Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Personal Injury
Access Funding, LLC v. Linton
In this appeal centering on the existence of a valid arbitration agreement the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court, holding that the circuit court erred in compelling arbitration of the question of whether the arbitration clause in the agreements at issue was valid.The arbitration clause in this case stemmed from transactions between lead paint tort plaintiffs who received structured settlements and affiliated factoring companies that specialize in purchasing structured settlement rights. Defendants filed motions to compel arbitration and stay the case, but Plaintiffs challenged the existence of a valid agreement to arbitrate. The trial court granted the motion to compel arbitration, finding that the arbitrator was to determine the issue of arbitrability. The Court of Special Appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the circuit court erroneously compelled arbitration and that the issue of whether a valid arbitration agreement exists is an issue for the court to determine. View "Access Funding, LLC v. Linton" on Justia Law
Badar v. Swissport USA, Inc.
Pakistan International Airlines (“PIA”) failed to transport the body of N.B. to Pakistan for burial due to a miscommunication by employees of Swissport USA, PIA’s cargo loading agent. N.B.’s family members sued PIA and Swissport in New York state court under state law; PIA removed the action to the district court. Following cross-motions for summary judgment and an evidentiary hearing, the district court held that Plaintiffs’ claims are preempted by the Montreal Convention and dismissed the suit. On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that the Montreal Convention, which preempts state-law claims arising from delayed cargo, does not apply because human remains are not “cargo” for purposes of the Montreal Convention and because their particular claims are not for “delay.” The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that human remains are cargo for purposes of the Montreal Convention; and on the facts found by the district court, the claims arise from delay. The claims are therefore preempted by the Montreal Convention. The court further wrote that it was Plaintiffs who cut off PIA’s ability to perform under the terms of the waybill. That decision was understandable given the need to bury N.B. quickly, and it cannot be doubted that Plaintiffs found themselves in a hard situation. But their only recourse against PIA and Swissport was a claim under the Montreal Convention, a claim which they have consistently declined to assert. View "Badar v. Swissport USA, Inc." on Justia Law
Trujillo v. City of L.A.
Plaintiff sued the City for its negligence in maintaining the City-owned sidewalk in a dangerous condition. The City moved for summary judgment on the ground that the sidewalk was not a “dangerous condition”. Although the hearing was not transcribed, the trial court concluded the hearing by orally granting the City’s motion for summary judgment. Just four minutes after the summary judgment hearing concluded, Plaintiff’s counsel sent the City an email purporting to accept the City’s 998 offer. The City objected to Plaintiff’s attempt to accept its 998 offer after the trial court had ruled on its summary judgment motion. The trial court entered judgment for the City, implicitly ruling that Plaintiff’s acceptance of the City’s 998 offer was inoperative. Plaintiff filed a timely notice of appeal of the May 7, 2021 judgment. At issue on appeal is whether a 998 offer automatically expires when a trial court orally grants the offeror’s summary judgment motion. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that the trial court properly concluded that the City’s 998 offer expired by the time plaintiff purported to accept it. Like any other contractual offer, a 998 offer is not accepted until that acceptance is communicated to the offeror. Here, because Plaintiff did not communicate her acceptance of the City’s 998 offer until after the trial court orally granted summary judgment to the City, the acceptance was not effective as there was no longer any operative 998 offer to accept. View "Trujillo v. City of L.A." on Justia Law
Dhital v. Nissan North America, Inc.
Plaintiffs sued Nissan, alleging the transmission in a 2013 Nissan Sentra they purchased was defective, bringing statutory claims under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (Civ. Code 1790) and a common law fraud claim alleging that Nissan, by fraudulently concealing the defects, induced them to purchase the car. The trial court dismissed the fraudulent inducement claim as barred by the “economic loss rule.” The court also struck the plaintiffs’ request for punitive damages.The court of appeal reversed. Under California law, the economic loss rule does not bar the fraudulent inducement claim. The fraudulent inducement exception to the economic loss rule applies; fraudulent inducement is a viable tort claim under California law. The plaintiffs adequately pleaded that the transmissions installed in numerous Nissan vehicles (including the one they purchased) were defective; Nissan knew of the defects and the hazards they posed; Nissan had exclusive knowledge of the defects but intentionally concealed and failed to disclose that information; Nissan intended to deceive plaintiffs by concealing known transmission problems; plaintiffs would not have purchased the car if they had known of the defects; and plaintiffs suffered damages in the form of money paid to purchase the car. View "Dhital v. Nissan North America, Inc." on Justia Law
City of Barbourville v. Hoskins
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals reversing in part the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City of Barbourville on all of Plaintiff's claims holding that the reasoning of the trial court was sound.Plaintiff sustained burns on the bottom of her feet after visiting a water park owned by the City, requiring eventual amputation of a portion of her foot. Plaintiff sued the City, bringing claims under theories of premises liability, strict liability, and breach of contract. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the City on all claims. The court of appeals reversed the summary judgment on the premises liability claim and otherwise affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the trial court correctly granted summary judgment in favor of the City on Plaintiff's strict liability, breach of contract, and premises liability claims. View "City of Barbourville v. Hoskins" on Justia Law
Jones v. Admin of the Tulane Educ
Two former students of Tulane University, on behalf of a putative class of current and former students, sued the University for failing to provide a partial refund of tuition and fees after Tulane switched from in-person instruction with access to on-campus services to online, off-campus instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic. The district court agreed with Tulane that the student's complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim. The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded. The court concluded that the claim is not barred as a claim of educational malpractice because the Students do not challenge the quality of the education received but the product received. Second, the court rejected Tulane’s argument that the breach-of-contract claim is foreclosed by an express agreement between the parties because the agreement at issue plausibly does not govern refunds in this circumstance. And third, the court concluded that Plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged that Tulane breached an express contract promising in-person instruction and on-campus facilities because Plaintiffs fail to point to any explicit language evidencing that promise. But the court held that Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged implied-in-fact promises for in-person instruction and on-campus facilities. Moreover, the court found that the Students’ alternative claim for unjust enrichment may proceed at this early stage. Finally, genuine disputes of material fact regarding whether Plaintiffs saw and agreed to the A&DS preclude reliance on the agreement at this stage. Thus, Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged a claim of conversion. View "Jones v. Admin of the Tulane Educ" on Justia Law
Today’s IV, Inc. v. L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Auth.
Appellant Today’s IV filed a civil complaint against respondents Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Regional Connector Constructors for their “unreasonable” construction of an underground subway line in downtown Los Angeles, which affected the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites (the Bonaventure), owned by Today’s IV. Today’s IV alleged claims for nuisance and inverse condemnation due to 1) respondents’ use of the cut-and-cover construction method instead of the tunnel boring machine method; 2) construction work during nights and weekends, which was particularly harmful to the Bonaventure’s operation as a hotel; 3) violation of certain noise limits; and 4) interference with access to the Bonaventure. Today’s IV alleged lost contracts, including a $3.3 million airline contract, and loss of business. It requested compensatory and punitive damages from Respondents. The trial court found no liability and entered judgment in favor of Respondents. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court explained that the first two circumstances that justify an inverse condemnation claim are not applicable here, as Appellant does not contend that its property has been physically invaded or physically damaged. Thus, Appellant necessarily relies upon the intangible intrusion theory. To recover under this theory, Appellant must be able to establish its property suffered from an intangible intrusion burdening the property in a way that is direct, substantial, and peculiar to the property itself. View "Today's IV, Inc. v. L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Auth." on Justia Law
Denning v. Bond Pharmacy
Plaintiff began receiving prescription medication administered through a pain pump and filled by AIS Healthcare (“AIS”). In 2021, she discovered that AIS was billing her insurer at a rate of $120 per day for allegedly unauthorized services. Plaintiff filed suit in state court, seeking damages for contract, tort, and unjust enrichment claims. AIS removed to federal court and moved to dismiss the case on grounds that Plaintiff lacked standing to sue because she had suffered no injury. Noting that “a breach of contract alone is an insufficient injury in fact,” the district court concluded that Plaintiff could not satisfy standing’s redressability element for the claims asserted and dismissed them with prejudice under Rule 12(b)(1). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment dismissing Plaintiff’s claims for lack of standing, however, the court modified the district court’s judgment dismissing Plaintiff’s claims for lack of standing. First, the court explained that the district court erred in holding that Plaintiff failed to show an injury in fact through her associated breach of contract and tort claims. However, because the court agreed with the district court that Plaintiff’s claims are not redressable by the damages she seeks, the court affirmed its dismissal of her claims for lack of standing. Further, the district court’s dismissal with prejudice appears to be a “scrivener’s” error. The court thus modified the district court’s judgment dismissing Plaintiff’s claims with prejudice to make it without prejudice and affirm the judgment as modified. View "Denning v. Bond Pharmacy" on Justia Law
Airbnb, Inc. v. Rice
The Supreme Court held that the district court erred in denying Appellant's motion to compel arbitration and refusing to submit the arbitrability determination under the circumstances of this case to an arbitrator.Plaintiffs sued Airbnb, Inc. for wrongful death and personal injury alleging that Airbnb's services had been used by a party's host to rent the house where a shooting occurred, resulting in a fatality. Airbnb moved to compel arbitration, arguing that Plaintiffs had agreed to Airbnb's Terms of Service during the registration process for their accounts. The district court denied the motion to compel. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the Federal Arbitrability Administration governed the enforcement of arbitration agreement at issue, and because the agreement delegated the arbitrability question to an arbitrator, the district court erred in deciding the arbitrability question. View "Airbnb, Inc. v. Rice" on Justia Law
Moore v. Centrelake Medical Group, Inc.
Appellants are patients at medical facilities operated by respondent Centrelake Medical Group. In reliance on Centrelake’s allegedly false representations that it employed reasonable safeguards for patients’ personal identifying information (PII), Appellants entered into contracts with Centrelake. Appellants brought an action against Centrelake on behalf of themselves and a putative class of patients affected by a data breach. The complaint contained causes of action for breach of contract, negligence, and violations of the Unfair Competition Law (UCL). Centrelake demurred, arguing that Appellants had failed to adequately plead any cognizable injury and that their negligence claim was barred by the economic loss rule. Appellants opposed the demurrer. On appeal, Appellants contend the court erred in sustaining the demurrer with respect to each of their claims and abused its discretion in denying their request for leave to amend. The Second Appellate District affirmed the judgment with respect to the dismissal of Appellants’ negligence claim without leave to amend, but reverse with respect to Appellants’ UCL and contract claims. The court concluded that Appellants adequately alleged UCL standing and contract damages under their benefit-of-the-bargain theory, and the Appellant who purchased monitoring services, did the same under Appellants’ monitoring-costs theory. However, Appellants have not shown the court erred in dismissing their negligence claim under the economic loss rule; nor have they shown the court abused its discretion in denying their request for leave to amend. View "Moore v. Centrelake Medical Group, Inc." on Justia Law