Articles Posted in Contracts

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The Autoridad de Energia Electrica de Puerto Rico (PREPA) executed six contracts for the delivery of fuel oil. Vitol, Inc. was a party or assignee to the six contracts, each of which included a choice of law and forum selection clause stating that disputes concerning the contract shall be litigated in Puerto Rico state courts. After PREPA learned that Vitol, S.A. had pled guilty to first degree grand larceny it filed a complaint in a Puerto Rico Court against Vitol, Inc. and Vitol, S.A. alleging that two oil supply contracts it held with Vitol, Inc. were null due to Law No. 458 of December 29, 2000 and the Puerto Rico Civil Code. Invoking diversity jurisdiction, Defendants removed the claim to federal court. PREPA then filed a second complaint in a Commonwealth court regarding four additional oil supply contracts. The two cases were consolidated in federal court. The district court remanded the case to the Commonwealth court, concluding that the forum selection clauses applied to the dispute and, therefore, that the unanimity requirement of 28 U.S.C. 1446(b)(2)(A) could not be satisfied. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that remand was proper because the forum selection clauses were enforceable, and therefore, the unanimity requirement could not be met. View "Autoridad de Energia Electrica v. Vitol, Inc." on Justia Law

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This dispute between two businesses led to Plaintiff filing suit in federal court alleging various claims under Massachusetts law, two of which remained at issue on appeal. Those two claims were for breach of implied contract and violation of the Massachusetts catch-all consumer protection statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A. The district court denied Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff’s implied contract claims and on its chapter 93A claims. The jury found Defendant liable for breach of implied contract and for knowing and willful violation of chapter 93A. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the evidence in the record was sufficient to sustain the jury’s verdict; and (2) Defendant offered no meritorious argument for why the district court erred in submitting Plaintiff’s chapter 93A claim for damages to a jury in federal court. View "Full Spectrum Software, Inc. v. Forte Automation Systems, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law, Contracts

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Annalia Montany, a student in the University of New England’s (UNE) occupational therapy master’s degree program, injured her back when Scott McNeil, an instructor playing the role of a mock patient, feigned a fall while Montany attempted to assist him in transferring from a wheelchair into a bed. Because of her back problem she failed a practical exam and did not receive a passing grade for the course. Montany was subsequently dismissed from the program. Montany filed suit against UNE and McNeil, alleging negligence and breach of contract. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) contrary to Montany’s assertion, expert testimony was required in this case; and (2) Montany’s breach of contract claims failed. View "Montany v. University of New England" on Justia Law

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A plaintiff may not bring claims for damages under 42 U.S.C. 1981 against state actors, including defendants sued in their official capacities as government officials. The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff's section 1981 claims against employees of the City of Boston. Plaintiff, who represented the estate of her late father, challenged her father’s termination from his employment with the Department of Public Works. The district court dismissed the section 1981 claims, concluding that section 1981 provides no implied private right of action for damages against state actors. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Jett v. Dallas Independent School District compelled the result reached by the district court. View "Buntin v. City of Boston" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the grant of summary judgment to Defendant in this action for breach of contract. Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant alleging that in causing a $200,000 loan to be taken out against a life insurance policy, Defendant had violated the non-contravention agreement inducing the lender to enter into the loan agreement. The district court concluded that Defendant breached the non-contravention agreement but that he was immune from liability under a non-recourse provision in the loan agreement. In reversing, the First Circuit held that the terms of the non-contravention agreement applied to the facts of this case without nullification by the loan agreement’s non-recourse clause. View "Dukes Bridge LLC v. Beinhocker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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Gerardo Salvati died from injuries he sustained while doing maintenance work. Gerardo’s wife, Lucia (hereinafter referred to as Salvati) filed a lawsuit seeking damages for wrongful death and loss of consortium. The underlying defendants had a primary policy through Western World Insurance Company in the amount of $1 million and an excess policy through the American Insurance Company (AIC) in the amount of $9 million. AIC refused to provide coverage to the underlying defendants. Salvati and the underlying defendants eventually reached a $6 million settlement agreement. In exchange for tendering the full $1 million of the Western World primary insurance policy, the agreement released Western World and the underlying defendants from any further liability and assigned all rights held by the underlying defendants against AIC to Salvati. Thereafter, Salvati filed a complaint against AIC, alleging, inter alia, breach of contract and seeking a declaratory judgment that she was entitled to collect $5 million from AIC under the excess policy. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Salvati failed to show that the settlement agreement triggered AIC’s duty to indemnify; and (2) Salvati may not bring a claim under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 176D, and therefore, none of her causes of action survived. View "Salvati v. American Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued Debtor after Debtor defaulted on a loan. Plaintiff secured a default judgment in the amount of $137,030.78. Without making payment on the judgment, Debtor later filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Plaintiff commenced an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court seeking an order declaring the debt non-dischargeable. Specifically, Plaintiff claimed that the debt was within the purview of 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(2)(B), which exempts from discharge certain debts. Debtor answered the complaint and then moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Plaintiff then moved to amend her complaint to include an alternative claim that the debt was non-dischargeable under 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(2)(A). The bankruptcy court granted Debtor’s motion to dismiss and denied Plaintiff’s motion to amend. The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the First Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint and refusal to allow Plaintiff to add a section 523(a)(2)(A) claim to her complaint. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the section 523(a)(2)(B) claim was properly dismissed; and (2) an adequate basis existed for the bankruptcy court’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion to amend. View "Privitera v. Curran" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy, Contracts

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Arabian Support & Services Co. (ASASCO), a Saudi Arabian business, sought compensation for assisting Textron Systems Corporation in its pursuit of a weapons deal in Saudi Arabia. ASASCO claimed that Textron backed away from its promises to supplement the modest fees paid under the parties’ written consulting agreements through an “offset” arrangement linked to the weapons sale. ASASCO’s complaint alleged breach of contract, tortious interference with ASASCO’s business and contractual relationship, and violations of Chapter 93A, the Massachusetts Deceptive Trade Practices Act. After limited discovery, the district court granted summary judgment for Textron on all of ASASCO’s claims. The First Circuit vacated the summary judgment in part, holding that the district court erred in dismissing ASASCO’s Chapter 93A misrepresentation claim based solely on the failure of the contract claim. Remanded for further proceedings on ASASCO’s misrepresentation theory. View "Arabian Support & Services Co. v. Textron Systems Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought a lawsuit against their insurance carrier (Defendant), claiming that Defendant had incorrectly denied coverage. The case proceeded to a jury trial. The jury’s unanimous verdict was for Defendant. Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed a motion for a new trial after learning that the jury foreperson had a prior felony conviction, arguing that the juror was not qualified to serve on the jury under 28 U.S.C. 1865(b)(5). The district court denied the motion for a new trial, concluding that Plaintiffs had not shown that the juror’s service deprived them of a fundamentally fair trial. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the juror’s inclusion was not fatal to the jury’s verdict, and therefore, the district court properly denied Plaintiffs’ new-trial motion. View "Faria v. Harleysville Worcester Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In 2005, the Rhode Island Supreme Court found that title to the Regatta Club in Newport and the parcel of land on which it was constructed belonged to a group of condominium associations. Thereafter, the operator of the Regatta Club (Operator) voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Two of the title-holding associations (together, Associations) filed proofs of claim seeking relief for the Operator’s alleged trespass on their property between 1998 and 2005. The First Circuit affirmed the bankruptcy court’s finding that the Associations had impliedly consented to the Operator’s use and occupancy of the Regatta Club and remanded on the issue of whether there was an implied obligation that the Operator pay the Associations for its use and occupancy of the Club. On remand, the bankruptcy court found (1) there was no such implied-in-fact contract between the parties, and (2) the Associations were not entitled to relief under a theory of unjust enrichment. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) no implied-in-fact contract existed between the parties; and (2) the bankruptcy court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that inequity would not result if the Operator did not pay the Associations for the use and occupancy of the Regatta Club during the claim period. View "Goat Island South Condominium Ass’n v. IDC Clambakes, Inc." on Justia Law