Justia Business Law Opinion Summaries

by
The case involves New England Auto Max, Inc., and others (the defendants), who are involved in a civil action where they unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the action for exceeding the $50,000 limit. The defendants then petitioned the Supreme Judicial Court for extraordinary relief, which was denied on the grounds that the defendants had an alternate avenue of appellate relief. The defendants appealed this decision.The case was initially heard in the District Court, where the defendants' motion to dismiss the action for exceeding the $50,000 limit was denied. The defendants then petitioned the Supreme Judicial Court for extraordinary relief, which was denied by a single justice on the grounds that the defendants had an alternate avenue of appellate relief. The defendants appealed this decision to the Supreme Judicial Court.The Supreme Judicial Court held that the single justice did not err or abuse his discretion in denying relief to the defendants. However, the court decided to exercise its discretion to address the question of law presented by the defendants. The court held that the defendants had a right to an interlocutory appeal to the Appellate Division of the District Court on the question of law they presented before the court. The court also concluded that the District Court judge erred in holding that the court could not look beyond a plaintiff's initial statement of damages in assessing whether there is a reasonable likelihood that recovery by the plaintiff will exceed $50,000. The case was remanded to the county court for entry of an order vacating the denial of the defendants' motion to dismiss and remanding to the District Court for further proceedings consistent with the court's opinion. View "New England Auto Max, Inc. v. Hanley" on Justia Law

by
In August 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) introduced the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, a color-coded, risk-based framework for managing restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Blueprint included restrictions on business activities, including customer capacity limitations. Plaintiffs, Central California businesses and their owners, filed suit against the Governor and others responsible for creating and enforcing the Blueprint, alleging that its creation and enforcement were unlawful. They claimed that the Governor and CDPH lacked statutory authority to implement the Blueprint, and that broadly interpreting the Emergency Services Act (ESA) and Health and Safety Code section 120140 conferred unfettered discretion on defendants to impose restrictions on businesses, violating the California Constitution’s non-delegation doctrine.The trial court denied plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to enjoin the enforcement of the Blueprint. On appeal, the court dismissed the appeal as moot because the Governor had rescinded the Blueprint. After this, the parties cross-moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted defendants’ motion and denied plaintiffs’ motion, holding that the Third District Court of Appeal’s decision in Newsom v. Superior Court (Gallagher) had rejected the same challenges to the Governor’s emergency powers that plaintiffs assert. The court entered judgment in defendants’ favor.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Fifth Appellate District affirmed the judgment. The court followed Gallagher and concluded it governs the outcome of this appeal. The court held that the ESA permitted the Governor to amend or make new laws and did not violate the constitutional separation of powers by delegating quasi-legislative power to the Governor in an emergency. The court also found that the ESA contained several safeguards on the exercise of the power, including that the Governor must terminate the state of emergency as soon as possible and that the Legislature may terminate the emergency by passing a concurrent resolution. View "Ghost Golf, Inc. v. Newsom" on Justia Law

by
The case involves 360 Virtual Drone Services LLC and its owner, Michael Jones, who sought to provide customers with aerial maps and 3D digital models containing measurable data. However, the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors argued that doing so would constitute engaging in the practice of land surveying without a license, in violation of the North Carolina Engineering and Land Surveying Act. Jones and his company sued the Board, arguing that the restriction on their ability to offer these services without first obtaining a surveyor’s license violates their First Amendment rights.The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Board. The court concluded that Jones had standing to challenge the statute based on his desire to create “two-dimensional and three-dimensional maps with geospatial data.” It also concluded that the Engineering and Land Surveying Act implicated the First Amendment. However, it found that the Act constituted “a generally applicable licensing regime that restricts the practice of surveying to those licensed” and primarily regulated conduct rather than speech, such that intermediate scrutiny applied. Finally, the court concluded that the Act survived intermediate scrutiny.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The appellate court concluded that the Act, as applied to the plaintiffs, was a regulation of professional conduct that only incidentally impacts speech. Therefore, it applied a more relaxed form of intermediate scrutiny that mandates only that the restriction be “sufficiently drawn” to protect a substantial state interest. The court found that the Act met this standard and therefore did not violate the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights. View "360 Virtual Drone Services LLC v. Ritter" on Justia Law

by
The case involves Nano Dimension Ltd., an Israeli 3D printing and manufacturing company, and several defendants including Murchinson Ltd. and Anson Advisors Inc. Nano alleged that the defendants violated Section 13(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by failing to disclose that they acted as a group when acquiring more than five percent of Nano’s American Depository Shares (ADSs). As a remedy, Nano sought an order directing the defendants to disclose their alleged group status on amended Schedule 13Ds and an injunction prohibiting them from acquiring additional ADSs or voting their existing ADSs pending completion of the amended filings.The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed Nano's claims as moot. The court found that the defendants had cured the alleged Section 13(d) violations by amending their Schedule 13D filings to disclose Nano’s allegations and their position that the allegations were without merit.The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The appellate court agreed that the defendants' amended filings satisfied Section 13(d)’s disclosure requirements. The court also rejected Nano's argument that it was entitled to retroactive injunctive relief, noting that such relief is not available under Section 13(d) when corrective disclosures have been made and the vote in question did not effect a change in control over the issuer. View "Nano Dimension Ltd. v. Murchinson Ltd." on Justia Law

by
A Lyft driver, Abdu Lkader Al Shikha, was attacked by a passenger who had a criminal record. Al Shikha sued Lyft for negligence, arguing that the company should conduct criminal background checks on all passengers, not just drivers. The trial court granted Lyft's motion for judgment on the pleadings, concluding that Lyft had no legal duty to conduct background checks on passengers.Al Shikha appealed, but the Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District Division Three affirmed the trial court's decision. The court found that Al Shikha failed to establish that Lyft's legal duty to its drivers extends to conducting criminal background checks on all riders. The court reasoned that such a duty would be highly burdensome and would not necessarily prevent violent attacks on drivers. The court also noted that the foreseeability of a passenger attacking a driver was not sufficiently high to warrant imposing this duty on Lyft.The court further noted that imposing a duty on Lyft to conduct criminal background checks on all passengers would raise significant concerns about consumer privacy and the potential for discrimination. The court concluded that Al Shikha's complaint failed to allege facts demonstrating that the type of harm he suffered was highly foreseeable, or that the failure to conduct criminal background checks on all passengers is sufficiently likely to result in a violent, unprovoked attack on a driver. View "Shikha v. Lyft, Inc." on Justia Law

by
This case involves a dispute between Jacam Chemical Company 2013, LLC (Jacam) and its competitor GeoChemicals, LLC, along with Arthur Shepard Jr., a former Jacam employee who later worked for GeoChemicals. Jacam sued both Shepard and GeoChemicals, alleging breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, and tortious interference with contracts. Shepard and GeoChemicals countersued Jacam. The district court granted a declaratory judgment to Shepard, concluding that he owed no contractual obligations to Jacam, and dismissed the remaining claims of Jacam and GeoChemicals.The district court had previously reviewed the case and granted summary judgment to Shepard, holding that he had no enforceable agreements with Jacam. The court also dismissed all of Jacam’s and GeoChemicals’s other claims against each other. Both Jacam and GeoChemicals appealed aspects of the summary judgment order.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court found that neither the HCS Agreement nor the 2015 version of CES’s Conduct Code created an enforceable contract between Jacam and Shepard. The court also held that Jacam did not make reasonable efforts to keep its pricing information secret, which means the pricing information documents were not trade secrets which Shepard could misappropriate. Finally, the court agreed with the district court that Jacam’s tortious-interference claim fails. The court also dismissed GeoChemicals’s cross-appeal, holding that Jacam did not commit an independently tortious act that interfered with GeoChemicals’s relationship with Continental. View "Jacam Chemical Co. 2013, LLC v. Shepard" on Justia Law

by
An elderly woman, Janice Geerdes, and her long-time friend, Albert Gomez Cruz, had a partnership raising hogs on a piece of land. Initially, Janice deeded half of her interest in the land to Albert. Over a decade later, she deeded the rest of her interest in the land to Albert, receiving nothing in return. About six months later, Janice’s adult daughters were appointed her conservator and guardian. The conservator challenged the validity of the quitclaim deed based on undue influence and lack of capacity.The district court set aside the deed, finding that there was undue influence through a confidential relationship and that Janice lacked the necessary capacity to deed her interest in the land. The court of appeals affirmed the decision on the basis of lack of capacity.The Supreme Court of Iowa, however, disagreed with the lower courts. The Supreme Court found that the conservator did not establish by clear, convincing, and satisfactory evidence that there was undue influence or that Janice lacked capacity at the time of the gift. The court found that the lower courts gave too much weight to the perceived improvidence of the transaction and too little weight to the testimony of the third-party accountant who witnessed the transaction. Therefore, the Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals, reversed the district court judgment, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Conservatorship of Janice Geerdes v. Cruz" on Justia Law

by
During the COVID-19 pandemic, John Svensen wrote a check to Jeff Hester's company, Ginesis, for several thousand bottles of hand sanitizer. The check bounced, leading Ginesis to sue Svensen and his company, Marketpointe, for the owed money. After a series of legal proceedings, Hester pressed charges against Svensen for the bad check, resulting in Svensen's arrest. The Lauderdale Circuit Court later dismissed the criminal complaint due to the statute of limitations, and Svensen subsequently sued Hester for malicious prosecution.The Lauderdale Circuit Court initially entered a default judgment against Svensen and Marketpointe for failing to answer Ginesis's complaint. After Svensen successfully vacated the default judgment, the court set a bench trial. However, Svensen did not appear, leading to another default judgment against him. After Svensen provided an excuse, the court vacated the default judgment and reset the trial. Meanwhile, Hester, on the advice of his attorney, took the bounced check to the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department, leading to Svensen's arrest.The Supreme Court of Alabama affirmed the circuit court's summary judgment in favor of Hester. The court found that Hester had probable cause to believe that Svensen had committed the crime of negotiating a worthless negotiable instrument, as it is a crime in Alabama to knowingly write someone a bad check. The court rejected Svensen's argument that Hester lacked probable cause because the one-year statute of limitations for misdemeanor offenses had expired. The court reasoned that the expiration of the limitations period does not affect whether the defendant actually committed the offense charged. View "Svensen v. Hester" on Justia Law

by
The case involves Leah Lorch, who filed a peremptory challenge against Judge Timothy B. Taylor, who was newly assigned to preside over her trial. Lorch's challenge was denied by Judge Taylor, who ruled that the challenge was untimely under the master calendar rule. This rule requires a party to file a challenge to the judge supervising the master calendar not later than the time the cause is assigned for trial. After the denial of the challenge, Judge Taylor proceeded with a two-day jury trial, which resulted in a defense verdict and judgment in favor of the defendant, Kia Motors America, Inc. Lorch then filed a petition within the statutory 10-day period, arguing that her challenge was timely because it was filed before the trial started.The trial court denied Lorch's peremptory challenge, ruling that it was untimely under the master calendar rule. The court also refused to stay the trial, and Judge Taylor immediately began a two-day jury trial, which resulted in a defense verdict and judgment in favor of Kia Motors America, Inc. Lorch then filed a petition within the statutory 10-day period, arguing that her challenge was timely because it was filed before the trial started.The Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District Division One, held that Lorch's section 170.6 challenge was timely filed before the commencement of the trial and rejected Kia's laches argument. The court also concluded that the Superior Court of San Diego County's local rule, which purports to provide any superior court judge with the power to act as a master calendar department for purposes of assigning cases for trial, is inconsistent with section 170.6 and case law interpreting the statute. The court granted the petition with directions to vacate the void orders and judgment entered by Judge Taylor after denying the peremptory challenge. View "Lorch v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

by
The case involves Gerald Forsythe, who filed a class action lawsuit against Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. and several of its officers. Forsythe claimed that he and others who purchased or acquired Teva securities between October 29, 2015, and August 18, 2020, suffered damages due to misstatements and omissions by Teva and its officers related to Copaxone, a drug used to treat multiple sclerosis. Teva's shares are dual listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.The District Court granted Forsythe's motion for class certification, rejecting Teva's assertion that the class definition should exclude purchasers of ordinary shares. The Court also rejected Teva's argument that Forsythe could not satisfy Rule 23(b)(3)’s predominance requirement.Teva sought permission to appeal the District Court’s Order granting class certification, arguing that interlocutory review is proper under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f). Teva contended that the Petition presents a novel legal issue and that the District Court erred in its predominance analysis with respect to Forsythe’s proposed class-wide damages methodology.The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit denied Teva's petition for permission to appeal. The court found that the securities issue did not directly relate to the requirements for class certification, and agreed with the District Court’s predominance analysis. The court also clarified that permission to appeal should be granted where the certification decision itself under Rule 23(a) and (b) turns on a novel or unsettled question of law, not simply where the merits of a particular case may turn on such a question. View "Forsythe v. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd" on Justia Law