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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Respondents in this action in which Respondents added Petitioner as a defendant. Respondents settled a lawsuit against certain companies (the Brozik companies) for failing to pay the purchase price under an agreement to buy the assets of Respondents’ business. The circuit court later awarded Respondents $47,184 to be paid by the Brozik companies based upon the cessation of payments pursuant to the settlement. This judgment became a lien. The assets of one of the Brozik companies was then sold to Petitioner, and Respondents amended their complaint to add Petitioner as a defendant. In reversing the circuit court's judgment, the Supreme Court held that Respondents did not satisfy their burden of showing the absence of any genuine issues of material fact, and therefore, summary judgment should not have been granted. View "Kourt Security Partners, LLC v. Judy's Locksmiths, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Peak Powder River Resources, LLC (Peak) and against Bear Peak Resources, LLC (Bear) in this action alleging breach of contract, among other claims. Bear and Peak had agreed to work together in acquiring mineral interests for development, but Peak later obtained some mineral interests without compensating Bear and terminated the parties’ agreement. Bear filed suit. The district court determined that Peak was entitled to summary judgment on all of Bear’s claims. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court (1) properly granted Peak’s motion for summary judgment on Bear’s breach of the implied covenant, breach of fiduciary duty, and accounting claims; (2) properly concluded that the parties’ contract was unambiguous; and (3) did not err in determining that Peak was entitled to summary judgment on several of the individual breach of contract claims, but genuine issues of material fact existed on the remaining claims. View "Bear Peak Resources, LLC v. Peak Powder River Resources, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging breach of contract, defamation, and tortious interference with a prospective economic advantage. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. In this case, plaintiff believed that she had voluntarily withdrawn from her postgraduate clinical research fellowship, but defendants reported to plaintiff's employer, the US Air Force, that she had been terminated for cause. The DC Circuit held that, because there was a genuine factual dispute as to whether defendants gave plaintiff's employer false information, the district court incorrectly granted summary judgment on the defamation claims. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded as to those claims. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the remaining claims. View "Burns v. Levy" on Justia Law

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In 2009, Bancorp, which provides checking and savings accounts to individuals, purchased a bankers’ professional liability insurance policy from Federal. The policy stated: [Federal] shall pay, on behalf of an Insured, Loss on account of any Claim first made against such Insured during the Policy Period … for a Wrongful Act committed by an Insured or any person for whose acts the Insured is legally liable while performing Professional Services, including failure to perform Professional Services" but that Federal “shall not be liable for Loss on account of any Claim … based upon, arising from, or in consequence of any fees or charges” (Exclusion 3(n)). The 2010 Swift Complaint sought damages for Bancorp's "unfair and unconscionable assessment and collection of excessive overdraft fees.” Swift sought to represent a class of all U.S. BancorpSouth customers who "incurred an overdraft fee as a result of BancorpSouth’s practice of re-sequencing debit card transactions from highest to lowest.” In 2016, Bancorp agreed to pay $24 million to resolve all the claims, $8.4 million of which was for attorney’s fees, plus $500,000 in class administrative costs. Federal denied coverage. The Seventh Circuit agreed that Exclusion 3(n) excluded from coverage losses arising from fees and affirmed the dismissal of breach of contract claims and a bad faith claim. View "BancorpSouth Inc. v. Federal Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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After remand, the trial court ruled that H.A.S. Electrical Contractors, Inc. (HAS) failed to meet its burden of proving purposeful discrimination. Hemphill Construction Company was the general contractor on a project in Waveland, Mississippi, to rebuild a state park after Hurricane Katrina. Hemphill entered a subcontract with HAS (one of many entered into between these companies - both before and after the event complained of) to perform the electrical work. According to HAS, Hemphill did not pay HAS all it was owed under the subcontract. HAS sued Hemphill for breach of contract, quantum meruit, and conversion. After a three-day trial, the jury found in favor of Hemphill on both HAS’s claims and Hemphill’s counterclaim. However, the jury declined to award Hemphill monetary damages. The subcontract entitled the “prevailing party” to reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses. HAS filed a motion for new trial or, in the alternative, a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), arguing the trial court erred: (1) in allowing Hemphill to use two of its peremptory strikes to exclude two African Americans from the jury, arguing neither pretext nor purposeful discrimination; and (2) in not finding the unilateral attorney’s-fees provision of the contract to be unconscionable. The trial court denied HAS’s motion for new trial and alternative motion for JNOV. In its briefs appealing the trial court ruling to the Mississippi Supreme Court, HAS challenged the attorney’s-fees award and argued the trial court mishandled the Batson hearing when HAS challenged Hemphill’s use of peremptory strikes on the African-American jurors. The Supreme Court affirmed, finding HAS failed to prove: (1) purposeful discrimination in the jury selection process; (2) that the trial court’s ruling was clearly erroneous; or (3) that the trial court’s ruling was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the jury’s verdict, the trial court’s denial of HAS’s motion for new trial, and the trial court’s post-judgment award of attorney’s fees to Hemphill. View "H.A.S. Electrical Contractors, Inc. v. Hemphill Construction Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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Wiseman filed suit seeking to recover "carrying charges" it paid Southern on the theory that those charges were not permitted by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act. The trial court ruled that the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (Department) has exclusive jurisdiction over Wiseman's claims because its allegations directly implicate the sale of alcohol. The Court of Appeal held that, although the Department does have exclusive jurisdiction to issue, deny, suspend and revoke alcoholic beverage licenses according to terms of the ABC Act and regulations adopted pursuant to it, the consequences of committing a violation of the ABC Act by imposing charges of the type collected by Southern from Wiseman in this case were not limited to those which the Department may impose on its licensees and did not bar the contract, unfair competition and declaratory relief claims alleged in Wiseman's complaint. Accordingly, the court reversed the trial court's order sustaining Southern's demurrer and remanded for further proceedings. View "Wiseman Park v. Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits" on Justia Law

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Kung Da Chang entered into a credit facility arrangement with Shanghai Commercial Bank (SCB) between March and April 2008 by executing five agreements. Together, these five agreements enabled Chang and his father, Clark Chang, to borrow large sums from SCB, and those sums make up the underlying debt obligation at issue in this lawsuit. These five documents defined Chang and SCB's agreement and governed their obligations. The parties' agreement explicitly included a choice of law provision selecting Hong Kong law as the governing law. SCB delivered the agreement papers for Chang's signature to an address in Shanghai that was actually Clark's residence. Clark sent the documents to his son in Seattle. Chang signed the documents, returned them to his father in Shanghai, and Clark forwarded them to SCB in Hong Kong. There was no indication that SCB knew that it was dealing with a person residing in Seattle. Chang ultimately defaulted on the debt obligation, and the parties litigated the matter in Hong Kong. SCB prevailed and secured a $9 million judgment. The Hong Kong judgment encompassed what Washington State considered Chang and his wife's marital community; Hong Kong law exempted solely separate property of a spouse, not community property, from judgments entered against one spouse. The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review was whether the Hong Kong judgment as enforceable against marital community property in Washington State. Specifically, the issue was whether the choice-of-law provision in the contracts along with application of the "most significant relationship" test for determining conflict of law issues, and ultimately, whether Hong Kong law should be applied to reach the community assets in Washington to satisfy the valid and enforceable foreign judgment. The Washington Supreme Court determined that under the facts of this case, the debtor's community property could be reached to satisfy the Hong Kong judgment. View "Shanghai Commercial Bank, Ltd. v. Kung Da Chang" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order denying Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation - Wind River’s motion to compel arbitration in this wrongful death action. Aletha Boyd died following her discharge from Kindred. Aletha’s daughter, Susan Boyd, filed this action alleging that Kindred’s negligence in caring for Aletha caused her death. Kindred moved to compel arbitration pursuant to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) agreement signed by Leanna Putman, Aletha’s other daughter and representative under a power of attorney at the time of Aletha’s admission into the nursing home. The district court denied the motion without providing reasons for doing so. The Supreme Court remanded with instructions to order arbitration as required by the ADR agreement, holding (1) Putnam had the authority to sign the ADR agreement on Aletha’s behalf; and (2) the ADR was neither unconscionable nor lacked mutuality of assent or sufficient consideration. View "Kindred Heathcare Operating, Inc. v. Boyd" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting Matthew Eastwick’s application to confirm an arbitration award and denying Cate Street Capital, Inc.’s competing motion to vacate that award after concluding that the parties had agreed to arbitrate any disputes arising from a settlement agreement. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the agreement contained clear contractual language of the parties’ intent to submit disputes to the mediator for binding arbitration; and (2) although the parties’ confidentiality had been compromised by the litigation, the court’s judgment incorporated the final agreement without ordering acceleration of those payments not yet due and without modifying any of its terms, including the agreement’s confidentiality provision. View "Eastwick v. Cate Street Capital, Inc." on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals, the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision to (1) dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims under Massachusetts law for libel and intentional interference with prospective contractual relations, (2) bar portions of Plaintiffs’ Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A claim from going forward, and (3) award attorney’s fees and costs to Defendant. These consolidated appeals concerned a lawsuit that involved a number of claims arising under federal copyright law, state tort law, and chapter 93A. Defendant operated a website called RipoffReport.com. Plaintiffs were a Massachusetts attorney, a corporate entity that the attorney created, and Christian DuPont. Plaintiffs’ claims pertained to a dispute arising from two reports that DuPont authored and posted on the Ripoff Report and that were highly critical of the attorney. The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s partial grant of Defendant’s motion to dismiss, the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant, and the district court’s fees award order for the reasons stated above. View "Small Justice LLC v. Xcentric Ventures LLC" on Justia Law