Articles Posted in Commercial Law

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Plaintiff defaulted after Defendant loaned Plaintiff money to buy a car. Defendant repossessed the vehicle and sent Plaintiff two notices in connection with its efforts to sell the car and collect any deficiency owed on the loan - a pre-sale notice and a post-sale notice. Plaintiff filed this putative class action claiming that the two notices violated the Uniform Commercial Code and Massachusetts consumer protection laws. Even though the parties did not request it, the First Circuit certified three questions to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court because the outcome of this case hinged entirely on questions of Massachusetts law that Massachusetts courts have not yet addressed. View "Williams v. American Honda Finance Corp." on Justia Law

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This dispute arose out of contract for the shipment of used tires from Puerto Rico to Vietnam. Because it arrived late to Vietnam, the shipment accrued port storage charges, demurrage charges, and related administrative fees. The district court granted summary judgment to the carrier, Mediterranean Shipping Co., concluding that Best Tire Recycling, Inc. was the shipper, and therefore, pursuant to the bills of lading, was liable to Mediterranean for unpaid ocean freight charges, shipping container demurrage, port storage, and related administrative fees. Best Tire appealed, arguing that the parties’ course of conduct overcame the presumption that Best Tire, who was identified as “shipper” on all of the bills of lading, bore liability. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that because Best Tire was designated as the shipper on the bills of lading, there were no genuine issues of material fact as to whether Best Tire was the shipper. View "Mediterranean Shipping Co. v. Best Tire Recycling, Inc." on Justia Law

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Creditor extended to Debtor a line of credit, and Debtor granted Creditor, pursuant to an agreement, a security interest in payments due to Debtor under an insurance policy. The agreement provided that Maine law governed all rights under the agreement. Insurer subsequently issued a commercial property insurance policy to Debtor. After a freight train owned by Debtor derailed, Creditor filed a claim under the policy, which Insurer denied. Debtor then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Creditor instituted an adversary proceeding seeking a declaration regarding the priority of its asserted security interest in any payments due under the policy. Insurer subsequently settled with Debtor and the trustee requiring Insurer to pay $3,800,000 to Debtor in satisfaction of all claims under the policy. Creditor objected to approval of the proposed settlement, arguing that the agreement granted it a first-priority security interest in the settlement. The bankruptcy court concluded that Debtor was entitled to the settlement proceeds free and clear of Creditor’s asserted interest because Creditor had failed to perfect its interest under Maine law. The bankruptcy appellate panel affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the courts below did not err in concluding that Debtor was entitled to the proposed settlement payment free and clear of Creditor’s asserted security interest. View "Wheeling & Lake Erie Ry. v. Keach" on Justia Law

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Cascade Yarns, Inc. (“Cascade”) sued Knitting Fever, Inc. (“KFI”) in federal district court in Washington asserting that KFI made false representations about the cashmere content of its yarns. During discovery, Cascade subpoenaed documents from a nonparty to the action, Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufactures Institute (“CCMI”), in Massachusetts. CCMI is a nonprofit corporation that offers confidential tests of the fiber content of cashmere samples to retailers and suppliers of cashmere and camel hair goods. Cascade sought CCMI’s correspondence with KFI and documents related to yarn distributed by KFI. Unsatisfied with the redacted documents CCMI produced, Cascade moved to compel CCMI’s compliance with the subpoena in Massachusetts federal district court. A magistrate judge denied the motion to compel, and the district court affirmed. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Cascade failed to overcome the high hurdle of showing the discovery order was both plainly wrong and resulted in substantial prejudice. View "Cascade Yarns, Inc. v. Knitting Fever, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellee, which manufactures and distributes specialized products for use in the defense, security, and aerospace industries, entered into a consultant agreement with Appellant, under which Appellant agreed to identify buyers for Appellee’s products. Three years later, Appellee acquired the rights to manufacture and sell RH1280B field-programmable gate array (“FPGA”)s, which are semiconductor integrated circuits that are used in satellites and other space equipment. Operating under the terms of the consultant agreement, Appellant found customers for RH1280B FPGAs, accepted delivery of the PFGAs, and resold the goods to its customers. Before Appellant accepted delivery, however, Appellee warned it that the RH1280Bs failed to meet certain specifications. Appellant subsequently refused to pay an outstanding balance of $1,800,000, alleging that Appellee breached its express warranty regarding the performance characteristics of the RH1280B. Thereafter, Appellee terminated the consultant agreement. The district court granted summary judgment in Appellee’s favor. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the district court correctly granted summary judgment in Appellee’s favor. View "BAE Sys. Info. & Elec. Sys. Integration, Inc. v. SpaceKey Components, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant bought a custom-made yacht with the help of a loan from Barclays Bank. When Defendant stopped making payments on the loan, Barclays repossessed the yacht and sold it pursuant to the Florida UCC. Barclays got less than what Defendant owed on the yacht, and therefore, Barclays sued Defendant for the deficiency. Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that Barclays was barred from recovering the deficiency because, in violation of the mortgage's terms, it did not provide Defendant with proper notice of the sale. The district court denied Defendant's motion and sua sponte granted summary judgment in favor of Barclays. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the notice Barclays provided to Defendant was sufficient. View "Barclays Bank PLC v. Poynter" on Justia Law

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For approximately a decade, Global NAPs, Inc. (GNAPs) had been engaged in litigation with Verizon New England, Inc. The dispute arose over access fees the companies owed each other. Verizon prevailed in the dispute in 2009, but the district court as of the date of this appeal was still overseeing a receivership sale to satisfy the judgment against GNAPs. In 2011, the district court entered a sale order authorizing the sale of assets to Quality Speaks, LLC. In 2012, the district court entered an order imposing an injunction against GNAPs' former principal, Frank Gangi, prohibiting Gangi from taking any action to interfere with the ability of the receiver to transfer purchased assets in connection with the sale, or to reduce the value of the purchased assets. Gangi appealed. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the injunction was plainly justified under longstanding equity principles. View "Global Naps, Inc. v. Verizon New England, Inc." on Justia Law

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House of Flavors purchased equipment from Tetra and executed an agreement with Tetra to fund its installation. Under the agreement, Tetra paid for the installation, House of Flavors then transferred ownership of the installed system to Tetra, and Tetra leased the system back to House of Flavors. After House of Flavors began monthly lease payments, it sought to exercise the buy back option a year early. Notwithstanding the twelve percent estimate it quoted earlier, Tetra quoted a purchase price around forty percent of the equipment and installation costs. House of Flavors filed suit in federal district court, where it prevailed on its claims. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed but remanded the case to reconsider the balance due between the parties. On remand, the judge recalculated the balance due and determined that, rather than owing House of Flavors, Tetra was in fact due $156,399. The First Circuit dismissed House of Flavors' appeal, holding (1) the attack on the recalculated figure was foreclosed by a jurisdictional objection, as the appeal was untimely; and (2) the appeal was jurisdictionally timely as to the district court's refusal to award attorneys' fees under a Utah statute, but the denial of attorneys' fees was affirmed. View "House of Flavors, Inc. v. TFG-Michigan, L.P." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sought damages resulting from a delayed delivery of perishable food items from Puerto Limón, Costa Rica to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The district court dismissed as time-barred by the statute of limitations in the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, 46 U.S.C. 30701. The First Circuit affirmed,rejecting and argument that the parties meant to incorporate COGSA solely for the purpose of limiting the carrier's liability to $500, per COGSA's limitation of liability provision and equitable arguments. View "Greenpack of PR, Inc. v. Am. President Lines" on Justia Law

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HSN sold through its website and television station about 70,000 "Esteban" guitars that it identified, inaccurately, as containing Fishman pickups. Esteban is the performance name used by musician Paul who, with his company Daystar, has collaborated with HSN since 2001 to market Esteban guitar packages. Fishman, manufacturer of the pickup at issue, which is attached to musical instruments for sound amplification, claimed trademark infringement and false advertising under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.1051, against HSN, Paul, and Daystar. The district court rejected the claims, finding that the violations were not "willful." The judge chose not to order disgorgement of profits. The First Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to evidentiary rulings and jury instructions. In federal civil litigation willfulness requires a conscious awareness of wrongdoing by the defendant or at least conduct deemed "objectively reckless" measured against standards of reasonable behavi View "Fishman Transducers, Inc. v. Paul" on Justia Law