Justia Business Law Opinion Summaries
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
Agstar Financial Services v. Northwest Sand & Gravel
In 2007 and 2008, AgStar Financial Services (AgStar), now Compeer Financial FLCA (Compeer), loaned substantial sums of money to Northwest Sand and Gravel, Inc., Gordon Paving Company, Inc., and Blackrock Land Holdings, LLC (collectively, "Gordon Paving.") As a result of financing these loans, AgStar became a secured creditor of Gordon Paving. In 2012, Gordon Paving defaulted on its $10 million obligation to AgStar, which then resulted in AgStar obtaining a judgment of foreclosure on various parcels of real property Gordon Paving owned. The district court also entered an order allowing the sale of virtually all of Gordon Paving’s business equipment to further satisfy the debt. Gordon Paving appealed the district court’s decision which allowed AgStar to sell the business equipment. In "AgStar I," the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order allowing AgStar to liquidate Gordon Paving’s business equipment, but this decision came long after the business equipment had already been sold at auction. On remand, the district court determined that the correct remedy for Gordon Paving was an award of restitution in the amount of the gross proceeds of the sale plus interest from the date of the sale based on its interpretation of Idaho Code section 28-22-104. Compeer appealed the district court’s order denying it an offset for expenses its predecessor, AgStar, incurred in liquidating Gordon Paving’s business equipment. Compeer also appealed the district court’s order awarding Gordon Paving prejudgment interest on the restitution award from the date the collateral was sold. After review, the Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order denying Compeer an offset for the auctioneer’s expenses incurred which were never received by AgStar. The Court affirmed the district court’s order awarding Gordon Paving prejudgment interest; however, the district court’s decision allowing prejudgment interest to run from the date of the sale was vacated. View "Agstar Financial Services v. Northwest Sand & Gravel" on Justia Law
San Francisco CDC LLC v. Webcor Construction L.P.
The Contractors’ State License Law (Bus. & Prof. Code 7031), allows any person who utilizes the services of unlicensed building contractors to sue for disgorgement of all compensation paid for the performance of any act or contract, even when the work performed is free of defects. CDC brought a section 7031(b) claim for disgorgement against Obayashi in 2017, more than eight years after the completion of construction of the InterContinental Hotel in San Francisco. The issue of licensure came to light during litigation concerning construction defects.The trial court dismissed, citing Code of Civil Procedure 340(a), the one-year limitations period for statutory forfeiture or penalty causes of action. The court of appeal affirmed. The one-year statute of limitations applies to disgorgement claims brought under section 7031, and the discovery rule and other equitable doctrines do not. Even if such doctrines applied to statutory disgorgement claims, they would not apply under the circumstances presented under the pleadings. The court also upheld the trial court’s award of $231,834 in contractual attorney fees; the parties’ agreement contemplated the recovery of attorney fees for non-contractual causes of action that are initiated because of an alleged breach of the parties’ contract. View "San Francisco CDC LLC v. Webcor Construction L.P." on Justia Law
Tetragon Financial Group Limited v. Ripple Labs Inc.
In this expedited contractual dispute, the Court of Chancery granted summary judgment in favor of defendant Ripple Labs, Inc., holding that Ripple was entitled to summary judgment.Ripple, an enterprise blockchain company, executed a stockholders' agreement with Tetragon Financial Group, Ltd., an investment company that held a majority of Ripple's Series C preferred stock, memorializing Tetragon's investment and status as "Lead Purchaser." Pursuant to the agreement Tetragon had a reception right that was triggered upon a "Securities Default," upon which Tetragon may demand redemption of its shares via a "Redemption Request." At issue was whether certain actions by the SEC constituted a "Securities Default" under the agreement. The Court of Chancery granted summary judgment for Ripple, holding that certain SEC processes satisfied the definition of "Securities Default." View "Tetragon Financial Group Limited v. Ripple Labs Inc." on Justia Law
Deal v. Tugalo Gas Company, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit against Tugalo, his cousin and Tugalo President Thomas Gilmer, and Tugalo's directors in a 17-count complaint, alleging that Gilmer misappropriated corporate funds and that the company's board let it happen. The district court rejected plaintiff's substantive claims and declined to adjudicate three equitable claims.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decisions to grant summary judgment to Tugalo on plaintiff's fraud claim for lack of evidence of justifiable reliance (and, separately, to deny plaintiff's motion to defer ruling on the fraud claim). The court also affirmed the district court's decision to deny plaintiff's request to amend his complaint after the pleading-amendment deadline. However, the court reversed the district court's decision to abstain under the Burford abstention doctrine from adjudicating plaintiff's judicial-dissolution count. In this case, there was, and is, no ongoing state administrative proceeding or, for that matter, even any preexisting action by a Georgia state court or executive official to dissolve Tugalo. The court remanded for consideration of that count along with his other two equitable counts. View "Deal v. Tugalo Gas Company, Inc." on Justia Law
Conboy v. United States Small Business Administration
The Appellants, with a $594,000 Small Business Administration loan, bought a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania property that became a pub. They executed a note, mortgage, and unconditional guarantees, providing that federal law would control the enforcement of the note and guarantees and that they could not invoke any state or local law to deny their obligations. The Appellants defaulted on the loan and sold the property. The SBA allowed the sale to proceed but declined to release the Appellants from their loan obligations, which were assigned to CBE for collection. The Appellants sued, citing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. 1681, and the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL). CBE sought sanctions under Federal Rules 11 and 37, arguing that the Appellants brought frivolous claims and disobeyed discovery orders. The Appellants filed an untimely brief opposing sanctions and summary judgment, which did not include the separate responsive statement of material facts required by Local Rule. The district court granted summary judgment and denied the sanctions motions, reasoning that neither FDCPA not UTPCPL applies to commercial debts and the Appellants identified no material facts supporting their other claims. The Third Circuit affirmed and granted CBE FRAP 38 damages. The Appellants filed a brief that was essentially a copy of the one filed in the district court. The substance of their appeal “is as frivolous as its form.” View "Conboy v. United States Small Business Administration" on Justia Law
101 Ocean Blvd., LLC v. Foy Insurance Group, Inc.
Defendant Foy Insurance Group, Inc. appealed a jury's verdict rendered in favor of the plaintiff, 101 Ocean Blvd., LLC (Ocean), finding that Foy was negligent for failing to advise Ocean to purchase sufficient insurance coverage to rebuild a hotel, damaged in a 2015 fire, in compliance with the current building code and awarding damages to Ocean. After review of the superior court record, the New Hampshire Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed the trial court's denial of Foy's motions for a directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict. View "101 Ocean Blvd., LLC v. Foy Insurance Group, Inc." on Justia Law
Planet Bingo LLC v. The Burlington Ins. Co.
An electronic gaming device designed and supplied by Planet Bingo, LLC caused a fire in the United Kingdom. Several third parties made demands that Planet Bingo pay their damages resulting from the fire. However, Planet Bingo’s liability insurer, the Burlington Insurance Company (Burlington), denied coverage. Planet Bingo filed this action for breach of contract and bad faith against Burlington. In a previous appeal, the Court of Appeal held that Burlington’s policy did afford coverage, though only if one of the third-party claimants filed suit against Planet Bingo in the United States or Canada. Such a suit was then filed. Burlington accepted the defense and managed to settle the suit for its policy limits. In this action, the trial court granted summary judgment for Burlington, ruling that Burlington had provided all of the benefits due under the policy. Planet Bingo appealed, contending that Burlington conducted an inadequate investigation, and that Burlington wrongfully failed to settle the third-party claims, instead, denying coverage in the hope that the claimants would sue Planet Bingo in the United Kingdom, which would have let Burlington off the coverage hook. Planet Bingo claimed (and Burlington did not dispute) that it lost profits because the fire claims remained pending and unsettled. The Court of Appeal held Planet Bingo made out a prima facie case that Burlington was liable for failure to settle. Even though none of the claimants made a formal offer to settle within the policy limits, one subrogee sent a subrogation demand letter; according to Planet Bingo’s expert witness, in light of the standards of the insurance industry, this represented an opportunity to settle within the policy limits. The Court therefore did not address Planet Bingo’s claim that Burlington conducted an inadequate investigation. The Court also did not decide whether lost profits were recoverable as damages, because this issue was not raised below. View "Planet Bingo LLC v. The Burlington Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Dunne v. Resource Converting, LLC
After plaintiff purchased licenses for RCI non-thermal, pulverizing, and drying system technology (PAD), he alleged that the capabilities of the PAD System were misrepresented to him. Two federal law suits were filed, one in Iowa and one in Missouri.In this consolidated appeal, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the Iowa judgment, rejecting RCI's argument that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the jury awarded no compensatory damages. The court concluded that punitive damages were recoverable under Iowa law because the jury necessarily found that plaintiff suffered actual damages when it found fraudulent misrepresentation. Furthermore, the jury could award punitive damages without an award of compensatory damages, and the punitive award was not unconstitutionally excessive. The court also concluded that plaintiff is not entitled to equitable relief and the district court neither erred or abused its discretion as to plaintiff's equitable counterclaims. Finally, the court found that the method used and reasons given by the district court for the reduction in costs were well within its discretion, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorney fees.The court remanded the Missouri judgment for further proceedings, concluding that the district court erred by applying federal law, rather than Iowa law, to determine whether plaintiff's claim was precluded. The district court also erred by determining that Missouri law on the economic loss doctrine would bar plaintiff's misrepresentation claims. The court also noted that plaintiff's conspiracy claim should be reinstated and the district court's attorneys' fee award to Resource as the prevailing party is set aside. View "Dunne v. Resource Converting, LLC" on Justia Law