Justia Business Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the lower courts in this appeal addressing mootness when a law challenged in the trial court is altered or amended after the trial court issued its final judgment and while the appeal is pending, holding that remand was required in this case.Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (Metro) challenging an ordinance prohibiting them from having clients in their home-based businesses. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Metro. While Plaintiffs' appeal was pending, Metro repealed the ordinance at issue and enacted a new ordinance allowing limited client visits to home-based businesses. The court of appeals determined that Plaintiffs' case was moot. The Supreme Court vacated the judgments below and remanded the case to give the parties an opportunity to amend their pleadings to address any claims asserted under the new ordinance, holding that, based on the current record, it could not be determined whether Plaintiffs would suffer ongoing harm from the new ordinance, how the change could affect their claims, and whether they retained a residual claim under the new ordinance. View "Shaw v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville" on Justia Law

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The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (Department) suspended the license of real party in interest, Bogle Vineyards, Inc. (Bogle), for 10 days after finding that Bogle violated Business and Professions Code section 25502 (a)(2) by furnishing, giving, or lending a “thing of value”—a nonoperational pizza oven—to a Raley’s grocery store as part of a promotional display. The pizza oven was part of a Bogle point-of-sale promotional campaign highlighting pizza month, in which a customer would receive $4 off a pizza with the purchase of a bottle of Bogle wine. Bogle provided a guidance packet on the promotion for its employees and wholesaler which stated in part that “[i]f buyers are still w[]ary, FYI the ovens ‘don’t work’ without propane AND the regulators can be removed, if needed.” It also showed how the pizza ovens were to be set up in the displays. Bogle paid for the pizza oven promotional campaign. Raley's store #119 received an oven for use in the display, but did not fully assemble the oven per instructions. As a result, the oven was inoperative when placed in the display at the store. Later, an agent for Bogle returned to store #119 ti discuss the display; the display had been removed, and the oven parts not used in assembly, had disappeared. An ALJ determined that while Bogle did not intend to "gift" the ovens to retailers in exchange for prominent displays in their stores, the "net result" was an unlawful furnishing in violation of the statute. Bogle appealed the Department’s decision to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board (Board), and the Board reversed the suspension, calling the Department’s result “absurd.” It concluded that the Department’s decision that the pizza oven was a “thing of value” was inaccurate as a matter of law and was not supported by substantial evidence because there was no evidence presented that Raley’s reassembled the pizza oven or removed the pizza stone for use. It therefore found the Department’s result was based on speculation and conjecture and was not within the spirit or letter of the law. It accordingly reversed the Department’s decision. The Court of Appeal agreed with Bogle that the Department erred in finding the inoperative pizza oven, used solely for the purposes of a temporary promotional display, was a "thing of value" under the statute. View "Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control v. Alcoholic Beverage etc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that the Spence Group lacked standing to bring the underlying derivative action, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that the Spence Group failed to show it did not have an adequate remedy at law.The dispute in this case was between two factions of the former Board of Directors of the Wyoming Trial Lawyers College - the Spence Group and the Sloan Group. The Spence Group brought a derivative action against the Sloan Group and the College alleging that some or all of the Sloan Group directors should be removed from the Board and seeking a declaration that the Spence Group members were the only duly acting members. The district court dismissed the case for lack of standing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly granted the Sloan Group summary judgment on its claim that the Spence Group lacked standing to bring its derivative action. View "Spence v. Sloan" on Justia Law

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These consolidated cases, on appeal from a judgment of the district court, present competing claims to a blocked electronic funds transfer. The parties are the United States, which blocked the transaction because terrorists initiated it. On the other side are victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism who have obtained multimillion-dollar judgments against the Iranian government.   After learning of the government’s forfeiture action, attorneys for two groups of victims of Iranian terrorism and their relatives, holding judgments against Iran, filed separate writs of attachment. Plaintiffs sought to attach the funds at Wells Fargo pursuant to two federal statutes. The first, 28 U.S.C. Section 1610(g) of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”). The second is Section 201(a) of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (“TRIA”).   The district court ruled that Iran lacked any property interest in the blocked funds held by Wells Fargo. The court, therefore, quashed Plaintiffs’ writs of attachment. The DC Circuit court reversed and remanded. The court explained that tracing resolves this case in Plaintiffs’ favor. The government admits that the $9.98 million blocked funds at Wells Fargo “are traceable to Taif” and thus to Iran. The premise of the government’s forfeiture action is that the funds are traceable to Iran. The district court, therefore, erred in concluding that Plaintiffs had failed to show that the blocked funds were, under Section 201(a) of the TRIA, the blocked assets of [a] terrorist party. View "Estate of Jeremy I. Levin v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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This appeal involved a breach of contract claim arising out of an indemnitee’s refusal to repay money advanced pursuant to an LLC Agreement. Under the Agreement, a Person was entitled to indemnification if the Person acted in good faith and in a manner believed to be in or not opposed to the best interests of the Company. The indemnification payments were further conditioned on the Person’s written undertaking to repay all amounts advanced under the LLC Agreement if it was later determined that the Person did not satisfy the standard of conduct, and thus, was not entitled to indemnification. New Wood Resources operated a plywood and veneer manufacturing facility in Mississippi known as Winston Plywood & Veneer LLC (“WPV”). Dr. Richard Baldwin (“Baldwin”) served as a manager of New Wood starting in September of 2013, and served as a member of New Wood’s Board of Managers. Baldwin was asked to invest in New Wood, and to oversee the revitalization of a newly acquired plywood mill in Louisville, Mississippi. The WPV manufacturing facility in Louisville had been dormant for years and was in need of repair. New Wood began to make repairs so that it could operate a mill. However, prior to the WPV facility’s completion, the facility was destroyed by an EF-4 tornado. WPV received funding from FEMA, and Baldwin took the lead role on behalf of New Wood to restore the WPV facility and transform it into a functioning and profitable plywood manufacturing facility. In 2016, just before the WPV mill was set to begin operations, Baldwin was terminated from his position as the President and General Manager of WPV. The Delaware Court addressed the narrow issue of whether the LLC Agreement pertinent here contained an implied covenant of good faith that would require the determination of a Person’s entitlement to indemnification to be made in good faith. After review of the Agreement, the Court held that it did. It therefore reversed and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Baldwin v. New Wood Resources LLC" on Justia Law

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This litigation arose from a decision by the City of Chula Vista (the City) to reject applications by CV Amalgamated LLC, dba Caligrown (CVA) for licenses to operate retail cannabis stores in the City. In 2018, the City enacted an ordinance regulating commercial cannabis businesses (the Cannabis Ordinance). Among other things, the Cannabis Ordinance allowed for a maximum of eight storefront retail cannabis business licenses, with up to two licenses in each of the City’s four council districts (the Council Districts). CVA submitted applications for storefront retail cannabis business licenses in each of the City’s four Council Districts. CVA filed an appeal with the City Manager, in which it challenged the City’s rejections of its applications for licenses in Council Districts One, Three and Four. After a hearing, CVA's applications were again denied, and it initiated this litigation in September 2020. On January 29, 2021, the trial court issued an order denying CVA’s motion for a writ of mandate. The trial court made no factual findings and failed to explain why it concluded that CVA had failed to meet its burden. The Court of Appeal concluded the City failed to follow its ministerial and mandatory duty to follow its own procedures when it rejected CVA's applications in the initial assessments of the applications. The trial court's judgment was reversed with instructions to issue a writ of mandate directing the City to reassess CVA's applications in districts One, Three and Four. View "CV Amalgamated LLC v. City of Chula Vista" on Justia Law

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) initiated an enforcement action against several entities and individuals. The district court granted the unopposed motion and appointed Appellee as receiver, authorizing him to “take custody, control, and possession of all Receivership Entity records, documents, and materials” and to “take any other action as necessary and appropriate for the preservation of the Receivership Entities’ property interests.” Defendants didn’t appeal the order appointing Appellee as receiver. The district court granted the motion. Defendants appealed, contending that they weren’t afforded an adequate opportunity to be heard before the receivership estate’s expansion. Appellee has moved to dismiss Defendants’ appeal for lack of jurisdiction.The Eleventh Circuit dismissed the appeal. The court found that neither Section 1292(a)(2) nor Section 1292(a)(1) grants the court jurisdiction to consider the appeal because the expansion order was neither an order appointing a receiver nor an order granting (or modifying) an injunction. The court explained that to the extent that the appointment of the receiver or the expansion of his duties could be viewed as an injunction at all, the district court possessed freestanding authority to enter it. Given that the district court had both statutory and residual equitable authority to establish and expand the receivership, it had no cause to invoke the All Writs Act to aid its jurisdiction. View "Securities & Exchange Commission v. L.M.E. 2017 Family Trust, et al." on Justia Law

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The dispute that arose in this case concerned an easement that lead from the Glenn Highway over residential property to a parcel of land used as a jumping-off point for a Matanuska Glacier tourism business. After years of disagreement over issues related to road maintenance, traffic, safety, and trespass on the homeowner’s property by visitors to the glacier, the homeowner erected a sign stating “No Glacier Access” near the entrance to the road. The business owner filed suit, and the homeowner counterclaimed for defamation based on inflammatory allegations made in the complaint. The superior court largely ruled in favor of the business owner, holding that he had a right to use the easement for his glacier tourism business, that his road maintenance work was reasonably necessary and did not unreasonably damage the homeowner’s property despite minor increases in the width of the road, and that the “No Glacier Access” sign had unreasonably interfered with his use of the easement. The superior court also dismissed the defamation counterclaims and awarded attorney’s fees to the business owner. Finding no reversible error in the superior court’s judgment, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s judgment in full. View "Wayson v. Stevenson" on Justia Law

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Byram Café Group, LLC (BCG), moved for summary judgment against Eddie and Teresa Tucker in a premises-liability action arising from Eddie’s slip-and-fall accident. BCG sought judgment as a matter of law based on a lack of evidence supporting any of the elements of a slip-and-fall case. In response, the Tuckers argued that genuine issues of material fact existed as to dangerous conditions that may have caused Eddie’s fall. The circuit court denied BCG’s summary judgment motion. BCG sought interlocutory appeal, which the Mississippi Supreme Court granted. The issue the appeal presented was whether the Tuckers could survive a motion for summary judgment without producing evidence that a dangerous condition existed, that BCG caused the hypothetical dangerous condition, and that BCG knew or should have known about the dangerous condition. As a matter of law, the Supreme Court found the circuit court erred by denying BCG’s motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded the circuit court’s order. View "Byram Cafe Group, LLC v. Tucker" on Justia Law

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Harrison Co., L.L.C. executed a credit agreement with A-Z Wholesalers, Inc. to supply A-Z with tobacco products and other goods. Barkat Ali personally guaranteed A-Z’s payment. A-Z fell behind $2.6 million on payments for the goods it received, so Harrison sued for breach of contract and breach of guaranty actions against A-Z and Ali. The district court granted summary judgment for Harrison.A-Z and Ali argue there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the sales that Harrison is seeking payment for were, in reality, sales from Imperial following the merger of the two companies. The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court wrote that Imperial and Harrison are—and always have been—separate entities with their own employees, customers, and warehouses. As the district court explained, A-Z and Ali do not allege, let alone present evidence, “that A-Z experienced any changes in ordering procedures, pricing, delivery schedules, type or brand of goods, inventory availability, or any other indicia that . . . [shows] it was no longer doing business with Harrison.” Therefore, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment. View "Harrison Company v. A-Z Whsle" on Justia Law