Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada
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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying SR Construction, Inc.'s motion to compel arbitration because its master subcontract agreement (MSA) with Peek Brothers Construction, Inc. constituted a valid arbitration provision that applied to the parties' underlying dispute, holding that the dispute was arbitrable.On appeal, SR argued that the district court erred in holding that the underlying dispute fell outside the bounds of the parties' arbitration agreement.The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding (1) as applied, the MSA provision was broad, and an attendant presumption of arbitrability applied; and (2) Peek's dispute was presumptively arbitrable under the parties' agreement. View "SR Construction, Inc. v. Peek Brothers Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court determining that the covenant of good faith and fair dealing applied when it awarded delay damages to a subcontractor, holding that the district court properly determined that the covenant of good faith and fair dealing applied and that the contractor breached the covenant.At issue on appeal was (1) whether the district court properly applied the covenant of good faith and fair dealing when it awarded delay damages to a subcontractor, and (2) whether the subcontractor waived its right to receive delay damages by signing a waiver and release to receive its retention. The Supreme Court held (1) the covenant of good faith and fair dealing allowed for the subcontractor to receive delay damages; and (2) the conditional release and waiver the subcontractor signed did not preclude it from receiving delay damages. View "APCO Construction, Inc. v. Helix Electric of Nev., LLC" on Justia Law

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In this construction contract action, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Helix Electric of Nevada, LLC's claims for retention against APCO Construction, Inc. and the award of attorney fees for APCO pursuant to Nev. R. Civ. P. 68 for less than APCO's requested amount.Gemstone Development West, Inc. sought to construct condominiums and hired APCO as its general contractor. APCO subcontracted with Helix at Gemstone's direction. Helix was paid less than it billed, and the difference, $505,021, was withheld in retention. Under the subcontract, the retention would be released only upon the occurrence of several conditions. Later, the relationship between the parties soured, and the project was terminated. APCO, Helix, and other subcontractors recorded mechanics' liens against the property. After a trial, the district court dismissed Helix's claims for retention against APCO and granted attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly concluded that a subcontract provision conditioning the payment of funds on APCO first being paid was unenforceable, but the unenforceablity of the pay-if-paid condition did not also invalidate the remaining conditions precedent for obtaining the retention payment; and (2) none of the remaining arguments on appeal warranted reversal. View "Helix Electric of Nev., LLC v. APCO Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court concluding that an arbitration provision was void under Nev. Rev. Stat. 597.995 for failure to include a specific authorization, holding that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1 et seq., preempted section 597.955, and therefore, the district court's decision was erroneous.Nev. Rev. Stat. 597.995 requires any agreement that includes an arbitration provision to include a specific authorization for that provision. The district court concluded that the arbitration provision at issue in this case was void for failure to include a specific authorization, as required by section 597.995. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because section 597.995 singles out and disfavors arbitration provisions by imposing stricter requirements on them than on other contract provisions, the FAA preempts the statute in cases involving interstate commerce; and (2) the district court erred by concluding that section 597.995 voided the parties' arbitration agreement. View "Maide, LLC v. Dileo" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court confirming an arbitration award in a commercial contract matter, holding that there was no error.The parties in this case were two newspapers with a lengthy contractual relationship. The parties' contract contained a provision submitting disputes arising out of the contract to binding private arbitration. A dispute arose over amounts owed under the parties' contract, and the matter was submitted to arbitration. After the arbitrator rendered an award, both parties sought to vacate portions of the award by arguing that the arbitrator's award was so egregiously wrong that the arbitrator had clearly failed to apply the contract at all. The district court confirmed the award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly found that there was no clear and convincing evidence that the arbitrator had exceeded his powers, acted arbitrarily and capriciously, or manifestly disregarded the law. View "News+Media Capital Group LLC v. Las Vegas Sun, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that because Nevada's wrongful termination claims do not significantly conflict with any concrete federal interest expressed by the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), the LMRDA did not preempt those claims.This case concerned the termination of the employment of two plaintiffs with the Nevada Service Employees Union. Plaintiffs filed this complaint against Nevada Service Employees Union, Local 1107 and the Service Employees International Union, alleging, inter alia, breach of contract and wrongful termination. The district court granted summary judgment for the Unions, concluding that the LMRDA preempted all of Plaintiffs' claims. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the LMRDA does not preempt state law wrongful termination claims; (2) the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of one of the unions; and (3) the court did not abuse its discretion in denying a union's motion for attorney fees. View "Clark v. Service Employees International Union" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court accepted a question certified to it by the United States District Court for the District of Nevada asking to decide whether Nev. Rev. Stat. 41.031(1) constitutes a waiver of Nevada's sovereign immunity from damages liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), holding that Nevada has waived the defense of sovereign immunity to liability under the FLSA.Appellant and several other employees of the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) filed a putative class and collective action complaint alleging that the State and NDOC violated the FLSA and the state Minimum Wage Amendment (MWA) and breached their contract under state law. The State removed the action to federal district court, where at issue was whether the State possessed sovereign immunity. The district court concluded that the State waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity by removing the case to federal court. The Ninth Circuit affirmed and left open the question of whether the State retained its sovereign immunity from liability. The court then certified the question to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered that, by enacting Nev. Rev. Stat. 41.031(1), Nevada consented to damages liability for a State agency's violation of the minimum wage or overtime provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. View "Echeverria v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissing this action brought by Somersett Owners Association (SOA) seeking to recover damages against those involved in the design and construction of stacked retaining walls supporting the Somersett residential development in northern Nevada, holding that the statute of repose barred this lawsuit.After the rockery walls began failing, SOA brought suit against Defendants alleging negligence and negligence per se, breach of express and implied warranties and other claims. Defendants moved for summary judgment on the ground that the six-year period of repose set forth in Nev. Rev. Stat. 11.202 applied. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. At issue was when the rockery walls achieved "substantial completion" for purposes of section 11.202. The Supreme Court held (1) the six-year period in section 11.202 begins when the improvement to the real property is "substantially complete," which means sufficiently complete so that the owner can occupy or utilize the improvement; and (2) SOA failed to set forth specific facts demonstrating the existence of a genuine factual issue as to whether it brought the underlying suit within the six-year period set by section 11.202. View "Somersett Owners Ass'n v. Somersett Development Co." on Justia Law

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In this opinion, the Supreme Court clarified that the existence of a bond pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 108.2415 precluded a contractor's ability to maintain a claim for unjust enrichment against the property owner because the subject of the dispute was governed by an express, written contract.University entered into an agreement with Lessee providing that University would purchase certain real property and lease it to Lessee, whereby Lessee would fund and construct student housing and other establishments. Lessee subsequently entered into a construction contract with Contractor. When a dispute arose between Contractor and Lessee, Contractor recorded a mechanics' lien against the property and filed a complaint against several defendants, including a claim against University for unjust enrichment. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of University. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the bond provided an adequate remedy at law and that the unjust enrichment claim was improper. View "Korte Construction Co. v. State, Board of Regents" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered a certified question under Nev. R. App. P. 5 concerning an insurer's right to reimbursement, holding that when a party to a contract performs a challenged obligation under protest and a court subsequently determines that the contract did not require performance, the party may generally recover in restitution, thus giving effect to the terms of the parties' bargain.Insurer filed this declaratory judgment action seeking reimbursement of expenses it had occurred in defending Insured against a suit by a third party. The district court concluded that Insurer was not entitled to reimbursement. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that the suit did not trigger a duty to defend. The Supreme Court accepted a certified question from the Ninth Circuit regarding the issue. The Supreme Court then held (1) no contract governed the right to reimbursement in this case; and (2) under the principle of unjust enrichment, a party that performs a disputed obligation under protest and does not in fact have a duty to perform is entitled to reimbursement. View "Nautilus Insurance Co. v. Access Medical, LLC" on Justia Law