Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Immigration Law
Vermont, et al. v. Quiros, et al.
This case arose from a series of plans overseen by defendants to develop several real estate projects in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Work on these projects spanned eight years, including fundraising and planning stages, and involved several limited partnerships and other corporate entities (the Jay Peak Projects). The Jay Peak Projects, at the direction of defendants Ariel Quiros and William Stenger, raised investment funds largely through a federal program known as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program (EB-5 Program). In April 2016, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit alleging securities fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud against the Jay Peak Projects developers, Ariel Quiros and William Stenger. The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation also filed suit against Quiros and Stenger, alleging similar claims. On the basis of these and other allegations, plaintiffs, all foreign nationals who invested in the Jay Peak Projects, filed a multi-count claim against ACCD and several individual defendants. Intervenors, a group of foreign investors who were allegedly defrauded by defendants, appealed an order denying their motion to intervene in the State’s enforcement action brought against defendants. The Vermont Supreme Court affirmed because the motion to intervene was untimely. View "Vermont, et al. v. Quiros, et al." on Justia Law
Sutton, et al. v. Vermont Regional Center, et al.
Plaintiff-investors appealed the dismissal of their claims against the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) and current and former state employees arising from the operation of a federally licensed regional center in the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) EB-5 program. USCIS designated ACCD as a regional center in 1997, and ACCD began operating the Vermont Regional Center (VRC). In 2006, the VRC partnered with a series of projects led by Ariel Quiros and William Stenger (referred to as the “Jay Peak Projects”). ACCD entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Jay Peak Projects for each project. Employees of ACCD, including James Candido and Brent Raymond, both former executive directors of the VRC, and John Kessler, general counsel for ACCD, traveled with Jay Peak representatives to EB-5 tradeshows, at which they would share a table and jointly solicit investors and promote the Projects. ACCD employees represented to prospective investors, including plaintiffs, that the added protections of state approval and oversight made the Jay Peak Projects a particularly sound investment. However, unbeknownst to the investors, but known to VRC officials, no such state oversight by the VRC existed. In 2014, about twenty investors, including plaintiff Antony Sutton, sent complaints to Brent Raymond alleging that the Jay Peak Projects was misappropriating investor funds. In April 2016, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit alleging securities fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud against the Jay Peak Projects developers, Ariel Quiros and William Stenger. The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation also filed suit against Quiros and Stenger, alleging similar claims. On the basis of these and other allegations, plaintiffs, all foreign nationals who invested in the Jay Peak Projects, filed a multi-count claim against ACCD and several individual defendants. The trial court granted plaintiffs’ motion to amend their complaint for a third time to a Fourth Amended Complaint, and then dismissed all thirteen counts on various grounds. Plaintiffs appealed. The Vermont Supreme Court reversed dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims of negligence and negligent misrepresentation against ACCD, gross negligence against defendants Brent Raymond and James Candido, and breach of contract and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing against ACCD. The Court affirmed dismissal of plaintiffs’ remaining claims. View "Sutton, et al. v. Vermont Regional Center, et al." on Justia Law
Sierra Equipment, Inc. v. Lexington Insurance Co.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in an action arising from a property insurance policy that Lexington issued to LWL to insure construction equipment that LWL leased from Sierra. The court held that the equitable lien doctrine did not apply to Sierra, who was not a party to the insurance policy, and Sierra did not have standing to sue Lexington. In this case, the agreement between Sierra and LWL did not require that LWL obtain insurance with a loss payable clause to Sierra, and the Lexington policy did not contain such a clause. View "Sierra Equipment, Inc. v. Lexington Insurance Co." on Justia Law
N.Y. Hosp. Med. Ctr. of Queens v Microtech Contracting Corp.
Plaintiff-hospital engaged Defendant to undertake demolition in a basement room at the hospital. Defendant hired brothers Luis and Gerardo Lema, undocumented aliens not legally employable in the United States. The Lemas were injured while performing the work and sued the hospital for violations of the state’s Labor Law. Supreme Court granted the Lemas summary judgment on liability. The hospital, meanwhile, brought this action for common-law and contractual contribution and indemnification against Defendant to recover damages incurred in the Labor Law litigation with the Lemas. Supreme Court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss on the ground that the complaint did not state a cause of action, reasoning that N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law 11 barred the hospital’s action. In so holding, the court determined that non-compliance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) did not deprive Defendant of the protection of section 11. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendant was entitled to the safe harbor in section 11 because the Lemas did not suffer grave injuries, there was no preexisting agreement for contractual contribution or indemnification, and the hospital did not contend that IRCA preempts section 11. View "N.Y. Hosp. Med. Ctr. of Queens v Microtech Contracting Corp." on Justia Law
Kam-Almaz v. United States
Plaintiff, a U.S. citizen employed in international disaster relief assistance, returned from an overseas business trip and was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at Dulles International Airport. An agent seized his laptop and two flash drives after permitting him to copy and retain one computer file and providing Customs Form 6051D indicating that the equipment would be detained for up to 30 days. While the laptop was detained, its hard drive failed, destroying much of its business software. A Customs representative sent a letter seeking to assure plaintiff that a prompt resolution of the issue would be addressed. About 10 weeks after its seizure, the laptop was returned. Plaintiff’s suit alleged breach of an implied-in-fact contract and a taking, with damages totaling $469,480.00 due to lost contracts resulting from inability to access files as well as replacement hardware, software, and warranty costs. The Claims Court dismissed, finding that the complaint did not sufficiently allege a bailment contract and that the property was not taken for a public use within the context of the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause. The Federal Circuit affirmed.
Foreign Academic & Cultural Exchange Services, Inc. v. Tripon
Appellant Foreign Academic & Cultural Exchange Services, Inc. (FACES) instituted this action against Respondent Daniela Tripon for breach of contract, breach of the duty of loyalty, and injunctive relief. FACES recruits teachers from outside the United States and places them with schools within the state pursuant to the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Program. Respondent, a Romanian citizen, contracted with FACES to participate in its program, and entered the United States on a J-1 visa. Pursuant to the "foreign residency requirement" of the J-1 visa, respondent was required to return to her home country and remain there for at least two years following departure from the United States. After Respondent had taught for two years, she and FACES entered into a revised agreement for the term of an additional school year. The new contract also increased respondent's salary and contained an acknowledgement that respondent would return home for two years after the contract expired. Shortly after executing the new contract, respondent married a former FACES teacher, and was granted a waiver of the J-1 foreign residency requirement, allowing her to remain in the United States. Subsequently, Respondent accepted a full-time position with another school district and received an H-1B visa allowing her to remain in the United States after the expiration of her J-1 visa. Following respondent's failure to return to Romania as contracted, FACES instituted this action. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Respondent as to all of FACES' claims. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court's order granting summary judgment, finding there were material questions of fact whether respondent breached the revised contract by not returning to her home country and accepting another job, whether FACES suffered any actual as opposed to liquidated damages, and whether respondent breached the duty of loyalty implied in every employment contract.