Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
RLM Communications v. Tuschen
Amy Tuschen worked for RLM for six years and then joined a competitor, eScience. RLM filed suit against eScience and Tuschen, alleging principally that Tuschen breached a covenant not to compete and unlawfully took confidential information from RLM and shared it with eScience. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. The court concluded that the covenant not to compete was not enforceable because it was overbroad, and RLM failed to present sufficient evidence that Tuschen took or shared RLM’s confidential information. The court rejected RLM's remaining claims and affirmed the judgment. View "RLM Communications v. Tuschen" on Justia Law
Zoroastrian Center v. Rustam Guiv Found.
As part of a joint effort to construct a Zoroastrian worship center, the parties signed a ninety-nine-year lease on a parcel of property owned by Rustam Guiv in the Vienna area of Fairfax County, Virginia. After Rustam Guiv terminated the lease, the Center filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment to reinstate the lease. After removal, the district court granted summary judgment to Rustam Guiv and awarded attorneys’ fees. The court concluded that Rustam Guiv presented sufficient evidence to show complete diversity between the parties, thereby establishing subject matter jurisdiction in federal court. The court also concluded that the undisputed material facts show that The Center breached the lease. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint in its entirety. The court concluded, however, that the attorneys' fee award must be vacated where the district court correctly identified Rustam Guiv as the prevailing party but made no effort to narrow the fee award to its successful claims. Under Virginia law governing contractual fee-shifting provisions, the prevailing party is entitled to recover attorneys’ fees for work performed only on its successful claims. View "Zoroastrian Center v. Rustam Guiv Found." on Justia Law
Galloway v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit against Santander, seeking damages for breach of contract and alleging a violation of the Maryland Credit Grantor Closed End Credit Provisions (CLEC), Md. Code, Comm. Law 12-1001, et seq. The dispute stemmed from plaintiff's use of a loan she obtained through a retail installment contract (RISC) to finance the purchase of a vehicle. The court concluded that the district court correctly enforced the parties' arbitration agreement because the district court properly concluded that the arbitration agreement was a term of a contract that the parties entered into, and that the arbitration agreement was enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 2. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Galloway v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc." on Justia Law
Askew v. HRFC, LLC
Plaintiff filed suit alleging that HRFC violated the Maryland Credit Grantor Closed End Credit Provisions (CLEC), Md. Code Ann., Com. Law 12-1001 et seq., breached a retail installment sales contract, and violated the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act (MCDCA), Md. Code. Ann., Com. Law 14-201 et seq. The district court granted summary judgment to HRFC. The court held that HRFC’s mere failure to disclose an interest rate below CLEC’s statutory maximum is not a distinct violation of section 12-1003(a) for which liability may be imposed; HRFC complied with section 12-1020’s notice requirement and HRFC did not fail to properly cure its error; and the court rejected plaintiff's contention that because the contract incorporates CLEC’s provisions, HRFC is liable for breach of contract for any deviation from CLEC, “regardless of whether HRFC properly cured the failure to comply” with the statute. The court held, however, that a jury could find that HRFC's conduct, at least in the aggregate, could reasonably be expected to abuse or harass plaintiff. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's order in regard to the MCDCA claim. The court affirmed as to the CLEC and breach of contract claims. View "Askew v. HRFC, LLC" on Justia Law
Severn Peanut Co. v. Industrial Fumigant Co.
Plaintiff Severn and its insurer filed suit against IFC, alleging breach of contract and negligence because IFC improperly applied a dangerous pesticide while fumigating Severn’s peanut dome, resulting in fire, an explosion, loss of approximately 20,000,000 pounds of peanuts, loss of business, and various cleanup costs. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to IFC because the contract’s consequential damages exclusion bars Severn’s breach of contract claim, and because North Carolina does not allow Severn to veil that claim in tort law. View "Severn Peanut Co. v. Industrial Fumigant Co." on Justia Law