Justia Commercial Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
Maniscalco v. Brother Int’l Corp.
BIC, which has its principal place of business in New Jersey, distributed machines manufactured by BIL, BIC’s parent entity located in Japan. In 2001 BIC began distributing the Brother 3220C, a printer, fax machine, scanner and copier, accompanied by a Limited Warranty and User Manual drafted by BIL in Japan and translated by BIC. Huryk alleges that from 2002 to 2005, BIC and its executives in New Jersey, knew about but concealed information regarding defects in the 3220C that caused printer heads to fail and caused the machines to purge excess amounts of ink when not used frequently enough. The district court dismissed his putative class action claim under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, N.J. Stat. 56:8 on the ground that South Carolina law, not New Jersey law, applied. The Third Circuit affirmed, noting that South Carolina was the place where Huryk acted in reliance upon BIC’s representations, the place where Huryk, a domiciliary of South Carolina, received the representations, and the place where a tangible thing which is the subject of the transaction between the parties was situated at the time. View "Maniscalco v. Brother Int'l Corp." on Justia Law
Crispin v. Comm’r of Internal Revenue
Crispin worked as a CPA and as CFO of an energy company; his wholly-owned S-corporation has engaged in leasing, structured finance, aircraft acquisition, and mortgage-backed securities investing for more than 20 years. The business purchases aircraft costing $1 million to $10 million and leases them for 10 years before reselling. A Custom Adjustable Rate Debt Structure (CARDS) transaction is a tax-avoidance scheme that purports to generate large “paper” losses deductible from ordinary income. In 2000 the IRS warned against taking tax deductions based on artificial losses generated by inflated bases in certain assets. After the IRS discovered the widespread use of CARDS, before Crispin filed the contested return, the IRS issued another Notice addressed to CARDS transactions and imposed disclosure obligations on CARDS promoters and users. Crispin used a CARDS transaction, involving aircraft financing, to shelter $7 million of income for the 2001 tax year. The tax court held that he was not entitled to an ordinary loss deduction and was liable for an accuracy-related penalty (26 U.S.C. 6662), finding that the transaction lacked economic substance and that he had not relied reasonably or in good faith on the advice of an independent and qualified tax professional. The Third Circuit affirmed. View "Crispin v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue" on Justia Law
ZF Meritor LLC v. Eaton Corp.
There are four direct purchasers of heavy duty truck transmissions in North America. Truck buyers dealing with those direct purchasers can select many of the components for their trucks, including transmissions, from catalogues called data books. Data book positioning is significant to likelihood that a buyer will choose a particular component. Eaton is a monopolist in the market for such transmissions. ZF-Meritor entered the market in 1989; otherwise no significant external supplier has entered the market in 20 years. ZF-Meritor sued Eaton, alleging anticompetitive practices embodied in long-term agreements between Eaton and every direct purchaser, including provisions relating to data books. A jury found Sherman Act and Clayton Act violations. The district court reasoned that notwithstanding Eaton‘s above-cost prices, there was sufficient evidence to establish long-term de facto exclusive dealing arrangements, which foreclosed a substantial share of the market and harmed competition. The Third Circuit affirmed. The claims are not subject to the price-cost test, but must be analyzed as de facto exclusive dealing claims under the rule of reason. There was sufficient evidence that Eaton engaged in anticompetitive conduct and of resulting antitrust injury. The court vacated an injunction, finding that plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue injunctive relief. View "ZF Meritor LLC v. Eaton Corp." on Justia Law
Marcus v. BMW of N. Am., LLC
In 2007, Marcus leased a 2007 BMW from a dealership in New Jersey. Marcus suffered four “flat” tires during his three-year lease. Each time, he drove his car to a BMW dealership in New York and had the tire replaced. BMW billed Marcus between $350 to $390 for parts, labor, fees, and taxes. In each instance, the run-flat tires (RFT) worked as intended. Marcus sued Bridgestone, asserting consumer fraud, breach of warranty, and breach of contract claims. He claims that Bridgestone RFTs are “defective” because they: are highly susceptible to flats, punctures and bubbles, and fail at a significantly higher rate than radial tires or other run-flat tires; cannot be repaired, only replaced, in the event of a small puncture; and are “exorbitantly priced.” He claimed RFT-equipped BMWs cannot be retrofitted to operate with conventional tires, and that they are difficult to replace. The district court certified the suit under FRCP 23(b)(3) as an opt-out class action on behalf of all purchasers and lessees of certain model-year BMWs equipped with Bridgestone RFTs sold or leased in New Jersey with tires that have gone flat and been replaced. The Third Circuit vacated. Marcus’s claims do not satisfy the numerosity and predominance requirements. View "Marcus v. BMW of N. Am., LLC" on Justia Law
Control Screening LLC v. Technological Application & Prod. Co.
CS manufactures and sells X-ray and metal detection devices for use in public facilities around the world. Tecapro is a private, state-owned company that was formed by the Vietnamese government to advanced technologies into the Vietnamese market. In 2010, Tecapro purchased 28 customized AutoClear X-ray machines from CS for $1,021,156. The contract provides that disputes shall be settled at International Arbitration Center of European countries for claim in the suing party’s country under the rule of the Center. Tecapro initiated arbitration proceedings in Belgium in November 2010. In December 2010, CS notified Tecapro of its intention to commence arbitration proceedings in New Jersey. In January 2011, CS filed its petition to compel arbitration in New Jersey and enjoin Tecapro from proceeding with arbitration in Belgium. The district court concluded that it had subject matter jurisdiction under the U.N.Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, that it had personal jurisdiction over Tecapro, and that Tecapro could have sought to arbitrate in Vietnam and CS in New Jersey. The latter is what happened, so “the arbitration shall proceed in New Jersey.” After determining that it had jurisdiction under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1, the Third Circuit affirmed. View "Control Screening LLC v. Technological Application & Prod. Co." on Justia Law
In Re: Enter. Rent-A-Car Wage & Hour Emp’t Practices Litig.
Plaintiff, a former assistant branch manager at Enterprise, filed a nationwide class action, claiming that Enterprise violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 207(a)(1), by failing to pay required overtime wages. The district court held that the parent company, which is the sole stockholder of 38 domestic subsidiaries, was not a “joint employer,” and granted summary judgment in favor of the parent company. The Third Circuit affirmed after examining a number of factors concerning the relationship between the parent company and the direct employer. View "In Re: Enter. Rent-A-Car Wage & Hour Emp't Practices Litig." on Justia Law
Liberty Lincoln-Mercury Inc. v. Ford Motor Co.
Ford provides a warranty, entitling buyers of new vehicles to have Ford repair or replace defective components at any Ford dealer, regardless of where they purchased the vehicle. Ford reimburses dealers, providing a mark-up of 40% over cost for most parts. However, under the New Jersey Franchise Protection Act, Ford must reimburse dealers for parts at the "prevailing retail rate," charged customers for non-warranty work. Ford implemented a Dealer Parity Surcharge to recoup the increased cost. Ford calculated, for each New Jersey dealer, the cost of increased warranty reimbursements and divided by the number of vehicles purchased by that same dealer. That amount constituted the surcharge added to the wholesale price of every vehicle. The Third Circuit affirmed summary judgment that DPS violated the NJFPA. Ford devised a new system, NJCS, under which Ford calculated its total cost of complying with the NJFPA and divided by the number of wholesale vehicles sold in the state. A dealer’s total NJCS increased in proportion to the number of vehicles it purchased, regardless of how many warranty repairs it submitted. The district court found that NJCS violated NJFPA. The Third Circuit reversed in part, holding that the scheme does not violate the statute. View "Liberty Lincoln-Mercury Inc. v. Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law
Long v. Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A., Inc.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681, provides that merchants who accept credit or debit cards shall not print the expiration date of the cards upon any receipt provided to the cardholder at the point of the sale. The district court found no willful violation where a retailer printed the expiration month, but not the year, of the credit card on a receipt. The Third Circuit affirmed, finding that the retailer's interpretation of the law was erroneous, but not objectively unreasonable. View "Long v. Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A., Inc." on Justia Law
Am. Express Travel Related Servs. v. Sidamon-Eristoff
The company, which issues preprinted travelers' checks, challenged 2010 N.J. Laws Chapter 25, amending New Jersey's unclaimed property statute, N.J. Stat. 46:30B, to retroactively reduce the period after which travelers checks are presumed abandoned from 15 years to three years, after which the funds must be turned over to the state. The district court denied an injunction. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments under the Due Process Clause, the Contract Clause, the Takings Clause, and the Commerce Clause. The law has a rational basis. It does not substantially impairment contractual relationships; while the company has the right to use and invest TC funds until the date the TC is cashed or sold, the duration of use is further subject to the lawful abandonment period set by unclaimed property laws. The company has no investment-backed expectation with respect to the longer period of investment.The law does not directly regulate sales in other states. View "Am. Express Travel Related Servs. v. Sidamon-Eristoff" on Justia Law
NJ Retail Merch. Assoc. v. Sidamon-Eristoff
Merchants challenged 2010 N.J. Laws Chapter 25, amending the unclaimed property statute, N.J. Stat. 46:30B, to provide for escheat of stored value cards (gift cards). Chapter 25 presumes cards to be abandoned after two years of inactivity and requires issuers to transfer remaining value to the state. Issuers must obtain name and address of the purchaser or owner of each card. If the issuer's state exempts cards from its unclaimed property statute, unredeemed balances of cards previously-issued in New Jersey, where information was not recorded, must be reported to New Jersey. The address where the card issued or sold is presumed to be the owner's domicile. The district court enjoined retroactive application of Chapter 25 and prospective enforcement of the place-of-purchase presumption, but declined to enjoin data collection and two-year abandonment provisions. The Third Circuit affirmed. Chapter 25 substantially impaired contractual relationships by imposing unexpected obligations and did not reasonably accommodate the rights of the parties in light of the public purpose. The abandonment period is not preempted by the Credit CARD Act, 15 U.S.C. 1693l-1(c). The place-of-purchase presumption is preempted by federal common law, under which the first opportunity to escheat belongs to the state of the last known address of the creditor, shown by the debtor's records. If the primary rule does not apply, the right to escheat is with the state in which the debtor is incorporated. View "NJ Retail Merch. Assoc. v. Sidamon-Eristoff" on Justia Law