Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Contracts
Watchous Enterprises v. Mournes, et al.
In 2016 Watchous Enterprises, LLC contracted with one of the five individual defendant companies, Pacific National Capital, paying it a $7,600 nonrefundable deposit to secure help finding a lender or a joint-venture partner. Pacific introduced Watchous to companies affiliated with Waterfall Mountain LLC (collectively referred to as "Waterfall"). Watchous and Waterfall eventually executed a letter of intent to enter into a joint venture to which Waterfall would contribute more than $80 million. As part of the arrangement, Watchous paid Waterfall a $175,000 refundable deposit. Waterfall said that it would fund the venture through proceeds of loans backed by billions of dollars in Venezuelan sovereign bonds in the name of Waterfall or its lender (RPB Company). But Waterfall never funded Watchous, and Watchous was never refunded the $175,000. Watchous then filed suit under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and common-law claims under Kansas law against Pacific and Waterfall as well as against the five Appellants sued individually. The district court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Watchous on its fraud claims (leaving damages for the jury to decide), essentially on the ground that Appellants misrepresented and failed to disclose “the historic and contemporary facts about Waterfall’s dubious finances, loan defaults, and consistent lack of success in funding similar projects.” Watchous’s remaining claims proceeded to trial, where a jury found that Appellants engaged in a civil conspiracy to defraud Watchous, and had violated RICO. Appellants appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Watchous Enterprises v. Mournes, et al." on Justia Law
Tiffany Builders, LLC v. Delrahim
At a coffee shop in Calabasas, David Delrahim made Edwart Der Rostamian a business proposal. Rostamian got his notebook, asked a server for a pen, and worked with Delrahim to compose two pages of text. When they were done, each man signed the paper. Rostamian later sued Delrahim on contract claims. The trial court granted Delrahim’s motion for summary judgment, ruling the Calabasas writing was too indefinite to be a contract. The Second Appellate District affirmed the order dismissing the tortious interference causes of action. The court reversed as to the breach of contract, specific performance, and unfair business practices causes of action. The court explained that before Rostamian and Delrahim wrote and signed the Writing, their discussions were freewheeling and wide-ranging. Rostamian was “under contract” and in escrow with Mekhail, so one possible form of the deal would be to complete the escrow and thus to make Rostamian the intermediate buyer, who then would sell to Delrahim, who would become the ultimate buyer. Another possibility was for Delrahim to “replace” Rostamian in the escrow, thus again making Delrahim the ultimate buyer. Or Delrahim could become Rostamian’s partner, or he could become an investor in the deal. The two men were canvassing possibilities before they reached an agreement and drafted the Writing. In the portion of the declaration the trial court cited, Rostamian explained that the Writing set out Delrahim’s promise to allow Rostamian to own the four dealer sites. Rostamian’s deposition answer did not contradict Rostamian’s declaration. View "Tiffany Builders, LLC v. Delrahim" on Justia Law
Pagel, et al. v. Weikum
Jeffrey Weikum appealed a district court order and judgment denying his motion to compel arbitration, and granting Rodney Pagel and Scott Hager's motion for summary judgment. The parties agreed to dissolve their law firm, Pagel Weikum, PLLP, and entered into a Release and Settlement Agreement. The Agreement included an arbitration clause. Pagel and Hager filed suit against Weikum for breach of contract and conversion. Weikum moved to dismiss and compel arbitration. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed, finding the arbitration clause at issue in the Agreement was broad, and not limited by any exceptions. The Court concluded the district court misinterpreted the Agreement by finding the claims raised were not arbitrable, and by denying the motion to compel arbitration of those claims. View "Pagel, et al. v. Weikum" on Justia Law
Olson Family Limited Partnership v. Velva Parks, LLC
In Dencember 2022, Olson Family Limited Partnership (“Olson”) served a summons and complaint on Velva Parks, LLC through Velva Parks’ registered agent, Legalinc Corporate Services Inc. (“Legalinc”). Olson alleged it entered into a contract for deed with Velva Parks for the sale of its mobile home park to Velva Parks. Olson alleged Velva Parks breached their contract for deed by failing to pay the final balloon payment of $406,414 when it became due December 1, 2022. Olson sought to have the contract judicially terminated and canceled. Velva Parks appealed an order denying its motion to vacate the default judgment entered after Velva Parks failed to answer or otherwise appear withn 21 days after being served with the summons and complaint. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, concluding the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Velva Parks’ motion to vacate. View "Olson Family Limited Partnership v. Velva Parks, LLC" on Justia Law
Riverhills Capital Corporation, et al. v. At Home Care, Inc.
At Home Care, Inc. filed suit against RiverHills Capital Corporation and others for breach of contract, fraud, and for quiet title surrounding a lease on real property that At Home Care purchased. RiverHills Capital Corporation filed a motion to transfer the case to chancery court, alleging that the chancery court had subject-matter jurisdiction because, in essence, At Home Care could not succeed on the merits of its legal claims. The circuit court denied its motion. Because the circuit court did not err by denying the motion to transfer, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed and remanded this case to the circuit court. View "Riverhills Capital Corporation, et al. v. At Home Care, Inc." on Justia Law
Elmen Holdings v. Martin Marietta
The original leaseholder transferred its interest to Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. (“Martin Marietta”), in 2014, and Elmen Holdings, L.L.C. (“Elmen”), acquired title to the underlying land in 2018. Elmen contends that Martin Marietta did not make required royalty payments to it or prior lessors; Elmen sought a declaration that the lease had terminated. Both parties moved for summary judgment, and a magistrate judge recommended that the district court grant Elmen’s motion and deny Martin Marietta’s. The district court adopted that recommendation. The Fifth Circuit disagreed with the magistrate judge’s and district court’s reasoning, but affirmed the summary judgment for Elmen and affirmed the denial of summary judgment for Martin Marietta. The court explained that a payment or tender—such as Martin Marietta’s April 12 check— made to someone other than the lessor is not made “in the manner provided” by the Gravel Lease. The sentence in paragraph six that Martin Marietta relies on does not apply. Further, the court wrote that the undisputed facts show that Martin Marietta failed to pay royalties in 2017, received adequate notice of this failure, and did not cure within ten days of that notice. Therefore, the Gravel Lease terminated ten days after Martin Marietta received the relevant email, and summary judgment in favor of Elmen is warranted. View "Elmen Holdings v. Martin Marietta" on Justia Law
Accident Care & Treatment Center v. CSAA General Insurance Co.
Medical providers sued insurance company to enforce their perfected medical liens for professional services rendered to a person injured in a car accident. Insurance company disputed the: (1) reasonableness of the charges; and (2) necessity of the services. The providers argued the insurance company had no legal standing to dispute these issues, absent an assignment from the injured party. Although Insurance company prepared the "Release" with the injured person, it failed to include such an assignment. Insurance company argued that in spite of this omission, there was an "implied" assignment from the injured party as evidenced by precontract settlement discussions. The trial court ruled that there was no assignment in the executed written release and that insurance company was barred by the Parol Evidence Rule from presenting evidence to establish an implied assignment. The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals reversed the trial court holding that summary judgment was not proper when there was a question of fact surrounding the issue of an assignment. The Oklahoma Supreme Court found there was no assignment in the executed release and there was no question of fact on material issues. Without evidence of fraud, the Court found precontract negotiations and all discussions were merged into and superseded by the terms of an executed written release. The decision of the Court of Civil Appeals was vacated; and this matter was remanded to the trial court for proceedings. View "Accident Care & Treatment Center v. CSAA General Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Stronghold Engineering, Inc. v. City of Monterey
Stronghold and the city entered into a 2015 contract to renovate the Monterey Conference Center. Before filing a lawsuit asserting a claim for money or damages against a public entity, the Government Claims Act (Gov. Code 810) requires that a claim be presented to the entity. Without first presenting a claim to the city, Stronghold filed suit seeking declaratory relief regarding the interpretation of the contract, and asserting that the Act was inapplicable.Stronghold presented three claims to the city in 2017-2019, based on its refusal to approve change orders necessitated by purportedly excusable delays. Stronghold filed a fourth amended complaint, alleging breach of contract. The court granted the city summary judgment, reasoning that the declaratory relief cause of action in the initial complaint was, in essence, a claim for money or damages and that all claims in the operative complaint “lack merit” because Stronghold failed to timely present a claim to the city before filing suit.The court of appeal reversed. The notice requirement does not apply to an action seeking purely declaratory relief. A declaratory relief action seeking interpretation of a contract is not a claim for money or damages, even if the judicial interpretation sought may later be the basis for a separate claim for money or damages which would trigger the claim presentation requirement. View "Stronghold Engineering, Inc. v. City of Monterey" on Justia Law
Women’s Care Specialists, P.C. v. Potter
Consolidated appeals arose from an employment dispute between Dr. Margot Potter and her former employer, Women's Care Specialists, P.C. ("Women's Care"), and out of a dispute between Potter and three Women's Care employees: Dr. Karla Kennedy, Dr. Elizabeth Barron, and Beth Ann Dorsett ("the WC employees"). In case no. CV-21-903797, Potter alleged claims of defamation, tortious interference with a business relationship, and breach of contract against Women's Care. In case no. CV-21-903798, Potter alleged claims of defamation and tortious interference with a business relationship against the WC employees. After the cases were consolidated by the circuit court, Women's Care and the WC employees moved to compel arbitration on the basis that Potter's claims were within the scope of the arbitration provision in Potter's employment agreement with Women's Care and that the arbitration provision governed their disputes even though Potter was no longer a Women's Care employee. The trial court denied those motions. In appeal no. SC-2022-0706, the Alabama Supreme Court held Potter's breach of-contract claim and her tort claims against Women's Care were subject to arbitration. In appeal no. SC-2022-0707, the Court likewise held Potter's tort claims against the WC employees were subject to arbitration. The trial court's orders were denied and the cases remanded for further proceedings. View "Women's Care Specialists, P.C. v. Potter" on Justia Law
Murray v. Porter
Seneathia K. Porter initiated an unlawful-detainer action against Tracy Murray, doing business as Tracy's Treasure Company, LLC ("Murray"), seeking possession of commercial property and the recovery of, among other things, unpaid rent, late fees, insurance costs, taxes, and attorney's fees. Porter claimed she owned the property, she had leased the property to Murray on a month-to-month basis for the sum of $1,500 per month, Murray defaulted under the lease by failing to pay rent in accordance with the lease, and that she had provided Murray with written notice that her right of possession of the property had been terminated. Murray, on the other hand, denied that she had leased the property. Rather, she claimed she had executed a contract to purchase the property and had made improvements to the property. Following a bench trial, the circuit court purported to enter a judgment in favor of Porter and against Murray. Murray appealed. The Alabama Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, finding no evidence that the district court had adjudicated the unlawful-detainer action. Thus, the circuit court lacked jurisdiction over the action and the judgment it entered was void and, therefore, would not support an appeal. View "Murray v. Porter" on Justia Law