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A county court judge granted Lisa Evans’s motion for a directed verdict in Michael Malouf’s tort-based lawsuit over boat repairs promised and paid for but allegedly never made. The judge dismissed the case after finding Malouf failed to prove Lisa and her deceased husband, a boat mechanic, had been in a partnership when doing business as Lake Harbour Marine. But in granting Lisa a directed verdict, the court wrongly gave Lisa, not Malouf, favorable evidentiary inferences drawn from Malouf’s testimony and did not take Malouf’s testimony as true, as was required before a trial judge can take a case away from a jury. The Mississippi Supreme Court concluded the trial judge also incorrectly found that insufficient proof of a partnership between Lisa and her husband was dispositive of all of Malouf’s tort claims - even those that did not hinge on the existence of a partnership. The Court found that when Malouf’s testimony and evidence was taken as true and he was given all reasonable inferences, the evidence at least created a jury issue on whether Lisa, as her husband’s partner, was liable for his actions in the boat-repair shop. It was also error for the county court and appellate court to cite the supposed lack of a partnership as reason to dismiss Malouf’s claims against Lisa individually for her own alleged fraudulent or negligent misrepresentations. The Court therefore reversed the trial court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Malouf v. Evans" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a dispute over a business deal between Management Registry, a large Kentucky staffing company, and a smaller staffing company it acquired under the brand "AllStaff." Some of the participants then formed a rival company, A.W. Companies. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of preliminary injunctive relief to Management Registry and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by determining that Management Registry had not met its burden of showing irreparable harm. Rather, Management Registry presented evidence suggesting the opposite: that an award of money damages would fully compensate it because its losses were quantifiable. Furthermore, Management Registry also failed to establish that it was likely to succeed on the merits of the ten claims it raised. View "Management Registry, Inc. v. A.W. Companies, Inc." on Justia Law

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Nicholas Olenik, a stockholder of nominal defendant Earthstone Energy, Inc., brought class and derivative claims against defendants, challenging a business combination between Earthstone and Bold Energy III LLC. As alleged in the complaint, EnCap Investments L.P. controlled Earthstone and Bold and caused Earthstone stockholders to approve an unfair transaction based on a misleading proxy statement. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, claiming the proxy statement disclosed fully and fairly all material facts about the transaction, and Earthstone conditioned its offer on the approval of a special committee and the vote of a majority of the minority stockholders. The Court of Chancery agreed with the defendants and dismissed the case. While the parties briefed this appeal, the Delaware Supreme Court decided Flood v. Synutra International, Inc. Under Synutra, to invoke the MFW protections in a controller-led transaction, the controller must “self-disable before the start of substantive economic negotiations.” The controller and the board’s special committee must also “bargain under the pressures exerted on both of them by these protections.” The Court cautioned that the MFW protections would not result in dismissal when the “plaintiff has pled facts that support a reasonable inference that the two procedural protections were not put in place early and before substantive economic negotiations took place.” So the Supreme Court determined the Court of Chancery held correctly plaintiff failed to state a disclosure claim. But, the complaint should not have been dismissed in its entirety: applying Synutra, which the Court of Chancery did not have the benefit of at the time of its decision, plaintiff pled facts supporting a reasonable inference that EnCap, Earthstone, and Bold engaged in substantive economic negotiations before the Earthstone special committee put in place the MFW conditions. The Court of Chancery’s decision was affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Olenik v. Lodzinski, et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) partially vacating the circuit court's judgment entering judgment against Plaintiffs in this action alleging that Defendants intentionally misrepresented the value of a limousine service, holding that some of the rulings of the trial court in this complex commercial dispute involving the sale of the business were in error. The Lacy Parties represented Goran and Ana Maria Pleho in purchasing the business. The transaction was completed in the name of Goran PLeho LLC (GPLLC). After the purchase, the Plehos and GPLLC (collectively, Pleho Parties) sued, alleging that Lacy Parties intentionally misrepresented the value of the business. The Supreme Court (1) vacated the circuit court's dismissal of Pleho Parties' intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims and the court's grant of judgment as a matter of law in favor of Lacy Parties on GPLLC's fraud and punitive damages claims; (2) vacated the ICA's judgment to the extent that it vacated the circuit court's order denying Lacy Parties' motion in limine; and (3) vacated the ICA's judgment to the extent that it affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Lacy Parties on the Pleho's unfair and deceptive trade practices claim. View "Goran Pleho, LLC v. Lacy" on Justia Law

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After JME filed five claims for compensation with the Settlement Program, the Settlement Program determined that JME was a "failed business" under the meaning of the Settlement Agreement and calculated JME's compensation according to the Failed Business Economic Loss framework. The district court then granted discretionary review and agreed that JME was a failed business under the Settlement Agreement. Applying de novo review, the Fifth Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that the district court misinterpreted the Settlement Agreement's first and third definition of a "failed business" and erroneously concluded that the Settlement Program correctly classified JME as a failed business because JME ceased operations and wound down, or otherwise initiated or completed a liquidation of substantially all of its assets. View "Claimant ID 100081155 v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc." on Justia Law

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Nicholas Olenik, a stockholder of nominal defendant Earthstone Energy, Inc., brought class and derivative claims against defendants challenging a business combination between Earthstone and Bold Energy III LLC. As alleged in the complaint, EnCap Investments L.P. controlled Earthstone and Bold and caused Earthstone stockholders to approve an unfair transaction based on a misleading proxy statement. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on several grounds, principal among them that the proxy statement disclosed fully and fairly all material facts about the transaction, and Earthstone conditioned its offer on the approval of a special committee and the vote of a majority of the minority stockholders. The Court of Chancery agreed with defendants and dismissed the case. Two grounds were central to the court’s ruling: (1) the proxy statement informed the stockholders of all material facts about the transaction; and (2) although the court recognized that EnCap, Earthstone, and Bold worked on the transaction for months before the Earthstone special committee extended an offer with the so-called MFW conditions, it found those lengthy interactions “never rose to the level of bargaining: they were entirely exploratory in nature.” Thus, in the court’s view, the MFW protections applied, and the transaction was subject to business judgment review resulting in dismissal. While this appeal was pending, the Delaware Supreme Court decided Flood v. Synutra International, Inc. Under Synutra, to invoke the MFW protections in a controller-led transaction, the controller must “self-disable before the start of substantive economic negotiations.” The controller and the board’s special committee must also “bargain under the pressures exerted on both of them by these protections.” The Court cautioned that the MFW protections will not result in dismissal when the “plaintiff has pled facts that support a reasonable inference that the two procedural protections were not put in place early and before substantive economic negotiations took place.” The Supreme Court determined the Court of Chancery held correctly that plaintiff failed to state a disclosure claim. But, the complaint should not have been dismissed in its entirety: applying Synutra and its guidance on the MFW timing issue, which the Court of Chancery did not have the benefit of at the time of its decision, plaintiff has pled facts supporting a reasonable inference that EnCap, Earthstone, and Bold engaged in substantive economic negotiations before the Earthstone special committee put in place the MFW conditions. The Supreme Court also found no merit to defendants’ alternative ground for affirmance based on EnCap’s supposed lack of control of Earthstone. The Court of Chancery’s decision was affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Olenik v. Lodzinski, et al." on Justia Law

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In this case brought by two members of an LLC against another member after the LLC sold valuable assets to a company owned by the defendant, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court denying the defendant's motion for summary judgment on the plaintiffs' claim that the defendant willfully failed to deal fairly with them while having a material conflict of interest, holding that there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether the defendant violated Wis. Stat. 183.0402(1). Daniel Marx and Michael Murray brought this action against Richard Morris, alleging that Morris violated the Wisconsin Limited Liability Company Law, Wis. Stat. ch. 183 and alleging a number of common-law claims involving improper self-dealing. Marx and Murray brought their claims in their individual LLC and personal capacities. The circuit court denied Morris's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded for further proceedings, holding (1) the members of an LLC have standing to assert individual claims against other members and managers of the LLC based on harm to the members or harm to the LLC; and (2) there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether Morris violated section 183.0402(1) by dealing unfairly with Marx and Murray, and potentially with regard to the common law claims. View "Marx v. Morris" on Justia Law

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Standing alone, a general disclaimer (still less a general merger clause) is not sufficient as a matter of law to preclude reasonable reliance on material factual misrepresentations, even by a sophisticated investor. FIH appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing federal securities law claims against defendants. The district court concluded as a matter of law that FIH could not have reasonably relied on the alleged misrepresentations, because such reliance was precluded by a general merger clause in Foundation's agreement, incorporated by reference into the subscription agreements by which FIH had invested in Foundation. However, the Second Circuit held that the merger clause did not as a matter of law preclude FIH's reasonable reliance on the alleged misrepresentations. The court also held that the district court did not err nor abuse its discretion in excluding as untimely an expert report. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "FIH, LLC v. Foundation Capital Partners, LLC" on Justia Law

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This case involved ten years of litigation regarding an attempt to simultaneously sell a restaurant and license associated intellectual property. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling that the Bill of Sale assigned all Camellia Grill Trademark rights to Hicham Khodr; affirmed the district court's ruling that the Bill of Sale assigned the trade dress associated with the Carrollton restaurant; affirmed the district court's finding that infringement damages were unwarranted; reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment on the trade-dress breach of contract claim and remanded for proceedings to determine if Khodr breached the License Agreement by using the alleged trade dress at the Chartres restaurant; and affirmed the district court's compensable damages ruling. View "Uptown Grill, LLC v. Camellia Grill Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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In December 2007, Kia Motors America, Inc. (Kia) and TS & A Motors, LLC d/b/a Kia of Somersworth (Somersworth) entered into a Dealer Sales and Service Agreement (Dealer Agreement), which governed the franchise relationship between the parties. Under this agreement, Somersworth was required to employ certain parts and service personnel. In 2011 and Kia sent a series of letters notifying Somersworth of perceived staffing and training deficiencies. These letters referenced Somersworth’s failure to meet technician training requirements in 2009 and 2010, to adequately staff and train personnel in its parts and service department, and to meet the minimum number of technicians required to participate in Kia’s “Optima Hybrid Program.” During Somersworth’s tenure as a dealer, Kia employees overseeing Somersworth made note of its high employee turnover rates. The Board determined that over the course of its operations as a dealer, Somersworth violated the provision of the Dealer Agreement that required certain parts and service personnel “on an almost constant basis.” Kia management worked with Somersworth to remedy its staffing deficiencies. It sent numerous written notifications to Somersworth referencing the inadequacy of its parts and service staffing, met with Somersworth to discuss its concerns over staffing, and gave Somersworth the “benefit of the doubt” when the dealer promised to hire the appropriate number of staff members. Somerset appealed a superior court decision to affirm a New Hampshire Motor Vehicle Industry Board ruling that Kia properly terminated its franchise agreement with Somersworth. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the Board's decision. View "TS & A Motors, LLC v. Kia Motors America, Inc." on Justia Law