Articles Posted in Contracts

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Appellant entered into a lease with a Mall to operate a restaurant. The lease required Mall to pay Appellant a finish allowance when certain provisions had been satisfied. The condition at the heart of this dispute required Appellant to provide the Mall evidence that any liens had been satisfied or waived and that “all work has been paid for” before the finish allowance became due. Appellant hired a general contractor to renovate the space. Appellant paid the general contractor in full, but the general contractor did not pay all of the subcontractors. When the Mall did not pay the finish allowance, Appellant filed this lawsuit alleging, inter alia, breach of contract. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Mall. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the unambiguous terms of the lease required evidence that the general contractor and subcontractors had been paid in full before the Mall was obligated to pay the finish allowance. View "P & N Investments, LLC v. Frontier Mall Associates, LP" on Justia Law

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This action stemmed from Defendants’ financing of Plaintiffs’ real property located in Wyoming and California. Plaintiffs filed this action in Wyoming against Defendants alleging breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, and violation of a California law governing fraudulent business practices. Plaintiffs sought monetary and punitive damages, rescission and restitution, and an order declaring all encumbrances recorded against their Wyoming property void and expunged. After applying Wyoming law, the district court granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss and for judgment on the pleadings, concluding that Plaintiffs’ breach of contract claims were barred by the statute of frauds and that Plaintiffs failed to plead their fraud and fraud-based claims with the particularity required by Wyo. R. Crim. P. 9(b). View "Elworthy v. First Tennessee Bank" on Justia Law

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Prior to his death, Timothy Trefren owned Trefren Construction and operated it as a sole proprietorship. Trefren Construction filed a complaint against V&R Construction, LLC and Cocca Development, Ltd. (collectively, Defendants) for breach of contract. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that all corporations associated with the name Trefren Construction were inactive or had been dissolved. Thereafter, Trefren filed a motion for substitution of party seeking to substitute the Estate of Timothy Trefren in the stead of Trefren. The district court denied the motion for substitution of party and dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the named plaintiff was not the real party in interest. The court then made an additional ruling that Defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the parties’ contracts were voidable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the real party in interest requirement is not jurisdictional, and therefore, dismissal of Trefren Construction’s complaint was not mandated; (2) the district court abused its discretion when it denied Trefren Construction’s motion to substitute the Estate as the real party in interest; and (3) the district court’s summary judgment ruling was procedurally infirm and unsupported by a showing of undisputed facts. View "Trefren Construction Co. v. V&R Construction, LLC" on Justia Law

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Jackman Construction, Inc. (Jackman) was the successful bidder on a project to install new water lines and a pump station for the City of Green River. Rock Springs Winnelson Co. (Winnelson) supplied materials for the project. Jackman eventually stopped paying Winnelson’s invoices, and Winnelson refused to provide any more materials. Winnelson filed suit against Jackman for its failure to pay invoices totaling $21,705, which included principal and service charges. Jackman counterclaimed for, inter alia, breach of contract and promissory estoppel. The district court granted judgment in favor of Winnelson on the outstanding principal, denied Winnelson’s claim for unpaid service charges, and denied Jackman’s counterclaims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court erred in refusing to accept the parties’ stipulation as to the amount Jackman paid Winnelson, but the error was harmless; (2) the district court did not err in the remainder of its judgment; and (3) sanctions were not warranted. View "Jackman Construction, Inc. v. Rock Springs Winnelson Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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Plaintiffs, the purchasers of a health claims administration company, brought a breach of contract action against Defendant, the seller. After learning that they had not acquired all of the assets that contracted to purchase, Plaintiffs continued to operate the business for the next eighteen months. Only then did they stop making payments on the promissory note and then file this action. Defendant counterclaimed for breach of contract. Plaintiffs raised the affirmative defense that Defendant was first to breach the contract and that Plaintiffs were therefore excused from performing their contractual duties. The district court entered judgment in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs’ conduct after learning of Defendant’s alleged breach precluded it from asserting a prior breach as a defense to Plaintiffs’ breach-of-contract claim. View "Maverick Benefit Advisors, LLC v. Bostrom" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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Jason Thornock requested that PacifiCorp provide electric service to an irrigation pivot on his property using a particular easement. PacifiCorp did not utilize the easement that Thornock suggested but did provide electric service to the pivot using a different route under the terms of a second contract the parties entered into after the original contract. When PacifiCorp did not provide power under the easement provided for in the first contract, Thornock filed a complaint against PacifiCorp based on the alleged breach of the first contract. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of PacifiCorp. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the first contract between the parties had been superseded and that PacifiCorp was not required to perform under the provisions of that agreement. View "Thornock v. PacifiCorp" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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Appellants, the owners of a tract of land in the Riva Ridge subdivision, submitted their plans to build a home and writer’s studio to the Riva Ridge Owners Association’s Site Committee. The Site Committee rejected the plans on the basis that some of Appellants’ home would be visible from some locations in other homes. Appellants filed a complaint against the Association and others (collectively, Appellees) alleging several causes of action. Appellants filed a separate complaint requesting a determination of the term “principal residence site” in the covenants. The district court granted summary judgment for Appellees on several issues. After a trial, the district court interpreted the phrase “principal residence site” in a way that required complete invisibility between the homes in the subdivision. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the district court (1) erred in its interpretation of the phrase “principal residence,” as the covenants only require that a principal residence be invisible only from a precise area of land on each tract; (2) erred in granting summary judgment on Appellants’ breach of contract and bad faith claims; and (3) properly determined that Appellants must seek permission from the Site Committee before planting any trees on their tract. View "Felix Felicis, LLC v. Riva Ridge Owners Ass’n" on Justia Law

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Jeff Lokey and Mike Irwin were business partners in two Wyoming businesses. After the parties dissolved their shared business interests, Irwin filed suit against Lokey, alleging that Lokey had materially breached the terms of the agreement. When Lokey did not timely file an answer the district court entered a default judgment against Lokey that included a provision allowing the parties ten days to file objections to the judgment. Lokey filed an objection, which the district court denied. Lokey appealed, challenging the court’s denial of his objections. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding (1) the Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the appeal because Lokey did not timely appeal an appealable order; but (2) the Court had jurisdiction to award, and Irwin was entitled to recover, reasonable attorney fees incurred as a result of this appeal. View "Lokey v. Irwin" on Justia Law

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Pennaco Energy Inc. acquired mineral leases beneath a surface estate owned by Brett Sorenson, Trustee of the Brett L. Sorenson Trust. A surface damage and use agreement between the parties granted Pennaco access to and use of the land for exploration and production of minerals, and, in return, required Pennaco to pay for the damage to and use of the surface estate, and to reclaim the land once operations ended. When Pennaco refused to perform its obligations under the contract, Soreson brought this lawsuit. The jury rendered a verdict finding that Sorenson suffered more than $1 million in damages. The district court entered judgment on the jury’s verdict and also awarded Sorenson costs and attorney fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err by (1) ruling that Pennaco remained liable under the surface damage and use agreement after assignment, and (2) using a 2.5 multiplier to enhance the lodestar amount in awarding attorney fees. View "Pennaco Energy, Inc. v. Sorenson" on Justia Law

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Automation & Electronics, Inc. (A&E) and Consolidated Electric Distributors, Inc. (CE) sued for Red Desert Reclamation, LLC for amounts due on their respective contracts. Pursuant to a stipulation between A&E and Red Desert, the district court entered judgment in favor of A&E. CE was later voluntarily dismissed from the case. A&E subsequently filed a motion for leave to amend its complaint to add CSC Group Holdings, LLC and Cate Street Capital, Inc. as defendants and to add alter ego and fraudulent conveyance claims. The district court granted the motion to amend. The district court then entered two default judgments in favor of A&E making CSC, Cate Street and Red Desert jointly and severally liable on Red Desert’s debt to A&E and setting aside as fraudulent a mortgage granted by Red Desert to CSC, thereby allowing A&E to execute on real property to recover on its judgment against Red Desert. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not lose subject matter jurisdiction over A&E’s motion to amend its complaint after signing off on the stipulated judgment in its favor because A&E was allowed to amend its complaint before CE was voluntarily dismissed from the action. View "CSC Group Holdings, LLC v. Automation & Electronics, Inc." on Justia Law