Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court

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In this lawsuit between AllyAlign Health, Inc. and Signature Advantage, LLC the Supreme Court granted AllyAlign's motion for an order to compel arbitration of all claims, holding that a carve-out provision in the parties' contract for certain claims to be decided by a court did not negate the mandate of the Commercial Arbitration Rules and Arbitration Procedures of the American Arbitration Association (AAA's Rules) that the initial arbitrability of claims is to be determined by the arbitrator, not the courts. AllyAlign contracted with Signature Advantage for AllyAlign's services. The contract contained an arbitration provision incorporating the AAA's Rules. Signature Advantage later sued AllyAlign for breach of contract and other claims. AllyAlign moved to compel arbitration on all the claims based on the AAA's Rules that delegate to the arbitrator the initial decision about the arbitrability of claims arising between the parties. In response, Signature Advantage argued that the language of the carve-out provision exempted equitable claims from arbitration. The trial court granted in part the motion to compel arbitration but denied the motion for the claims it found to demand equitable relief. The Supreme Court compelled arbitration of all claims, holding that the trial court's order declining to refer all the claims of the complaint was erroneous. View "AllyAlign Health, Inc. v. Signature Advantage, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court accepted the United States District Court, Western District of Kentucky's request for certification of law on the following issue, holding that a pre-injury liability waiver signed by a parent on behalf of a minor child is unenforceable under the specific facts of this case. Mother purchased tickets at a for-profit trampoline park (Park) for her eleven-year-old daughter. Mother checked a box indicating that she had read the Park's waiver of liability. The daughter proceeded to participate in the Park's activities but was injured. Mother, as next friend of Daughter, sued the Park for the injury. The Park moved for summary judgment based on Mother's legal power to waive the rights of her daughter via the release. The district court then requested certification from the Supreme Court as to this novel issue of state law. The Supreme Court held (1) under the common law of this Commonwealth, absent special circumstances, a parent has no authority to enter into contracts on a child’s behalf; and (2) there is no relevant public policy to justify abrogating the common law to enforce an exculpatory agreement between a for-profit entity and a parent on behalf of her minor child. View "Miller v. House of Boom Kentucky, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals in this case alleging tortious interference involving a parent corporation and its wholly-owned subsidiary, holding that a parent company has a qualified privilege to interfere with the contractual relations of its wholly-owned subsidiary unless it employs wrongful means or its interference is not in the economic interest of the subsidiary. Plaintiff brought suit against against CONSOL of Kentucky Inc. (CKI), the wholly-owned subsidiary of CONSOL Energy, Inc. (Energy), Energy, and others, alleging that Energy interfered with the contractual relation between Plaintiff and CKI. The jury found for Plaintiff. The court of appeals concluded that a parent company cannot tortiously interfere with a wholly-owned subsidiary unless it employs wrongful means when interfering and that Energy was entitled to interfere in this case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff adduced no proof as to the required element of wrongful means in a tortious interference claim involving a parent and its wholly-owned subsidiary. View "Sparkman v. Consol Energy, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals upholding the circuit court’s approval of Ray Thomas’s future periodic payments to DRB Capital, LLC in exchange for an immediate lump sum payment at a discounted rate after Thomas settled a workers’ compensation claim against his employer and its workers’ compensation insurer, holding that the underlying contracts’ anti-assignment clauses are enforceable and that the Kentucky Structured Settlement Protection Act (KSSPA) does not apply to workers’ compensation settlements. Less than six months after settling his claim, Thomas received the circuit court’s transfer approval. The circuit court approved the transfer pursuant to the KSSPA. The court of appeals upheld the circuit court’s approval. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that explicit anti-assignability clauses in the underlying contracts and statutory language limiting the KSSPA to tort settlements required reversal in this case. View "American General Life Insurance Co. v. DRB Capital, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this matter to the circuit court with directions to reinstate a default judgment granted to Bingham Greenebaum Doll, LLP and J. Richard Kiefer (collectively, Bingham) against Meredith Lawrence on its counterclaim to enforce a promissory note made by Lawrence in partial payment of attorney’s fees owed by Lawrence to Bingham, holding that the trial court erred in setting aside the default judgment and that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming that order. Specifically, the Court held that because Bingham’s counterclaim was a compulsory counterclaim to Lawrence’s action against Bingham for professional negligence and because the complaint called into question the validity of the promissory note at issue, Bingham’s counterclaim was justiciable even though it was filed three an a half months prior to the promissory note’s due date. View "Bingham Greenebaum Doll, LLP v. Lawrence" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals applying provisions of the Kentucky Fairness in Construction Act (KFCA) to void an entire dispute resolution process contained in the parties’ sewer construction contract, reinstated the summary judgment entered in the trial court, and affirmed the Court of Appeals on all remaining issues. Plaintiff hired Defendant for its sewer project for approximately $2.3 million. The contract contained a provision detailing the process for dispute resolution (Article 13). When Defendant did not substantially complete the project by the scheduled deadline, Plaintiff brought this action. The Court of Appeals deemed the whole of Article 13 void and unenforceable. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court correctly granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff on Defendant’s claim for extra work, and the court of appeals erred in applying certain portions of the KFCA to render null and void the entirety of Article 13; (2) the trial court correctly handled Plaintiff’s liquidated damages claim; and (3) the trial court did not err in denying Plaintiff’s motions for directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict on one of Plaintiff’s breach of contract claims. View "Louisville & Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District v. T&C Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue was various statutory amendments to the Kentucky Affordable Prepaid Tuition Fund (KAPT) contracts previously purchased by Appellants. The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the trial court concluding that the 2014 statutory changes affecting the 2003 contracts for prepaid college tuition entered into by Maze and the Board did not alter Appellants’ contracts, concluding that Appellants had expressly agreed to be bound by amendments to the contracts imposed by future statutory and regulatory changes. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the KAPT contracts entered into by Appellants, and the underlying enabling statutes, did not authorize the contractual changes imposed by the retroactive application of the statutory amendments at issue in this case; and (2) the retroactive imposition of those amendments upon Appellants unlawfully impaired their contracts in violation of U.S. Const. art. I, 10 and Ky. Const. 19. View "Maze v. Board of Directors for the Commonwealth Postsecondary Education Prepaid Tuition Trust Fund" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court’s order denying Employer’s motion to compel enforcement of the arbitration agreement between the parties in this case, holding that the arbitration agreement between Employer and Employee was unenforceable as a matter of law. Employer conditioned Employee’s continued employment on her agreement to arbitrate any dispute that may arise between them. The Supreme Court held that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable as a matter of state statutory law because (1) Ky. Rev. Stat. 336.700(2) prohibits employers from conditioning employment on an existing employee’s or prospective employee’s agreement to “waive, arbitrate, or otherwise diminish any existing or future claim, right, or benefit to which the employee or person seeking employment would otherwise be entitled”; and (2) the Federal Arbitration Act does not mandate a contrary holding because it does not preempt section 336.700(2) in this case. View "Northern Kentucky Area Development District v. Snyder" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals granting a Ky. R. Civ. P. 65.09 motion filed by Respondent to compel arbitration, holding that the arbitration agreement between the parties was enforceable. The circuit court in this case issued an order invalidating the arbitration clause contained in the parties’ employment contract. Thereafter, Respondent a motion seeking interlocutory relief to compel arbitration. The court of appeals determined that even where the contract expressly allows Respondent to seek provisional injunctive remedies in a court pending arbitration but did not specifically provide the same right to Movant, the lack of reciprocal access to the courts for injunctive relief did not invalidate the arbitration agreement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the arbitration agreement did not lack mutuality, was supported by adequate consideration, and was not unconscionable. View "Grimes v. GHSW Enterprises, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals dissolving the stay of execution, and thus all collection activity, upon a judgment issued by the circuit court holding that Appellants failed to show “extraordinary cause.” The underlying merits of the circuit court’s case concerned the Public Service Commission’s enforcement of a previously-obtained money judgment that was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Because the trial court’s order did not specify the procedural grounds for its decision to stay the case pending the resolution of an ongoing administrative case, the Supreme Court analyzed this case as an appeal from an order imposing a temporary injunction. The Court then denied Appellants’ motion to vacate the Court of Appeals’ order and affirmed the lower appellate court, holding that the judgment was valid and enforceable and that the equities did not weigh in Plaintiff’s favor. View "Pollitt v. Public Service Commission of Kentucky" on Justia Law