Medalist in an action seeking damages for breach of contract and promissory estoppel. Plaintiff operates Cane Creek, which supplies, grows, and delivers sod. Medalist specializes in building high-end golf courses. The parties' dispute stemmed from a Grass Supplier Agreement to reserve grasses for a set price. The court held that Medalist was entitled to summary judgment on the breach of contract claim because plaintiff could not show that Medalist wrongfully rejected the sod. The court also held that a reasonable jury could find that an enforceable requirements contract existed in this case, which could bar plaintiff from recovery under a theory of promissory estoppel. Even if a promissory estoppel claim were available, the court held that this was not the extreme case that would entitle plaintiff to such extraordinary relief. View "Williams v. Medalist Golf, Inc." on Justia Law

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This appeal grew out of a battle between the majority and minority owners of units in an investment vehicle. The majority unitholder wanted to merge, but this would require the minority to sell their units or convert them to shares in a newly created entity. The minority unitholders balked because they wanted to retain their original units, but the majority unitholder approved the merger, terminating the minority’s units in the process. The termination of these units led the minority to sue. The issue presented for the Tenth Circuit’s review reduced to one of “classic” contract interpretation: did the contract empower the majority unitholder to approve a merger that eliminated and replaced the minority unitholders’ units without providing an opportunity for a class vote? The district court concluded “yes,” and the Tenth Circuit concurred. View "Stender v. Archstone-Smith" on Justia Law

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In this contract interpretation case, the Supreme Court reversed the portion of the court of appeals decision ruling that a critical paragraph in a commercial real estate lease was ambiguous and that, as a result, interpretation of the contract was a matter for a jury to resolve, holding that the pertinent provisions of the lease served as a complete bar to Plaintiff lessees’ negligence-based claims against Defendants, one of which was the lessor. At issue was the operation of the lease provisions regarding insurance and liability when the lessees sought damages allegedly caused by the lessor’s negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that the pertinent lease provision was not ambiguous and was a complete defense to the claims raised in the complaint. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the provision was ambiguous in that it did not clearly reflect the intent of the parties to bar negligence claims against each other. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the language of the lease arrangements reflected the clear intent of the parties to discharge each other from all claims and liabilities for damages resulting from hazards covered by insurance; and (2) the damages claims by the lessees resulted from a hazard that was subject to their insurance coverage. View "Morrell v. Hardin Creek, Inc." on Justia Law

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Chance Innis, Cammie Wold, and Roadrunner Hotshot & Services, LLC ("RHS"), appealed a judgment awarding Louis Tornabeni $145,536.53 from Innis, and awarding Tornabeni $477,521.49, jointly and severally, from Wold and RHS. Innis and Wold were brother and sister. Innis operated a sole proprietorship doing business as Roadrunner Hotshot, which initially delivered goods to, and cleaned shacks at, oil rigs in western North Dakota and later began renting equipment to oil companies including Continental Resources. Wold operated Roadrunner Hotshot for Innis until April 11, 2011, when he transferred the business to her and she renamed and reorganized the company as Roadrunner Hotshot & Services, LLC. DTC Consulting employed Tornabeni as a drilling consultant in western North Dakota and assigned him to work on oil rigs operated by Continental Resources as part of his employment with DTC Consulting. Tornabeni and Wold began a romantic relationship in late 2009 or early 2010. According to Tornabeni, he met with Innis, Wold, and Nick Barker at a Williston, North Dakota, restaurant in the spring of 2010. Tornabeni testified he and Innis orally agreed that Tornabeni would provide equipment to Innis, and Innis, through his business, would then rent the equipment to Continental Resources under a Master Service Agreement. According to Tornabeni, the parties agreed he would receive ninety percent of the rental profits, and Innis would receive ten percent of the rental profits. Tornabeni provided equipment to Innis from July 2010 until Innis transferred his business to Wold in April 2011. Tornabeni continued to provide the equipment rented by Continental Resources after Innis transferred his business to Wold. According to Tornabeni, he arranged the equipment rentals to Continental Resources and for the payments by Continental Resources to RHS. Tornabeni's involvement with equipment rentals to Continental Resources ended on January 1, 2013, and his romantic relationship with Wold ended in June 2013. Tornabeni sued Innis, Wold, and RHS, alleging Innis breached their oral contract requiring Innis to pay Tornabeni ninety percent of rental income generated from equipment owned by Tornabeni and rented to Continental Resources from July 2010 through April 11, 2011. Tornabeni also alleged that after Innis transferred his business to Wold, Wold and RHS were unjustly enriched by the rental of equipment to Continental from April 2011 through December 2012. The district court determined that Innis and Tornabeni had an oral contract requiring Innis to pay Tornabeni ninety percent of the rental profit from equipment rentals and that Innis breached the oral contract. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed judgment against Innis, Wold and RHS. View "Tornabeni v. Wold" on Justia Law

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Hurley Oil Properties, Inc. and Bill Seerup appealed a judgment awarding money damages instead of specific performance for Orville Hiepler's breach of contract, the Mineral Deed, conveying real property. Seerup and Hurley argued the mineral deed signed by Hiepler was enforceable and required Hiepler to convey the real property currently held by the revocable trust of which he is a settlor, trustee, and beneficiary. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the mineral deed signed by Hiepler, settlor of the revocable trust, required conveyance of the property and accordingly, the district court erred in refusing to grant specific performance. View "Dale Exploration, LLC v. Hiepler" on Justia Law

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Shannon Bakke appeals a judgment in favor of Magi-Touch Carpet One Floor & Home, Inc. and denial of her motion to amend her complaint. Bakke entered into a contract with Magi-Touch for the installation of floor tiles, a shower base, and related products in a bathroom within Bakke's home. Magi-Touch arranged to have the shower base and tile installed by VA Solutions, LLC, an independent contractor. Bakke contended the shower door was improperly installed; the improper installation resulted in the shower door imploding, and the implosion caused damage to property in and around the shower requiring the bathroom door and trim to be repainted. Bakke argued the district court erred in concluding she could not pursue a claim against Magi-Touch because Magi-Touch was not liable for the acts of its independent contractor. Bakke also asserts the district court erred in denying, as futile, her motion to amend her complaint to assert a contract claim against Magi-Touch. Assuming Bakke properly asserted a claim for breach of the parties' contract, the North Dakota Supreme Court held the delegation of Magi-Touch's obligation to provide labor to VA Solutions did not preclude a cause of action against Magi-Touch for a breach of the contract. Further, the Court held the existence of the independent contractor did not relieve Magi-Touch of its obligation to perform under the terms of its contract with Bakke. In the context of a claim for a breach of the parties' contract, the amendment was not futile and should have been allowed. The Court affirmed as to all other issues, and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Bakke v. Magi-Touch Carpet One Floor & Home, Inc." on Justia Law

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In a contract dispute between film producer Adam Rosenfelt and the Mississippi Development Authority ("MDA"), Rosenfelt claimed the MDA promised loan guarantees so he could make movies in Mississippi. He made one film, which was not financially successful, and the MDA refused to guarantee the loan for his next project. Rosenfelt claimed the MDA breached a contract with him, personally. The Mississippi Supreme Court concluded Rosenfelt lacked standing to file suit: the actual documents showed any agreement was between the MDA and one or more LLCs, not Rosenfelt personally. Furthermore, the Court determined no error has been shown as to the dismissal of one of those LLCs, Element Studios, LLC, for want of standing. View "Rosenfelt v. Mississippi Development Authority" on Justia Law

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In 2014, Vesuvius and ACBL entered into a shipping contract to transport olivine sand from New Orleans to Vesuvius’s Wurtland, Kentucky facility by river barge. The January 2015 shipment arrived at the discharge port on February 20. Vesuvius’s employees inspected the cargo, found it damaged by excess moisture, and notified ACBL. ACBL arranged for a surveyor to perform an inspection that same day. The surveyor found no structural defect in the barge and concluded that the sand was wet when it was loaded. In transit, some of that water evaporated, condensed on the overhead portion of the cargo space, and dripped back onto the sand. The surveyor filed his report with ACBL on February 23. ACBL promptly contacted Vesuvius to disclaim any liability. On February 1, 2017, Vesuvius filed suit. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal of the case. The contract contained a clear limitations provision requiring the parties to bring disputes within four months of an incident. Standing on its own, the limitations provision might be ambiguous, but read in context with the rest of the contract, there is no question that Vesuvius was required to file suit no later than four months after it discovered the damage. View "Vesuvius USA, Corp. v. American Commercial Lines, LLC" on Justia Law

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FAMC and UNB entered into a 2005 Correspondent Loan Purchase Agreement: FAMC would purchase mortgage loans from UNB; UNB made representations and warranties, including that there would be no fact or circumstance that would entitle a subsequent purchaser to demand repurchase of a loan. UNB agreed to repurchase any loans if a representation or warranty turned out to be false or if a subsequent buyer required that FAMC repurchase the loan. UNB promised to indemnify FAMC for losses due to any misrepresentation or breach of the Agreement. UNB later agreed to perform underwriting for loans it sold to FAMC. The 2006 “Salvino Loan” and the 2007 “Turner Loan” were underwritten by UNB. FAMC resold both to Wells Fargo. In 2010, Wells Fargo notified FAMC that it had identified defects in the underwriting for both loans and demanded that FAMC repurchase the Salvino Loan and indemnify with respect to the Turner Loan. FAMC paid Wells Fargo $231,225.33. UNB refused to repurchase or indemnify. To cut its losses, FAMC resold the Salvino Loan. In 2013, FAMC sued. The district court granted FAMC summary judgment, awarding $188,858.71 in damages. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The repurchase and indemnification provisions created independent contractual obligations, so the claims did not accrue until 2010 and 2011, when FAMC incurred its losses; the 2013 complaint was timely. FAMC produced sufficient evidence of breach and causation and its mitigation efforts were reasonable. View "Franklin American Mortgage Co. v. The University National Bank of Lawrence" on Justia Law