Justia Business Law Opinion Summaries
Family Health Centers of S.D. v. State Dept. of Health Care Services
Plaintiff Family Health Centers of San Diego operated a federally qualified health center (FQHC) that provided various medical services to its patients, some of whom are Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act authorized grants to be made to FQHC’s. In addition, FQHC’s could seek reimbursement under Medi-Cal for certain expenses, including reasonable costs directly or indirectly related to patient care. Plaintiff appealed a trial court’s order denying its petition for writ of mandate seeking to compel the State Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to reimburse plaintiff for money it expended for outreach services. The Court of Appeal rejected plaintiff’s contention that the trial court and the DHCS improperly construed and applied applicable guidelines in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Publication 15-1, The Provider Reimbursement Manual (PRM). The Court concluded that the monies spent by plaintiff were not an allowable cost because they were akin to advertising to increase patient utilization of plaintiff’s services. View "Family Health Centers of S.D. v. State Dept. of Health Care Services" on Justia Law
Dr. Robert L. Meinders, D.C., Ltd. v. United HealthCare Services, Inc.
Meinders offers chiropractic services. United provides or administers insurance plans nationwide. In 2006, Meinders became a “participating provider” with United to expand his customer base; he signed a provider agreement with ACN. which provided administrative and network management services for chiropractors, and had a preexisting master services agreement with United. The agreement allowed ACN, “in its sole discretion,” to “assign its rights, duties or obligations” under the agreement.“ The agreement stated that if a dispute arose, either party “may” submit the issue “to arbitration” and any arbitration decision would be “final and binding.”Meinders submitted claims for United-insured patients directly to United; United paid those claims. Those claims were submitted on United forms and if an explanation of benefits was requested, United provided it. Meinders confirmed a patient’s eligibility either through United’s website or through a United phone number. ACN became a wholly-owned subsidiary of United.In 2013, United sent a fax to Meinders, who believed that United had violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and filed suit. After remands, the district court held that “United … assumed the material obligations of ACN …, a wholly-owned subsidiary of United, under the Provider Agreement, which authorizes United to enforce the arbitration clause.” The Third Circuit affirmed. View "Dr. Robert L. Meinders, D.C., Ltd. v. United HealthCare Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Klayman v. Judicial Watch, Inc.
Klayman founded Judicial Watch in 1994 and served as its Chairman and General Counsel until 2003. Klayman claims he left voluntarily. Judicial Watch (JW) claims it forced Klayman to resign based on misconduct. During negotiations over Klayman’s departure, JW prepared its newsletter, which was mailed to donors with a letter signed by Klayman as “Chairman and General Counsel.” While the newsletter was at the printer, the parties executed a severance agreement. Klayman resigned; the parties were prohibited from disparaging each other. Klayman was prohibited from access to donor lists and agreed to pay outstanding personal expenses. JW paid Klayman $600,000. Klayman ran to represent Florida in the U.S. Senate. His campaign used the vendor that JW used for its mailings and use the names of JW’s donors for campaign solicitations. Klayman lost the election, then launched “Saving Judicial Watch,” with a fundraising effort directed at JW donors using names obtained for his Senate run. In promotional materials, Klayman asserted that he resigned to run for Senate, that the JW leadership team had mismanaged and the organization, and that Klayman should be reinstated.Klayman filed a complaint against JW, asserting violations of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a)(1), by publishing a false endorsement when it sent the newsletter identifying him as “Chairman and General Counsel” after he had left JW. Klayman also alleged that JW breached the non-disparagement agreement by preventing him from making fair comments about JW and that JW defamed him. During the 15 years of ensuing litigation, Klayman lost several claims at summary judgment and lost the remaining claims at trial. The jury awarded JW $2.3 million. The D.C. Circuit rejected all of Klayman’s claims on appeal. View "Klayman v. Judicial Watch, Inc." on Justia Law
Indeck Energy Services, Inc. v. DePodesta
Indeck develops, owns, and operates conventional and alternative fuel power plants. DePodesta, Indeck's vice president of business development, had overall responsibility for Indeck’s electrical generation project development efforts. Dahlstrom was director of business development. DePodesta and Dahlstrom had signed confidentiality agreements.In 2010, Dahlstrom founded HEV, a consulting firm that develops electrical power generation projects. DePodesta later became a member of HEV. In 2013, DePodesta, Dahlstrom, and HEV formed an LLC to develop natural-gas-fired, simple cycle power plants in Texas. The two subsequently copied and removed from Indeck’s premises thousands of documents and files. DePodesta resigned from Indeck on November 1, 2013, and Dahlstrom on November 4. They did not tell anyone at Indeck that they intended to pursue an opportunity with a new LLC. In 2014, Indeck filed suit, alleging breach of the confidentiality agreements and fiduciary duties,” seeking injunctive relief and disgorgement.The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part. Indeck’s confidentiality agreement was unenforceable as overbroad and Indeck failed to prove it had sustained injury based on any breach. Any profits from breaches of fiduciary duty after the defendants were speculative; there was no identifiable fund traceable to those breaches, so a constructive trust was not available. However, defendants breached their fiduciary duties during their employment and were required to disgorge their salaries. Indeck failed to prove the injury necessary for its claim of usurpation of a corporate opportunity. View "Indeck Energy Services, Inc. v. DePodesta" on Justia Law
Doe v. The Trump Corporation
Anonymous plaintiffs filed a putative class action against The Trump Corporation, Donald J. Trump, and various members of his family, asserting claims for racketeering in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1962(c), conspiracy to conduct the affairs of a racketeering enterprise in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1962(d), dissemination of untrue and misleading public statements in violation of California law, unfair competition in violation of California law, unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of Maryland and Pennsylvania law, common-law fraud, and common-law negligent misrepresentation. Plaintiffs contend that defendants fraudulently induced them to enter into business relationships with non-party appellant, ACN, by making a series of deceptive and misleading statements. The district court denied both defendants and ACN's motions to compel arbitration.The Second Circuit affirmed, concluding that (1) defendants may not compel plaintiffs to arbitrate their dispute on equitable estoppel grounds; and (2) the district court may not compel arbitration as to ACN's discovery dispute because the court lacked an independent basis for subject-matter jurisdiction over the parties' dispute. The court considered defendants and ACN's remaining arguments on appeal and concluded that they are without merit. View "Doe v. The Trump Corporation" on Justia Law
Huy Fong Foods, Inc. v. Underwood Ranches, LP
The Court of Appeal affirmed the unanimous jury's finding in favor of Underwood Ranches in an action for breach of contract and fraud, as well as the award of $13.3 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. Huy Fong, a business that produces Sriracha hot sauce, contracted with Underwood Ranches, a pepper farmer, to purchase peppers, which resulted in a 28 year relationship for the parties. For the first 10 years, the parties executed written agreements specifying the price per pound and volume to be supplied. Thereafter, the parties dealt with each other informally with oral agreements.The court concluded that there is more than ample evidence to support a finding of fraud based on fraudulent concealment and affirmative misrepresentation; the jury's findings are consistent and easily reconciled where, read together, the jury found that the parties had an ongoing contractual relationship that included the 2017 jalapeño growing season; the court rejected Huy Fong's contention that the trial court abdicated its responsibility to sit as a 13th juror in ruling on its motion for a new trial; the court upheld the $10 million punitive damage award; and, because the court affirmed the judgment against Huy Fong, it is unnecessary for it to consider Underwood Ranch's appeal. View "Huy Fong Foods, Inc. v. Underwood Ranches, LP" on Justia Law
Timber Ridge Escapes, LLC v. Quality Structures of Arkansas, LLC
This appeal arose out of a construction dispute between Timber Ridge and Quality Structures. After a bench trial, the district court awarded Timber Ridge $22,500 in damages and Quality Structures an amount in excess of $5 million in damages.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, concluding that the district court did not clearly err in determining that Quality Structures substantially complied with the contractual predicates for payment for the extra excavation work. Furthermore, the district court did not clearly err in finding Quality Structures proved damages related to Timber Ridge's failure to pay for the additional excavation work. The court affirmed the district court's award of other damages to Quality Structures with one exception regarding site lighting. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not err in awarding defendant attorneys' fees under the Missouri Prompt Payment Act. View "Timber Ridge Escapes, LLC v. Quality Structures of Arkansas, LLC" on Justia Law
DDK Hotels, LLC v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc.
Plaintiffs DDK Hotels, DDK Hospitality, and DDK Management filed suit against Defendants Williams-Sonoma and West Elm, asserting claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment. West Elm then brought an action in the Delaware Court of Chancery, seeking to dissolve the joint venture, which the Delaware court dismissed. Plaintiffs then filed a supplemental complaint in the district court to assert an additional claim for breach of the prevailing party provisions of Section 21(h) of the joint venture agreement. Defendants then moved to compel arbitration for that claim, which the district court denied.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying defendants' motion to compel arbitration, concluding that the joint venture agreement does not "clearly and unmistakably" delegate arbitrability to the arbitrator and that the district court therefore correctly ruled on the scope of the arbitration agreement. Finally, the court rejected DDK Hospitality's request for prevailing party fees and noted that DDK Hospitality may pursue its request for fees on remand. View "DDK Hotels, LLC v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc." on Justia Law
Northern Bottling Co., Inc. v. PepsiCo, Inc.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of PepsiCo in an action brought by Northern, alleging that PepsiCo failed to protect Northern's interests under their exclusive bottling contracts. Applying New York common law, the court concluded that it is evident PepsiCo did not owe a duty to prevent transshipping under the express terms of the bottling contracts, and thus Northern's breach claim fails as a matter of law. The court also concluded that Northern cannot rely on an implied duty to create obligations that are not expressly included in the bottling contracts, and that duty cannot provide a basis for Northern's breach of contract claim.Furthermore, because the bottling agreement is unambiguous and fails to confer a contractual duty on PepsiCo to prevent transshipping, and given Northern's inability to establish that PepsiCo owed a duty to prevent transshipment of products into Northern's territories, there is no genuine dispute of material fact and Northern's breach of contract claim was properly disposed of on summary judgment. Finally, the court agreed with the district court that no genuine dispute of material fact exists as to Northern's tortious interference claim. View "Northern Bottling Co., Inc. v. PepsiCo, Inc." on Justia Law
Mortimer v. McCool, et al.
In 2007, Ryan Mortimer was seriously and permanently injured when an intoxicated driver collided with her car. The driver recently had been served by employees of the Famous Mexican Restaurant (“the Restaurant”) in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. The owners of the Restaurant had a contractual management agreement with the owner of the Restaurant’s liquor license (“the License”), Appellee 340 Associates, LLC. The Restaurant was located in a large, mixed-use building owned by Appellee McCool Properties, LLC. At the time of the injury, Appellees Michael Andrew McCool (“Andy”) and Raymond Christian McCool (“Chris”) were the sole owners of 340 Associates. With their father, Raymond McCool (“Raymond”), they also owned McCool Properties. In an underlying “dram shop action,” Mortimer obtained a combined judgment of $6.8 million against 340 Associates and numerous other defendants. Under the Liquor Code, 340 Associates as licensee was jointly and severally liable for Mortimer’s entire judgment. 340 Associates had no significant assets beyond the License itself, and neither carried insurance for such actions nor was required by law to do so. Seeking to collect the balance of the judgment, Mortimer filed suit against 340 Associates, McCool Properties, Chris, Andy, and the Estate of Raymond (who died after the collision but before this lawsuit). Mortimer sought to "pierce the corporate veil" to hold some or all of the individual McCool defendants and McCool Properties liable for her judgment. While the Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that a narrow form of “enterprise liability” might be available under certain circumstances, it could not apply under the facts of this case: "We believe that our restrained, equitable posture toward veil-piercing cases has enabled Pennsylvania courts to do substantial justice in most cases, and that there is no clear reason to preclude per se the application of enterprise liability in the narrow form described herein." View "Mortimer v. McCool, et al." on Justia Law