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IAS filed suit against defendant and his company, alleging claims of fraud, fraudulent inducement, fraud by nondisclosure, and breach of contract. Defendant filed a counter suit for breach of his employment contract with IAS. The Fifth Circuit reversed the dismissal of IAS's fraudulent inducement claim where the district court's assessment that there was no fraud did not appear to have been based on any assessment of the evidence presented at trial. The court affirmed the judgment in favor of defendants on IAS's breach of contract claim where the district court's finding that IAS did not suffer any damages as a result of any breach of the asset purchase agreement was plausible in light of the record as a whole. Finally, the court vacated the severance pay award in favor of defendant because, even assuming that defendant was terminated for reasons other than cause, he failed to satisfy the second condition precedent to his receipt of severance pay: execution of the required release and waiver. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "IAS Service Group, LLC v. Jim Buckley & Assoc." on Justia Law

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In 2010, BRC and Continental entered into a five‐year agreement. Continental was to sell to BRC approximately 1.8 million pounds of prime carbon black, annually, in approximately equal monthly quantities, with baseline prices for three grades, including N762, “to remain firm throughout the term.” Continental could meet any better offers that BRC received. Shipments continued regularly until March 2011, when demand began to exceed Continental’s production ability. Continental notified its buyers that N762 would be unavailable in May. BRC nonetheless placed an order. The parties dispute the nature of subsequent communications. Continental neither confirmed BRC’s order nor shipped N762. BRC demanded immediate shipment. Continental responded that it did “not have N762 available.” BRC purchased some N762 from another supplier at a higher price. Days later, Continental offered to ship N762 at price increases, which BRC refused to pay. After discussions, Continental sent an email stating that Continental would continue "shipping timely at the contract prices, and would not cut off supply” and would “ship one car next week.” Continental emphasized that the Agreement required it to supply about 150,000 pounds per month and that it already had shipped approximately 300,000 pounds per month. Continental shipped one railcar. Within a week, Continental emailed BRC seeking to increase the baseline prices and to accelerate payment terms. BRC sued, seeking its costs in purchasing from another supplier following Continental’s alleged repudiation. The Seventh Circuit rejected the characterization of the agreement as a requirements contract. On remand, BRC, without amending its complaint, pursued the alternative theory that the agreement is for a fixed-amount supply. The Seventh Circuit reversed summary judgment and remanded, finding the agreement, supported by mutuality and consideration, enforceable. The agreement imposed sufficiently definite obligations on both parties and was not an unenforceable "buyer's option." BRC can proceed in characterizing the contract as for a fixed amount. BRC altered only its legal characterization; its factual theory remained constant and Continental is not prejudiced by the change. View "BRC Rubber & Plastics, Inc. v. Continental Carbon Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought a putative class action against Air EVAC asserting three claims for relief under Arkansas law. The district court dismissed all claims as preempted by the express preemption provision in the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA). The Eighth Circuit affirmed on a narrower basis and held that the fairness of plaintiff's transaction with Air EVAC and the reasonableness of Air EVAC's price were governed by federal law. Likewise, the court held that the ADA preempted plaintiff's claim that Air EVAC may not seek restitution against class members because it lacked clean hands. Finally, the court held that plaintiff's declaratory judgment claims, like his fraud claims, were ADA-preempted. The court noted that plaintiff's may bring contract defenses and unpreempted judicial remedies were also available. View "Ferrell v. Air EVAC EMS, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit vacated the tax court's valuation of Medtronic's true income for the 2005 and 2006 tax years. The Commissioner claimed that Medtronic shifted income from its highly profitable U.S. operations and intangibles to an offshore subsidiary operating in a tax haven in Puerto Rico by charging an artificially low rate for the intangibles. The court held that the tax court's factual findings were insufficient to enable the court to conduct an evaluation of the tax court's determination that the Pacesetter agreement was an appropriate comparable uncontrolled transaction (CUT) because it involved similar intangible property and had similar circumstances regarding licensing. In this case, the tax court did not address in sufficient detail whether the circumstances of the settlement between Pacesetter and Medtronic US were comparable to the licensing agreement between Medtronic and Medtronic Puerto Rico; did not analyze the degree of comparability of the Pacesetter agreement's contractual terms and those of the Medtronic Puerto Rico licensing agreement; did not evaluate how the different treatment of intangibles affected the comparability of the Pacesetter agreement and the Medtronic Puerto Rico licensing agreement; and did not decide the amount of risk and product liability expense that should be allocated between Medtronic US and Medtronic Puerto Rico. View "Medtronic, Inc. & Consolidated Subsidiaries v. Comissioner" on Justia Law

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Carter, through broker Perkins, opened a commodities trading account to secure the prices his Wyoming ranch would receive for its cattle using financial instruments (hedging). After Perkins changed offices, those accounts were part of a “bulk transfer” to Straits. Carter did not sign new agreements. At Perkins’s request, Carter opened another Straits account to speculate in other categories. After Carter and Perkins split a $300,000 profit, Carter instructed Perkins to close the account. Perkins did not do so but continued speculating on Treasury Bond futures, losing $2 million over three months. Straits liquidated Carter’s livestock commodities holdings to satisfy most of the shortfall and sued for the deficiency. Carter established his right to the seized funds and an award of attorney fees but the court significantly reduced damages, finding that Carter failed to mitigate by not closely reading account statements and trading confirmations. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the interpretation of the contract but remanded for recalculation of damages. Finding Carte responsible for losses resulting from Perkins's fraud would apply a guarantee or ratification that was never given. Fraud victims are not responsible for their agent’s fraud before they learn of unauthorized activity. Under Illinois law, the injured party must have actual knowledge before it must act to mitigate its damages. The court affirmed the attorney fee award under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. View "Straits Financial LLC v. Ten Sleep Cattle Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the interest rate on consumer loans of $2,500 or more may render the loans unconscionable under section 22302 of the Financial Code. Defendant, a lender of consumer loans to high-risk borrowers, had as one of its signature products an unsecured $2,600 loan carrying an annual percentage rate (APR) of either ninety-six percent or, later in the class period, 135 percent. Plaintiffs alleged that CashCall violated California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code 17200 because its lending practice was unlawful where it violated section 22302, the section that applies the unconscionability doctrine to consumer loans. The district court certified Plaintiffs’ lawsuit as a class action and then granted CashCall’s motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the federal court of appeals certified to the Supreme Court a question of law. The Supreme Court answered in the positive, holding that an interest rate on consumer loans of $2,500 or more may be deemed unconscionable under section 22302. View "De La Torre v. CashCall, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellants Inet Airport Systems, Inc., Inet Airport Systems, LLC, Michael Colaco, and April Barry appealed a judgment entered against them in this action arising from Inet’s sale of its assets to respondents Cavotec SA and Cavotec Inet US, Inc. (collectively Cavotec). Colaco was Inet’s sole shareholder and its chief executive officer and Barry was Inet’s director of administration. After the transaction, Colaco became Cavotec Inet US, Inc.’s president and a member of its board of directors, and Barry became the company’s chief financial officer. Following a lengthy trial, the jury awarded Cavotec $1.313 million against Inet, Colaco, and Barry, jointly and severally, based on the jury’s findings that: (1) Inet breached its asset purchase agreement with Cavotec by failing to forward all postclosing customer payments Inet received on Cavotec’s behalf; (2) Colaco and Barry breached the fiduciary duties they owed as Cavotec officers by causing Inet to withhold customer payments and creating false and backdated invoices to conceal Inet’s failure to pay; (3) Colaco’s conduct breached the employment contract he entered into as Cavotec Inet US Inc.’s president; and (4) Colaco and Barry converted Cavotec’s funds for their personal use. The jury also awarded Cavotec punitive damages against Colaco only. The Court of Appeal agreed the trial court erred in denying Inet’s motion: the jury’s verdict excused Cavotec from its obligation based on Inet’s breach and awarded Cavotec damages for the same breach, which was an impermissible windfall that allowed Cavotec to retain the assets it purchased from Inet without paying the full purchase price. The Court found Colaco and Cavotec Inet US, Inc. agreed California law would govern all their rights and liabilities; Colaco failed to explain how Delaware had a materially greater interest in applying its law on the fiduciary duty claims raised in this case. The Court also rejected Colaco’s contention the asset purchase agreement barred Cavotec’s claims for breach of his employment contract and punitive damages. The Court concluded Cavotec’s $1.313 award against Inet had to be offset against its failure to make a second $2 million payment owed under the APA. The Court did not disturb Cavotec’s $2 million punitive damage award against Colaco. The Court concluded Barry could not establish any error was prejudicial to her. View "Colaco v. Cavotec SA" on Justia Law

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Yellowfin filed suit against Barker Boatworks and Kevin Barker, alleging claims for trade dress infringement and false designation of origin under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, common law unfair competition, common law trade dress infringement, and violation of Florida's Uniform Trade Secret Act (FUTSA). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants. The court, weighing the likelihood of confusion factors holistically, held that the district court did not err in holding that Yellowfin could not, as a matter of law, prove a likelihood of confusion between Barker Boatworks' trade dress and its own. Therefore, the court held that the district court properly rejected the rest of Yellowfin's claims related to trade dress and consumer confusion. The court rejected Yellowfin's claims under FUTSA and held that Yellowfin failed to show that Barker allegedly misappropriated Source Information and Customer Information trade secrets. View "Yellowfin Yachts, Inc. v. Barker Boatworks, LLC" on Justia Law

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This case arose when Venezuela and two of its agencies seized all assets of an American drilling company's Venezuelan subsidiary. Both parent and subsidiary filed suit claiming that the expropriation of the subsidiary's business and assets without compensation violated international law. On remand from the Supreme Court, at issue was whether either company had alleged facts that were sufficient, if true, to establish that it had in fact suffered a taking in violation of international law. The DC Circuit held that only the American parent, not its Venezuelan subsidiary, had done so. The court held that the domestic-takings rule barred the subsidiary's expropriation claim where the subsidiary was considered a Venezuelan national under international law. In this case, the subsidiary was incorporated in Venezuela and had a legal identity distinct from that of its parent shareholders under local law. The court further held that, given the subsidiary's Venezuelan nationality, its takings claim against Venezuela was a matter of domestic, not international, law under the domestic-takings rule. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the subsidiary's claims, as well as the denial of defendants' motion to dismiss the parent's claims. View "Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Co. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for CES in a class action alleging that natural gas companies colluded to fix retail natural gas prices in Wisconsin. CES, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliant, asserted that it acted innocently and without knowledge of its parent company's price-fixing scheme. The panel held that Supreme Court precedent established that a parent and a wholly owned subsidiary always have a unity of purpose and thus act as a single enterprise whenever they engage in coordinated activity. Copperweld Corp. v. Indep. Tube Corp., 467 U.S. 752 (1984). In this case, plaintiffs raised a triable issue of CES's anticompetitive intent; plaintiffs' evidence was sufficient to raise a triable issue of whether CES knowingly acted to further the alleged price-fixing scheme; any knowledge of the alleged price-fixing scheme that CES's directors and officers acquired while concurrently acting as directors or officers of the other Reliant companies was imputable to CES as a matter of Wisconsin law; and plaintiffs submitted sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue under the Sherman Act – and Wisconsin Statute 133.03(1) – as to whether CES participated in coordinated activity in furtherance of the alleged inter-enterprise price-fixing conspiracy. View "Arandell Corp. v. CenterPoint Energy Services, Inc." on Justia Law