Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Banking
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Congress assigned implementation of the PPP to the Small Business Administration (SBA). Potential borrowers must have answered “No” to whether “any individual owning 20% or more of the equity of the Applicant [was] subject to an indictment, criminal information, arraignment, or other means by which formal criminal charges are brought in any jurisdiction, or presently incarcerated, or on probation or parole.” When completing a PPP loan application on behalf of law firm Ramey & Schwaller, L.L.P., owner William Ramey answered “No” to that question. Zions Bancorporation, NA, doing business as Amegy Bank, approved the law firm’s application and disbursed a $249,300 loan. Later, the bank learned that Ramey had actually been subject to a criminal complaint accusing him of attempted sexual assault in Harris County, Texas. So the bank held the law firm in default and froze the firm’s accounts as an offset to the loan balance. The law firm then filed this action against the bank, seeking a declaratory judgment that Ramey did not answer the application question falsely. The bank alleged a counterclaim for breach of contract. The district court granted summary judgment to the bank and dismissed the law firm’s claims.   The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that because Ramey was, at least, subject to “means by which formal criminal charges are brought” at the time he completed the Application, he answered Question 5 falsely on behalf of Ramey & Schwaller. Accordingly, the law firm was in default under the PPP loan documents, and the district court correctly entered summary judgment in favor of Amegy Bank. View "Ramey & Schwaller v. Zions Bancorp" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court determining that Bank breached its contract with Respondent by refusing to tender payment upon Respondent's presentation of an an original unendorsed money market certificate of deposit (CD), holding that Bank was not entitled to relief on its allegations of error.Respondent presented to Bank and demanded payment of the CD issued in 1980 by Bank and payable either to Respondent or her father. Bank denied payment, determining that there was no existing account associated with the CD. Respondent brought this action alleging breach of contract. The jury found for Respondent and awarded her damages. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in denying Bank's motion for judgment as a matter of law; (2) the circuit court did not err in refusing two proffered jury instructions; and (3) the filing of this matter was not barred by the applicable statute of limitations. View "Wesbanco Bank, Inc. v. Ellifritz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of Supreme Court in favor of Plaintiff Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB in this case involving a dispute over payments due under a promissory note relating to Defendants' mortgage, holding that summary judgment was improperly granted under the terms of this case.Plaintiff's predecessor filed a complaint against Defendants alleging breach of contract. The hearing justice granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff. Defendants appealed, arguing that the issue of whether Plaintiff complied with the note's notice provisions was a question of material fact precluding summary judgment. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment below, holding that Plaintiff's failure to send the notice of default to the property address referred to in the note was not in accordance with the terms of the note, and therefore, summary judgment should not have been granted. View "Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB v. Cavalloro" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court declining to pierce Sebastian Holdings, Inc.'s (SHI) corporate veil and to hold Alexander Vik, SHI's sole shareholder and director, jointly and severally liable with SHI for an approximately $243 million foreign judgment against Vik, holding that the trial court did not err.After SHI failed to pay the English judgment Deutsche Bank commenced this action against Defendants alleging that Vik caused SHI to breach its contractual obligations to Deutsche Bank and to fraudulently convey funds to third parties in order to defraud Deutsche Bank out of money owed. Count two sought a declaratory judgment piercing SHI's corporate veil and holding Vik jointly and severally liable for the English judgment. The trial court rendered judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Deutsche Bank could not prevail on its claim that the results of the trial would have been different if the court had applied Connecticut law or if it had correctly applied the laws of Turks and Caicos Islands, a British territory. View "Deutsche Bank AG v. Sebastian Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court denying Defendant's motion for a new trial after judgment entered in favor of Plaintiff, Ocean State Credit Union, in its action seeking money owed on a promissory note, holding that the trial justice did not overlook or misconceive material evidence and was not otherwise clearly wrong.Defendant entered into an agreement to repay a $3,000 loan that he had received from Plaintiff. Plaintiff later brought this action seeking $2,250 owed on the promissory note plus contractual interest. Final judgment entered in favor of Plaintiff. Thereafter, Defendant filed a motion for a new trial. When he learned the trial justice would hear the motion in Providence County instead of Kent County where the proceedings had previously been held, Defendant filed a motion to quash the change of venue. The trial justice denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial justice did not err in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial; and (2) Defendant's remaining contentions were without merit. View "Ocean State Credit Union v. Menge" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting a motion to compel arbitration brought by Defendant Star Financial Group, Inc. in this class-action complaint alleging that Defendant collected improper overdraft fees, holding that Plaintiffs' account agreement did not allow Defendant to add an addendum to the terms and conditions of the account agreement.When Plaintiffs opened their checking account they assented to an account agreement detailing the terms and conditions of their relationship with Defendant. Before Plaintiffs brought this suit Defendant added an arbitration and no-class-action addendum to the terms and conditions of Plaintiffs' account agreement. When Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit Defendants cited the addendum and filed a motion to compel arbitration. The trial court granted the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs were not bound by the arbitration addendum to their account agreement because the account agreement's change-of-terms provision did not allow Plaintiff to add the addendum. View "Decker v. Star Financial Group Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Security State Bank (SSB) on Plaintiff's claims and SSB's breach of contract counterclaim, holding that there was no error.When Plaintiff defaulted on several agricultural loans she had obtained from SSB, SSB foreclosed on some of the collateral Plaintiff pledged to secure those loans. Plaintiff then brought this action, alleging, among other things, negligent lending and negligent advising. SSB counterclaimed, alleging, among other things, breach of contract. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of SSB on all claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this Court declines to recognize new causes of action for negligent lending or negligence advising; (2) there were no questions of material fact barring summary judgment on Plaintiff's breach of good faith and fair dealing claim; and (3) the district court did not err in finding that equitable defenses did not preclude entering summary judgment in favor of SSB on his counterclaim for breach of contract. View "Wilcox v. Security State Bank" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court striking Arch Insurance Company's conversion and unjust enrichment claims, holding that the circuit court did not err in concluding that Arch was incapable of demonstrating a priority right to the disputed funds at issue in this case as a matter of law.FVCbank provided Dominion Mechanical Contractors, Inc. with a revolving line of credit. Arch, a surety company, issued contract surety bonds for some of Dominion's projects. Due to Dominion's later financial troubles, FVCbank froze Dominion's accounts. Arch and Dominion sued, claiming conversion and unjust enrichment. The circuit court granted FVCbank's motion to strike Arch's claims, finding that because FVCbank had a priority interest in Dominion's accounts, there was no legal claim for unjust enrichment or conversion. The circuit court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) correctly concluded that FVCbank's interest in Dominion's deposit accounts took priority over Arch's interest as a matter of law; and (2) properly dismissed the claims with prejudice. View "Arch Insurance Co. v. FVCbank" on Justia Law

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Wells Fargo Bank made a loan to Talisker Finance, Inc. Under the loan agreement, Talisker gave Wells Fargo a security interest in three parcels of land owned by Talisker’s affiliates. To ensure that Talisker’s affiliates had good title to the parcels, Wells Fargo bought title insurance from Stewart Title Guaranty Company. Talisker defaulted, but it couldn’t deliver good title to part of the land promised as collateral. The default triggered Wells Fargo’s right to compensation under the title insurance policy. Under that policy, Stewart owed Wells Fargo for the diminution in the value of the collateral. But the amount of the diminution was complicated by the presence of multiple parcels. The district court concluded that the lost parcel didn’t affect the value of the other parcels. After review, the Tenth Circuit concurred: because their values remained constant, the district court properly found that the diminution was simply the value of the collateral that Talisker’s affiliates didn’t own. View "Wells Fargo Bank v. Stewart Title Guaranty Company" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court appointing a receiver in an interlocutory appeal occurring during litigation between solar energy companies and the bank that funded the companies' development and expansion, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it granted the bank's motion to appoint a receiver.The companies filed an amended complaint against the bank claiming that the bank breached certain contracts with the companies. The bank, in turn, initiated a federal action against the companies alleging breach of contract and other claims. The companies filed an answer and asserted several counterclaims, including claims based on the same allegations as in the other case. After consolidating the two cases the district court granted the bank's motion for the appointment of a receiver. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it granted the bank's motion to appoint a receiver. View "Green Earth Energy Photovoltaic Corp. v. Keybank National Ass'n" on Justia Law