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Contracts Case Summaries

[02/16] Roy Allan Slurry Seal, Inc. v. American Asphalt South, Inc.
In a government contracts dispute alleging the tort of intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, the Court of Appeals judgment overturning the trial court's judgment sustaining defendants demurrer, is reversed where plaintiffs' allegations -- that they had submitted the second lowest bids on several contracts awarded to defendant, and that their bids would have been accepted but for defendant's wrongful conduct during the bidding process -- are insufficient because: 1) public works contracts are a unique species of commercial dealings; 2) in the contracts at issue here, the public entities retained broad discretion to reject all bids; 3) the bids were sealed, and there were no postsubmission negotiations; 4) in awarding the contracts, the public entities could give no preference to any bidder based on past dealings, and were required to accept the lowest responsible bid; and 5) in these highly regulated circumstances, plaintiffs had 'at most a hope for an economic relationship and a desire for future benefit.' Blank v. Kirwan (1985) 39 Cal.3d 311, 331.

[02/09] Leighton v. Forster
In an action for breach of an attorney fee contract and an account stated, seeking damages in excess of $114,000, the trial court's grant of summary judgment to defendant is affirmed where: 1) the evidence establishes there was no written fee contract; and 2) absent a written agreement, defendant is not liable to plaintiff.

[02/08] Jacobs v. Locatelli
In a complaint filed by a real estate broker claiming she is owed a commission for her efforts to sell a parcel of property in Marin County, and alleging that, although certain owners did not sign the agreement that promised the commission, the owner who did sign the contract told her that he was signing as the agent of the others, who had formed a joint venture, the trial court's judgment sustaining a demurrer without leave to amend, is reversed where neither the statute of frauds nor the parol evidence rule bar either of her claims.

[02/06] Mediterranean Shipping Co. v. Best Tire Recycling, Inc.
In a dispute arising out of a contract for the shipment of used tires from Puerto Rico to Vietnam, which accrued demurrage charges, port storage charges, and related administrative fees, apparently because it arrived late to Vietnam, the district court finding that defendant was the shipper, and therefore, pursuant to the bills of lading, was liable for the charges and fees to the carrier, is affirmed where was designated as the shipper on the bills of lading.

[02/02] Western Surety Co. v. La Cumbre Office
In an action for breach of an indemnity agreement, the trial court's grant of summary judgment requiring defendant to pay plaintiff approximately $6.07 million pursuant to the indemnity agreement is affirmed where although the signatory did not have actual authority to execute the indemnity agreement on defendant's behalf, in these circumstances, the person's signature binds defendant pursuant to former Corporations Code section 17157(d) (now section 17703.01(d)), provided that the other party to the agreement does not have actual knowledge of the person's lack of authority to execute the agreement on behalf of defendant.

[02/01] Packgen v. Berry Plastics Corp.
In a suit between a manufacturer-plaintiff and a supplier-defendant, alleging breach of contract, breach of implied and express warranties, and negligence, the district court's judgment enforcing the jury's award of $7.2 million in damages to plaintiff resulting from the failure of material defendant had supplied to plaintiff is affirmed over defendant's meritless contentions that the district court erred by: 1) denying defendant's motion to exclude plaintiff's damages expert; 2) allowing plaintiff's employees to testify concerning potential plaintiff's customers' intent to purchase plaintiff's new product; and 3) failing to correct these errors by denying defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law, a new trial, or to alter or amend the judgment.

[01/26] Acqua Vista Homeowners Assn. v. MWI, Inc.
In a case brought by a homeowners association (HOA) against a supplier of pipe used in the construction of a condominium development, averring violation of Civil Code section 895's standards related to allegedly defective cast iron pipe manufactured in China used throughout the building, the trial court's order denying defendant's motion for JNOV is reversed where section 895 requires homeowners suing a material supplier to prove that the material supplier caused, in whole or in part, a violation of a particular standard as the result of a negligent act or omission or a breach of contract.

[01/19] Norcia v. Samsung Telecom. Am., LLC
In a class action complaint alleging that Samsung made misrepresentations as to the performance of the Galaxy S4 phone, the district court's order denying Samsung's motion to compel arbitration is affirmed where: 1) the Product and Safety & Warranty Information brochure in the Galaxy S4 box did not create a binding contract between plaintiffs and defendant to arbitrate the claims in plaintiff's complaint; 2) defendant failed to demonstrate the applicability of any exception to the general California rule that an offeree's silence did not constitute consent; and 3) the brochure was not enforceable as an in-the-box contract.

[01/17] Marblegate Asset Mgmt., LLC v. Educ. Mgmt. Fin. Corp.
In an appeal arising out a company's debt restructuring, the district court's holding, that a series of transactions meant to restructure defendant's debt over the objections of certain noteholders violated Section 316(b) of the Trust Indenture Act of 1939, 15 U.S.C. section 77ppp(b), is vacated where section 316(b) prohibits only non?consensual amendments to an indenture's core payment terms.

[01/13] Kum Tat, Ltd. v. Linden Ox Pasture, LLC
In an interlocutory appeal of the district court's denying plaintiff's motion to compel arbitration of a claim against defendant, the appeal is dismissed where: 1) the court lacks jurisdiction because the arbitration motion relied only on state law and was not filed pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act; 2) the district court did not clearly err in reserving for itself the question of whether the parties agreed to arbitrate; and 3) the district court did not clearly err in concluding that the parties did not form a contract.

[01/10] Pure Wafer Inc. v. City of Prescott
In an action under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 alleging that the City of Prescott, Arizona violated the Contract Clause of the Constitution when it declared that its sewage treatment plant would no longer accept wastewater discharged by plaintiff's metal refinishing plant, in a controversy centered on the fluoride concentration in plaintiff's effluent and the City's enactment of an Ordinance imposing limits on such concentration, the district court's grant of a permanent injunction in favor of plaintiff is: 1) reversed in part as to judgment on the Contract Clause claims, where the City had not impaired the obligation of its contract with plaintiff, because the Ordinance has not altered the ordinary state-law remedies to which plaintiff would otherwise be entitled if it successfully proved a breach of contract; but 2) affirmed in part where judgment for plaintiff can be sustained on the alternative ground that the City has breached its contract with plaintiff.

[12/29] Beck Chevrolet Co., Inc. v. General Motors LLC
In a case brought by a car dealer against a car manufacturer in a dispute over defendant's performance standards, vehicle allocation system and purported unlawful modification of a franchise agreement, alleging contract and New York Dealer Act claims, the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendant is: 1) reversed when defendant?s performance standard is unreasonable under section 463(2)(gg) of the Dealer Act; 2) vacated when the district court?s decision in favor of defendant does not determine whether the modification was unfair under section 463(2)(ff) of the Dealer Act , and 3) remanded for further proceedings.

[12/29] Khan v. Shim
In an action involving a contract and tort claim, the trial court judgment is: 1) affirmed when the defendant is barred from a reward as the prevailing party by Civil Code section 1717 (b)(2); and 2) reversed where the purchase agreement is broad enough and the contested fee easily falls within the reach of the fee provision in that agreement.

[12/27] Gallegos v. Merit Systems Protection Board
In an action for a petition for review of a final order of the Merit Systems Protection Board, judgment is affirmed where: 1) the petition is untimely; and 2) plaintiff does not establish good cause for an untimely filing.

[12/22] Champion Pro Consulting Group v. Impact Sports Football
In an action involving deceptive and unfair practices in violation of the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act (?UDTPA?), summary judgment in favor of the defendant and denial of sanctions is affirmed when defendant?s actions fall outside the scope of the UDTPA.

[12/22] Integrated Dynamic Solutions, Inc. v. VitaVet Labs, Inc.
In a contracts action, arising from a dispute between plaintiff computer software consultant and defendant VitaVet over an agreement to build custom software for defendant's e-commerce needs, the trial court's grant of a preliminary injunction ordering plaintiff to deliver the source code and technical specifications to defendant is affirmed where the facts establish this as an 'extreme case' where a preliminary injunction altering the status quo is available under City of Corona v. AMG Outdoor Advertising, Inc., 244 Cal.App.4th 291 (2016).

[12/20] Stonehill Capital Management v. Bank of the West
In a contracts action arising from a dispute over the auction sale of a syndicated loan, the Appellate Division's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment is reversed where the lack of a written sales agreement and plaintiffs' failure to submit a timely cash deposit were not conditions precedent to the formation of the parties' contract and do not render their agreement unenforceable.

[12/15] Thompson v. Asimos
In a case arising out of a business relationship between a consulting firm and a real estate broker hired as an independent contractor, in which each party sued each other on various breach of contract and business tort theories, the trial court's judgment is: 1) affirmed as to the trial court's rejection of all of Asimos's claims against Thompson and its determination of liability against Asimos for breach of contract; but 2) vacated as to the damages award and remand for recalculation and clarification of the amount awardable.

[12/01] Westside Estate Agency v. Randall
In a dispute brought by a real estate broker who missed out on a $925,000 commission because he agreed to help a friend buy a $45 million Bel Air estate, but the deal was ultimately closed by another broker on different terms, the trial court dismissed the lawsuit for noncompliance with the statute of frauds is affirmed where: 1) the first broker's agreement was not in writing; and 2) California's statute of frauds declares invalid any 'agreement authorizing or employing an agent, broker, or any other person to purchase or sell real estate' unless that agreement is in writing and signed by the broker's client, Civ. Code section 1624(a)(4).

[11/30] Newport Harbor Ventures, LLC v. Morris Cerullo World Evangelism
In a contracts action, the trial court's denial of defendant's anti-SLAPP motion is affirmed. The Court held that an anti-SLAPP motion filed under Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16(f) is untimely if not filed within 60 days of service of the first complaint that pleads a cause of action within anti-SLAPP protection, unless the trial court permits otherwise in its discretion.

[11/30] Dreamstreet Investments, Inc. v. MidCountry Bank
In a fraud action arising from a seller holdback agreement between plaintiff, seller of a vacant lot to a third party, and defendant MidCountry Bank, the buyer's financier, the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendant is affirmed where: 1) plaintiff's action under North Carolina's Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act was barred by the statute of limitation; and 2) plaintiff' and defendant were not in a fiduciary relationship required to maintain a constructive fraud claim.

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