Articles Posted in Contracts

by
Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, NCC, for breach of contract and alleging claims under the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act. Applying Nebraska's two-part test to determine whether an agreement was voidable as a product of duress, the court held that there was, at least, a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the threat of termination would support a claim of duress. Therefore, the court remanded for a determination of this factual issue. The court also held that, considering all relevant circumstances then existing and viewing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the Term Sheet was unjust and thus voidable as a product of duress given the alleged pressure brought to bear on him to sign the Mutual Rescission and Term Sheet. Therefore, the district court erred by granting summary judgment for NCC on the breach of contract claim. Likewise, the district court erred in granting summary judgment for NCC on the state law claim. View "Gilkerson v. Nebraska Colocation Centers" on Justia Law

by
Class representatives challenged the district court's denial of their motion to enforce the settlement agreement in a securities settlement, and the district court's denial of a subsequent motion to alter or amend. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and denied defendants' motion to dismiss. The court explained that this case continues to present a live controversy and the Stipulation explicitly granted that the district court would have continuing jurisdiction for the purposes of enforcing the agreement and addressing settlement administration matters. The court also held that the case was not prudentially moot where the district court has the ability to provide an effective remedy; the district court did not err in interpreting the Stipulation according to its unambiguous meaning and in holding that defendants complied with the Stipulation's payment obligations; and the district court did not err by holding that the meaning of the Stipulation was unambiguous as matter of law and, in doing so, the district court did not place a burden of proof on any party. View "Cromeans v. Morgan Keegan & Co." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against Scottsdale for coverage under a Business and Management Indemnity Policy. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Scottsdale, holding that Food Market presented no evidence providing notice over seven months was "as soon as practicable." Where, as here, notice is a condition precedent to coverage, a showing of prejudice was not required. Finally, the district court properly found the policy unambiguous; Scottsdale expressly relied on the notice provision when denying coverage; and there was no waiver. View "Food Market Merchandising v. Scottsdale Indemnity" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

by
Plaintiffs filed a class action against the Pegasus Pipeline's current owners and operators, Exxon, alleging that the company's operation of the pipeline was unreasonable and unsafe. The Eighth Circuit agreed with the district court's decision to decertify the class based on a lack of commonality of issues. In this case, the contract claims would require examination of how Exxon's operation of the pipeline affects plaintiffs, which varies depending on where individual class members' property was located, as well as many other factors. The Eighth Circuit also concluded that the evidence here was insufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether there was unreasonable interference. The court explained that the question of unreasonable use of an easement was generally one of fact, dependent on the nature of the easement, the terms of the grant, and other relevant circumstances. Finally, the district court did not clearly abuse its discretion by denying plaintiffs' motion to alter or amend the judgment where the additional evidence at issue would not have produced a different result. Accordingly, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the judgment. View "Webb v. Exxon Mobil" on Justia Law

by
Hanzada, an Egyptian company that imports and exports beef, appealed the jury verdict and judgment against it on plaintiff's breach of contract claim. The district court relied on the Seventh Circuit's widely adopted Sadat v. Mertes rule that only the American nationality of the dual citizen should be recognized for purposes of 28 U.S.C. 1332(a). The court concluded that the district court properly found diversity jurisdiction because plaintiff was a U.S. citizen and his Egyptian citizenship did not defeat jurisdiction. The court also concluded that the district court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over Hanzada where there was sufficient minimum contacts with Missouri for the Missouri long-arm statute to authorize personal jurisdiction. Finally, the district court properly found the statute of frauds inapplicable in this case where, under Missouri law, an oral contract for an indefinite period of time does not violate the statute of frauds. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Aly v. Hanzada for Import & Export Co." on Justia Law

by
Omega filed suit against Mayo, alleging claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The parties had entered into an Exclusive Patent License Agreement in which Omega, a start-up company, agreed to, among other things, pursue Mayo's pending patent application. After the patent application was abandoned when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied an elected group of claims as anticipated by prior art, Omega alleged damages because it relied on Mayo's pre-Agreement false representations. The court concluded that the Agreement and the patent application file squarely contradict Omega's general, conclusory allegation of reasonable reliance. Therefore, the district court properly dismissed these claims grounded in fraud for failure to state plausible claims of reasonable reliance. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "OmegaGenesis Corp. v. Mayo Foundation" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

by
The parties entered into a contract wherein John Lamoureux provided the necessary capital to MPSC, a start-up company, in exchange for a royalty fee every time the company used its patented service. After John died, his wife filed a breach of contract suit against MPSC for ceasing to make payments. The district court granted summary judgment to plaintiff, denying MPSC an at-will termination term. The court concluded that the express terms of the Investment Agreement compelled MPSC's continued performance. Because no principle of Minnesota state law or general contract law overrides the agreement's intent, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Lamoureux v. MPSC, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

by
Plaintiff and his corporate entity, Marken, Inc., filed suit alleging that FedEx breached contractual duties, engaged in fraud, and violated North Dakota's Franchise Investment Law, N.D.C.C. 51-19-02(5)(a), and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, N.D.C.C. 12.1-06.1-05. The district court dismissed the amended complaint. Determining that Pennsylvania law governs the construction of the Standard Operating Agreement (SOA) at issue, the court concluded that dismissal as to the first breach-of-contract claim was proper because the SOA had expired and the Independent Service Provider (ISP) Agreement governed the relationship between the parties. Furthermore, the plain text of the SOA foreclosed the claim. The court also concluded that plaintiff's second breach-of-contract claim was properly dismissed and rejected plaintiff's reading of the Background Statement of the SOA because plaintiff's reading ignores context and would lead to an absurd result. The court also concluded that plaintiff's fraud claims were properly dismissed because he failed to plead fraud with the specificity required by Rule 9(b); the district court properly dismissed the Franchise Investment Law claim because the amended complaint failed to plausibly allege that plaintiff was granted the right to offer or distribute services to customers; and plaintiff's state RICO claim was also properly dismissed because he failed to sufficiently plead facts for his fraud claims and Franchise Investment Law claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Neubauer v. FedEx" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

by
After a surgical procedure was performed on Elliot Kaplan as a result of a misdiagnosis, the Kaplans filed suit against Mayo for medical malpractice, breach of contract, lack of informed consent, and loss of consortium. The district court dismissed all claims against Dr. Nagorney, the surgeon who performed the medical procedure; the district court granted Mayo's motion for judgment as a matter of law on the breach-of-contract claim; and the jury returned a verdict for defendants on the malpractice claim. On appeal, the court upheld the jury verdict but vacated the judgment in favor of Mayo on the breach-of-contract claim, and held that the district court erred by requiring expert testimony to establish a contract breach and remanded the claim to trial. The district court subsequently entered judgment for Mayo. The court concluded that substantial evidence supports the district court's finding that Dr. Nagorney did not promise to do a biopsy of Elliot’s pancreas during the surgery and that no meeting of the minds occurred to form a contract. The court rejected plaintiffs' claim that this court, in Kaplan I, forbid defendants' use of expert testimony to establish a defense to the claim of a special contract in the performance of the operation. Because the district court committed no error, the court upheld the district court's factual findings. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Kaplan v. Mayo Clinic" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs filed a class action against TMBC, challenging TMBC's nationwide practice of charging a document fee when selling boats and trailers under form contracts governed by Missouri law. The district court approved class certification and then granted summary judgment to the class, awarding treble damages and attorney fees. The district court determined that TMBC prepared legal documents attendant to its sales and that charging a fee for those documents constituted unauthorized law business in violation of Mo. Rev. Stat. 484.010 and 484.020. Both parties appealed. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the class as ultimately defined met the requirements of Rule 23 and certifying the case as a class action; the district court did not err in granting the class members' motion for summary judgment or in calculating damages based upon the entire document fee; and the district court did not err in applying Missouri law to sales that occurred outside Missouri. Accordingly, the court affirmed as to these issues. The court then addressed plaintiffs' contention that the district court erred when it held that the attorneys’ fees should be paid from the common fund rather than paid by TMBC pursuant to the contractual fee-shifting provision, concluding that enforcement of the fee-shifting provision honors both the contract and the principles underlying the common fund doctrine. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings as to the award. The court noted that if the district court, on remand, should determine that counsel for the class is entitled to additional fees from the common fund, apart from those reasonable expenses covered by the fee-shifting provision, it is not prohibited from awarding additional fees. View "McKeage v. TMBC, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Class Action, Contracts