Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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Tawas, Michigan hosts an annual festival called “Perchville.” Its Chamber of Commerce obtained federal trademark registration for the term “Perchville,” in 2003. Trading Post allegedly was selling merchandise depicting the term “Perchville.” The Chamber filed suit against Agnello, a Trading Post employee, and obtained an ex parte injunctive order prohibiting sales of t-shirts with the mark, which stated: “this order shall be binding upon the parties to this action, their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys and on those persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of this order by personal service [or] otherwise.” Agnello appeared at a hearing without an attorney, indicated that he had spoken to Trading Post's partial owner about the lawsuit, but repeatedly stated that he was confused. Agnello consented to a permanent injunction. The judge stated that the order would be binding on anyone acting in concert with Agnello. Trading Post filed suit, challenging the Chamber’s trademark of “Perchville.” The district court found the challenge barred by res judicata because a final determination on the merits occurred in the state court. The Sixth Circuit reversed. There may be circumstances when an employee’s interests are so aligned with his employer as to be in privity for purposes of res judicata, that was not true here. Agnello was an hourly employee given a few days’ notice of an injunction. View "AuSable River Trading Post, LLC v. Dovetail Solutions, Inc." 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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In 2004, Baker Lofts purchased an abandoned building for renovation. Loans of more than $5 million from Huntington were secured by two mortgages on the building and by personal property, including a tax-increment-financing agreement, rental income, and Baker’s liquor license. Baker defaulted in 2011. Huntington assigned the 2005 mortgage to its subsidiary, Fourteen, which foreclosed by public auction. The Notice stated that “[t]he balance owing on the Mortgage is $5,254,435.04,” but did not mention the senior 2004 mortgage, which Huntington retained. Fourteen, the only bidder, purchased the property for $1,856,250. Huntington released the 2004 mortgage. Fourteen sold the property for $2,355,000. Huntington thought that Baker still owed $3.5 million and invoked its security interests in the remaining collateral. At a public sale, Huntington bought the rights to Baker's tax-increment-financing agreement for $1,107,000; began collecting rents; and asserted its security interest in the liquor license, which Baker had sold before it declared bankruptcy. Assignees of Baker's legal claims sought a declaratory judgment that the sale of the building extinguished all of Baker’s debt. They also raised conversion and tortious interference claims and a claim under Michigan’s secured transactions statute. The Sixth CIrcuit affirmed Huntington's judgment. The district court correctly concluded that Baker’s debt exceeded the value of the foreclosed building and that excess permitted Huntington to take possession of the other property securing its loans. View "DAGS II, LLC v. Huntington National Bank" on Justia Law

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Great Lakes Brewing sought to end its relationship with one of its distributors, Glazer’s., after it executed a corporate merger without seeking Great Lakes’ consent, as required by their contract. Glazer’s successor corporation sought to preliminarily enjoin the impending termination, arguing that the contract’s consent requirement was invalid under the Ohio Alcoholic Beverages Franchise Act, Ohio Rev. Code 1333.82–87. The district court agreed and found that the remaining equities weighed in favor of granting the preliminary injunction. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Because the parties’ consent provision is valid under state law, the distributor had no likelihood of success on the merits. Far from prohibiting such provisions section 1333.84(F) actually anticipates that parties will include such provisions in their written franchise agreements; the fact that it requires manufacturers to “act in good faith in accordance with reasonable standards for fair dealing” regarding the sale of a distributor’s business necessarily implies that manufacturers can have a say over the transaction. View "Southern Glazer's Distributors of Ohio, LLC v. Great Lakes Brewing Co." on Justia Law

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Michigan Flyer provides public transportation services to the Detroit Metro area and provides services on behalf of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. In 2014, two disabled individuals sued the Wayne County Airport to prevent it from moving the public transportation bus stop from the curbside at the terminal. Michigan Flyer provided support to the disabled individuals in the lawsuit. Michigan Flyer alleges that after the lawsuit settled, the Airport retaliated against it by extending preferential access to all other transportation providers. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of its suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act Title V provisions, 42 U.S.C. 12203(a); the district court’s refusal to reopen the case pursuant to FRCP 59; and denial of the Airport’s motion for attorney’s fees. The statute’s use of the term “individual” is unambiguous and does not include corporations, such as Michigan Flyer. View "Michigan Flyer, LLC v. Wayne County Airport Authority" on Justia Law