News/Case Summaries

Contracts

[04/26] Lockheed Martin Corp. v. Retail Holdings, N.V.
In a dispute arising from control over a flushed pension plan and the proper interpretation of a spin-off agreement, judgment of the district court is reversed where the only reasonable interpretation of the agreement transferred control over pension plan to Appellant.

[04/25] FEI Enterprises, Inc. v. Yoon
In a construction dispute involving a claim for breach of a subcontract and prompt payment penalties, judgment by trial court declining to order payment of penalties is affirmed where failure to make prompt payment was due to a bona fide existence of an actual legal dispute over the amount due under the subcontract.

[04/25] Dominion Resources Inc v. US
In a spent nuclear fuel (SNF) case involving an action for breach of contract, judgment of the district court is affirmed where the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. section 10222, allows the assignment of an existing contract and because district court properly denied discovery into benefits accruing to plaintiff from failure to perform by defendant where a one-time fee that plaintiff will owe when the government begins accepting SNF is not yet due.

[04/21] Fuller v. Deutsche Bank National Trust
In an appeal arising from an unsuccessful attempt to rescind a mortgage agreement almost five years after closing, summary judgment in favor of appellee is affirmed where disclosure forms provided adequate notice of final date for rescission and three-day rescission period despite technical deficiencies.

[04/21] Montefiore Med. Ctr. v. Teamsters Local 272
In a dispute involving the effect of ERISA preemption on claims of breach of contract and quasi-contract, judgment of the district court is affirmed because: 1) an in-network health care provider may receive a valid assignment of rights from an ERISA plan beneficiary pursuant to ERISA section 502(a)(1)(B); 2) where a claim by a provider involves the right to payment and not simply the amount or execution of payment, that claim constitutes a colorable claim for benefits pursuant to section 502(a)(1)(B); and 3) on the facts of the case, some claims for reimbursement are completely preempted by federal law while the remaining state-law claims are subject to federal supplemental jurisdiction.

[04/20] Pacific Indemnity Co. v. Pickens Kane Moving and Storage Co.
In an action for carrier liability under the Carmack Amendment, 49 U.S.C. section 14706, judgment is affirmed where higher than released tariff set by the Surface Transportation Board in cases where a shipper elects the full value protection option but neglects to write a valuation figure on the bill of lading is accorded deference and award of costs was not an abuse of discretion.

[04/20] Edward Carey Const. v. State Comp. Ins. Fund
In an action for breach of contract and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing after denial of workers compensation benefits by defendant, summary judgment in favor of defendant is reversed because causes of action claimed by plaintiff are not barred by workers compensation exclusivity.

[04/20] Chin v. Advanced Fresh Concepts Franchise Corp.
In a dispute involving the authority to determine the validity of an arbitration provision, judgment of trial court denying motion to compel arbitration on the ground provision was unconscionable is reversed because even if the delegation clause by itself is unconscionable, the other terms of the arbitration provision were severable and untainted.

[04/19] US v. IIF Data Solutions
In an appeal arising from an action brought under the False Claims Act, judgments of the district court is affirmed in part and reversed in part where the court properly refused to enforce a settlement agreement in the absence of a required approval by government, committed no reversible error during trial, but erred in awarding attorney fees because action was not clearly frivolous.

[04/19] Hunt v. Golden Rule Insurance Company
In an insurance coverage dispute involving an action for breach of contract and unfair insurance trade practice, summary judgment in favor of defendant on the ground that a policy provision that contained a lifetime cap on mental or nervous disorder benefits was not ambiguous, and thus enforceable, is affirmed because trial court reasonably construed provision and state Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Law precludes a private right of action.

[04/19] Callahan v. Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher
In a dispute alleging professional malpractice arising from the drafting of a deficient partnership agreement by the defendant, summary judgment on the ground that action was time-barred is reversed because placement of actual injury upon the execution of the defective agreement was erroneous where CCP section 340.6 (a)(1), tolled the limitations period until plaintiff could establish a cause of action for legal malpractice.

[04/19] Innovative Bus. Partnerships v. Inland Counties Regional Ctr.
In an action for breach of contract, contractual and tortious breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and defamation, arising out of the alleged failure to comply with the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, summary judgment of trial court in favor of defendant is affirmed in part and reversed in part where summary adjudication was proper as to defamation cause of action, but erroneous on all the other causes of action because there were triable issues of facts.

[04/13] Central W. Virginia Energy Co., Inc. v. Mountain State Carbon, LLC
In a dispute over the scope of federal diversity jurisdiction as applied to corporations and involving an action for breach of contract, dismissal by district court on the ground that adverse parties were not diverse, is reversed where seven of eight officers of defendant substantially operated from a single forum making the forum the principal place of business of defendant such that dismissal was erroneous under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 130 S. Ct. 1181, 1186 (2010).

[04/12] R.S. v. Pacificare Life and Health Ins. Co.
In a dispute arising from an action for breach of insurance policy and state application of the full faith and credit clause of the United States Constitution, judgment of the trial court dismissing action is affirmed where under sister-state laws, claims were counterclaims that should have been raised in preceding, sister-state action.

[04/11] The Facebook, Inc. v. ConnectU, Inc.
In a dispute arising from the validity of a settlement agreement where plaintiffs claimed that the omission of several stock transfer documents and a lower-than-expected post-settlement disclosure of common stock value rendered settlement agreement unenforceable, judgment of the district court is affirmed where such omissions were an only important term that affects the value of the bargain, and the parties were on equal bargaining footing such that the subsequent discovery of stock value did not make agreement unenforceable.

[04/08] McMackin v. Ehrheart
In an action which distills down to a Marvin claim based on a promise by decedent to leave a life estate in real property to her cohabitant, judgment of the trial court is affirmed because a claim that arises from an oral promise or agreement with a decedent for distribution from an estate is governed by CCP section 366.3, but may be subject to equitable estoppel, precluding a party from asserting the defense of laches where wrongdoing by that party induced another to forbear filing suit.

[04/08] Amer. Modern Home Ins. Co. v. Fahmian
In an insurance dispute arising from an action to obtain reimbursement from defendant for payment on a policy limits in the absence of an express agreement, judgment of the trial court is reversed where the addition of a fact intensive inquiry into the sufficiency of the time to respond to a settlement advisement letter by trial court was erroneous.

[04/07] Energy Northwest v. US
In an appeal arising from a breach of contract by the government for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel, award of damages by trial court is partially affirmed where: 1) plaintiff failed to show causation for costs associated with site modifications; 2) award of damages to offset indirect overhead mitigation costs were proper; and 3) award of interest on costs was improper since government did not waive its sovereign immunity against such recovery.

[04/05] In the Matter of the Liquidation of Midland Ins. Co.
In a choice-of-law dispute arising from the liquidation of a stock casualty insurer, judgment of the appellate division that New York law must apply to all claims arising from the liquidation is reversed as erroneous, where the appropriate analytical approach was the center of gravity or grouping of framework without regard to Article 74 of the Insurance Law.

[03/31] California Shock Trauma Air Rescue v. State Compensation Ins. Fund
In an dispute arising from several state-law claims and involving the issue of whether the expectation of a federal defense, without more, is sufficient to establish federal jurisdiction over state-law claims, dismissal by district court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction is affirmed where causes of action are based entirely on state claims, each of which does not, on its face, turn on a federal issue.

[03/30] Robidoux v. Rosengren
In an appeal involving the scope of review for a district court judgment on a proposed settlement, judgment by district court is reversed because although the court has a special duty to safeguard the interests of minor plaintiffs, that duty requires only that the district court determine whether the net amount distributed to each minor plaintiff in a proposed settlement is fair and reasonable, without regard to the proportion of the total settlement value.