Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
Champlin/GEI Wind Holdings, LLC v. Avery
The trial court entered judgment for Respondent in this breach of contract claim. The Second Appellate District affirmed and also imposed sanctions against Appellant's counsel for filing a frivolous appeal.The Second Appellate District explained "An appeal is frivolous only when it is prosecuted for an improper motive – to harass the respondent or delay the effect of an adverse judgment – or when it indisputably has no merit – when any reasonable attorney would agree that the appeal is totally and completely without merit." The court held that here, the appeal was frivolous because it "indisputably has no merit." The matter was entirely within the discretion of the trial court, and the fact that Appellant's counsel consulted with two other attorneys who believed the claim had merit did not change the court's opinion. View "Champlin/GEI Wind Holdings, LLC v. Avery" on Justia Law
Posted in: California Courts of Appeal, Civil Procedure, Contracts, Legal Ethics
Positano Place at Naples I Condominium Association, Inc. v. Empire Indemnity Insurance Company
Empire Indemnity Insurance Company issued an insurance policy (the “Policy”) to Positano Place at Naples I Condominium Association, Inc., for coverage of five buildings that Positano owns in Naples, Florida. Following Hurricane Irma, Positano filed a first-party claim for property insurance benefits under the Policy, claiming that Hurricane Irma damaged its property and that the damage was covered by the Policy. Empire determined that there was coverage to only three of the five buildings covered by the Policy but disagreed as to the amount of the loss. Positano sought to invoke appraisal based on the Policy’s appraisal provision. Positano then sued Empire in Florida state court, and Empire removed the case to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. Positano moved to compel appraisal and to stay the case pending the resolution of the appraisal proceedings, which Empire opposed. The magistrate judge issued a report recommending that the district court grant Positano’s motion, and, over Empire’s objection, the district court ordered the parties to appraisal and stayed the proceedings pending appraisal. Empire timely appealed the district court’s order. The Eleventh Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction. The court concluded that the district court’s order compelling appraisal and staying the proceedings pending appraisal is an interlocutory order that is not immediately appealable under 28 U.S.C. Section 1292(a)(1). The court also concluded that the order compelling appraisal and staying the action pending appraisal is not immediately appealable under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). View "Positano Place at Naples I Condominium Association, Inc. v. Empire Indemnity Insurance Company" on Justia Law
Southern States Chemical, Inc. et al. v. Tampa Tank & Welding, Inc.
In 2012, Southern States Chemical, Inc. and Southern States Phosphate and Fertilizer Company (collectively, “Southern States”) sued Tampa Tank & Welding, Inc. (“Tampa Tank”) and Corrosion Control, Inc. (“CCI”), claiming damages from a faulty, leaky storage tank that Tampa Tank had installed in 2002. After a decade of litigation and multiple appeals, the trial court dismissed Southern States’s claims with prejudice, concluding that the claims were barred by the applicable statute of repose. Southern States appealed, but finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed dismissal. View "Southern States Chemical, Inc. et al. v. Tampa Tank & Welding, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Business Law, Civil Procedure, Contracts, Supreme Court of Georgia
Jack v. Ring LLC
Ring manufactures and sells home security and smart home devices including video doorbells, security cameras, and alarms. The plaintiffs purchased video doorbell and security camera products from Ring and subsequently filed a class action complaint against Ring asserting claims under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, false advertising law, and Unfair Competition Law. They sought injunctive relief requiring Ring to prominently disclose to consumers certain information about its products and services.Ring moved to compel arbitration based on an arbitration provision in its terms of service. The plaintiffs did not dispute that they agreed to Ring’s terms of service but argued the arbitration provision violates the California Supreme Court’s 2017 “McGill” holding that a pre-dispute arbitration agreement is invalid and unenforceable under state law insofar as it purports to waive a party’s statutory right to seek public injunctive relief.The court of appeal affirmed the denial of Ring's motion to compel arbitration. The parties did not “clearly and unmistakably" delegate to the arbitrator exclusive authority to decide whether the arbitration provision is valid under McGill. The contract language at issue is commonly understood to preclude public injunctive relief in arbitration. The Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1, does not preempt McGill’s holding. The contract’s severability clause means the plaintiffs’ claims cannot be arbitrated and may be brought in court. View "Jack v. Ring LLC" on Justia Law
Terri Wright v. Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation
Plaintiff is the former Vice President of Program and Community of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation. She received largely positive feedback during her tenure, but less than two years after she was hired, the CEO of the Foundation fired her for purported interpersonal and communication-related issues. Plaintiff, who is African-American, believes these stated reasons were pretext to mask discriminatory animus. Plaintiff and the Foundation signed a severance agreement, under which Plaintiff agreed to release employment-related claims against the Foundation and its employees, and which contained a mutual non-disparagement clause. But roughly a month after Plaintiff was fired, the CEO told another leader in the non-profit space that Plaintiff was let go because she was “toxic,” created a “negative environment.” Plaintiff sued the Foundation and its CEO for breaching the severance agreement, for doing so in a racially discriminatory manner in violation of 42 U.S.C. Section 1981, and for defaming her. The district court dismissed all three claims. The DC Circuit held that the district court erred in dismissing all three claims. As to Plaintiff’s breach of contract claim, the non-disparagement clause could reasonably be interpreted to preclude the Foundation from disparaging Plaintiff, and dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is therefore inappropriate. As to her Section 1981 claim, the court found that she has plausibly alleged a prima facie case that the Foundation, through the CEO, breached the severance agreement due to racial animus. And lastly, the CEO’s statements are not protected by the common interest privilege, which requires a showing of good faith on the part of the speaker. View "Terri Wright v. Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation" on Justia Law
The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania v. Equitas Insurance
Defendant, a reinsurer, appealed from a district court’s ruling granting summary judgment to Plaintiff, its reinsured. On appeal, Defendant argues that the district court erroneously held that its reinsurance obligations to Plaintiff are co-extensive with Appellee’s separate insurance obligations to a third party and that it presented no triable issue of fact on its late-notice defense. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court wrote that the district court correctly determined that English law, which governs the relevant reinsurance policy, would interpret that policy to provide coverage that is coextensive with Plaintiff’s separate insurance obligations. The district court also correctly rejected Defendant’s late-notice defense because Defendant has not shown the extreme facts necessary under English law to support recognition of that defense where, as here, timely notice is not a condition precedent to coverage. View "The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania v. Equitas Insurance" on Justia Law
Bonner v. Triple-S Vida, Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Triple-S Management Corporation and Triple-S Vida, Inc. (collectively, Triple-S) and dismissing this case brought by Dora Bonner, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Bonner's discovery-related motions and did not err in considering the evidence at the summary judgment stage.Bonner brought several claims alleging that Triple-S denied her millions of dollars of proceeds from certain certificates and devised a scheme to defraud her. After denying Bonner's motion to compel discovery and extend the discovery deadline, the district court concluded that Triple-S had established as a matter of law that the persons behind the fraudulent scheme were not related to Triple-S. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to compel and motion for consideration; and (2) properly granted summary judgment for Triple-S. View "Bonner v. Triple-S Vida, Inc." on Justia Law
Women’s Care Specialists, P.C. v. Potter
Consolidated appeals stemmed from an employment dispute between Dr. Margot G. Potter and her former employer, Women's Care Specialists, P.C. ("Women's Care"), and out of a dispute between Potter and three Women's Care employees: Dr. Karla Kennedy, Dr. Elizabeth Barron, and Beth Ann Dorsett ("the WC employees"). In case no. CV-21-903797, Potter alleged claims of defamation, tortious interference with a business relationship, and breach of contract against Women's Care. In case no. CV-21-903798, Potter alleged claims of defamation and tortious interference with a business relationship against the WC employees. After the trial court consolidated the cases, Women's Care and the WC employees filed motions to compel arbitration on the basis that Potter's claims were within the scope of the arbitration provision in Potter's employment agreement with Women's Care and that the arbitration provision governed their disputes even though Potter was no longer a Women's Care employee. The trial court entered an order denying those motions. Women's Care and the WC employees separately appealed; the Alabama Supreme Court consolidated the appeals. In appeal no. SC-2022-0706, the Supreme Court held that Potter's breach of-contract claim and her tort claims against Women's Care were subject to arbitration. The Court therefore reversed the trial court's order denying Women's Care's motion to compel arbitration. In appeal no. SC-2022-0707, the Supreme Court held that Potter's tort claims against the WC employees were subject to arbitration. The Court therefore reversed the trial court's order denying their motion to compel arbitration, and remanded both cases for further proceedings. View "Women's Care Specialists, P.C. v. Potter" on Justia Law
Ohio Valley Conference v. Jones, et al.
The Ohio Valley Conference ("the OVC") appealed a judgment dismissing its official-capacity and individual-capacity claims against Randall Jones, the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Jacksonville State University ("JSU"), and Don C. Killingsworth, Jr., the President of Jacksonville State University. The OVC was a men's and women's collegiate athletic conference that began in 1948. The OVC Constitution contained two relevant provisions concerning resignation of membership from the conference. In addition to alleging that JSU had failed to pay the conference-resignation fee described in Article 4.5.3 of the OVC Constitution, the OVC also asserted that JSU owed the conference money for tickets to certain conference championship basketball tournament tickets. JSU, Jones, and Killingsworth filed a joint motion to dismiss the OVC's complaint. With respect to the OVC's claims against JSU, defendants argued that the Alabama State Board of Adjustment ("the BOA") had "exclusive jurisdiction" over those claims. With respect to any claims the OVC asserted against Jones and Killingsworth in their official capacities, defendants argued the claims were barred by State immunity under § 14 of the Alabama Constitution. With respect to any claims the OVC asserted against Jones and Killingsworth in their individual capacities, defendants argued the OVC had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, and they maintained that the claims were barred by the doctrine of State-agent immunity. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the OVC's claims against Jones and Killingsworth in their official capacities seeking payment for the liquidated amount of the conference-resignation fee and for the value of the tickets JSU received for the OVC's 2021 conference championship basketball tournament did not constitute claims against the State, and, therefore, they were not barred by State immunity. Accordingly, the circuit court erred in dismissing the OVC's official-capacity claims against Jones and Killingsworth. However, the Court found the OVC failed to state individual-capacity claims against Jones and Killingsworth for which relief could be granted because Jones and Killingsworth lacked any duty apart from their official positions to make the payments the OVC sought to recover and because the OVC's complaint did not supply the factual allegations necessary to support those individual-capacity claims. View "Ohio Valley Conference v. Jones, et al." on Justia Law
Ex parte MUSA Properties, LLC
MUSA Properties, LLC ("MUSA"), and R.K. Allen Oil Co., Inc. ("Allen Oil"), entered into a real-estate sales contract in which MUSA agreed to purchase from Allen Oil a gasoline service station and convenience store ("the property"). The terms of the sales contract were not fulfilled, and the property was not transferred to MUSA. Allen Oil filed a lawsuit against MUSA, alleging various causes of action based on the sales contract; MUSA filed various counterclaims in response. MUSA also filed in probate court a notice of lis pendens describing the property. In an interlocutory order, the circuit court later determined that MUSA did not have a right to or interest in the property, and, upon the motion of Allen Oil, the circuit court entered an order expunging the lis pendens notice. MUSA then petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for mandamus relief, to direct the circuit court to vacate its order expunging the lis pendens notice. Finding that Allen Oil's argument did not provide a convincing basis for the Supreme Court to suspend application of the doctrine of lis pendens and deny MUSA's mandamus petition, the Court granted the petition and issued the writ directing the circuit court to vacate its order expunging the lis pendens notice. View "Ex parte MUSA Properties, LLC" on Justia Law