Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in North Carolina Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Osae and Scott Bader with respect to SciGrip's trade secrets claim, unfair and deceptive trade practices claim, and request for punitive damages and deciding the parties' motions with regard to SciGrip's breach of contract claims, holding that the trial court did not err. As to SciGrip's breach of contract claims, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of SciGrip with respect to its breach of contract claim against Osae for violating a consent judgment while he was employed by Bader and refused to grant summary judgment in favor of SciGrip or Osae with respect to sciGrip's claim for breach of contract against Osae for violating the consent judgment during his period of employment with another entity. Further, the court denied Osae's motion to preclude the admission of certain expert testimony proffered by SciGrip on mootness grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed after careful consideration of the parties' challenges to the court's order in light of the evidence in the record, holding that the trial court did not err. View "SciGrip, Inc. v. Osae" on Justia Law

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In this action asserting claims for breach of contract and fraud the Supreme Court granted Defendants' motion to stay proceedings under N.C. Gen. Stat. 1-75.12 on forum non conveniens grounds and denied as moot all other requested relief, holding that the balance of all relevant factors showed it would be more convenient for the parties to litigate these claims in England. Plaintiff, a Swiss biopharmaceutical company, sued an English contract research organization and its North Carolina-based parent, asserting claims for, inter alia, breach of contract and fraud. Defendants filed, among other pre-answer motions, a motion seeking to stay the proceedings under section 1-72.12. The Supreme Court granted Defendants' motion to stay and denied as moot all other requested relief, holding that, after considering the convenience of witnesses, ease of access to sources of proof, applicable law, and local interest factors, this case should be stayed on forum non conveniens grounds because Defendants showed that a substantial injustice would result if this case were to proceed in North Carolina and that England was a convenient, reasonable, and fair place of trial. View "Cardiorentis AG v. Iqvia Ltd." on Justia Law

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In this action arising out of an alleged breach of a professional services agreement (PSA) between Vizant Technologies, LLC and YRC Worldwide Inc. the Supreme Court concluded that YRC's motion for summary judgment should be granted in part and denied in part, holding that partial summary judgment should be granted in YRC's favor on the issue of certain damages involving automated clearing house (ACH) batch payments. Vizant sought declaratory and injunctive relief against YRC as well as damages for breach of the PSA, claiming that it was owed outstanding fees for savings that YRC allegedly realized through successful efforts to pay using ACH rather than credit cards. Vizant argued that the PSA required YRC to pay a fee to Vizant because YRC realized savings as a result of the strategies identified by Vizant. YRC, however, argued that it did not owe Vizant a fee because Vizant's suggestions did not actually cause YRC to change business practices and realize savings. The Supreme Court granted in part and denied in part YRC's motion for summary judgment, holding (1) Vizant failed to produce evidence to support its claimed ACH damages; and (2) YRC's summary judgment motion is denied with regard to Vizant's breach of contract claim. View "Vizant Techs., LLC v. YRC Worldwide, Inc" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging that the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) breached a 1998 agreement between the parties, holding that the court erred in dismissing Plaintiff's claim that the State Defendants breached a settlement agreement in two respects. Centuries after the disappearance of two ships Plaintiff, a marine research and recovery corporation, received permits from DNCR to search for the ships. After discovering one of the ships, Plaintiff entered into an agreement with DNCR in 1998 agreeing to forgo certain rights in exchange for other rights. Plaintiff later alleged that DNCR breached the agreement in several ways, and the parties entered into a settlement agreement in 2013. Plaintiff later sued, and the trial court granted summary judgment for the State Defendants. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court properly dismissed Plaintiff's claims against the State Defendants for breach of the 1998 agreement; but (2) the trial court erred in dismissing Plaintiff's claims for breach of the 2013 settlement agreement stemming from DNCR's alleged violations of Plaintiff's media and promotional rights and from DNCR's non-renewal of Plaintiff's permit to search for the second ship. View "Intersal, Inc. v. Hamilton" on Justia Law

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In this contract interpretation case, the Supreme Court reversed the portion of the court of appeals decision ruling that a critical paragraph in a commercial real estate lease was ambiguous and that, as a result, interpretation of the contract was a matter for a jury to resolve, holding that the pertinent provisions of the lease served as a complete bar to Plaintiff lessees’ negligence-based claims against Defendants, one of which was the lessor. At issue was the operation of the lease provisions regarding insurance and liability when the lessees sought damages allegedly caused by the lessor’s negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that the pertinent lease provision was not ambiguous and was a complete defense to the claims raised in the complaint. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the provision was ambiguous in that it did not clearly reflect the intent of the parties to bar negligence claims against each other. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the language of the lease arrangements reflected the clear intent of the parties to discharge each other from all claims and liabilities for damages resulting from hazards covered by insurance; and (2) the damages claims by the lessees resulted from a hazard that was subject to their insurance coverage. View "Morrell v. Hardin Creek, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that summary judgment was improper in this case alleging fraudulent concealment and professional negligence. In her complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants failed properly to prepare and file her delinquent tax returns for tax years 2006 through 2009 and intentionally deceived her about the status of the returns. The trial court allowed Defendants’ motion for partial summary judgment regarding Plaintiff’s fraudulent concealment claim, the corresponding claim for punitive damages, and Defendants’ statute of repose defense for professional negligence for tax years 2006 and 2007. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s decision regarding the statute of repose and affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s fraudulent concealment claim and Plaintiff’s related claim for punitive damages. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed regarding the fraudulent concealment claim and the accompanying punitive damages claim, as well as the triggering event for the running of the statute of repose. View "Head v. Gould Killian CPA Group, P.A." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs failed to state claims for tortious interference with contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair and deceptive practices, civil conspiracy, and unjust enrichment sufficient to survive Defendants’ motion to dismiss pursuant to N.C. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). After Plaintiffs asserted various causes of action against Defendants, including the "Metropolitan defendants" and "dancer defendants," the Metropolitan defendants and dancer defendants filed motions to dismiss the amended complaint in its entirety pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). The business court granted the motion to dismiss as to all of Plaintiffs’ claims except for the claims for breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and punitive damages against the dancer defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) Plaintiffs failed to state valid claims for forties interference with contract, unfair and deceptive practices, and unjust enrichment against the Metropolitan defendants; (2) Plaintiffs failed to state valid claims for misappropriation of trade secrets and civil conspiracy against all defendants. View "Krawiec v. Manly" on Justia Law

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The trial court did not err in dismissing Plaintiffs’ action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to Plaintiffs’ failure to exhaust administrative remedies in seeking damages for denied Medicaid reimbursement claims. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s order, ruling that the trial court erred in dismissing Plaintiffs’ complaint without resolving certain factual issues and that Plaintiffs sufficiently demonstrated that it would be futile to pursue administrative remedies. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erred in reversing the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims where Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies prior to filing suit and failed to demonstrate futility of the available remedies at this time. View "Abrons Family Practice & Urgent Care, PA v. North Carolina Department of Human Services" on Justia Law

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The trial court did not err in dismissing Plaintiffs’ action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to Plaintiffs’ failure to exhaust administrative remedies in seeking damages for denied Medicaid reimbursement claims. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s order, ruling that the trial court erred in dismissing Plaintiffs’ complaint without resolving certain factual issues and that Plaintiffs sufficiently demonstrated that it would be futile to pursue administrative remedies. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erred in reversing the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims where Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies prior to filing suit and failed to demonstrate futility of the available remedies at this time. View "Abrons Family Practice & Urgent Care, PA v. North Carolina Department of Human Services" on Justia Law

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An attorney-client relationship existed between Defendants and a non-party that contractually agreed to indemnify Defendants, but because Defendants failed to request that the trial court provide written findings of fact and did not present in a timely manner the documents at issue, the trial court did not err in determining that the attorney-client privilege did not extend to the communications at issue. Plaintiff sued Defendants for payment of back rent and other charges due under a lease. Defendants notified the non-party, which agreed to indemnify and defend Defendants in accordance with their agreement. During discovery, counsel for Plaintiff requested copies of documents exchanged between Defendants and the non-party. Defendants moved for a protective order, asserting the attorney-client privilege. The trial court denied Defendants’ motion for a protective order and granted Plaintiff’s motion to compel. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the attorney-client privilege did not extend to the communications between Defendants and the non-party. The Supreme Court modified and affirmed, holding (1) the non-party’s contractual duty to defend and indemnify Defendants created a tripartite attorney-client relationship; but (2) the trial court did not err in determining that the documents between Defendants and the non-party were not privileged. View "Friday Investments, LLC v. Bally Total Fitness of the Mid-Atlantic, Inc." on Justia Law