Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Virginia
Oreze Healthcare v. Eastern Shore Community Services Bd.
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court entering summary judgment favor of Eastern Shore Community Services Board (ESCSB) and holding that Oreze Healthcare LLC's conveyance of real property to a third party prohibited Oreze from pursuing its breach of contract claim against ESCSB, holding that ESCSB was not entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.ESCSB and Oreze entered into a commercial lease agreement under which ESCSB agreed to lease the four buildings comprising an assisted living facility whose license had been suspended and to provide interim care to its residents until a permanent solution was reached. When water damaged the buildings and no remedy was reached before ESCSB terminated the lease Oreze brought this complaint for breach of contract. While the lawsuit was pending, Oreze conveyed the property to a third party by general warranty deed. The circuit court granted summary judgment for ESCSB, ruling that Oreze failed to reserve its claims in the deed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the deed did not extinguish or transfer Oreze's right to sue ESCSB for property damage arising from an alleged breach of the lease. View "Oreze Healthcare v. Eastern Shore Community Services Bd." on Justia Law
Arch Insurance Co. v. FVCbank
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court striking Arch Insurance Company's conversion and unjust enrichment claims, holding that the circuit court did not err in concluding that Arch was incapable of demonstrating a priority right to the disputed funds at issue in this case as a matter of law.FVCbank provided Dominion Mechanical Contractors, Inc. with a revolving line of credit. Arch, a surety company, issued contract surety bonds for some of Dominion's projects. Due to Dominion's later financial troubles, FVCbank froze Dominion's accounts. Arch and Dominion sued, claiming conversion and unjust enrichment. The circuit court granted FVCbank's motion to strike Arch's claims, finding that because FVCbank had a priority interest in Dominion's accounts, there was no legal claim for unjust enrichment or conversion. The circuit court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) correctly concluded that FVCbank's interest in Dominion's deposit accounts took priority over Arch's interest as a matter of law; and (2) properly dismissed the claims with prejudice. View "Arch Insurance Co. v. FVCbank" on Justia Law
Williams v. Janson
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court determining that an auctioneer had verbally modified its advertised terms prior to the start of the auction and ordering the conveyance of a fee simple interest in a parcel of real property by special warranty deed to Plaintiff, holding that the circuit court erred.Plaintiff attended an auction advertised by Plaintiff for the sale of the property at issue. Plaintiff's bid was the high bid, but Defendants refused to sell the property for that amount. Plaintiff brought this complaint seeking specific performance, alleging that, in the pre-auction announcement, Defendants used language stating that the auction was going to be an absolute auction. The trial court ruled that Plaintiff was entitled to specific performance and ordered the conveyance of the property by special warranty deed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court erred in ruling that the auction was an absolute auction rather than an auction with reserve; and (2) therefore, no contract was formed between the parties. View "Williams v. Janson" on Justia Law
Ashland, LLC v. Virginia-American Water Co.
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Ashland, LLC's claim against Virginia-American Water Company for an alleged breach of contract, holding that the circuit court erred in concluding that Va. Const. art. IX, 4 deprived it of jurisdiction to adjudicate Ashland's contract claim.Ashland filed suit against Virginia-American, which provided water to Ashland pursuant to a tariff issued by the State Corporation Commission, after a power outage disrupted water service to Ashland, resulting in $515,000 in damages due to lost business and profits. Ashland's complaint asserted a breach of contract claim based on an alleged violation of the tariff. The circuit court concluded that the promulgation of a tariff by the Commission is an action of the Commission, and therefore, the circuit court lacked jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that circuit courts are free to read and then apply the terms of a tariff as adopted by the Commission as necessary to resolve a common law dispute. View "Ashland, LLC v. Virginia-American Water Co." on Justia Law
AV Automotive, LLC v. Gebreyessus
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the judgment of the circuit court awarding sanctions against Plaintiffs, holding that the circuit court erred in awarding the total amount of the attorney's fees claimed.Plaintiffs brought this claim alleging fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with a contractual relationship or business expectancy, and business conspiracy against Defendant, a former employee. After the circuit court granted Plaintiffs' motions to nonsuit as to all parties the circuit court granted Defendant's motion for sanctions, awarding sanctions of $213,197 - Defendant's total attorney's fees - against Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) was within its discretion to award sanctions against Plaintiffs; but (2) erred in awarding sanctions for certain conduct and in failing to segregate sanctionable claim from the attorney's fees requested. View "AV Automotive, LLC v. Gebreyessus" on Justia Law
Boyle v. Anderson
The Supreme Court held that the Virginia Uniform Arbitration Act, Va. Code 8.01-581.01 to -.016 (VUAA), and the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1-16 (FAA), do not compel enforcement of an arbitration clause in a trust.The decedent created an inter vivos irrevocable trust that was divided into three shares for his children and grandchildren. The trust contained an unambiguous arbitration clause. Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant, the trust's trustee, alleging breach of duty. Defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration, which the circuit court denied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a trust is neither a contract nor an agreement that can be enforced against a beneficiary; and (2) therefore, neither the VUAA nor the FAA compel arbitration. View "Boyle v. Anderson" on Justia Law
Ehrhardt v. SustainedMED, LLC
The Supreme Court held that the circuit court erred in this case in awarding SustainedMED, LLC attorneys' fees as well as expenses and costs in excess of $24,999.94 on its indemnification claim because the award exceeded the maximum indemnification amount allowed under an indemnity agreement.Sellers entered into a stock purchase agreement (SPA) for the sale of their collective shares in Cyfluent, Inc. to SustainedMED. The total purchase price for the sale of the Cyfluent stock was $4,900,000. The SPA included an indemnity agreement requiring Sellers to indemnify Sustained MED for losses resulting from inaccuracies in or breach of any representations or warranties made by Sellers. SustainedMED filed suit against Sellers alleging misrepresentations and fraud in the inducement. The circuit court ruled in favor of SustainedMED and awarded SustainedMED $972,323.50 in attorneys' fees and $64,225 in litigation expenses and costs. The Supreme Court reversed as to the award of attorneys' fees and costs, holding that the circuit court erred in awarding attorneys' fees and costs in excess of $24,999.94 on SustainedMED's indemnification claim because of the SPA's indemnification cap of $4,900,000. View "Ehrhardt v. SustainedMED, LLC" on Justia Law
Virginia Electric & Power Co. v. State Corporation Commission
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the State Corporation Commission finding that a pumped storage hydroelectric facility (or pumped storage) generates "renewable energy" under the former definition in Va. Code 56-576 and that the amended definition would not apply to contracts executed before the amendment's effective date, holding that there was no error.The Commission concluded that pumped storage satisfied the statutory definition of renewable energy in effect at the time that the service provider executed its contracts and declined to find that the amended definition would apply retroactively to contracts executed before the amendment's effective date. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission did not err in its interpretation of the statute or its finding that pumped storage satisfied the former definition of renewable energy; and (2) the Commission did not err in refusing retroactively to apply the amended statutory definition of renewable energy to the service provider's contracts that were executed before the amendment took effect. View "Virginia Electric & Power Co. v. State Corporation Commission" on Justia Law
Bolton v. McKinney
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court declining to award attorney's fees to Plaintiffs in this case, holding that the circuit court erred in failing to award the amount of attorney's fees Plaintiffs incurred in defending lawsuits initiated by Defendant as damages in this action for breach of a covenant not to sue.During bankruptcy proceedings, the parties in this case entered into a settlement agreement wherein Plaintiffs relinquished all rights to sue Defendants. Less than one year later, Defendant breached the covenant not to sue by suing Plaintiffs twice in state court and once in federal court. Plaintiffs then brought this action alleging breach of the settlement agreement. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs but declined to award attorney's fees. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred by denying an award of attorney's fees. View "Bolton v. McKinney" on Justia Law
Davis Construction Corp. v. FTJ, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court holding that a general contractor was liable for construction materials provided by a supplier to one of the general contractor's subcontractors, holding that the distinct circumstances of this case permitted the supplier to obtain relief for the general contractor's unjust enrichment.General Contractor contracted with Subcontractor to assist with a residential condominium project. Subcontractor agreed to purchase materials from Supplier and to pay Supplier for materials delivered. General Contractor and Subcontractor entered into a joint check agreement specifying a method for how Supplier would be paid for the materials it shipped to the job. Supplier ultimately shipped $252,062 in materials for which it was not paid due to the Subcontractor's financial difficulties. General Contractor ultimately used those materials to complete the project. Supplier sued General Contractor and Subcontractor alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Supplier obtained a default judgment against Subcontractor. After a trial, the court ruled for Supplier in its claim of unjust enrichment against General Contractor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the joint check agreement did not foreclose relief; (2) General Contractor was not being compelled to pay twice for the materials; and (3) Supplier was permitted to obtain relief for General Contractor's unjust enrichment. View "Davis Construction Corp. v. FTJ, Inc." on Justia Law