Justia Contracts Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
NexPoint Diversified Real Est. Tr. v. Acis Cap. Mgmt., L.P.
Plaintiff NexPoint holds $7.5 million in subordinated notes issued by Acis CLO-2015-6 Ltd. (the “Issuer”), as part of a CLO. The Issuer acquired the CLO collateral and conveyed it to a trust under an indenture between the Issuer and U.S. Bank National Association as Trustee (the “Indenture”). Defendant-appellee Acis Capital Management, L.P. (“Acis”) was engaged as the CLO’s portfolio manager pursuant to a Portfolio Management Agreement between the Issuer and Acis (the “PMA”). NexPoint claims that Acis, Terry, and Brigade (together, the “Advisers”) maximized their own profits at the expense of the CLO in violation of fiduciary duties imposed by Section 206 of the IAA. The district court concluded that NexPoint failed to state a claim under Section 215(b). NexPoint appealed, arguing that the District Court erred in limiting Section 215(b)’s application to contracts that require illegal performance, as opposed to lawful contracts performed in an unlawful manner. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court held that under Section 215(b), a contract’s performance involves the violation of the IAA only if performing a contractual duty requires conduct prohibited by the IAA. No such unlawful conduct is required by the contracts NexPoint seeks to rescind. The court further explained that the text and structure of the IAA, interpreted with the benefit of TAMA, Oxford, and other precedent, make clear that a contract’s performance “involves” the violation of the IAA only if performing a contractual duty requires a party to engage in conduct prohibited by the IAA. NexPoint does not seek rescission of any contract requiring a party to engage in conduct prohibited by the IAA. View "NexPoint Diversified Real Est. Tr. v. Acis Cap. Mgmt., L.P." on Justia Law
EMA Financial, LLC v. Chancis
This action concerns loans issued by Plaintiff, EMA Financial, LLC, to a group of companies that were controlled by Defendants. The loan agreements contained so-called “floating-price conversion option” provisions, which gave EMA the right to exercise an option to receive company stock in lieu of cash repayment on the loans. When EMA initially sought partial repayment of the loans through the stock repayment option in 2017, the companies delivered the shares to EMA at the agreed-upon discount rate. EMA sought to exercise the conversion option again. This time, the companies failed to deliver the stock. EMA then brought suit, claiming breach of contract and breach of guaranty as to the loan agreements, and fraudulent conveyance and fraudulent inducement. Defendants asserted as an affirmative defense that the loan agreements were void because the conversion option provisions rendered the agreements criminally usurious under New York law. The district court dismissed this defense and entered judgment in favor of EMA for some of its claims and in favor of Defendants for other. Two Defendants appealed, arguing that the district court’s dismissal of the usury defense at summary judgment should be vacated in light of an intervening change in New York law. The Second Circuit vacated. The court reasoned that it is also clear that Adar Bays II materially altered the Defendants’ rights by providing them with a newly viable avenue by which they could seek to void the Notes and avoid liability for breaching them. Therefore, even assuming the other necessary conditions for collateral estoppel are met, the Defendants are not precluded from raising a usury defense notwithstanding the Corporate Defendants’ default. View "EMA Financial, LLC v. Chancis" on Justia Law
Kirschner v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.
Plaintiff brought a series of claims in New York state court arising out of a syndicated loan transaction facilitated by Defendants, a group of financial institutions. Plaintiff’s appeal presents two issues. The first issue presented is whether the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York had subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to the Edge Act, 12 U.S.C. Section 632. The second issue presented is whether the District Court erroneously dismissed Plaintiff’s state-law securities claims on the ground that he failed to plausibly suggest that notes issued as part of the syndicated loan transaction are securities under Reves v. Ernst & Young, 494 U.S. 56 (1990). The Second Circuit affirmed. The court held that the district court had jurisdiction under the Edge Act because Defendant JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. engaged in international or foreign banking as part of the transaction giving rise to this suit. The court also held that the district court did not erroneously dismiss Plaintiff’s state-law securities claims because Plaintiff failed to plausibly suggest that the notes are securities under Reves. View "Kirschner v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A." on Justia Law
New England Carpenters Guaranteed Annuity and Pension Funds v. AmTrust
The Appellants, investors in the securities of AmTrust Financial Services, Inc., appealed from a district court judgment dismissing their complaint for failure to state a claim under Sections 11, 12, and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against AmTrust, various AmTrust corporate officers and board members, AmTrust’s outside auditor, and multiple underwriters of AmTrust’s sale of securities. The district court determined that certain public misstatements relating to AmTrust’s recognition of revenue generated by its extended warranty contracts and the expenses associated with its payment of discretionary employee bonuses were non-actionable statements of opinion.The Second Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. The court vacated the dismissal of the Appellants’ Section 11 claims against the AmTrust Defendants and the Director Defendants, the Section 12(a)(2) claims against AmTrust, and the Section 15 claims against the Officer Defendants and Director Defendants relating to AmTrust’s accounting for certain warranty contracts and bonuses. The court vacated the dismissal of the Appellants’ claims under Section 11 and Section 12(a)(2) against the Underwriter Defendants relating to AmTrust’s accounting for certain warranty contracts and bonuses. The court concluded that Appellants have adequately established standing under Section 12(a)(2) by alleging that they purchased securities pursuant to the “pertinent offering documents” or in the relevant offerings underwritten by the defendants. View "New England Carpenters Guaranteed Annuity and Pension Funds v. AmTrust" on Justia Law
In re IBM Arb. Agreement Litig.
Plaintiffs are twenty-six former employees of International Business Machines Corporation (“IBM”) who signed separation agreements requiring them to arbitrate any claims arising from their termination by IBM. The agreements set a deadline for initiating arbitration and included a confidentiality requirement. Plaintiffs missed the deadline but nonetheless tried to arbitrate claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”). Their arbitrations were dismissed as untimely. They then sued IBM in district court, seeking a declaration that the deadline is unenforceable because it does not incorporate the “piggybacking rule,” a judge-made exception to the ADEA’s administrative exhaustion requirements. Shortly after filing suit, Plaintiffs moved for summary judgment and attached various documents obtained by Plaintiffs’ counsel in other confidential arbitration proceedings. IBM moved to seal the confidential documents. The district court granted IBM’s motions to dismiss and seal the documents. On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that (1) the filing deadline in their separation agreements is unenforceable and (2) the district court abused its discretion by granting IBM’s motion to seal. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court first wrote that the piggybacking rule does not apply to arbitration and, in any event, it is not a substantive right under the ADEA. Second, the court held that the presumption of public access to judicial documents is outweighed here by the Federal Arbitration Act’s (“FAA”) strong policy in favor of enforcing arbitral confidentiality provisions and the impropriety of counsel’s attempt to evade the agreement by attaching confidential documents to a premature motion for summary judgment. View "In re IBM Arb. Agreement Litig." on Justia Law
Hughes Communications India Private Limited v. The DirecTV Group, Inc.
Plaintiff Hughes Communications India Private Limited (“Hughes India”) appealed from a district court judgment dismissing its indemnification claims against The DirecTV Group, Inc. (“DirecTV”). The case arises out of an asset purchase agreement in which DirecTV spun off fourteen subsidiaries, including Hughes India (the “Agreement”). The Agreement requires DirecTV to indemnify Hughes India for certain contractually defined “Taxes” that accrued before the closing of the spin-off transaction and “Proceedings” that were initiated prior to the closing date. Hughes India sought a declaration that DirecTV must indemnify it for unpaid license fees, interest, and penalties imposed by India’s Department of Telecommunications (the “DOT”). The district court granted summary judgment for DirecTV, concluding that the license fees were not subject to indemnification because they were neither Taxes nor the result of Proceedings against Hughes India as defined by the Agreement. Hughes India appealed. The Second Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. The court agreed with Hughes India that under the plain terms of the Agreement, the license fees are Taxes, and the Provisional License Fee Assessment (the “Provisional Assessment”) issued by the DOT initiated a Proceeding against Hughes India. The court concluded that DirecTV is obligated to indemnify Hughes India for license fees, interest, and penalties accrued for tax periods ending on or before closing and for those amounts related to the Provisional Assessment issued for fiscal years 2001 to 2003, which was the only Proceeding initiated before closing. View "Hughes Communications India Private Limited v. The DirecTV Group, Inc." on Justia Law
The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania v. Equitas Insurance
Defendant, a reinsurer, appealed from a district court’s ruling granting summary judgment to Plaintiff, its reinsured. On appeal, Defendant argues that the district court erroneously held that its reinsurance obligations to Plaintiff are co-extensive with Appellee’s separate insurance obligations to a third party and that it presented no triable issue of fact on its late-notice defense. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court wrote that the district court correctly determined that English law, which governs the relevant reinsurance policy, would interpret that policy to provide coverage that is coextensive with Plaintiff’s separate insurance obligations. The district court also correctly rejected Defendant’s late-notice defense because Defendant has not shown the extreme facts necessary under English law to support recognition of that defense where, as here, timely notice is not a condition precedent to coverage. View "The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania v. Equitas Insurance" on Justia Law
In re: George Washington Bridge
Plaintiff Tutor Perini Building Corp. appealed from the district court’s order affirming an order of the United States Bankruptcy Court, which held that Plaintiff may not use 11 U.S.C. Section 365(b)(1)(A) to assert a “cure claim” against the Trustee for the Trustee’s assumption of an unexpired lease to which Plaintiff was neither a party nor a third-party beneficiary. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court held that a creditor who seeks to assert a “cure claim” under Section 365(b)(1)(A) must have a contractual right to payment under the assumed executory contract or unexpired lease in question, and the court agreed that Plaintiff is not a third-party beneficiary of the assumed lease. The court explained that Tutor Perini’s expansive view of the priority rights conferred by 11 U.S.C. Section 365(b)(1)(A) is inconsistent with applicable principles of Bankruptcy Code interpretation, and its third-party beneficiary argument is inconsistent with controlling principles of New York contract law. View "In re: George Washington Bridge" on Justia Law
Union Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Ace Caribbean Mkt.
Plaintiff Union Mutual Fire Insurance Company (“Union Mutual”) appealed from a district court judgment. On March 4, 2017, a fire started at Liberty Avenue in Queens, New York, spreading to and damaging four neighboring buildings insured by Union Mutual. After an investigation, the fire marshals concluded, but could not determine with certainty, that the fire originated in the extension cords used by Ace Caribbean Market. Union Mutual paid proceeds to the damaged neighboring buildings and subrogated into their owners’ tort claims. Union Mutual then sued Ace Caribbean Market and others (collectively, “Defendants”), alleging that their negligent use of the extension cords caused the fire. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. At issue on appeal is whether evidence that a fire may have originated in the extension cords is sufficient to show that (a) the owners and proprietors were negligent in their use of the extension cords and (b) if they were negligent, that negligence was the cause of the fire. The Second Circuit affirmed, holding that such evidence is not sufficient. The court held that, at most, Union Mutual produced weak circumstantial evidence that something wrong with the extension cords caused the fire. But, even assuming a reasonable jury could so conclude, Union Mutual showed no evidence of negligence whatsoever on Defendants’ part, and evidence of causation by itself is not evidence of negligence. The court concluded that there may have been negligence and that negligence may have been the cause of the fire. But no inference that it was Defendants’ negligence is permissible on the facts. View "Union Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Ace Caribbean Mkt." on Justia Law
LeChase Constr. Servs. LLC v. Argonaut Ins. Co.
Argonaut Insurance Company (“Argonaut”) appealed from an order of the district court remanding this breach-of-bond action, brought by LeChase Construction Services, LLC (“LeChase”), to New York state court after Argonaut removed it on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. The district court purported to issue its remand order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1447(e), which authorizes remand if, after removal, a plaintiff joins defendants whose inclusion would destroy diversity jurisdiction. The district court expressly acknowledged that section 1447(e) is facially inapplicable here, as LeChase was not seeking to join a non-diverse defendant or otherwise contesting the existence of diversity jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the district court reasoned that, since remand would facilitate this case’s consolidation with two related actions then pending in New York state court, thus conserving judicial resources and avoiding the risk of inconsistent outcomes, it was appropriate under the “rubric” of section 1447(e). At issue was: (1) whether the Second Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over the district court’s remand order notwithstanding Section 1447(d; and (2) if the court does, whether the district court issued such order in excess of its statutory authority under section 1447(e). The Second Circuit vacated the district court’s order and remanded. The court concluded, as a matter of first impression, that “[section] 1447(d) permits appellate review of a district-court remand order that dresses in [section 1447(e)’s] jurisdictional clothing a patently non-jurisdictional ground,” such as the prudential considerations invoked by the district court here. The court concluded – for essentially the reasons acknowledged by the district court itself – that its remand order here was unauthorized under section 1447(e). View "LeChase Constr. Servs. LLC v. Argonaut Ins. Co." on Justia Law