Justia Business Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
Katz v. Belveron Real Estate Partners, LLC
The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Defendant and dismissing Plaintiff's claims for fraud, civil conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment, holding that Plaintiff failed to make a sufficient showing on essential elements of her case.In 2014, Plaintiff sold her special limited partnership interests in an affordable housing property for $1.5 million. In 2016, the property sold for $11.7 million. Plaintiff brought this lawsuit alleging claims for civil conspiracy, fraud, unjust enrichment, and breach of fiduciary duty, alleging that she was fraudulently led to believe that Defendant had power over the property and would block any attempt to sell or refinance it. The district court entered summary judgment for Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to establish that Defendant intentionally misrepresented the value of the property and Plaintiff's special interest; and (2) Plaintiff's remaining causes of action were unsuccessful in the absence of wrongdoing or foreseeable damages. View "Katz v. Belveron Real Estate Partners, LLC" on Justia Law
Construction Industry & Laborers Joint Pension Trust v. Carbonite, Inc.
The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' securities fraud class action alleging that Carbonite, Inc. and certain current and former officers misled investors by touting a new product that they knew did not work, holding that the complaint sufficiently pleaded a claim.Plaintiffs, the Construction Industry and Laborers' Joint Pension Trust and other holders of Carbonite's common stock, brought this complaint seeking recovery under sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which the district court allowed. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the complaint sufficiently pled that Defendants' statements were material misrepresentations made with scienter. View "Construction Industry & Laborers Joint Pension Trust v. Carbonite, Inc." on Justia Law
Diaz Mayoral v. Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the Title III court holding that Claimants, who invested in mutual funds that owned bonds issued by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and filed proofs of claim in the Commonwealth's Title III case, lacked standing to recover damages directly from the Commonwealth for losses suffered by the mutual funds, holding that there was not a basis in law for this lawsuit.The Claimants alleged that they had a right to recover damages directly from the Commonwealth for losses suffered by the mutual funds in those investments. The title III court concluded that Claimants lacked standing because they did not own any bonds issued by the Commonwealth and that the Claimants' ownership interest in the mutual funds did not give them a right to recover against the Commonwealth. The Title III court subsequently denied the Claimants' motions for reconsideration. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the Title III court did not err in its standing analysis, either in its initial decision disallowing the Claimants' claims or in its consideration of the two motions for reconsideration. View "Diaz Mayoral v. Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico" on Justia Law
Woo v. Spackman
In this appeal concerning the scope and reach of 28 U.S.C. 1963 - a statute permitting the registration of certain judgment in a federal district court - the First Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment concluding that the New York state court judgment proffered by Plaintiff did not come within the statutory sweep and that no other cognizable basis for federal subject-matter jurisdiction had been shown, holding that the district court did not err.Plaintiff sought recognition of a Korean judgment in New York. A New York court recognized the Korean judgment and entered a judgment in Plaintiff's favor for more than $13 million. When the New York judgment went unpaid, Plaintiff filed the judgment in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Defendants moved to quash, arguing that the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because 28 U.S.C. 1963 only authorized district courts to register judgments of other federal courts and not state court judgments. The district court agreed and dismissed the matter for want of subject-matter jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) section 1963 does not authorize federal courts to register state-court judgments; and (2) there were no independent grounds for federal jurisdiction here. View "Woo v. Spackman" on Justia Law
Primarque Products Co. v. Williams West & Witt’s Products Co.
In this appeal and cross-appeal stemming from litigation that followed the termination of an almost forty-year business relationship between a company that manufactured and supplied soup base products (Manufacturer) and a company that distributed them (Distributor), the First Circuit reversed in part and vacated in part Distributor's appeal and affirmed in Manufacturer's cross appeal, holding that the district court erred in part.Following a trial, the jury awarded Distributor $255,000 in damages for its state law breach of contract and tortious interference with business relationships claims against Manufacturer. The district court granted summary judgment to Manufacturer on Distributor's claim against it under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A and to Manufacturer on its counterclaim for breach of contract, for which the court awarded Manufacturer $97,843 in damages. The First Circuit held that the district court (1) erred in granting summary judgment on the Chapter 93A claim; (2) erred in striking as duplicative the jury's damages award on Distributor's breach of contract claim; (3) erred in denying Distributor prejudgment interest on the damages award it received on the tortious interference with business relations claim; and (4) erred in denying Distributor's offset request. View "Primarque Products Co. v. Williams West & Witt's Products Co." on Justia Law
Kelly v. Riverside Partners, LLC
In this breach of contract action, the First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Defendants on all of Plaintiff's claims and all of Defendants' counterclaims, holding that, based on Plaintiff's waivers, summary judgment was appropriate.Plaintiff was the president of a company that Defendant Riverside Partners, LLC directed one of its portfolio companies to acquire. Defendant Steven Kaplan was a General Partner at Riverside. Plaintiff brought suit alleging that he had an oral side agreement under which Kaplan and Riverside would pay Defendant $1 million if the portfolio company acquired the company and that Defendants did not pay him. Defendant denied that any such side deal existed and counterclaimed for indemnification for breach of certain representations and warranties that Plaintiff had made. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants and awarded Defendants attorneys' fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff waived enforcement of the APA's forum selection clause; (2) Defendants' indemnification claim was ripe; and (3) based on Plaintiff's waivers, the indemnification claim provided a complete defense to Plaintiff's claims and indemnification of attorneys' fees. View "Kelly v. Riverside Partners, LLC" on Justia Law
Paraflon Investments, Ltd. v. Fullbridge, Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court ruling against Paraflon Investments, Ltd. on its state-law misrepresentation claims against Fullbridge, Inc. and its principals, Peter Olson and Candice Olson, holding that there was no clear error in the district court's determinations.Fullbridge sought investments from Paraflon regarding a project involving the production of online training courses. After its investment deteriorated, Paraflon brought suit against Fullbridge and the Olsons in federal district court, alleging federal securities fraud claims and common law claims for, inter alia, negligent misrepresentation,and fraudulent misrepresentation. After the case was transferred to the District of Massachusetts the court ruled against Paraflon, finding that Fullbridge did not knowingly or intentionally make a false statement. Paraflon appealed, challenging the district court's disposition of the state-law misrepresentation claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) there was no clear error in the district court's determination that Fullbridge had a good faith belief that it had received a lucrative award from a third party related to the project; and (2) there was no clear error in the court's determination that Fullbridge's good-faith belief was objectively reasonable based on its experience with the third-party and what it knew at the time of Paraflon's investment. View "Paraflon Investments, Ltd. v. Fullbridge, Inc." on Justia Law
Imamura v. General Electric Co.
In this class action lawsuit stemming from the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP) in Japan, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts dismissing Plaintiffs' suit under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that an adequate alternative forum was available in Japan.Plaintiffs were individuals and business entities who suffered property damage and/or economic harm as a result of the FNPP disaster. Plaintiffs filed suit against General Electric Company (GE) alleging that GE negligently designed the FNPP's nuclear reactors and safety mechanisms, both of which were implicated in the explosions. Plaintiffs alleged that venue was proper in the District of Massachusetts because GE maintained its corporate headquarters and principal place of business in Boston, Massachusetts. The district court dismissed the suit under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, determining that an adequate alternative forum was available to Plaintiffs in Japan and that dismissal was in the private and public interest. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Japan satisfied the forum availability requirement despite the jurisdictional idiosyncrasies presented in this case. View "Imamura v. General Electric Co." on Justia Law
Furtado v. Oberg
The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court entering summary judgment against Plaintiff Jay Furtado and in favor of Defendants, attorney Amy Page Oberg and the law firm DarrowEverett LLP, and dismissing Plaintiff's claims of legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and misrepresentation, holding that summary judgment was properly granted.Plaintiff was one of three members of a limited liability company (LLC) for a gym. In 2008, Plaintiff engaged Oberg to help to establish the LLC. After the LLC stopped operations, Plaintiff brought this action. The district court entered summary judgment for Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, even if there were any doubt that Plaintiff had waived on appeal an argument that a reasonable jury could find that a breach by Defendants proximately caused his harm, this Court would still conclude that summary judgment was proper in this case. View "Furtado v. Oberg" on Justia Law
Sun Capital Partners III, LP v. New England Teamsters & Trucking Industry Pension Fund
In this case concerning the potential liability of two private equity funds for pension fund withdrawal owed by a company owned by the two funds when the company went bankrupt, the First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court holding the two funds jointly and severally responsible for the company's withdrawal liability, holding that summary judgment should be granted to the two funds.At issue was whether two private equity funds, Sun Capital Partners III, LP (Sun Fund III) and Sun Capital Partners IV, LP (Sun Fund IV), were liable for $4.5 million in pension fund withdrawal liability owed by a brass manufacturing company that was owned by the Sun Funds when the manufacturing company went bankrupt. Under the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act, the issue of liability depended on whether the two funds had created an implied partnership-in-fact that constituted a control group. That question, in turn, depended on the application of the partnership test in Luna v. Commissioner, 42 T.C. 1067 (1964). The district court that there was an implied partnership-in-fact constituting a control group. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the Luna test was not met in this case and that there was no firm indication of congressional intent to impose liability on the private investors. View "Sun Capital Partners III, LP v. New England Teamsters & Trucking Industry Pension Fund" on Justia Law