Articles Posted in Contracts

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This appeal arose out of the Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Scott Rothstein through his law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler (RRA). Trustees of RRA filed suit alleging breach of contract and bad faith claims against insurance carriers that reached a settlement with Gibraltar and its executives after originally denying coverage. The Eleventh Circuit applied Florida law and exercised plenary review, holding that coverage was barred by a "professional services exclusion" found in each of the policies. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of the insurers' motion to dismiss. View "Stettin v. National Union Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Answering certified questions from the Eleventh Circuit, the Supreme Court of Georgia concluded that, while O.C.G.A. 9-11-67.1 sets forth certain terms and conditions that must be included in every written offer of settlement, nothing in Georgia law or the statute precludes parties from requiring "some additional act to effectuate acceptance;" O.C.G.A. 9-11-67.1 permits unilateral contracts whereby Pre-Suit Offers may demand acceptance in the form of performance before there was a binding enforceable settlement contract; and O.C.G.A. 9-11-67.1 does not preclude a Pre-Suit Offer from demanding timely payment as a condition of acceptance. In light of these answers, the Eleventh Circuit held that the district court correctly determined that O.C.G.A. 9-11-67.1 does not prohibit a party from requiring timely payment as a condition of acceptance of a settlement offer; the offer letter in this case unambiguously conditioned acceptance on timely payment; the insurers' issuance of two $50,000 checks with incomplete addresses, which never reached defendants or their attorney, did not satisfy this timely-payment condition; and the insurer failed to accept defendants' settlement offer, thus preventing the formation of a binding settlement agreement. Accordingly, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendants. View "Grange Mutual Casualty Co. v. Woodard" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against U.S. Specialty for breach of contract, based on its denial of coverage of fraudulent transfer claims in an underlying suit. The district court entered summary judgment for U.S. Specialty and entered judgment against plaintiff. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding that, in light of Florida law, plaintiff's fraudulent conveyance claims "arose from" wrongful acts that predate November 10, 2008, and thus fell within the scope of the Prior Acts Exclusion of the U.S. Specialty policy. Furthermore, the policy's terms were unambiguous and its coverage was not illusory. Therefore, U.S. Specialty did not breach the insurance contract. View "Zucker v. U.S. Specialty Insurance" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an African-American, filed suit against defendants after her application to lease a space for her hair salon was denied. Plaintiff alleged that the denial infringed her right to freedom from racial discrimination in the making of a contract. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. The court affirmed the district court's alternative conclusion that plaintiff failed to rebut the legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons defendants proffered for denying her lease application. Defendants' reasons included: odors emanating from the salon would disturb the residential tenants on the upper floors; plaintiff's business would not survive given the number of other salons in the area; a salon would not generate cross-shopping with other commercial tenants; plaintiff's credit score was too low; and defendants would not break even given the high cost of building out the unit. View "Flournoy v. CML-GA WB, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff purchased a luxury yacht from Seller, the yacht was manufactured by Horizon and its wholly-owned subsidiary Premier in Taiwan, Horizon and Premier are Taiwanese companies, and Seller is an independent U.S. corporation based in Florida. Plaintiff filed suit, alleging ten claims related to the purchase of the yacht. The district court entered summary judgment for defendants on all but two claims: the breach of express warranty claims against Horizon and Premier; entered summary judgment for Seller on its counterclaim to foreclose on the promissory note; and certified the judgment as a partial final judgment for interlocutory review. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the entry of summary judgment as to: (1) the fraudulent inducement claims against all three defendants (Count I); (2) the breach of implied warranty claims against all three defendants (Counts III, IV, and VII); and (3) the breach of express warranty claim against Seller, Horizon Yachts, Inc. (Count VIII). The court vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment as to Counts I, III, IV, VII, and VIII and remanded for trial; affirmed the grant of summary judgment as to the remaining claims; and reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment on defendants' counterclaim. View "Global Quest v. Horizon Yachts" on Justia Law

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After a jury found CSX solely liable for injuries suffered by an employee of General Mills and awarded the employee damages, CSX filed this action for indemnification from General Mills. The district court dismissed on the ground that the contract between the parties barred indemnification for damages arising from CSX's sole negligence. In reaching this result, the district court applied a federal rule of collateral estoppel to bar relitigation of the relative fault of General Mills for the injury suffered by its employee. The court held, however, that federal common law adopts the state rule of collateral estoppel to determine the preclusive effect of a judgment of a federal court that exercised diversity jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for the district court to determine whether collateral estoppel bars the complaint of CSX for indemnification. The court declined to decide the dispute regarding one element of collateral estoppel as defined by Georgia law: the earlier litigation must have been between identical parties. The court also declined to decide the alternative argument raised by CSX, whether the Sidetrack Agreement requires indemnification assuming CSX was solely at fault. View "CSX Transportation, Inc. v. General Mills, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-Appellants James and Karen Feggestad appealed the district court’s order dismissing their complaint against defendants-appellees, Kerzner International Bahamas Limited, Kerzner International Limited, Island Hotel Company Limited, Paradise Island Limited, and Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (collectively, "Kerzner"), on the basis of a valid forum selection clause. The Feggestads made reservations at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas (Atlantis) and received a reservation confirmation via their email address. The confirmation contained a section titled "Terms and Conditions" and included a hyperlink advising guests to view the other terms and conditions. This link provided advance notification that any dispute between the guest and the hotel or any affiliated company must be litigated exclusively in the Bahamas and that upon arrival at the Atlantis, the guest would be required to sign a registration form that included a Bahamian forum selection clause. When the Feggestads checked into the hotel, the resort asked them to sign a registration card, which also included an "acknowledgement, agreement and release," which also listed the clause at issue here. Several days after their arrival at the Atlantis, Mr. Feggestad slipped and fell on a wet sidewalk and sustained severe personal injuries. He later sued, and the forum-selection clause became an issue. After reviewing the record, reading the parties briefs and having the benefit of oral argument, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal. View "Feggestad v. Kerzner International Bahamas Limited, et al." on Justia Law

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Allstate filed suit against multiple defendants, alleging claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment. Defendants are medical clinics that appointed Dr. Sara Vizcay as their medical director. Allstate’s central allegation is that Dr. Vizcay failed to systematically review billings as required by Florida’s Health Care Clinic Act, Fla. Stat. 400.990 et seq., which caused the clinics to submit unlawful or fraudulent insurance claims to Allstate. A jury found the clinics liable and awarded damages to Allstate. The clinics challenge the jury’s verdict, and the district court’s denial of their dispositive motions, on numerous grounds. The court held that, under Florida law, there is judicial remedy for a licensed clinic’s violation of the Clinic Act; a licensed clinic can be held responsible for its medical director’s failure to comply with the duties enumerated in the Clinic Act; the evidence is sufficient to support the jury’s finding that Dr. Vizcay failed to substantially comply with those duties; Allstate's fraud claims are not barred by Florida's statute of limitations; and the district court did not err in denying defendants' motions to bifurcate the trial. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Allstate Ins. Co. v. Vizcay" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts, Health Law

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Defendants, three excess liability insurers, appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiffs on their breach of contract claims. The district court concluded that Georgia's uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) statute imposed upon defendants an unconditional obligation to provide UM coverage to the insured as if they were primary insurers, and that defendants' failure to tender payment amounted to a breach of contract. The court held that Georgia's UM statute, Ga. Code Ann. 33-7-11, applies to defendants' excess liability policies; defendants' excess liability policies contain vertical exhaustion requirements; and section 33-7-11 does not supersede the vertical exhaustion requirements in defendants' excess liability policies. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Coker v. American Guarantee and Liability Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Patterson and Breedlove filed suit against Mortgage Systems, seeking to enforce a contract between Patterson and CitiMortgage for the sale of Breedlove’s home to Patterson for a bargain basement price. CitiMortgage contends that the sale price stated in its offer letter to Patterson was an obvious clerical error and that the contract should be rescinded for that reason. Because of the clerical error, the letter actually said that CitiMortgage wanted a net payout amount of $113,968.45, instead of the “corrected” net payout amount was $423,940. Because that letter did not lead to formation of a valid contract based on CitiMortgage's unilateral mistake that plaintiffs knew or should have known about, CitiMortgage did not have any duty not to foreclose on the property. Therefore, the wrongful foreclosure claim fails and the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for CitiMortgage and Mortgage Systems. View "Patterson v. CitiMortgage, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts