Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

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WickFire filed suit against Media, alleging a violation of section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, tortious interference with existing contracts, tortious interference with prospective economic relationships, and civil conspiracy. In this appeal, Media challenged the jury verdict in favor of WickFire.The Fifth Circuit concluded that the district court had jurisdiction over WickFire's Lanham Act claim and thus pendent jurisdiction over each of WickFire's state law tort claims. On the merits, the court concluded that any argument that WickFire offered insufficient evidence regarding the section 43(a) claim is moot where the jury found that there were no damages and thus WickFire cannot be a prevailing party under the Act. The court also concluded that WickFire's tortious interference with contractual relations claim failed as a matter of law. However, because the evidence of damages is insufficient as a matter of law, the court reversed the judgment as to the tortious interference with prospective business relations claim. Because each of WickFire's underlying claims failed, the court reversed the judgment as to the civil conspiracy claim. Finally, the court concluded that TriMax is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law on WickFire's justification defense. Accordingly, the court denied TriMax's motion to dismiss; reversed as to WickFire's tortious interference claims and its civil conspiracy claim; and affirmed in all other respects. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "WickFire, LLC v. Woodruff" on Justia Law

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United BioSource LLC (“UBC”), a subsidiary of Express Scripts, Inc. (“ESI”) agreed to sell three of UBC’s pharmaceutical research and development businesses to Bracket Holding Corp. (“Bracket”), a holding company formed by Parthenon Capital Partners, LP (“Parthenon”). In August 2013, Bracket and UBC signed a $187 million securities purchase agreement (“SPA”). Except for claims involving deliberate fraud and certain fundamental representations, Bracket agreed to limit its remedy for breach of the SPA’s representations and warranties to an insurance policy (the “R&W Policy”) purchased to cover these claims. After closing, Bracket claimed that ESI and UBC engaged in fraud by inflating the revenue and working capital of one of the divisions of the acquired companies. In an arbitration proceeding Bracket recovered $13 million under the R&W Policy for breach of the SPA’s representations and warranties. Bracket then sued ESI and UBC for fraud in Delaware superior court. A jury awarded Bracket over $82 million. The parties appealed the jury verdict and judgment. After review, the Delaware Supreme Court found one issue dispositive: the SPA provided unambiguously that, except in the case of deliberate fraud and certain fundamental representations, Bracket could only recover up to the R&W Policy’s limits for breaches of the representations and warranties. Over ESI’s objection, however, the superior court instructed the jury that it could find for Bracket not only for deliberate fraud, but also for recklessness. "A deliberate state of mind is a different kettle of fish than a reckless one." The Supreme Court determined the superior court’s erroneous jury instruction was not harmless: it violated a key provision of the SPA and how the parties allocated risk in the transaction. The Supreme Court therefore reversed the superior court’s judgment and remanded for a new trial. View "Express Scripts, Inc. v. Bracket Holdings Corp" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, popularly known as the lemon law, alleging claims related to defects with her car's throttle body connector. In this case, the trial court gave the jury a special instruction, at the request of plaintiff and over defendant's objection, that if a defect existed within the warranty period, the warranty would not expire until the defect had been fixed.The Court of Appeal concluded that the special instruction misstated the law and conflicted with another instruction given to the jury, CACI No. 3231, which correctly explains the continuation of warranties during repairs. Therefore, the trial court erred in giving the special instruction, and the error was prejudicial. The court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. However, the court affirmed the trial court's order granting a nonsuit on plaintiff's cause of action for breach of implied warranty. The court concluded that, under the lemon law, only distributors and retail sellers, not manufacturers, are liable for breach of implied warranties in the sale of a used car where, as here, the manufacturer did not offer the used car for sale to the public. Finally, the court reversed the attorney fee award to plaintiff. View "Nunez v. FCA US LLC" on Justia Law

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After appellant filed a breach of contract claim against the Government in D.C. Superior Court, the Government removed to district court and subsequently dismissed the claim. Appellant appealed, arguing that under 28 U.S.C. 1447(c), which provides that "[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded, " the district court should have remanded his claim.The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, concluding that 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1) and the Tucker Act make clear that section 1447(c) does not require the district court to remand in this case. The court explained that to require the district court to remand appellant's claim here, where the government has waived sovereign immunity against appellant's claim only in the Court of Federal Claims, and where that court has already dismissed appellant's claim, would be to subject the government to lengthy and piecemeal litigation of the kind that Congress intended section 1442(a)(1) to allow it to avoid. Therefore, the court concluded that, in context, Congress did not intend the "shall be remanded" language in section 1447(c) to mean that the district court must force the Government to spend one more ounce of resources on the re-litigation of a case it has already won. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Hammer v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of XTO on plaintiff's claims of breach of contract and conversion. The court concluded that plaintiff cannot survive summary judgment on his breach of contract or conversion claims because he has not set forth sufficient evidence to allow a factfinder to find that the Turner No. 1 Well has extracted gas from the Viola Formation after 1982. In light of the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact whether the Viola Formation produced after 1982, the court need not reach the question whether plaintiff's claims are time barred under Arkansas law. View "Turner v. XTO Energy, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this partition action, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court ruling that Plaintiff's death terminated her interest in a joint tenancy, holding that R.I. Gen. Laws 34-15-12 abrogates the common law right of survivorship in a joint tenancy when an action for partition is pending.Plaintiff filed a partition action requesting that the superior court partition property she owned in a joint tenancy with Defendants. Defendants asserted counterclaims for unjust enrichment and breach of agreement. While the litigation was pending, Plaintiff died. Defendants moved to dismiss the partition action, asserting that Plaintiff's property interest had passed to the remaining joint tenants by operation of law upon Plaintiff's demise. The hearing justice granted the motion. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that Plaintiff's decease did not abate her action for partition, and therefore, the litigation remained pending. View "Butler v. Gavek" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' action seeking a declaratory judgment concerning the rights and obligations of the parties under a 2001 contract, holding that the court of appeals erred in concluding that dismissal was appropriate on the grounds that the complaint was barred by the doctrine of res judicata.In a previously filed action, Plaintiffs sought similar relief, but the case was dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. In the instant case, the trial court granted Defendants' motions to dismiss, finding that Plaintiffs lacked standing. The court of appeals affirmed on other grounds, concluding that res judicata barred the complaint and, as such, declined to address the standing issue. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that dismissal of the previous case did not constitute an adjudication on the merits for purposes of res judicata. The Court then remanded the case to the court of appeals for consideration of the standing issue. View "Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. v. City of Memphis" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff prevailed on her procedural due process and breach of contract claims against TSC, the trial court vacated the jury's verdict on the breach of contract claims and reduced the damages award on her procedural due process claim to $1.The Fifth Circuit held that TSC is entitled to neither sovereign immunity under the United States Constitution nor governmental immunity under state law. In this case, the Texas Legislature abrogated TSC's governmental immunity such that plaintiff could bring state law breach of contract claims against TSC. Therefore, the argument that the Texas Legislature attempted to limit federal jurisdiction over these claims is unavailing. The court also held that it was not required to address TSC's alternative arguments and declined to do so. The court reversed the dismissal of plaintiff's breach of contract claims, reinstated the jury's verdict on those claims, and remanded for the district court to consider TSC's alternative arguments regarding whether sufficient evidence supports plaintiff's breach of contract claims. The court affirmed the district court's grant of judgment as a matter of law on the due process violation damages and reduction of the jury's award of $12,500,000 to the nominal amount of $1. The court reversed the district court's vacatur of the portion of the attorneys' fees award based on the breach of contract claims and remanded for the district court to address TSC's alternative arguments regarding those claims and to determine whether plaintiff is entitled to attorneys' fees and in what amount. View "Tercero v. Texas Southmost College District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Jed Goldfarb claimed defendant David Solimine reneged on a promise of employment after Goldfarb quit his job to accept the promised position managing the sizeable investment portfolio of defendant’s family. The key issue in this appeal involved whether plaintiff could bring a promissory estoppel claim because he relied on defendant’s promise in quitting his prior employment even though, under New Jersey’s Uniform Securities Law of 1997 (Securities Law or the Act), he could not bring a suit on the employment agreement itself. The New Jersey Supreme Court determined the Securities Law did not bar plaintiff’s promissory estoppel claim for reliance damages. The Court affirmed the liability judgment on that claim and the remanded for a new damages trial in which plaintiff would have the opportunity to prove reliance damages. The Court found he was not entitled to benefit-of-the-bargain damages. To the extent that the Appellate Division relied on an alternative basis for its liability holding -- that a later-adopted federal law “family office” exception had been incorporated into the Securities Law -- the Court rejected that reasoning and voided that portion of the appellate court’s analysis. View "Goldfarb v. Solimine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting various mortgage lenders and trustees summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims for negligence and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, holding that genuine issues of material fact did not preclude summary judgment.Plaintiff filed an action asserting negligent loan supervision/administration, breach of the implied contract covenant of good faith and fair dealing, anticipatory declaratory judgment, and quiet title to mortgaged property. The district court granted summary judgment to Bank of America, N.A. (BOA) on all claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting BOA summary judgment on Plaintiff's asserted negligence and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing claims. View "House v. U.S. Bank National Ass'n" on Justia Law