Justia Business Law Opinion Summaries
Pacific Gulf Shipping Co. v. Vigorous Shipping & Trading S.A.
In this admiralty case, Pacific Gulf, in possession of an arbitral award against Adamastos Shipping, tried to collect from Blue Wall and Vigorous Shipping on the grounds that they are either successors to or alter-egos of Adamastos. The district court dismissed the successor-liability claim and granted summary judgment to Blue Wall and Vigorous on the alter-ego claim.After determining that Pacific Gulf has standing, the panel applied federal common law and joined other courts in holding that maritime law requires a transfer of all or substantially all of the predecessor's assets to the alleged successor before successor liability will be imposed on that alleged successor. In this case, the panel concluded that Pacific Gulf has failed to plead that Blue Wall and its subsidiaries "comprise successor corporate business entities of" Adamastos. The panel explained that Pacific Gulf alleged no transfer of any assets (let alone all or substantially all) from Adamastos to Blue Wall or its subsidiaries. Therefore, because Pacific Gulf failed to plead a factual prerequisite to corporate successorship, the district court correctly dismissed the claim based on that theory.The panel also agreed with the district court that Pacific Gulf's discovery revealed nothing to allow a reasonable juror to rule in its favor on the alter-ego theory. Viewing the record as a whole, the panel considered the factors for determining whether a party has pierced the corporate veil and agreed with the district court that Pacific Gulf came away "empty handed" from discovery. Therefore, there is insufficient evidence to support a finding that either Blue Wall or Vigorous was operated as an alter-ego of Adamastos. View "Pacific Gulf Shipping Co. v. Vigorous Shipping & Trading S.A." on Justia Law
Deluxe Entertainment Services Inc. v. DLX Acquisition Corp.
The Court of Chancery granted Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings in this action seeking to draw or claw back several million dollars in cash, holding that Defendants were entitled to the motion.Seller sold all outstanding shares of its wholly owned subsidiary (together, with its subsidiaries, Target) to Buyer (together with Target, Defendants). All of Target's assets, except for those excluded by the parties' purchase agreement, were transferred in the stock transaction (the disputed cash). After the transaction closed, millions of dollars in cash remained in Target's bank accounts. Seller asked Buyer to return the disputed cash but Buyer refused. Seller then brought this complaint. Defendants sought judgment on the pleadings in their favor. The Court of Chancery granted the motion, holding that no material issue of fact existed and that Defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Deluxe Entertainment Services Inc. v. DLX Acquisition Corp." on Justia Law
Eletech, Inc. v. Conveyance Consulting Group, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court entered against Appellants - Conveyance Consulting Group, Inc., Jones Consulting Inc., and Jonathan Jones - holding that Appellants' claims were either waived or without merit.Eletech, Inc. brought this action alleging that Jones, the former Vice President of Eletech, engaged in self-dealing and interfered with business opportunities. The court entered judgment in favor of Eletech as a discovery sanction and dismissed Appellants' counterclaim. Appellants appealed, arguing that the district court abused its discretion in granting motions to withdraw, motions to compel, and a motion for sanctions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellants' claims were unavailing. View "Eletech, Inc. v. Conveyance Consulting Group, Inc." on Justia Law
Guzman v. Johnson
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant's shareholder complaint against Appellees, the individual directors of a corporation and its controlling stockholder, holding that Appellant failed to rebut the business judgment rule and allege particularized facts demonstrating the requisite breach of fiduciary duty.In her complaint, Appellant alleged breach of fiduciary duty and sought damages from a merger. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim, determining that the business judgment rule applied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Nev. Rev. Stat. 78.138 and Chur v. Eighth Judicial District Court, 458 P.3d 336 (Nev. 2020), foreclose the inherent fairness standard that previously allowed a shareholder to automatically rebut the business judgment rule and shift the burden of proof to the director; and (2) the district court properly dismissed Appellant's complaint. View "Guzman v. Johnson" on Justia Law
Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court
Ford, incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Michigan, markets, sells, and services its products across the U.S. and overseas and encourages a resale market for its vehicles. Montana and Minnesota courts exercised jurisdiction over Ford in products-liability suits stemming from car accidents that injured state residents. The vehicles were designed and manufactured elsewhere, and originally were sold outside the forum states.The Supreme Court affirmed the rejection of Ford's jurisdictional arguments. The connection between the claims and Ford’s activities in the forum states is close enough to support specific jurisdiction. A state court may exercise general jurisdiction only when a defendant is “essentially at home” in the state. Specific jurisdiction covers defendants less intimately connected with a state if there was “some act by which [defendant] purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State” and the claims “must arise out of or relate to the defendant’s contacts” with the forum.Ford purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities in both states. There is no requirement of a causal link locating jurisdiction only in the state where Ford sold the car in question or the states where Ford designed and manufactured the vehicle. Specific jurisdiction attaches in cases in which a company cultivates a market for a product in the forum state and the product malfunctions there. Ford advertises and markets its vehicles in Montana and Minnesota and fosters ongoing connections to Ford owners. Because Ford systematically served a market in Montana and Minnesota for the very vehicles that the plaintiffs allege malfunctioned and injured them in those states, there is a strong “relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation.” View "Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law
Always Busy Consulting v. Babford & Company
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted discretionary review to consider whether a notice of appeal filed at a single docket number corresponding to the lead case of multiple consolidated civil cases should have been quashed for failing to satisfy the requirements of Pa.R.A.P. 341(a) as interpreted in Commonwealth v. Walker, 185 A.3d 969 (Pa. 2018). The Superior Court relied on Walker to quash the appeal below at one docket number, but the Supreme Court held Walker was inapplicable to the particular facts of this case and therefore reversed. View "Always Busy Consulting v. Babford & Company" on Justia Law
Attorney General v. Facebook, Inc.
In this case involving the Attorney General's investigation into Facebook, Inc. under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A focusing on whether Facebook misrepresented the extent to which it protected or misused user data the Supreme Judicial Court held that most of the civil investigative demands (demands) served by the Attorney General were not covered by the attorney-client privilege but that the work product doctrine applied to the documents requested.After potential widespread misuse of Facebook user data by third-party applications was reported Facebook started an investigation, known as the app developer investigation (ADI), to identify the extent to which the apps had misused user data and to determine potential resulting legal liabilities. At issue were six requests contained with the Attorney General's demands. Facebook argued that the attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine protected the information. A judge determined that most of the information was neither privileged nor work product. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed in part, holding (1) the documents sought by the first five requests were covered by the work product doctrine; (2) the sixth request required further review; and (3) a remand was required to determined whether some of the documents requested constituted opinion work product. View "Attorney General v. Facebook, Inc." on Justia Law
Next Technologies, Inc. v. Beyond the Office Door LLC
Next makes office equipment and refers potential customers to reviews that rate its products highly. Next's competitor, Beyond, published reviews critiquing Next’s standing desks. Instead of pursuing a claim under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125, Next sued in federal court under diversity jurisdiction, relying on Wisconsin’s common law of defamation. The district judge treated product reviews and political commentary as equivalent and cited the Constitution, holding that because Next is a “limited-purpose public figure”—made so by its own efforts to sell its wares—all criticism by a competitor is constitutionally protected unless the statements are knowingly false or made with reckless indifference to their truth. The court concluded that the standard was not met. The Seventh Circuit affirmed on other grounds, stating that it was “skeptical” about the trial court’s use of the Constitution. On the district court’s approach, few claims under the Lanham Act ever could succeed, and commercial advertising would be treated just like political campaigning. Next failed to state a claim under Wisconsin law. “Whatever one can say about whether both gray paint and polished metal should be called ‘silver,’ or whether two circuit boards are as good as one, these are not ‘false assertions of specific unfavorable facts.’” View "Next Technologies, Inc. v. Beyond the Office Door LLC" on Justia Law
Lyngaas v. Curaden AG
Curaden AG, a Swiss entity, manufactures toothbrushes. Curaden USA, an Ohio corporation headquartered in Arizona, is a Curaden AG subsidiary and promotes Curaden AG products throughout the U.S. The two companies had not executed the standard written distribution agreement that typically governs the practices of Curaden AG’s subsidiary distributors. Curaden USA never presented its advertising materials to Curaden AG for review. Curaden USA purchased a list of thousands of dental professionals’ fax numbers and created the fax advertisements at issue, which displayed Curaden USA’s contact information without mention of Curaden AG. Curaden USA hired companies to send the faxes and paid for the transmission. Lyngaas, a Livonia dentist who had received two Curaden USA faxes, filed a purported class action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227. The Sixth Circuit affirmed that Lyngaas could not pierce the corporate veil to hold Curaden AG liable for Curaden USA’s action, that faxes received by a computer over a telephone line violated the TCPA, that it had personal jurisdiction over both Curaden entities, that Curaden USA violated the TCPA but that Curaden AG was not liable as a “sender,” and that Lyngaas’s evidence and expert-witness testimony concerning the total number of faxes successfully sent were inadmissible due to unauthenticated fax records. A claims-administration process was established for class members to verify their receipt of the unsolicited fax advertisements. View "Lyngaas v. Curaden AG" on Justia Law
Command Center v. Renewable Resources, et al.
Shawn Kluver and Little Knife Disposal, LLC (“Little Knife”), appealed an amended judgment entered after a bench trial that awarded Command Center, Inc., monetary damages, interest, attorney’s fees and costs against Renewable Resources, LLC, and Kluver, jointly and severally. The amended judgment also awarded Renewable Resources damages and interest against Kluver and Little Knife, jointly and severally, and ordered them to indemnify Renewable Resources for all damages, interest, attorney’s fees, and costs awarded to Command Center. Command Center provided temporary labor services. Command Center sued Renewable Resources in small claims court, claiming unpaid amounts totaling $14,631.20, relating to temporary labor services that Command Center provided under agreements with Renewable Resources. Renewable Resources removed the case to district court. Command Center obtained leave of court to file an amended complaint, naming Kluver and Little Knife as additional defendants. Kluver had been the manager of Renewable Resources. Although Renewable Resources was billed and had paid Command Center $20,000 for the temporary labor services, Renewable Resources alleged that the temporary labor services were provided for the benefit of Little Knife, and that Kluver did not have authority to contract on behalf of Renewable Resources for the temporary labor services that benefited Little Knife. On review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded that evidence presented at trial supported the district court’s findings of fact and, further, that Kluver and Little Knife were rearguing the evidence and challenging the district court’s weight and credibility determinations. "We will not second-guess the district court’s clear findings on appeal. On this record, we conclude the district court’s findings are not clearly erroneous." View "Command Center v. Renewable Resources, et al." on Justia Law