Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
MATT YAMASHITA V. LG CHEM, LTD., ET AL
Plaintiff brought this products-liability suit against LG Chem, Ltd. (“LGC”) and LG Chem America, Inc. (“LGCA”), claiming that they negligently manufactured and distributed a battery that he used to power an electronic cigarette until the battery, and electronic cigarette both exploded in his mouth. Plaintiff sued LGC and LGCA in Hawaii state court, bringing various state-law claims related to the design, manufacture, labeling, advertising, and distribution of the subject battery. LGC and LGCA were timely removed from Hawaii state court to the District Court for the District of Hawaii and then moved to dismiss Yamashita’s complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Yamashita opposed the motions and moved for jurisdictional discovery. The district court denied Yamashita’s motion for jurisdictional discovery. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction. The court held that Ford modified, but did not abolish, the requirement that a claim must arise out of or relate to a forum contact in order for a court to exercise specific personal jurisdiction. The panel explained that while LGC and LGCA’s Hawaii contacts clearly showed that they purposefully availed themselves of Hawaii law, they can only be subject to specific personal jurisdiction if Plaintiff’s injuries arose out of or related to those contacts. The panel held that Plaintiff had not shown that his injuries arose out of any contacts because he had not shown but-for causation. The panel concluded that the district court’s denial of jurisdictional discovery was not an abuse of discretion. View "MATT YAMASHITA V. LG CHEM, LTD., ET AL" on Justia Law
Kainz, et al. v. Jacam Chemical Co. 2013
Plaintiffs William Kainz and GeoChemicals, LLC appealed a district court’s order granting Jacam Chemical Co. 2013, LLC’s motion to abate and an order and judgment awarding attorney’s fees to Jacam. Plaintiffs argued the district court erred by abating the action and by awarding attorney’s fees. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court misapplied the law in granting the motion to abate and abused its discretion by awarding attorney’s fees. Accordingly, judgment was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Kainz, et al. v. Jacam Chemical Co. 2013" on Justia Law
Posted in: Business Law, Civil Procedure, Contracts, North Dakota Supreme Court
Lindenwood Female College v. Zurich American Insurance Co.
Lindenwood Female College (Lindenwood) asserted class action claims against its casualty insurer, Zurich American Insurance Company (Zurich), alleging a wrongful denial of coverage for COVID-19 business interruption at its Missouri and Illinois properties. The district court granted Zurich’s motion to dismiss, finding no plausible allegation of coverage. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court concluded that Lindenwood’s argument fails to identify an ambiguity. The court explained that in its view, no lay person—no reasonable insured—could look at the policy as a whole and fail to appreciate that the state-specific endorsements are intended to apply in the respective states. The references to Louisiana and other states are not mere titles; they serve to establish the structure of the policy as a whole. And it would simply make no sense to define a contamination exclusion with express reference to viral contamination in the main body of the policy only to wholly eliminate that same exclusion nationwide in a later endorsement that references an individual state. View "Lindenwood Female College v. Zurich American Insurance Co." on Justia Law
City of Carthage, Missouri v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
The City of Carthage sued Union Pacific Railroad Co. for breach of contract, claiming UP failed to maintain several bridges. On summary judgment, the district court ruled that the City’s breach-of-contract claim was barred by the five-year statute of limitations. The City argues that the ten-year statute of limitations applies here because its claim seeks an equitable remedy. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the City’s claim accrued in February 2013, at the latest. On February 15, 2013, the City wrote UP demanding the repair of the bridges—establishing that the City was on notice of a potentially actionable injury. The City waited until 2019—over five years later—to sue UP. The City’s claim is barred by the five-year statute of limitations. Further, here, UP did not engage in any affirmative act during the limitations period. Without more, a failure to act does not justify the continuing wrong rule. View "City of Carthage, Missouri v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law
Core and Main, LP v. Ron McCabe
Core and Main LP (“C&M”) supplies water, wastewater, storm drainage, and fire protection products and services to commercial and governmental customers. C&M acquired the assets of Minnesota Pipe and Equipment Company (“MPE”), which supplied the same products and services in areas of Minnesota and South Dakota. Defendant, one of the shareholders, was part of MPE’s management team. Defendant started work at Dakota Supply Group, Inc. (“DSG”), a C&M competitor. C&M brought a diversity action against Defendant and DSG, asserting breach of the Employment Agreement’s noncompete and confidentiality covenants, tortious interference, and related claims. The district court granted Defendants’ Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The main issue on appeal is whether the court correctly concluded that the Noncompetition Agreement was a later agreement and, therefore, its Entire Agreement provision superseded the restrictive covenants. The Eighth Circuit concluded that the breach of contract and tortious interference claims turn on fact-intensive issues that cannot be determined on the pleadings. Accordingly, the court reversed the dismissal of those claims and otherwise affirmed. The court explained that it agreed with C&M that it is at least plausible the two Agreements covered different subject matters, making Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal inappropriate. The Noncompetition Agreement restricting MPE shareholders from engaging or investing in a competing business was geographically broad, but its duration was precisely limited to a specific term for each restricted party. In addition, the court concluded that in the context of the multiple agreements that completed the Asset Purchase transaction, the term “prior or contemporaneous” in the Noncompetition Agreement’s Entire Agreement provision is ambiguous. View "Core and Main, LP v. Ron McCabe" on Justia Law
Martinique Properties, LLC v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London
Martinique Properties, LLC filed a complaint against Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London (Underwriters), seeking to vacate an arbitration award. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim for vacatur. Martinique Properties appealed. Martinique Properties argues that the appraisal award must be vacated because the appraisers “used figures and measurements which are contrary to the actual conditions of the Property” and failed to “consider certain buildings” and certain portions of a damaged roof when determining the appraisal award. These alleged errors, Martinique Properties argues, show that the appraisers were either “guilty of misconduct” or “so imperfectly executed” their powers that “a mutual, final, and definite award . . . was not made,” two of the four grounds for vacating an award under the FAA. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court found that Martinique Properties has alleged only factual errors that challenge the merits of the appraisal award, and the court has no authority to reconsider the merits of an arbitration award, even when the parties allege that the award rests on factual errors. Accordingly, the appraisers’ use of certain figures and measurements in calculating the amount of loss here, and their alleged failure to consider particular buildings and portions of roof damage, even if incorrect, are not sufficient for vacatur under the FAA. View "Martinique Properties, LLC v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London" on Justia Law
Mark Rossi v. Arch Insurance Company
Plaintiffs are three skiers who purchased an Ikon Pass for the 2019–20 ski season. Each pass provided purchasers with unlimited ski access at participating Ikon resorts in North America. Along with their Ikon Pass, Plaintiffs purchased an optional Ski Pass Preserver insurance policy from Arch. After Plaintiffs purchased their passes, state and local governments issued orders, colloquially called “stay-at-home orders,” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In response to these orders, ski resorts throughout North America closed with approximately one-third of the ski season remaining. Plaintiffs sought reimbursement for the loss of their ski pass benefits under the policy based on the Season Pass Interruption coverage. Arch denied their claims. The company took the position that the stay-at-home orders were not quarantines under the policy, later posting a “blanket denial” for such claims on its website. Plaintiffs filed one master consolidated class action complaint on behalf of themselves and a nationwide putative class of individuals who purchased the Ski Pass Preserver policy for the 2019–20 ski season. The district court concluded that Plaintiffs did not plausibly allege a covered loss because the term “quarantined,” as used in the policy, did not encompass stay-at-home orders that merely limited travel and activities. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the ordinary person at the time the Ski Pass Preserver policy was purchased would have understood “quarantined” to mean the compulsory isolation of the insured. Reading the policy as a whole, this is the only reasonable construction, and the court agreed with the district court that the policy language is unambiguous. View "Mark Rossi v. Arch Insurance Company" on Justia Law
Juarez v. Ward
A judgment creditor seeks delivery of her debtor’s Academy Award statuette, commonly known as the Oscar, under the Enforcement of Judgments Law (EJL). Respondent Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) intervened in the litigation. The EJL allowed the trial court to determine if AMPAS has a right to property (the Oscar) that came to light in a debtor’s examination. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the creditor’s request for delivery of the Oscar. It correctly found that AMPAS has the right to purchase the Oscar for $10 pursuant to a written agreement with the Oscar winner and AMPAS’s bylaws. The court explained that a judgment creditor’s interest is derivative of the judgment debtor’s interest: The creditor acquires only the interest a judgment debtor has in personal property at the time of the levy. View "Juarez v. Ward" on Justia Law
Posted in: California Courts of Appeal, Civil Procedure, Contracts
Haas v. Estate of Mark Steven Carter
In 2014, plaintiffs Roberta and Kevin Haas' stopped car was struck by a car driven by defendant Mark Carter. Plaintiffs brought this negligence action against defendants, Carter's estate and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, seeking to recover economic and noneconomic damages. Carter died after plaintiffs filed suit. State Farm was Roberta Haas' insurer, whom she sued for breach of contract, alleging it failed to pay all the personal injury protection benefits that were due. At trial, one of the primary issues was whether Carter’s driving was a cause-in-fact of the injuries that plaintiffs alleged, and the issue on appeal became whether the trial court properly instructed the jury on causation. The jury returned a verdict for defendants. After review, the Oregon Supreme Court determined the trial court did not err in instructing the jury on causation, and affirmed the circuit court's judgment. View "Haas v. Estate of Mark Steven Carter" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Contracts, Insurance Law, Oregon Supreme Court, Personal Injury
C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. v. Traffic Tech, Inc.
Employees at C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. jumped ship to join Traffic Tech, Inc. C.H. Robinson then sued five of those former employees and Traffic Tech, raising various state-law claims, including tortious interference with a contractual relationship. After the case was removed to federal court, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the former employees and Traffic Tech. The district court also awarded attorney fees to the former employees and Traffic Tech The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s claim for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, reversed the judgment in all other respects, and vacated the district court’s order awarding attorney fees and costs. The court held that Minnesota law applies to the interpretation and enforceability of Defendants’ employment contracts. The court remanded for the district court to consider whether C.H. Robinson’s claims or disputes against Peacock arose in California or elsewhere under Peacock’s employment contract. The court further remanded for the district court to substantively analyze whether all or part of the former employees’ contracts are unenforceable and, if not, whether the claims for breach of contract and tortious interference with a contractual relationship survive summary judgment. View "C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. v. Traffic Tech, Inc." on Justia Law