Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals
P.R. Dairy Farmers Ass’n v. Comas-Pagan
This appeal concerned the decade-long litigation regarding the regulation of Puerto Rico’s milk industry. Intervenor Puerto Rico Dairy Farmers Association (“PRDFA”) appealed the district court’s approval of a comprehensive Settlement Agreement (“the Agreement”) reached by the original parties, including government defendants and plaintiff milk processors, arguing that the district court did not grant it a fair opportunity to be heard on its objections to the Agreement and erred in its approval of the Agreement. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) PRDFA’s procedural rights as an objecting intervenor were not violated where it had an adequate hearing to air its grievances and where the district court held that PRDFA remained free to challenge the constitutionality of the Agreement as implemented in its still-pending companion case; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in approving of the Agreement. View "P.R. Dairy Farmers Ass'n v. Comas-Pagan" on Justia Law
Redondo Constr. Corp. v. Izquierdo
In 1999, Redondo Construction Corporation pled guilty to aiding and abetting the making of false statements during its work on a federal highway project. The Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (“PRHTA”) and the Puerto Rico Public Guildings Authority (“PBA”) subsequently revoked the bids it had awarded Redondo before the plea and suspended Redondo from bidding on new contracts. Redondo challenged both decisions, which resulted in settlement agreements with both agencies allowing Redondo to resume bidding for contracts. After Puerto Rico passed Law 458, which prohibited Puerto Rico agencies from awarding contracts corporations convicted of offenses involving public funds, the PBA cancelled several of Redondo’s bids and the contract it had executed with Redondo, and the PRHTA withdrew from its settlement with Redondo. Redondo sued PRHTA, PBA, and several officials at both agencies, alleging that Defendants were in breach of the settlement agreements, that this caused Redondo’s bankruptcy, and that Defendants were liable in damages. The district court granted the PRHTA’s and the individual defendants’ motions for summary judgment and sua sponte dismissed Redondo’s claims against the PBA. The First Circuit Court of Appeals (1) affirmed the entry of summary judgment as to the PRHTA and the individual defendants, as Redondo had no record of evidence of damages against these defendants; but (2) vacated the dismissal of the claim against the PBA, as the court did not meet the necessary conditions for entering judgment sua sponte. View "Redondo Constr. Corp. v. Izquierdo" on Justia Law
Ardente v. Standard Fire Ins. Co.
Evan Ardente’s yacht was insured by Standard Fire Insurance Company. After Ardente purchased the yacht, it stopped navigating properly, and its top speed had decreased due to water damage to the yacht’s hull. Specifically, water was seeping into balsa wood, which is not waterproof, around installation holes and spreading throughout the hull. Ardente presented a claim to Standard Fire. Standard Fire denied coverage on the ground that the claim fell within an exclusion for manufacturing defects. Ardente sued Standard Fire for breach of contract, among other claims. The district court granted summary judgment for Standard Fire on all claims except for the breach of contract allegation. On that claim, the court granted Ardente summary judgment with respect to liability, concluding that the damage fell within an exception to the exclusion for manufacturing defects. The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s order granting Ardente summary judgment on his breach of contract claim, holding that the damage to the yacht did not fall within the exception to the manufacture-defect exclusion, and therefore, Standard Fire was entitled to summary judgment on the breach of contract claim. View "Ardente v. Standard Fire Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Alicea v. Ayala
Plaintiffs were Massachusetts-based producers of “reggaeton” music. This case centered on seven songs released on an album distributed by Defendants that allegedly infringed upon copyrights held by Plaintiffs and breached contracts to which Plaintiffs claimed to be parties and/or third-party beneficiaries. The district court granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, concluding (1) with respect to the copyright claims, Plaintiffs failed to register their copyrights in the underlying compositions they claimed were infringed, as required under 17 U.S.C. 411(A); and (2) with respect to the breach of contract claims, there was no evidence of a direct agreement between the parties or of third-party beneficiary status. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment for Defendants on the copyright and contract claims. View "Alicea v. Ayala" on Justia Law
Nat’l Cas. Co. v. OneBeacon Am. Ins. Co.
For twenty years, Defendants, various entities of OneBeacon American Insurance Company (collectively, “OneBeacon”), had a program known as Multiple Line Excess Cover (“MLEC Program”) under which OneBeacon entered into reinsurance contracts (“MLEC Agreements”) with various reinsurers. Employers Insurance Company of Wausau, National Casualty Company, and Swiss Reinsurance America Corporation (“Swiss Re”) participated as reinsurers in the MLEC Program. Some of the MLEC Agreements Wausau entered into with OneBeacon were practically identical to OneBeacon’s MLEC Agreements with Swiss Re. In 2007, OneBeacon demanded arbitration with Swiss Re seeking reinsurance recovery for losses arising out of claims against OneBeacon by policyholders. The arbitration panel decided in favor of Swiss Re. In 2012, OneBeacon demanded arbitration with Wausau and National Casualty for, according to Wausau, the same claims OneBeacon arbitrated and lost against Swiss Re. Wausau and National Casualty petitioned for a declaratory judgment that the prior arbitration award between OneBeacon and Swiss Re had preclusive effect on the arbitration pending between OneBeacon and Wausau. The district court denied the petition. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that judicial confirmation of an arbitration award “does not warrant deviation from the general rule that the preclusive effect of a prior arbitration is a matter for the arbitrator to decide.” View "Nat'l Cas. Co. v. OneBeacon Am. Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Atlantech Inc. v. Am. Panel Corp.
Plaintiff filed a seven-count complaint against Defendants, asserting claims related to the alleged breach of various agreements involving the sale of aviation equipment. Ultimately, a jury trial was held, and the jury awarded Plaintiff $1,112,476 in damages. After dismissing the jury, the parties filed several post-trial motions, which the district court resolved partially in favor of Plaintiff and partially in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s orders, holding that the district court did not err in (1) finding that Defendants did not breach a support agreement with Plaintiffs as a matter of law; (2) holding that Plaintiff waived the issue of prejudgment interest; and (3) upholding the jury’s award of damages for Plaintiff’s claim alleging breach of a purchase agreement. View "Atlantech Inc. v. Am. Panel Corp." on Justia Law
HSBC Realty Credit Corp. v. O’Neill
HSBC Realty Credit Corporation loaned Brandywine Partners, LLC $15.9 million pursuant to a property-loan agreement for the purchase and development of industrial property in Delaware. J. Brian O’Neill, a principal of Brandywine, signed an absolute personal guaranty for the loan. O’Neill’s liability was capped at $8.1 million. After Brandywine defaulted on its repayment obligations, HSB filed suit on the guaranty agreement. O’Neill filed several defenses and counterclaims essentially asserting that HSBC must first recover any amount owed by Brandywine by proceeding against the Delaware property before turning to O’Neill’s personal guaranty. The district judge struck O’Neill’s defenses and counterclaims, granted HSBC judgment on the pleadings, and denied O’Neill’s request to replead. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the district court judge did not commit reversible error in granting HSBC judgment on the pleadings or in denying O’Neill leave to replead, as O’Neill did not provide any additional facts which, if repled, would permit him to make out a plausible claim for relief when matched up against the guaranty’s express language. View "HSBC Realty Credit Corp. v. O'Neill" on Justia Law
MacKenzie v. Flagstar Bank, FSB
Plaintiffs, property owners, filed an action against Defendant, a bank, alleging eleven counts of state law violations for Defendant’s decision to deny Plaintiffs’ application for a loan modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program and to foreclose on Plaintiffs’ home. The district court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ amended complaint, holding that the district court properly dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims for breach of the implied obligation of good faith and fair dealing, violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Credit Cost Disclosure Act, rescission, negligence, and promissory estoppel. View "MacKenzie v. Flagstar Bank, FSB" on Justia Law
Bezio v. Draeger
When Plaintiff retained a Maine law firm to represent him in a legal action, he signed an attorney-client engagement letter that contained an arbitration provision. Plaintiff later sued the law firm and individual defendants (collectively, Defendants) for malpractice and violations of Maine's Unfair Trade Practices Act. Defendants moved to compel arbitration and dismiss the action. The district court granted the motion under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court erred in enforcing the arbitration clause. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting the motion to compel arbitration and dismissed the action, as (1) Maine professional responsibility law for attorneys permits arbitration of legal malpractice claims so long as there is no prospective limitation on the law firm's liability; and (2) Maine law, like the FAA, is not hostile to the use of the arbitration forum, and Maine would enforce the arbitration of malpractice claims provision in this case. View "Bezio v. Draeger" on Justia Law
W. Reserve Life Assurance Co. of Ohio v. ADM Assocs., LLC
To shield himself from the adverse effects of losses while speculating in high-risk securities, Joseph Caramdare exploited a perceived loophole in certain annuities issued by Appellant. Charles Buckman accepted a cash payment to identify himself as the annuitant on an application for one of these annuities, and Appellee, a Caramadre nominee and a stranger to Buckman, was designated as the prospective owner and beneficiary of the annuity. Appellant approved the application and issued an annuity (the Policy). Appellant later learned of Caramdre's scheme and sued Appellee in federal court, asserting certain tort claims and seeking rescission of the Policy and a declaration that the Policy was either void ab initio or had been properly rescinded. The court dismissed the claims. On appeal, the First Circuit Court certified to the Rhode Island Supreme Court the following questions of state law: (1) whether an annuity with a death benefit is infirm for want of an insurable interest if the owner and beneficiary of the annuity is a stranger to the annuitant; and (2) whether a clause in an annuity that purports to make the annuity incontestable from the date of its issuance precludes the maintenance of an action based on the lack of an insurable interest. View "W. Reserve Life Assurance Co. of Ohio v. ADM Assocs., LLC" on Justia Law