Justia Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motions for dismissal and for summary judgment, granting summary judgment to the law firm. The court applied a five-factor test to determine the sufficiency of defendant's contacts and held that, when all of the circumstances are viewed in the aggregate, defendant had fair warning that he could be subject to jurisdiction in Arkansas. In this case, defendant's contacts with Arkansas involved more than just his guaranty; the language of the contract provided for Cuker to perform its obligations in the Western District of Arkansas; and, as personal guarantor of Cuker's performance, it was reasonable and foreseeable for defendant to anticipate being haled into that same court if Cuker failed to perform. The court rejected defendant's claim that his personal guaranty is unenforceable as a matter of law because his obligations are not adequately specified. The court held that the express terms of the legal services agreement evidence an intent to hold defendant liable to the same extent as Cuker's liability. Finally, the court applied state, not federal elements of estoppel in diversity cases, and held that the district's reasoning and the record supported equitable estoppel. View "Henry Law Firm v. Atalla" on Justia Law

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After the jury returned a verdict in favor of Cuker on its claims against Walmart for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and misappropriation of trade secrets, the district court reduced the amount of damages awarded by the jury and entered judgment in favor of Cuker. The district court subsequently further reduced the damages awarded to Cuker on the ground that Cuker presented insufficient evidence to demonstrate it undertook reasonable efforts to maintain the secrecy of three of the four alleged trade secrets. Finally, the district court found in favor of Cuker on all other issues. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, holding that the evidence in the record supported the jury's finding that Cuker took reasonable efforts to protect only one of the alleged trade secrets, the Adobe Source Files; because Cuker failed to take reasonable steps to protect the other three alleged trade, that information was not subject to protection under the Arkansas Trade Secrets Act (ATSA); evidence in the record established that Walmart used improper means to acquire Cuker's Adobe Source Files and that it did so wilfully and maliciously; there was no error in the district court's analysis or conclusions on the reduction in damages based on Cuker's failure to establish proximate cause; and Walmart's argument that the contract granted Walmart a perpetual and irrevocable license was without merit. The court also held that the district court properly instructed the jury on material breach of contract; the record supported the jury's finding that Walmart's acts, hindrances, or delays excused Cuker's performance; sufficient evidence supported the conclusion that Walmart engaged in intentional wrongdoing; it was permissible under the ATSA for the district court to enter a injunction; and there was no error in denying Walmart's motion for a new trial. View "Walmart, Inc. v. Cuker Interactive, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of HRMC's motion for remittitur or a new trial following the jury's award of damages to plaintiff, one of HRMC's former physicians, in a breach of contract action. The court held that the jury's award was not so grossly excessive that the district court committed a manifest abuse of discretion in failing to order remittitur for a lesser amount; even if HRMC's analysis of the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986 immunity provision was correct, HRMC failed to properly preserve the issue; and there was no injustice in this case where HRMC had ample opportunity to raise this defense but failed to do so until it was too late. View "Miller v. Huron Regional Medical Center" on Justia Law

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Lamar maintained and operated a billboard on land that it leased from R.E.D. After R.E.D. and Landmark executed an agreement under which Landmark agreed to pay R.E.D. in exchange for, among other things, the right to receive rent from Lamar, Landmark sued R.E.D. for breach of contract and sued R.E.D. and Defendant Van Stavern for fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that the district court did not err by excluding the testimony of defendants' expert witness where the expert's opinions were not relevant because they were not supported by facts in the record. Furthermore, the district court did not err by denying defendants' request for reconsideration, because the discovery deadlines had passed and defendants failed to offer a substantial justification for their delay. Finally, the court held that the damages award were not duplicative and affirmed the attorneys' fee award. View "Landmark Infrastructure Holding Co. v. R.E.D. Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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After JetMidwest filed suit against JMG for breaching a loan agreement, the district court granted summary judgment to JetMidwest but denied its motion for reimbursement of its attorneys' fees under the agreement. As a preliminary matter, the Eighth Circuit held that a Hong Kong limited company is equivalent to a U.S. corporation under 28 U.S.C. 1332. Therefore, the district court properly exercised subject matter jurisdiction under section 1332 and the court had appellate jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1291. On the merits, the court disagreed with the district court's interpretation of the agreement, holding that the use of the sweeping language "all costs and expenses" reflects the parties' intent that JMG would pay Jet Midwest's attorneys' fees and other costs for enforcing as well as preparing the agreement. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for consideration of an appropriate award. View "Jet Midwest International Co., Ltd. v. Jet Midwest Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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Lemartec appealed the district court's entry of judgment in favor of ACT on ACT's breach of contract claim. Lemartec argued that the district court erred in concluding that Lemartec's bid package was incorporated into the parties' contract. Although the bid package was not incorporated in so many words, the Eighth Circuit nonetheless affirmed the judgment, because when the contract is considered in light of the usage-of-trade evidence that the district court found credible, there is no error in the determination that Lemartec breached the purchase order. View "Advance Conveying Technologies v. Lemartec Corp." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Air Evac's claims in an action alleging that Arkansas Blue inadequately reimbursed Air Evac for ambulance services that Air Evac provided Arkansas Blue plan members. The court held that Air Evac's assignment did not convey the right to sue for equitable relief under section 1132(a)(3) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Furthermore, the district court did not err by finding that Arkansas Blue's conduct was not actionable because it fell within the Arkansas Deceptive Practices Act's safe harbor for actions or transactions permitted under the laws administered by the insurance commissioner. Finally, the district court did not err by rejecting Air Evac's claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. View "Air Evac EMS, Inc. v. USAble Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The absence of a judgment in the state court litigation does not mean that plaintiff lacks Article III standing to bring this suit. Enterprise filed suit against several defendants, alleging a claim under the Missouri Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. The district court dismissed the complaint without prejudice based on the ground that there was no case or controversy because Enterprise lacked Article III standing. The Eighth Circuit reversed and held that Enterprise has alleged facts sufficient to demonstrate the elements of standing. In this case, Enterprise has sufficiently alleged a present injury in fact, fairly traceable to defendants, as the transferees of the funds. Therefore, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Enterprise Financial Group Inc. v. Podhorn" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's Missouri state-law claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and fraudulent misrepresentation against St. Louis University. Plaintiff's claims stemmed from his unsuccessful attempts to receive a Ph.D from the university in mechanical and aerospace engineering in four years. The court held that the educational malpractice doctrine barred all of plaintiff's claims. In this case, all of the statements plaintiff relied on in the student catalog and handbook were aspirational in nature. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying plaintiff leave to amend his complaint when he did not submit a proposed amendment or include anything in his motion to indicate what an amended complaint would contain. View "Soueidan v. St. Louis University" on Justia Law

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A group of customers filed suit against SuperValu after hackers accessed customer financial information from hundreds of grocery stores operated by defendant. The Eighth Circuit previously affirmed the dismissal of all but one of the suit's named plaintiffs for lack of standing and, on remand, the district court dismissed the remaining plaintiff for failure to state a claim and denied plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend. The court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion for leave to amend because plaintiffs' postjudgment motion was untimely. The court also held that the remaining plaintiff's allegations fell short of stating a claim for relief under Illinois law for negligence, consumer protection, implied, contract, and unjust enrichment. View "Alleruzzo v. SuperValu, Inc." on Justia Law