Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Contracts
United States v. Hirani Engineering & Land Surveying, PC
ACC, the subcontractor on a Corps flood protection project, filed suit against the prime contractor, Hirani, for breach of contract and the providers of Hirani's payment bond, Colonial, under the Miller Act for unpaid labor and materials. The district court entered judgment in favor of ACC and awarded damages against both defendants.The DC Circuit remanded the case to the district court to make findings of fact as to when the Prime Contract was terminated and whether ACC performed labor or supplied material on April 29 and/or April 30. In the event that Colonial and Hirani cannot meet their burden to show that ACC's Miller Act claim was untimely, then this court can resolve the parties' other Miller Act contentions. If Hirani and Colonial show that termination occurred before April 29 or that ACC performed no labor or supplied no material on April 29 or 30, the court can then address the Miller Act statute of limitations issue. The court affirmed the restitution damages award against Hirani on ACC's contract claim where ACC has not provided the court with any basis to deviate from the principle of D.C. law that restitution, not quantum meruit, is the proper remedy where there is an express contract between the parties. The court deferred addressing other issues raised by the parties. View "United States v. Hirani Engineering & Land Surveying, PC" on Justia Law
D&S Consulting, Inc. v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
After DSCI filed suit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom removed the case to federal district court and filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of forum non conveniens, pointing to the forum-selection clause in the parties' contract. In this case, the contract provided that the Board of Grievances, a Saudi Arabian administrative court, shall be the assigned settlement of any disputes arising out of the contract. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the Kingdom's motion, holding that the contract's forum-selection clause is mandatory and the dispute thus belonged before the Board of Grievances. View "D&S Consulting, Inc. v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" on Justia Law
Capitol Services Management v. Vesta Corp.
At the motion-to-dismiss stage, dismissal on statute-of-limitations grounds is permissible only if a plaintiff's claims are conclusively time-barred on the face of the complaint. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's determination that Capitol Services' lawsuit was barred by the statute of limitations because Capitol Services was on "inquiry notice" of defendant's alleged interference with its contract long before the limitations period expired.The record was inconclusive as to whether Capitol Services had knowledge of Vesta's role prior to August 28, 2014, three years before this suit against Vesta was filed. Therefore, when during that intervening period Capitol Services had inquiry notice of Vesta's potential role was an open factual question that could not be resolved at this time in the proceedings. Finally, Vesta's collateral estoppel claim failed because critical elements of collateral estoppel have not been established. View "Capitol Services Management v. Vesta Corp." on Justia Law
District No. 1 v. Liberty Maritime Corp.
MEBA filed suit against Liberty, alleging that its contract with Liberty required the parties to submit the underlying dispute to arbitration. The district court ruled in favor of MEBA and granted judgment on the pleadings, compelling arbitration.The DC Circuit affirmed and held that the district court had jurisdiction over MEBA's claim under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (LMRA), which provides federal jurisdiction over suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization. In this case, MEBA's claims regarding the arbitrability of the dispute clearly fell within the district court's statutory jurisdiction. The court rejected Liberty's argument under the Garmon preemption doctrine, and held that federal courts retain jurisdiction over hybrid claims raising both contractual and representational issues. Finally, although jurisdiction was proper here, the court reversed and remanded because material facts remained in dispute regarding the existence of an applicable arbitration clause. View "District No. 1 v. Liberty Maritime Corp." on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts
Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co. v. KCI Technologies, Inc.
Commonwealth filed suit against two land surveyors, KCI and WMC, alleging breach of contract and negligence claims in connection with four allegedly defective surveys that the two entities delivered to ICG, a non-party to this litigation. Commonwealth alleged that KCI's and WMC's surveys failed to notice the full size of a twelve-inch encroachment, which ICG discovered on its property. The district court dismissed the complaint based on the three year statute of limitations.The DC Circuit reversed as to the first three counts of the complaint because the district court erred in dismissing them on statute of limitations grounds without applying the discovery rule. In this case, at the motion to dismiss stage, the court could not conclusively say that Commonwealth and ICG failed to exercise reasonable diligence in attempting to discover the encroachment's full size. Furthermore, it was premature to reject the possibility that Commonwealth's claims in counts one, two, and three did not accrue, at the earliest, until ICG discovered that the encroachment was twelve inches. View "Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Co. v. KCI Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Contracts
Katopothis v. Windsor-Mount Joy Mutual Insurance Co.
The DC Circuit vacated its previous opinion and substituted the following opinion.Homeowners filed suit against their insurance company for breach of contract when the company refused to cover flood damage to homeowners' residence. Homeowners also filed suit against their cleaning-and-restoration company for failing to adequately remedy the damage and prevent mold. The district court granted summary judgment for the insurance company and transferred the remaining claim to the district court based on lack of personal jurisdiction. The DC Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the transfer order. The court affirmed the grant of summary judgment, holding that homeowners' claim against the insurance company failed under Delaware law where there was no dispute that homeowners were away from their beach home for over 72 hours, which under the clear terms of the policy means the flooding occurred while the house was "unoccupied." View "Katopothis v. Windsor-Mount Joy Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Burns v. Levy
Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging breach of contract, defamation, and tortious interference with a prospective economic advantage. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. In this case, plaintiff believed that she had voluntarily withdrawn from her postgraduate clinical research fellowship, but defendants reported to plaintiff's employer, the US Air Force, that she had been terminated for cause. The DC Circuit held that, because there was a genuine factual dispute as to whether defendants gave plaintiff's employer false information, the district court incorrectly granted summary judgment on the defamation claims. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded as to those claims. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the remaining claims. View "Burns v. Levy" on Justia Law
Hensel Phelps Construction Co. v. Cooper Carry Inc.
Hensel Phelps filed suit alleging breach of contract and indemnification claims against Marriott for, among other things, failing to meet the applicable standard of care and by failing to design the Project in accordance with applicable fire codes. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Cooper Carry, holding that the statute of limitations has run on Hensel Phelp's breach of contract claim, and the terms of the indemnification clause did not cover first party claims. View "Hensel Phelps Construction Co. v. Cooper Carry Inc." on Justia Law
Chenari v. George Washington University
Chenari, a third-year George Washington University medical student, took a test published by the National Board of Medical Examiners. Before the exam, the proctor read aloud the instructions from NBME’s official manual, including that students must complete the exam in two and a half hours and that “[n]o additional time [would] be allowed for transferring answers” to the answer sheet. Chenari also received a copy of “Exam Guidelines,” containing a similar warning. When the proctor called time, Chenari discovered that he had failed to transfer 20-30 answers to his answer sheet, “panicked,” and continued to transfer answers. The proctor requested that he stop; he continued. When the proctor tried to take the exam, Chenari put his hand over it and continued entering answers, taking an additional 90-120 seconds. The proctor and another student reported Chenari. Pursuant to University procedures, an Honor Code Council subcommittee investigated and recommended dismissal for academic dishonesty. The Medical Student Evaluation Committee unanimously recommended Chenari’s dismissal. The Medical School Dean met with Chenari and upheld that recommendation. Chenari unsuccessfully appealed to the Provost, arguing that his conduct lacked “an element of deceit” like “cheat[ing]” or “l[ying].” The D.C. Circuit affirmed dismissal of Chenari’s suit, which alleged breach of contract and discrimination based on his disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), 29 U.S.C. 794(a), and 42 U.S.C. 12132. The court noted that Chenari never sought accommodation of his claimed disability under the school’s established procedures. View "Chenari v. George Washington University" on Justia Law
GSS Group Ltd. v. Republic of Liberia
GSS appealed the district court’s dismissal of its second attempt to confirm a $44 million arbitral award entered against the Port Authority for breach of a construction contract. GSS first tried to confirm the award, but the district court found that it had no personal jurisdiction over the Port Authority. Then GSS filed its second petition, also naming the Republic of Liberia, which owns the Port Authority, as respondents. The district court again dismissed GSS’s petition, finding that issue preclusion barred relitigating its personal jurisdiction over the Port Authority and that GSS failed to demonstrate that Liberia was liable for the Port Authority’s alleged breach. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the claims against Liberia for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1330 et seq.; affirmed the district court's dismissal of GSS's petition against the Port Authority on sovereign immunities grounds; and concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by dismissing GSS's petition before allowing jurisdictional discovery. View "GSS Group Ltd. v. Republic of Liberia" on Justia Law