Articles Posted in Contracts

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This case arose out of disputes between the parties involving a twelve year commercial lease of office space in Baltimore, Maryland. The Fourth Circuit held that the district court misconstrued the lease agreement and misapplied Maryland law in concluding that Montgomery Park had a duty to endeavor to relet the premises and minimize its damages as a condition precedent to recovering against NCO. The panel held that the lease agreement's language incorporated the common law mitigation-of-damages doctrine, which holds that a plaintiff cannot recover damages which it could have reasonably avoided. Therefore, Montgomery Park's recovery should only have been reduced by the amount of rent that NCO could demonstrate would have been recovered by reasonable efforts to re-let the space. The court also held that the district court, in evaluating the commercial reasonableness of Montgomery Park's mitigation efforts, applied the wrong standard. The court held that reasonable commercial efforts to mitigate damages did not require Montgomery Park to favor NCO’s space over other vacant space in the building, but rather, commercial reasonableness only required Montgomery Park to reasonably market NCO's space on an equal footing with the other spaces that it was seeking to rent. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "NCO Financial Systems, Inc. v. Montgomery Park, LLC" on Justia Law

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The parties dispute whether the obligation to "spud" three wells on a tract of land in West Virginia was an obligation only to begin drilling or to complete the wells to the point of mineral production. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's holding that the Purchase Sale Agreement executed between the parties contained no requirement that the spudded wells be completed to production. The court also affirmed the district court's conclusion that Pine Resources failed to prove that it sustained any damages. View "Equinor USA Onshore Properties, Inc. v. Pine Resources, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this case arising from a bond transaction involving a municipal golf course in the City of Buena Vista, Virginia (the City), the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s motion to dismiss a ten-count complaint filed by ACA Financial Guaranty Corporation (ACA) and SunTrust Bank (Bank) against the City and the Public Recreational Facilities Authority (Authority), holding that the complaint failed to allege claims for which relief could be granted. In an effort to refinance a loan that the Authority took out to finance the construction of the golf course, the Authority issued over $9 million in bonds. The Authority and the Bank entered into a trust agreement regarding the bonds. To repay the bonds, the Authority leased the golf course to the City. The City and the Authority then issued deeds of trust to the Bank pledging certain property as security. The City later failed to pay the rent due on the golf course lease, and the Authority could not repay the bonds. ACA, which provided insurance on the bonds, and the Bank sued. The district court dismissed the complaint. The Fourth Circuit affirmed, holding that the City’s obligation to make rent payments was not legally enforceable when the obligation was expressly subject to the city’s annual decision to appropriate funds. View "ACA Financial Guaranty v. City of Buena Vista, Virginia" on Justia Law

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A Reinsurance Participation Agreement (RPA) executed by AUCRA and Minnieland was an insurance contract under Virginia law. The Fourth Circuit held that the district court did not violate the court's prior mandate by looking at the EquityComp program as a whole; the RPA and insurance policies constituted an integrated transaction and must be read as one contract; and the integrated contract was a contract of insurance under Virginia Code 38.2–312. Finally, the court noted that it was not the first to determine that the program marketed by Applied Underwriters was insurance. View "Minnieland Private Day School v. Applied Underwriters Captive Risk Assurance Co." on Justia Law

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AirFacts appealed the district court's judgment for defendant on AirFacts' breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets claims. Determining that it had jurisdiction, the court held that AirFacts did not abandon its claim under Paragraph 4.2 of the Employment Agreement and vacated as to this issue. In regard to the breach of contract claim, the court held that there was no legal error in the district court's conclusion that defendant did not misappropriate the Proration Documents in emailing them to himself for continued AirFacts business. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "AirFacts, Inc. v. De Amezaga" on Justia Law

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Optometrists across the country noticed that Chase Amazon Visa credit card accounts had been fraudulently opened in their names, using correct social security numbers and birthdates. The victims discussed the thefts in Facebook groups dedicated to optometrists and determined that the only common source to which they had given their personal information was NBEO, where every graduating optometry student submits personal information to sit for board-certifying exams. NBEO released a Facebook statement that its “information systems [had] NOT been compromised.” Two days later, NBEO stated that it had decided to further investigate. Three weeks later, NBEO posted “a cryptic message stating its internal review was still ongoing.” NBEO advised the victims to “remain vigilant in checking their credit.” Victims filed suit under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2). The district court dismissed for lack of standing. The Fourth Circuit vacated. These plaintiffs allege that they have already suffered actual harm in the form of identity theft and credit card fraud; they have been concretely injured by the use or attempted use of their personal information to open credit card accounts without their knowledge or approval. There is no need to speculate on whether substantial harm will occur. The complaints contain allegations demonstrating that it is both plausible and likely that a breach of NBEO’s database resulted in the fraudulent use of the plaintiffs’ personal information. View "Hutton v. National Board of Examiners in Optometry, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Cadrillion, Legacy North Carolina, and James Yuhas, alleging claims for breach of contract, conversion, abuse of process, and unfair and deceptive trade practices. The Fourth Circuit held that, by failing to pay the Call Price owed under the Agreement, Cadrillion breached a duty it assumed only as a result of that contract. Therefore, the economic loss rule applied and Cadrillion and Yuhas were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on plaintiffs' conversion claim. Because the court reversed as to the conversion claim, leaving plaintiffs with only a breach of contract claim, the court must also reverse the punitive damages award. Because the court reversed on the conversion claim and remanded for a new trial on contract damages, the results obtained and extent to which plaintiffs prevailed may substantially change. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's grant of attorneys' fees and remanded for the district court to reassess the proper amount of fees. The court also held that the district court did not err in granting judgment as a matter of law in favor of Cadrillion and Yuhas on the abuse of process claim. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's judgment on the abuse of process and unfair and deceptive trade practices claim. View "Legacy Data Access, Inc. v. Cadrillion, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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Rather than broadcasting in real time over satellite or cable, Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) stores programming on servers and delivers content digitally over a high-speed network. Sky received third-party content at its satellite substation, transcoded it, and transmitted it to NeuLion’s servers via a private line. NeuLion sent the encoded signals over the public internet to subscribers’ set-top boxes, relying on third-party internet connections. Sky wanted Discovery programming. Sky stated it would not transmit Discovery content over the public internet. Discovery’s engineer advised that while it was possible to use a closed fiber-optic network, he had “concerns that it may be going over the Internet” which could present “rights issues.” The final agreement described "a multichannel video distribution system which utilizes Internet Protocol (IP) technology to deliver video programming services over a closed and encrypted transmission path over a national fiber-optic network to a central location for subsequent distribution of such video programming services with proprietary encoding over a high-speed data connection to set-top-boxes that are secured by industry-standard encryption and conditional access technologies and are connected to Subscribers’ television sets." Discovery terminated the contract after learning Sky used the “public internet.” The court held the agreement was susceptible to competing reasonable interpretations concerning the scope of Sky’s distribution rights, examined extrinsic evidence, and found no support for Sky’s claim that the contract permitted public internet distribution. The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The contract allowed Discovery to terminate at any time it became dissatisfied with Sky ’s method of distribution; Discovery did not act in bad faith. View "Sky Angel U.S., LLC v. Discovery Communications, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts, Internet Law

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Rather than broadcasting in real time over satellite or cable, Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) stores programming on servers and delivers content digitally over a high-speed network. Sky received third-party content at its satellite substation, transcoded it, and transmitted it to NeuLion’s servers via a private line. NeuLion sent the encoded signals over the public internet to subscribers’ set-top boxes, relying on third-party internet connections. Sky wanted Discovery programming. Sky stated it would not transmit Discovery content over the public internet. Discovery’s engineer advised that while it was possible to use a closed fiber-optic network, he had “concerns that it may be going over the Internet” which could present “rights issues.” The final agreement described "a multichannel video distribution system which utilizes Internet Protocol (IP) technology to deliver video programming services over a closed and encrypted transmission path over a national fiber-optic network to a central location for subsequent distribution of such video programming services with proprietary encoding over a high-speed data connection to set-top-boxes that are secured by industry-standard encryption and conditional access technologies and are connected to Subscribers’ television sets." Discovery terminated the contract after learning Sky used the “public internet.” The court held the agreement was susceptible to competing reasonable interpretations concerning the scope of Sky’s distribution rights, examined extrinsic evidence, and found no support for Sky’s claim that the contract permitted public internet distribution. The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The contract allowed Discovery to terminate at any time it became dissatisfied with Sky ’s method of distribution; Discovery did not act in bad faith. View "Sky Angel U.S., LLC v. Discovery Communications, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts, Internet Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against Saber, alleging that defendants failed to deliver contractually promised care and failed to comply with certain state law requirements. After removal to federal court, the district court granted plaintiffs' motion to remand to state court based on the forum selection clause in plaintiffs' contracts. The Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded for further proceedings and factual development on the question of whether all of the defendants were bound by the forum selection clause contained in the contracts executed by plaintiffs. In this case, although the plain language of the forum selection clause precluded removal, a question remains as to whether all of the defendants were alter egos or otherwise bound by the clause. View "Bartels v. Saber Healthcare Group, LLC" on Justia Law