Articles Posted in Contracts

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the probate court's dismissal of a golf course partnership's claim based upon an unfulfilled pledge agreement in a decedent's probate proceeding, holding that the partnership failed to state a claim based on contract but did state a claim based upon promissory estoppel. The decedent entered into a written pledge agreement with the golf course partnership under which the decedent would make a gift of $20 million so that the partnership could make improvements to the golf course it operated. The decedent died the next year, and the partnership filed a statement of claim against the estate for the $20 million pledge agreement. The estate denied the claim. The partnership then filed a petition for allowance of claim, claiming that the pledge agreement was an enforceable, binding obligation against the estate and, alternatively, that the petition should be granted under a promissory estoppel theory. The probate court dismissed the petition for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) because the partnership was not a charitable, educational, or like institution, its attempt to enforce the pledge agreement as a contract failed; but (2) the partnership stated a claim under a promissory estoppel theory. View "In re Estate of Ryan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting Prospect Funding Holdings, LLC's (Prospect) motions to confirm arbitration awards and for summary judgment in this interpleader action, holding that when Prospect moved to confirm the arbitration awards under section 9 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1 through 16, the district court was required by the FAA to do so. After selling an interest in her personal injury claim to Prospect, Edrie Wheat settled her claim. When a dispute arose over the amount due Prospect, Prospect initiated arbitration proceedings against Wheat and Ronald J. Palagi, P.C., LLC (Palagi), the law firm representing Wheat. Awards were eventually entered against Wheat and Palagi in favor of Prospect. Wheat and Palagi then brought this interpleader action but did not seek to vacate, modify, or correct the arbitration awards. The district court granted Prospect's motion to confirm the arbitration awards and also granted Prospect's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) summary judgment was not premature; and (2) the district court did not err in failing to find the agreement was invalid and unenforceable. View "Ronald J. Palagi, P.C. v. Prospect Funding Holdings" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Greater Omaha Packing Company, Inc. (GOP) as to Meyer Natural Foods LLC’s breach of contract action following a purported E. coli contamination of beef owned by Meyer and processed by GOP, holding that although the district court incorrectly applied the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) in regard to Meyer’s acceptance of adulterated meat under the parties’ processing agreement, the court nevertheless arrived at the correct result. Under the agreement, GOP would slaughter Meyer’s cattle, process the beef, and fabricate the beef into various beef productions. After testing resulted in a very high percentage of presumptive positive findings for E. coli, Meyer filed suit against GOP. The district court granted summary judgment for GOP. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court erred in finding that Meyer had accepted the contaminated beef under the agreement or under the UCC, but the court’s ultimate conclusion was correct, as Meyer failed to adhere to the terms to properly reject products under the agreement. View "Meyer Natural Foods v. Greater Omaha Packing Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to vacate and the subsequent reinstatement of the sentences originally ordered, holding that the district court did not err by not addressing Defendant’s constitutional challenge. In this procedurally complex case, Defendant’s original sentences were reinstated by the district court, and Defendant’s motion to vacate his conviction for discharge of a firearm in certain cities, villages, and counties under Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-1212.04 on the grounds that the statute was unconstitutional on its face was denied. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to vacate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in failing to consider the merits of Defendant’s federal equal protection challenge on the basis of state procedural grounds. View "State v. Washington" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming the order of the county court finding Thomas Anderson individually liable to Grady Photography under two oral contracts, holding that there was no plain error in the determination that the contracts had been breached by Anderson and in holding him liable. Thomas Grady Photography, Inc. sued Amazing Vapor, Ltd., MCJC Companies, Inc., Manuel Calderon, and Thomas Anderson for breach of contract for failing to pay on two oral contracts for photography services. The county court entered a default judgment in favor of Grady Photography against Amazing Vapor, MCJC, and Calderon. Thereafter, after a trial, the county court found that Anderson, who appeared in his individual capacity as a director of Amazing Vapor, owed Grady Photography $2,400 under two oral contracts. The district court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the proper result was result, although this Court’s reasoning was somewhat different from the lower courts. View "Thomas Grady Photography v. Amazing Vapor, Ltd." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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In this dispute in which an owner of one property sought to bind the purchaser of another property to the terms of a fifty-year lease agreement entered into between different parties, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the purchaser, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held (1) the statute of frauds barred the owner’s claim for breach of contract because there was no privity of contract and the purchaser did not expressly assume the lease; (2) equitable estoppel did not prevent the purchaser from raising the statute of frauds as a defense; and (3) there was no genuine issue of material fact, and therefore, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the purchaser. View "Brick Development v. CNBT II" on Justia Law

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In this action for indemnification, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court awarding Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. the full amount of settlement payments in a lawsuit brought by employees of ConAgra Foods, Inc. against Jacobs arising from an explosion at a ConAgra plant, holding that the district court’s judgment was not in error. ConAgra contracted with Jacobs, an engineering firm, to provide engineering services. The engineering agreement contained mutual indemnification provisions. After the explosion at the ConAgra plant, dozens of employees sued Jacobs. Jacobs sought contractual indemnification from ConAgra, but ConAgra declined. Jacobs defended against and settled the claims then sued ConAgra for indemnification. The jury awarded Jacobs $108.9 million, and the court entered judgment on the verdict. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not err in finding that Jacobs had standing as the real party in interest; (2) the court did not err in finding ConAgra’s workers’ compensation immunity inapplicable; (3) Jacobs established that ConAgra’s refusal to indemnify breached the parties’ contract; and (4) the court did not err in declining to reduce the jury’s award of damages. View "Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. v. ConAgra Foods, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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In this action seeking to collect amounts Plaintiff claimed were due on personal guaranties, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court entering judgment on a jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff for the full amount sought, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err in granting Plaintiff’s motion for a directed verdict on certain affirmative defenses raised by Defendants; (2) there was no error or abuse of discretion in the jury instructions or in the admission of evidence concerning Defendants’ personal finances; and (3) the district court did not err in failing to grant Defendants’ motion for new trial based on the directed verdict and the admission of financial statements. View "Lindsay International Sales & Service, LLC v. Wegener" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The Supreme Court affirmed the declaration of the district court that the fair market value of Fred Assam’s ownership interest in the law firm of Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP (FPM) was $590,000. After Assam voluntarily withdrew from the firm, FPM filed this suit seeking a declaration of the parties’ rights under a governing partnership agreement. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order declaring Assam’s interest in FPM to be $590,000 and that FPM should pay Assam that amount according to the terms of the agreement, holding that the district court did not err by (1) finding there was no conflict between District of Columbia and Nebraska substantive law governing the determination of Assam’s equity interest; (2) finding FPM did not breach the partnership agreement; (3) adopting the opinion of FPM’s expert in determining Assam’s equity interest; and (4) failing to award Assam a money judgment and attorney fees. View "Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP v. Assam" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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Millard Gutter Company’s voluntary dismissal of its civil action against American Family Insurance Company had no effect on the district court’s authority to make further rulings, but the court erred in taxing technology expenses and jury expenses as costs. After Millard Gutter filed a voluntary dismissal without prejudice, the district court entered a judgment of dismissal and taxed costs to Millard Gutter, including expenses incurred by American Family in setting up courtroom technology and expenses incurred by the court in compensation prospective jurors. On appeal, Millard Gutter argued that once it filed a voluntary dismissal, the district court lacked authority to make any further rulings and, alternatively, that the district court erred in taxing technology expenses and jury expenses as costs. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and in part reversed, holding (1) because Millard Gutter had no statutory right to voluntary dismissal at the time it filed its dismissal, the district court’s authority to make further rulings was unaffected by that filing; and (2) the district court abused its discretion in taxing such expenses as costs. View "Millard Gutter Co. v. American Family Insurance Co." on Justia Law