Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
G. v. Fay School
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of the Fay School, Inc. and Fay's Head of School as to Appellants' complaint alleging unlawful retaliation for demands for an accommodation for a certain condition of G., a twelve-year-old minor, holding that the district court correctly denied Appellants' claims. G., a former student of the Fay School, and her parents (collectively, Appellants) brought this suit against Fay after the school refused to remove wireless internet from its classrooms to accommodate G.'s alleged electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), a sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. Appellants alleged, among other claims, unlawful retaliation for an accommodation for G.'s condition, in violation of Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 49 U.S.C. 12203(a), breach of contract, and misrepresentation. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) damages are not an available remedy for a Title V retaliation claim premised upon an exercise of rights under Title III of the ADA; and (2) Appellants failed to raise triable issues of fact as to their contract and misrepresentation claims. View "G. v. Fay School" on Justia Law
UBS Financial Services Inc. v. XL Specialty Insurance Co.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Insurers in this action brought by Appellants claiming that Insurers' refusal to cover certain legal disputes constituted a breach of their insurance contract, holding that the clear and unambiguous language of the specific litigation exclusion barred coverage of the disputed litigation matters. Appellants filed suit against their primary insurance provider and their secondary insurance providers alleging that Insurers breached their contractual duty to reimburse Appellants for defense costs incurred in connection with the disputed matters. The primary insurer argued that the legal disputes fell under a "specific litigation exclusion" clause in the insurance policy that excepted from coverage claims related to prior matters specified therein. The district court granted summary judgment for Insurers, holding that the prior and disputed matters were sufficiently related such that the exclusion clause applied. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the specific litigation exclusion barred coverage of the disputed matters because they all involved facts, circumstances, or situations alleged in the prior matters. View "UBS Financial Services Inc. v. XL Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law
AcBel Polytech, Inc. v. Fairchild Semiconductor International, Inc.
In this case involving an electronic component, a voltage regulator known as the KA7805, the First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court's judgment dismissing Plaintiff's claims against Defendant, holding that the district court erred in dismissing three of Plaintiff's claims. Defendant's subsidiaries manufactured the KA7805. Plaintiff purchased KA7805s from Defendant's agent and then installed them into power supply units (PSU) it subsequently sold. When one of Defendant's subsidiaries began to manufacture a new "shrunk-die" version of the KA7805, problems with the PSUs arose. Plaintiff brought this suit against Defendant and its holding company, asserting several claims. The district court dismissed all claims except those involving breach of implied warranty at the summary judgment stage. After a trial, the district court dismissed the remaining claims. The First Circuit held (1) the district court erred in summarily dismissing Plaintiff's fraudulent misrepresentation claim based on its holding that Plaintiff's reliance on an uncharged part number was unreasonable as a matter of law; and (2) because the district court's basis for dismissal of Plaintiff's fraudulent omission and negligent misrepresentation claim also rested on its erroneous holding, the court erred in dismissing these two claims as well. View "AcBel Polytech, Inc. v. Fairchild Semiconductor International, Inc." on Justia Law
NACM-New England, Inc. v. National Ass’n of Credit Management, Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the district court granting injunctive and declaratory relief to NACM-New England, Inc., which does business under the name Business Credit Intelligence (BCI) in this breach of contract action between National Association of Credit Management, Inc. (NACM), a national trade association of credit professionals, and BCI, one of its regional affiliates, holding that the district court violated NACM's Seventh Amendment rights. At issue was the termination date of a 2011 agreement between BCI and NACM. BCI sought an injunction to require NACM to continue to abide by the terms of the 2011 agreement, which it claimed NACM had breached. The district court granted an injunction and a declaratory judgment to BCI, ordering that the 2011 agreement remained in effect because NACM did not properly terminate the agreement. The First Circuit held that the district court (1) abused its discretion when it ordered as part of the injunctive relief that NACM shall continue to honor all its obligations under the 2011 agreement; and (2) erred in entering the declaratory judgment because it did so without submitting BCI's breach of contract claim to a jury. View "NACM-New England, Inc. v. National Ass'n of Credit Management, Inc." on Justia Law
U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. v. Jones
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting judgment to U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. in the amount of $226,458.28 on U.S. Bank's complaint against Julia Jones alleging breach of contract and breach of promissory note, holding that the district court did not err by admitting into evidence a computer printout, marked as Exhibit 8, that contained an account summary and a list of transactions related to the loan. On appeal, Jones argued that admitting Exhibit 8 violated the Federal Rules of Evidence. At issue was whether the records were "reliable enough to be admissible." The First Circuit answered in the affirmative, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding Exhibit 8 reliable enough to admit under Fed. R. Evid. 803(6); (2) the district court's admission of Exhibit 8 did not violate Fed. R. Evid. 901, 1001, or 1002; and (3) the district court did not err by awarding U.S. Bank approximately $23,000 in charges for escrow, title fees, and inspections that were not recoverable under the terms of the promissory note. View "U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. v. Jones" on Justia Law
Biochemics, Inc. v. Axis Reinsurance Co.
The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to AXIS Reinsurance Company (AXIS) on Plaintiffs' complaint seeking to enforce a directors and officers insurance policy with AXIS, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of AXIS and in denying Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment. Plaintiffs were BioChemics, Inc., a pharmaceutical company based in Massachusetts, and John Masiz, its president and chief executive officer. Plaintiffs sought damages for what they claimed was AXIS's breach, under the relevant policy, of its duty to defend them in connection with an investigation conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission against BioChemics and its officers. In its motion for summary judgment, AXIS argued that it did not breach its duty to defend under the policy because Plaintiffs were seeking to enforce that duty in relation to a claim that was first made before the policy took effect and thus was not covered by the policy. The district court granted the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to AXIS. View "Biochemics, Inc. v. Axis Reinsurance Co." on Justia Law
Starr Surplus Lines Insurance Co. v. Mountaire Farms Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion to dismiss this suit brought by the insurer (Insurer) of a chicken products manufacturer seeking damages from the manufacturer's chicken supplier (Supplier) for claims under Maine law of breach of warranty and strict product liability, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the claims. Insurer sought to recoup the money it paid to the manufacturer for the losses the manufacturer incurred when its products were recalled following a salmonella outbreak. Insurer's complaint against Supplier alleged that the manufacturer received raw chicken from Supplier that was contaminated with salmonella and was therefore defective under Maine law. The district court dismissed all claims, concluding that the allegations in the complaint did not plausibly allege that the raw chicken sent by Supplier to the manufacturer was defective and that the strict liability claim was independently barred by the economic loss doctrine. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) as to the breach of warranty claims, Insurer failed to plausibly allege that the raw chicken at issue was contaminated with a type of salmonella that would persist despite proper cooking; and (2) Insurer's strict liability claim was properly dismissed because the complaint failed to allege facts that could suffice to show that the chicken was defective. View "Starr Surplus Lines Insurance Co. v. Mountaire Farms Inc." on Justia Law
Bekele v. Lyft, Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss this putative class action in favor of arbitration of Plaintiff’s claim in his individual capacity after concluding that the parties had a valid and enforceable agreement to arbitrate, holding that the arbitration clause was enforceable because it was conscionable under Massachusetts law. Plaintiff drove for Lyft, Inc., the defendant. Plaintiff tapped “I accept” on his iPhone when presented with Lyft’s terms of service agreement, which contained a provision requiring that disputes between the parties be resolved by arbitration. In this putative class action Plaintiff alleged that Lyft misclassified its Massachusetts drivers as independent contractors under the Massachusetts Wage Act. Left removed the case to federal court and moved to dismiss in favor of individual arbitration. The district court granted the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff waived his contract-formation argument; and (2) the arbitration clause was not substantively unconscionable and was thus enforceable. View "Bekele v. Lyft, Inc." on Justia Law
Miller v. Sunapee Difference, LLC
In this personal injury action, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) after treating it, under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d), as a motion for summary judgment, holding that the district court properly found that Plaintiff expressly consented by contract to assume the risk of injury caused by Defendant’s negligence. Plaintiff was injured after colliding with unmarked snowmaking equipment while skiing at a New Hampshire resort. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant, the resort’s owner. The district court ruled for Defendant on the basis of the liability release printed on Plaintiff’s lift ticket. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly rejected Plaintiff’s contention that the question of whether there was a “meeting of the minds” with respect to the release was for the jury to resolve; (2) the scope of the release was not so limited as to not bar Plaintiff’s suit; (3) the liability release was not unenforceable on public policy grounds; and (4) Plaintiff failed to provided a basis upon which a jury could supportably find Defendant to have been reckless. View "Miller v. Sunapee Difference, LLC" on Justia Law
Easthampton Congregational Church v. Church Mutual Insurance Co.
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of a Church on its lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that its claim filed pursuant to its property insurance policy with an Insurance Company was improperly denied, holding that ambiguities in the policy resulted in coverage for the collapse of a ceiling in one section of the church. The Insurance Company denied the Church’s claim, citing the “faulty construction” exclusion in the policy. In its complaint, the church argued that the collapse was caused by hidden decay such that the “additional coverage - collapse” provision applied. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the meaning of “decay” was ambiguous and that ambiguity must be resolved in the Church’s favor. View "Easthampton Congregational Church v. Church Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law