Articles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

by
This case involved efforts to create an Armenian Genocide Museum. Gerard Cafesjian, one of the project's principal founders and benefactors, and CFF first filed suit against the Assembly, alleging that the Assembly failed to reissue a $500,000 promissory note as required by a Grant Agreement, asserting claims for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The court concluded that the district court did not err in its disposition of appellants' claims for breach of fiduciary duty against Cafesjian and John Waters; the district court correctly determined that CFF was entitled to take the Grant Property in full because the Grants were fully funded at the time CFF exercised its reversionary rights; the court found no basis to disturb Cafesjian and Water's indemnification award; the court affirmed the district court's denial of appellants' post-trial motions for relief; and rejected the notion that the Assembly's lease in the Families USA building is invalid. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Armenian Assembly of America, et al. v. Cafesjian, et al." on Justia Law

by
This appeal arose out of a contract dispute between 3D and MVM. On appeal, 3D argued that the district court had discretion to award prejudgment interest under Virginia law. As an initial matter, the court accepted, without deciding, the parties' assertion that abuse of discretion is the appropriate standard of review. Applying that standard, the court concluded that 3D's argument that the district court had discretion to award prejudgment interest in this instance failed as a matter of law; there was no abuse of discretion in the district court's decision to change its earlier ruling after it had a more fulsome opportunity to consider the relevant Virginia law; and the district court did not err in concluding that the parties did not reach an agreement to submit the issue of prejudgment interest to the court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "3D Global Solutions, Inc. v. MVM, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Union filed suit against WUSA-TV, a television station, alleging that the station breached its contractual obligations by laying off a technician. Because the grievance did not "arise under" the 2008 bargaining agreement, and the 2012 agreement was not yet in effect, the district court concluded that the station was not obligated to arbitrate. The court affirmed, concluding that seniority provisions in the 2008 agreement did not create vested or accrued rights and therefore, the grievance was not arbitrable under the 2008 agreement. Nor do the qualified seniority protections against layoffs contained in the 2008 agreement survive expiration under normal principles of contract interpretation. Moreover, the union's extrinsic evidence was itself ambiguous. Finally, the court rejected the Union's claim that the grievance was arbitrable under the 2012 agreement. View "Int'l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Detroit Free Press, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Michael Queen, an NBC Employee, claimed an entitlement to a portion of Ed Schultz's income from the "The Ed Show" on MSNBC based on their alleged agreement to co-develop a show. Queen sued Schultz in district court, and Schultz counterclaimed against Queen for fraud, slander, and liable. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court ruled that neither Queen nor Schultz was liable to the other for anything. Queen appealed. The court concluded that the district court correctly granted summary judgment to Schultz on Queen's claim that he, Max Schindler, and Schultz entered into an enforceable contract to divide the profits from a potential television show 50/25/25. However, the court concluded that there existed a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Queen and Schultz formed a partnership to develop a television show and, if so, whether Schultz was liable to Queen for breach of partnership duties. Therefore, the court reversed that portion of the district court's judgment and remanded to enable Queen to present his partnership theory to a jury. View "Queen v. Schultz" on Justia Law

by
This case stemmed from the settlement of a lawsuit alleging Libya's responsibility for the 1986 LaBelle discotheque bombing in Berlin. The victims' lawyers received nearly $36 million for their efforts. Plaintiff, a retired federal agent who allegedly provided investigative and other services to the lawyers in the litigation, filed suit against the lawyers, alleging a claim of unjust enrichment. The court agreed with the district court that plaintiff's claim was untimely under the three-year statute of limitations because it accrued when plaintiff received a letter refusing his request for compensation. Although plaintiff's right to recover on his contractual claim - still pending in district court - may turn on the success of the lawsuit, his right of recovery on his unjust enrichment claim was based on the services he performed. View "Bregman v. Perles, et al." on Justia Law

by
This case stemmed from an employment discrimination suit filed by appellant against the Navy. The Navy subsequently offered a stipulation of Settlement (the "Agreement"). After concluding that specific performance of the Agreement was no longer practicable, appellant sought nearly a million dollars in damages and attorney's fees. The court held that a settlement agreement embodied in a consent decree was a contract under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346(a)(2), and transferred the case to the Court of Federal Claims. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order dismissing the motion to enforce and remanded with instructions to transfer to the Court of Federal Claims. View "Franklin-Mason v. Mabus, Jr." on Justia Law

by
This case concerned SPP and MISO's, two regional transmission organizations (RTOs), dispute over the interpretation of a single contract provision. FERC resolved the conflict against SPP. The court applied both the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 500 et seq., and the "Chevron-like analysis" that governs review of such an interpretation and found that the Commission failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its decision. Accordingly, the court concluded that the Commission's decision was arbitrary and capricious. The court vacated and remanded the orders. View "Southwest Power Pool, Inc. v. FERC" on Justia Law

by
Agreeing with the Board, the district court ruled that Quantum's 1996 Management Agreement with the Pueblo was null and void for lack of approval by the Secretary as required by 25 U.S.C. 81, and that it was incapable of being validated by the 2000 amendment to section 81, the application of which would be impermissibly retroactive. Applying Landgraf v. USI Film Products, the court concluded that Congress made no clear statement that it intended the 2000 amendment to apply retroactively. The court also concluded that, because the 1996 Agreement required Secretarial approval that was never obtained and the parties agreed that the Agreement would be valid without Secretarial approval under section 81 as amended, the application of the new law would give life to a null and void agreement, thereby attaching new legal consequences to it. Although the Pueblo may have voluntarily undertaken the stated duties and liabilities under the Agreement, such an agreement was null and void without Secretarial approval before 2000. Since the Secretary never approved the Agreement, any legislative validation of the duties or liabilities attached to it was impermissibly retroactive. Accordingly, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment. View "Quantum Entertainment Ltd. v. Dept. of the Interior" on Justia Law

by
In 1986, appellee personally guaranteed a loan made by Petra to AEGIS. Appellee subsequently sued Petra in district court in late 2008, seeking a declaratory judgment that he did not have any obligations under a Guaranty Agreement. Petra counter-sued in early 2009, seeking to enforce the Guaranty Agreement. The court concluded that Petra's claim was time-barred where the limitations period began in 1987 when AEGIS declared bankruptcy and appellee was obligated to pay Petra under the Guaranty Agreement, and the limitations period expired in 1999. The court also concluded that Petra should have the opportunity to produce evidence sufficient to create a substantial question of material fact to the governing issues of the case. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Farouki v. Petra Int'l. Banking Corp., et al" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed a breach of contract action seeking over $12 million from the Royal Family Al-Saud and sixteen of its members (collectively, defendants) for failing to pay him for artwork he alleged they commissioned. Plaintiff had designed 29 sculptures for the Royal Family in 2006 and 2007. Defendants kept the sculptures but never paid plaintiff for any of them. Plaintiff attempted to serve process on defendants by mailing a copy of the summons and complaint to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, where plaintiff ordinarily communicated with defendants in past instances, but the Embassy refused to accept the first class mailing. The district court dismissed the pro se complaint for failure to prosecute under Local Civil Rule 83.23 because plaintiff failed to serve process on defendants pursuant to FRCP 4(f). The court held that, viewing all of the circumstances - the reasonable probability that plaintiff could obtain service on at least one of the defendants, plaintiff's dogged attempts to effect service of process and the district court's failure to provide "a form of notice sufficiently understandable to one in [plaintiff's] circumstances fairly to apprise him of what is required" to serve process, and to provide notice of the consequences of failing to serve process - the district court abused its discretion in dismissing the complaint. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment.