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In 1998, in order to pursue a real estate investment and development project, Lynn and Connie Hanaway, T.R. White, Inc. (“T.R. White”), and several others formed a limited partnership, Sadsbury Associates, L.P. (“Sadsbury”). The Hanaways were among several limited partners of Sadsbury, while T.R. White served as the general partner. In 2002, acting independently from Sadsbury, T.R. White contracted for options to purchase two separate tracts of land. In 2005, prompted by the success of Sadsbury, the partners of Sadsbury formed The Parkesburg Group, LP (“Parkesburg”) in order to implement a new residential development project involving two tracts of land. T.R. White served as Parkesburg’s general partner, and the Hanaways were among several limited partners. Parkesburg’s limited partnership agreement gave T.R. White broad discretion to carry out its duties. Pursuant to the express terms of the agreement, T.R. White, as the general partner, controlled “the business and affairs of the Partnership.” The crux of this dispute concerned Parkesburg’s sale of the land to a newly formed limited partnership, Parke Mansion Partners (“PMP”). The Hanaways filed a six-count complaint against T.R. White, PMP, Parkesburg, and Sadsbury, alleging T.R. White, as general partner, breached Parkesburg’s limited partnership agreement. They viewed the sale of the Parkesburg tracts to PMP as a sham, executed to freeze them out of Parkesburg. The issue presented for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s review centered on the applicability of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing to a limited partnership agreement formed pursuant to Pennsylvania’s Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act (“PRULPA”). The Superior Court reversed the trial court’s order, which had granted partial summary judgment in favor of Parkesburg’s general partner and against two of its limited partners. The Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court’s order in relevant part, holding that the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing was inapplicable to the Pennsylvania limited partnership agreement at issue, which was formed well before the enactment of amendments that codified such a covenant. View "Hanaway v. Parkesburg Group" on Justia Law

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The Ohio Department of Health cited Carlton Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center for health and safety violations. Carlton hired Sovran Management to help turn things around. When that failed, the nursing home closed. McKinney, a former employee, sought back pay in a purported class action under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires “employer[s]” to give their employees 60 days’ notice before they “order” the closing of a company, 29 U.S.C. 2102. Carlton defaulted but had no assets. The Sixth Circuit affirmed a judgment for Sovran. Carlton, not Sovran, was the employer and decided to close the facility. Only “employer[s]” that “order” a plant closing face regulation by the Act or liability under it. View "McKinney v. Carlton Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the North Carolina Business Court’s substantive decision interpreting N.C. Gen. Stat. 105-130.5(b)(1) so as to preclude The Fidelity Bank from deducting “market discount income” relating to discounted United States obligations for North Carolina corporate income taxation purposes. The Supreme Court, however, reversed the Business Court’s decision to dismiss the second of two judicial review petitions that Fidelity Bank filed in these cases and remanding that matter to the North Carolina Department of Revenue with instructions to vacate that portion of the Department’s second amended final agency decision relating to the deductibility issue for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that the Business Court’s decision to dismiss the portions of the second judicial review petition challenging the Department’s decision concerning the deductibility issue in the second amended final agency decision was erroneous. View "Fidelity Bank v. N.C. Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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In this consolidated class action, former stockholders of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (MSLO) brought claims against Martha Stewart, MSLO’s former controlling stockholder and namesake, for breach of fiduciary duty and against Sequential Brands Group, Inc., (Sequential), a third-party buyer, for aiding and abetting that breach. The claims arose from a transaction whereby MSLO was acquired by Sequential in a merger. At issue was whether Stewart leveraged her position as controlling stockholder to secure greater consideration for herself than was paid to the other stockholders as a result of the merger. Stewart and the Sequential defendants brought motions to dismiss. The Court of Chancery granted the motions, holding that the complaint failed to state a claim for breach of fiduciary duty against Stewart, and therefore, the court need not reach the question of whether the complaint adequately pleaded the other elements of aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty. View "In re Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Stockholder Litigation" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Heartland Payment Systems, Inc. (“Heartland”), a credit card processing company, wanted to expand its school operations. To pursue this strategy, Heartland purchased some of the assets of School Link Technologies, Inc. (“SL-Tech”). SL-Tech marketed software products to schools to manage their foodservice operations. Through the purchase of SL-Tech, Heartland acquired WebSMARTT, a software program that allowed schools to monitor school meal nutrition through point of sale, free and reduced meal eligibility tracking, menu planning, nutrient analysis, and recordkeeping. It was intended that WebSMARTT and similar applications collect and use data collected through the programs to model the effect of menu plans on staffing, equipment, and other costs. The parties executed three contracts involving Heartland, SL-Tech, and SLTech’s CEO, Lawrence Goodman to create “inTEAM” the software to be built from the WebSMARTT technology. The contracts contained non-compete, non- solicitation, exclusivity, cross-marketing, and support obligations. The parties quickly lost sight of their post-closing contractual obligations: inTEAM developed the new software; Goodman tried to solicit one of Heartland’s customers. Heartland paired with one of inTEAM’s biggest competitors to submit a bid to provide software to the Texas Department of Agriculture. The disputes eventually found their way to the Court of Chancery through breach of contract claims and counterclaims. After trial, the Court of Chancery found inTEAM did not breach any of its contractual obligations, but Goodman and Heartland had breached certain of theirs. The Delaware Supreme Court reversed the Court of Chancery’s finding that Goodman and inTEAM did not breach their non-compete obligations under the various agreements, but otherwise affirmed the court’s decision. As for the remaining issues, the Court of Chancery properly found that Heartland breached its contractual obligations by collaborating with an inTEAM competitor, and Goodman breached by soliciting a customer of Heartland. The court also did not abuse its discretion when it required an extension of the non-competes and assessed damages against Goodman. The Supreme Court therefore affirmed in part and reversed the Court of Chancery’s decision. View "Heartland Payment Systems, LLC v. InTeam Associates LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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Wine & Canvas (W&C) hosts “painting nights.” Patrons, following a teacher’s instructions, create a painting while enjoying wine. W&C operated in Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Oklahoma City. Muylle signed a license agreement, moved to San Francisco, and opened a W&C operation. W&C’s executives were present and taught the first class, worked with Muylle to approve paintings for use, gave Muylle company email addresses, and advertised the San Francisco operation on the W&C website. Disagreements arose. Muylle gave notice to terminate the agreement, changed the business name to “Art Uncorked,” and ceased using the W&C name and marks. W&C alleged trademark infringement, 15 U.S.C. 1051. Muylle’s counterclaims invoked California franchise law, federal trademark cancellation. and Indiana abuse of process law. Plaintiffs failed to meet discovery deadlines, despite being sanctioned three times. The Seventh Circuit affirmed: dismissal of the California law counterclaims; W&C's summary judgment on Muylle’s trademark cancellation counterclaim; Muylle's summary judgment on trademark dilution, sale of counterfeit items, unfair competition, bad faith, tortious conduct, abuse of process, breach of contract, fraud, and a claim under the Indiana Crime Victims Act; and Muylle's partial summary judgment on trademark infringement. Through November 18, 2011, W&C impliedly consented to Muylle’s using the marks. On claims of trademark infringement and false designation of origin (for any use after November 18, 2011), and Muylle’s abuse of process counterclaim, the court affirmed awards to Muylle of $270,000 on his counterclaim and $175,882.68 in fees. View "Wine & Canvas Development, LLC v. Muylle" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action alleging that Uber engaged in illegal price fixing. After the district court denied Uber's motion to compel arbitration, holding that plaintiff did not have reasonably conspicuous notice of and did not unambiguously manifest assent to Uber's Terms of Service when he registered. The Second Circuit vacated the district court's judgment, holding that the Uber App provided reasonably conspicuous notice of the Terms of Service as a matter of California law, and plaintiff's assent to arbitration was unambiguous in light of the objectively reasonable notice of the terms. The court remanded to the district court to consider whether defendants have waived their rights to arbitration and for any further proceedings. View "Meyer v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the court of appeals’ reversal of the district court’s grant of Company’s motion to dismiss Shareholder’s class action challenge to a merger transaction. The district court concluded (1) some claims were derivative, rather than direct, and were therefore subject to the demand and pleading requirements of Minn. R. Civ. P. 23.09; and (2) Shareholder failed to comply with Rule 23.09. The court of appeals reversed with the exception of one claim, concluding that most of the claims were direct, and therefore, Rule 23.09 did not apply. The Supreme Court clarified the test for distinguishing between direct and derivative claims and held that the district court did not err in dismissing some claims but erred in dismissing others. View "In re Medtronic, Inc. Shareholder Litigation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the judgment of the district court that thwarted Plaintiff’s attempt to expel her brother, Defendant, from the family’s limited liability partnership and that dissolved the partnership between them. Defendant counterclaimed on the issue of attorneys fees, arguing that the district court erred in awarding fees to Plaintiff. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court erred by concluding that Defendant was not subject to the buy-out provisions of the partnership agreement and that judicial dissolution of the partnership was necessary; and (2) the district court was divested of its authority to award attorneys’ fees more than sixty days after the motion for fees was filed. View "Ballou v. Walker" on Justia Law

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Emerald had an Illinois gaming license to operate in East Dubuque. Emerald operated profitably in 1993 but then struggled to compete with an Iowa casino. By 1996, Emerald had closed the casino and was lobbying for an act that would allow it to relocate. The Board denied Emerald’s license renewal application. While an appeal was pending, 230 ILCS 10/11.2 was enacted, permitting relocation. In 1998, before the enactment, defendants met with Rosemont’s mayor and representatives of Rosemont corporations about moving to Rosemont. After the enactment, the parties memorialized the terms of Emerald’s relocation. Emerald did not disclose the agreements as required by Illinois Gaming Board rules. By October 1999, Emerald had contracts with construction companies and architecture firms but had not disclosed them. Emerald altered its ownership structure; several new “investors” had connections to Rosemont’s mayor and state representative. stock transfers occurred without required Board approval. In 2001, the Board voted to revoke Emerald’s license. Its 15-month investigation was apparently based on a belief that Emerald had associated with organized crime but the denial notice focused on inadequate disclosures. The Board listed five counts but did not list who was responsible for which violation. Illinois courts affirmed the revocation but held that the Board had not proven an association with organized crime. Emerald was forced into bankruptcy. The trustee sued the defendants, asserting breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. The district court dismissed the breach‐of‐fiduciary‐duty claim as time-barred. The Shareholder’s Agreement required that shareholders comply with IGB rules; the court held that each defendant had violated at least one rule, calculated damages by valuing Emerald’s license, and held all but one defendant severally liable for the loss. The Seventh Circuit concluded that the defendants should be held jointly and severally liable, but otherwise affirmed. View "Estate of Pedersen v. Gecker" on Justia Law