Justia Commercial Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
MRL Dev. I, LLC v. Whitecap Inv. Corp
Between 2002-2006, Lucht purchased treated lumber for a deck on his vacation home in the Virgin Islands. The lumber allegedly decayed prematurely and he began replacing boards in 2010; he claims he did not discover the severity of the problem until the fall of 2011. Lucht sued the retailer, wholesaler, and treatment company of the lumber in February 2013, alleging a Uniform Commercial Code contract claim; a common law contract claim; a breach of warranty claim; a negligence claim; a strict liability claim; and a deceptive trade practices claim under the Virgin Islands Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The district court rejected the claims as time-barred. The Third Circuit affirmed, citing the “‘gist of the action doctrine,” which bars plaintiffs from bringing a tort claim that merely replicates a claim for breach of an underlying contract. View "MRL Dev. I, LLC v. Whitecap Inv. Corp" on Justia Law
United States v. Nitek Elecs., Inc.
Between 2001 and 2004, Nitek Electronics, Inc. entered thirty-six shipments of pipe fitting components used for gas meters into the United States from China. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“Customs”) claimed that the merchandise was misclassified and issued Nitek a final penalty claim stating that the tentative culpability was gross negligence. Customs then referred the matter to the United States Department of Justice (“Government”) to bring a claim against Nitek in the Court of International Trade to enforce the penalty. The Government brought suit against Nitek to recover lost duties, antidumping duties, and a penalty based on negligence under 19 U.S.C. 1592. Nitek moved to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim. The court denied dismissal of the claims to recover lost duties and antidumping duties but did dismiss the Government’s claim for a penalty based on negligence, concluding that the Government had failed to exhaust all administrative remedies under 19 U.S.C. 1592 by not having Customs demand a penalty based on negligence, instead of gross negligence. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that the statutory framework of section 1592 does not allow the Government to bring a penalty claim based on negligence in court because such a claim did not exist at the administrative level. View "United States v. Nitek Elecs., Inc." on Justia Law
Saint Bernard Sch. of Montville, Inc. v. Bank of Am.
Plaintiff-school opened a bank account for its operating fund with Defendant-bank. One of Plaintiff’s employees later opened a bank account with Defendant that Plaintiff had not authorized and deposited into that account several hundred checks originating from, or intended to be deposited into, Plaintiff’s bank account with Defendant. Over the course of approximately four years, the employee deposited $832,776 into this bank account and withdrew funds just short of that amount. Defendant refused Plaintiff’s demand to return the funds that the employee had funneled through this account to himself. Thereafter, Plaintiff commenced this action, alleging breach of contract, violations of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), negligence, and common law conversion. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiff on each of the counts and awarded $832,776 in total compensatory damages. The Supreme Court affirmed in all respects with the exception of the damages award, holding that some of Plaintiff’s claims under the UCC were time barred and that the trial court did not otherwise err in its judgment. Remanded with direction to reduce the award by $5,156 and to proportionately reduce prejudgment interest, . View "Saint Bernard Sch. of Montville, Inc. v. Bank of Am. " on Justia Law
Petroleum Solutions, Inc. v. Head
Bill Head, doing business as Bill Head Enterprises (Head), hired Petroleum Solutions, Inc. to manufacture and install an underground fuel system at the truck stop Head owned and operated. After a major diesel-fuel leak occurred, Respondents sued Petroleum Solutions for its damages. The trial rendered judgment in favor of Head and in favor of third-party defendant Titeflex, Inc., the alleged manufacturer of a component part incorporated into the fuel system, on Titeflex’s counterclaim against Petroleum Solutions for statutory indemnity. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the judgment as to Head, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing the sanctions of charging the jury with a spoliation instruction and striking Petroleum Solutions’ statute-of-limitations defense, and the trial court’s abuse of discretion was harmful; and (2) affirmed the judgment as to Titeflex’s indemnity claim, holding that Titeflex was entitled to statutory indemnity from Petroleum Solutions. Remanded for further proceedings between Respondents and Petroleum Solutions. View "Petroleum Solutions, Inc. v. Head" on Justia Law
Mark D. Dean, P.S.C. v. Commonwealth Bank & Trust Co.
A Law Firm had an escrow account with a Bank and authorized an employee to sign checks on the account by herself. The employee began embezzling money from the Firm’s various escrow accounts by engaging in a scheme called “check-kiting,” which involved the employee writing and depositing checks between the Bank account and the Law Firm’s account at another bank. More than three years after the last activity on the Bank account the Law Firm sued the Bank, raising four claims, including violations of the Uniform Commercial Code and common-law causes of action. The court of appeals concluded that the claims were barred by the one-year repose period of Ky. Rev. Stat. 355.4-406. The Supreme Court affirmed on other grounds, holding that the claims were barred by the three-year statute of limitations under Ky. Rev. Stat. 355.4-111. View "Mark D. Dean, P.S.C. v. Commonwealth Bank & Trust Co." on Justia Law
Halperin v. Halperin
Brothers Patrick and Thomas each owned one‐third of the stock of Commercial Light, a Chicago electrical contractor. Between 1982 and the 2008 sale of the company, Thomas was the CEO, board chairman, and president. The other officers were the company’s treasurer, and its executive vice‐president. The board of directors had only two members: Thomas and a lawyer. Patrick took no part in the company’s management. Patrick sued, claiming that when Morris became executive vice‐president in 1992, he, with Thomas’s approval, started jacking up the salaries and bonuses paid so that the compensation of the three officers soared, totaling $22 million between 1993 and 2000, and that the lawyer on the board rubber‐stamped Thomas’s compensation decisions. The Seventh Circuit affirmed a jury verdict finding breach of fiduciary duty. The jury did not have to find that the compensation was excessive in order to find a breach of fiduciary duty by concealment. Illinois allows as a remedy for breach of fiduciary duty a forfeiture of all the fiduciary’s earnings during the period of breach. The court speculated on why the highly-educated Patrick did not discover the concealment until several years after the sale, but noted that the appeal only concerned jury instructions. View "Halperin v. Halperin" on Justia Law
Alabama Powersport Auction, LLC v. Wiese
In 2005, James Wiese attended an auction held by Alabama Powersport Auction, LLC (APA) and purchased a "Yerf Dog Go-Cart," for his two minor sons. The go-cart was on consignment to APA from FF Acquisition; however, Wiese was not aware that FF Acquisition had manufactured the go-cart. Soon after purchasing the go-cart, Wiese discovered that the engine would not operate for more than a few minutes at a time. After several failed attempts to repair the go-cart, Wiese stored the go-cart in his garage for almost two years. In 2007, Wiese repaired the go-cart. Matthew Wiese was riding the go-cart and had an accident in which he hit his head on the ground causing a brain injury that resulted in his death in 2010. The elder Wiese brought contract claims against APA stemming from his purchase of the go-cart and for his son's death. APA appealed the circuit court's denial of its motion for summary judgment. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court concluded that based on the common-law principles of agency, an auctioneer selling consigned goods on behalf of an undisclosed principal may be held liable as a merchant-seller for a breach of the implied warranty of merchantability under 7-2-314, Ala. Code 1975. As a result,the Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment denying APA's summary-judgment motion as to Wiese's breach-of-the-implied-warranty-of-merchantability claim. View "Alabama Powersport Auction, LLC v. Wiese" on Justia Law
Ulbrich v. Groth
Plaintiff successfully bid at a combined foreclosure sale of real estate and secured party auction of personal property owned by Debtors. Bank held mortgage and security interests in the real and personal property. Auctioneer conducted the auction. After purchasing the property, Plaintiff discovered he would not receive much of the personal property he believed to be in the sale. Plaintiff and the current owner of the property (Plaintiffs) brought this action against Debtors, Bank, and Auctioneer (collectively, Defendants), claiming that Defendants' failure to inform Plaintiffs there were conflicting claims as to the ownership of the property constituted negligence and a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), among other causes of action. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiffs on four of their counts. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the trial court (1) improperly concluded that Defendants had a common-law duty to Plaintiffs to properly identify the personal property that was subject to the secured party sale; and (2) lacked the authority to award nontaxable costs pursuant to CUTPA. View "Ulbrich v. Groth" on Justia Law
Klein-Becker USA v. Englert
Klein-Becker USA and Klein-Becker IP Holdings sued Patrick Englert and Mr. Finest, Inc., for trademark infringement, copyright infringement, false advertising, and unfair competition under the Lanham Act; false advertising under the Utah Truth in Advertising Act; unfair competition under the Utah Unfair Practices Act; fraud; civil conspiracy; and intentional interference with existing and prospective business relations. The action arose from Englert's unauthorized selling of "StriVectin" skin care products: he posed as a General Nutrition Center (GNC) store to purchase the products at below wholesale rates. Englert then sold the products through eBay and other commercial web platforms, including his own, "mrfinest.com." Englert was sanctioned several times for failing to comply with court orders and discovery schedules. The third and final sanction resulted in the entry of default judgment for Klein-Becker on all remaining claims. Englert appealed the district court's entry of default judgment against him, determination of his personal liability and the amount of damages owed, grant of a permanent injunction, denial of a jury trial, and refusal to allow him to call a certain witness. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit found no fault in the district court's analysis or judgment and affirmed. View "Klein-Becker USA v. Englert" on Justia Law
Stayart v. Google Inc.
Plaintiff, an active genealogist and animal rights activist, claimed that her name had commercial value and that search engines generated revenue as a result of internet searches of her name. She specifically alleges that various features of Google’s search engine violate her right of publicity by using her name to trigger sponsored links, ads, and related searches to medications, including Levitra, Cialis, and Viagra, all of which are trademarks of nationally advertised oral treatments for male erectile dysfunction. The district court dismissed her suit alleging common law misappropriation and violation of the state right-of-privacy law, Wis. Stat. 995.50(2)(b). The Seventh Circuit affirmed, citing the public interest and incidental use exceptions. View "Stayart v. Google Inc." on Justia Law