Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Contracts
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
Todd Mortier v. LivaNova USA, Inc.
Plaintiff invented a medical device. He sold it to LivaNova USA, Inc. in order to develop and bring it to market. When LivaNova shut down the project, he sued. The district court granted summary judgment for LivaNova. Plaintiff argued that LivaNova breached section 4.3 of the UPA by shuttering Caisson. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court held that the district court properly dismissed Plaintiff’s breach-of-contract claim because LivaNova did not breach the UPA’s unambiguous requirements. The court explained that Plaintiff argued that LivaNova failed to act consistently with its general approach. However, Plaintiff points to no such evidence in the record—Caisson’s particularities undercut Plaintiff’s premise that a “general approach” to its development can be inferred from LivaNova’s other projects. When Plaintiff argued that Caisson was treated differently than other projects, LivaNova presents evidence that Caisson was different than other projects. Further, the court found that Plaintiff’s claim that LivaNova shut down Caisson in part to avoid tax liability does not allege that LivaNova “generally” would not shut down projects to avoid tax liability. His claim that LivaNova chose inexperienced Goldman Sachs bankers for the sale does not aver that LivaNova “generally” chose better bankers. And his claim that LivaNova kept Caisson independent from the corporate structure does not establish that LivaNova “generally” integrated projects with independent-minded founders like Caisson’s. Further, applying the principles of contract interpretation outlined above, the court found that the section imposed upon LivaNova, at most, a limited future obligation to maintain enough capital to fulfill its UPA obligations. View "Todd Mortier v. LivaNova USA, Inc." on Justia Law
George W. Healy, IV & Assoc., PLLC, et al. v. AT&T Services, Inc.
George Healy IV (George) and George V. Healy IV & Associates, PLLC ("Healy PLLC") sued AT&T Services, Inc. for breach of contract due to AT&T’s reassignment of a 1-800 telephone number. In 2016, Healy PLLC switched its phone services to AT&T. Healy PLLC transferred the firm’s telephone numbers and existing 1-800 number to AT&T. In December 2017, AT&T contacted Healy PLLC to discuss the upgrade of its services. After the upgrade, AT&T would cause Healy PLLC’s telephone lines, including the 1-800 number, to ring through to Healy PLLC’s main line. In 2019, Healy learned that the recent upgrade did not properly incorporate the 1-800 number. George called the 1-800 the number and learned that it had been reassigned to a medical provider. Healy PLLC’s 1-800 number had been cancelled in July 2018 without notice. The chancellor ruled that AT&T had breached the contract with Healy PLLC but only awarded nominal damages. Also, the chancellor awarded Healy PLLC sanctions in the form of attorneys’ fees and expenses for a discovery violation under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 37(c). Healy PLLC appealed the award of damages and sanctions. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor's decision with respect to nominal damages the Healy PLLC, but reversed the trial court’s decision to exclude George’s fee and remanded this matter to the chancellor for the chancellor to examine the appropriate amount of hours, work performed, and additional fees due to Healy PLLC based on George’s time records. View "George W. Healy, IV & Assoc., PLLC, et al. v. AT&T Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Business Law, Contracts, Supreme Court of Mississippi
Circle C Resources v. Hassler
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court in favor of Charlene Hassler and award of attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $70,410.36 to Hassler, holding that the district court abused its discretion by awarding attorneys' fees without explaining why those fees were reasonable.When Circle C Resources hired Hassler to provide services in her home for clients with developmental disabilities the parties executed a confidentiality and noncompetition agreement. After Hassler left Circle C she continued to provide services to one former client in her home. Circle C brought this action alleging breach of the noncompete provisions of the parties' contract. After a remand, the trial court entered judgment in favor of Hassler, after which it awarded her all requested fees and costs. The Supreme Court reversed the attorneys' fees, holding (1) Hassler I did not invalidate the attorneys' fees provision of the parties' confidentiality and noncompete agreement; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion by not addressing the lodestar test or applicable discretionary factors in its written order. View "Circle C Resources v. Hassler" on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts, Wyoming Supreme Court
Suburban Electric Contracting, Inc. v. Ozdemir
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the county court denying Petitioner's petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse his discretion in denying relief.Petitioner was awarded monetary damages after a jury trial on a breach of contract claim against Respondent. The appellate division affirmed. Petitioner later moved for the appointment of a special process server to conduct a sale of Respondent's real property in order to satisfy the amended judgment and execution. Thereafter, Respondent presented a check for the execution amount plus postjudgment interest. Petitioner refused to accept payment and continued to litigate its motion. A judge declined to take action and ordered that further accrual of postjudgment interest would be tolled. Petitioner moved to vacate the judge's tolling ruling, but the trial court declined to rule on the motion. Petitioner then filed this petition requesting relief from the tolling order. The single justice denied the petition. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner was not entitled to relief. View "Suburban Electric Contracting, Inc. v. Ozdemir" on Justia Law
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
American Home Assurance Co. v. Superior Well Services, Inc.
Energy contracted with Superior for hydraulic fracking services to extract natural gas. In 2007, Energy advised Superior that it believed Superior had damaged some wells. Superior notified its insurance provider, American, which agreed to provide Superior with defense counsel, reserving its right to contest coverage. Energy sued Superior in state court. A jury determined that Superior had damaged 53 wells; the verdict form specified that Superior “fail[ed] to perform its contract" with Energy "in a workman-like manner” and that this “failure” was “a substantial factor in causing damage.”Superior’s policy with American provided coverage for “property damage” arising out of an “occurrence,” defined as “an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions[,]” but it did not define the term “accident.” Superior also purchased an “underground resources and equipment coverage” (UREC) endorsement for coverage “against risks associated with well-servicing operations[.]”In a federal court declaratory judgment action seeking indemnification, American argued that damage caused by a failure to perform a contract “in a workman-like manner” is not an “occurrence” under the policy and that, even if the policy covered Superior’s claim, it would involve a single “occurrence” under Pennsylvania law and would be subject to a $2 million per-occurrence limit.The district court granted summary judgment for Superior. The Third Circuit reversed. An accident is “unexpected,” which “implies a degree of fortuity that is not present in a claim for faulty workmanship.” The UREC endorsement does not eliminate the policy’s “occurrence” requirement. View "American Home Assurance Co. v. Superior Well Services, Inc." 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
Christian v. United Fire & Casualty Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment for United Fire and Casualty Company and concluding that Clifford Christian and/or his Estate were not owed a defense or indemnification for claims made against Christian in litigation brought by Linda and Albert Parisian, holding that there was no error.Christian contracted with a general contractor on his project to construct four townhomes, one of which was pre-sold to the Parisians. A subcontractor later sued the general contractor and Parisians to obtain payment for his work to landscape the homesites. Christian was named as a third-party defendant and sought defense and indemnification from United Fire, which had insured the general contractor with a liability policy for the period at issue. After United Fire denied Christian's request Christian's Estate initiated this action. The district court granted summary judgment to United Fire. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the complaint did not allege facts that if proven, would trigger policy coverage. View "Christian v. United Fire & Casualty Co." on Justia Law
Posted in: Construction Law, Contracts, Insurance Law, Montana Supreme Court
Ford Motor Credit Co. v. Miller
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court finding that Ford Motor Credit Company, LLC failed to meet its evidentiary burden to show the existence of an arbitration agreement in this case surrounding a dispute over the unpaid balance on an automobile loan, holding that the circuit court erred.Ford Credit sued Ronald Miller for the alleged balance due on a loan. Miller asserted a class action counterclaim for unlawful debt collection practices, in response to which Ford Credit filed a motion to compel arbitration. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that Ford Credit failed to provide evidence that an arbitration agreement existed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the existence of an arbitration agreement between the parties had been established. View "Ford Motor Credit Co. v. Miller" on Justia Law