Articles Posted in Business Law

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Under New York law, a plaintiff asserting claims of misappropriation of a trade secret, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment may not recover damages that are measured by the costs the defendant avoided due to its unlawful activity because, under the common law, compensatory damages must return the plaintiff, as nearly as possible, to the position it would have been in had the wrongdoing not occurred, but no more. This case was tried in federal court on three theories of trade secret theft, unfair competition and unjust enrichment. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asked the Court of Appeals to resolve three questions of New York’s law relating to damages, specifically, whether, as a matter of law, any plaintiff may recover a defendant’s avoided costs on one or another of these three theories of liability. The Court of Appeals held that, in any of these three actions, a plaintiff may not elect to measure its damages by the defendant’s avoided costs in lieu of its own losses. View "E.J. Brooks Co. v. Cambridge Security Seals" on Justia Law

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The agreement establishing a partnership in this case dictated that Defendant, a partner, wrongfully dissolved the partnership, but it was error to include the legal fees incurred by the remaining partners in the damages owed to them by Defendant. In 1985, Defendant and seven others entered into a written agreement to form a general partnership. In the mid-2000s, Defendant withdrew from the partnership. Plaintiffs, as the partnership’s executive committee and on behalf of the partnership, brought this breach of contract action seeking a declaratory ruling that Defendant had wrongfully dissolved the partnership, as well as damages. Supreme Court granted summary judgment to Plaintiffs, determining that the partnership was not an “at-will” partnership and therefore could not be dissolved without violation of the partnership agreement. The Appellate Division upheld Supreme Court’s ruling, concluding that Defendant wrongfully dissolved the partnership. On remand for the second time, Supreme Court awarded attorneys’ fees and experts’ fees. The Court of Appeals held (1) the lower courts erred in applying N.Y. P'ship Law 62(1)(b) to decide that Defendant violated the agreement, but they correctly concluded that Defendant’s dissolution was wrongful; but (2) Supreme Court erred in awarding fees to Plaintiffs as part of the statutory damages. View "Congel v. Malfitano" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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The agreement establishing a partnership in this case dictated that Defendant, a partner, wrongfully dissolved the partnership, but it was error to include the legal fees incurred by the remaining partners in the damages owed to them by Defendant. In 1985, Defendant and seven others entered into a written agreement to form a general partnership. In the mid-2000s, Defendant withdrew from the partnership. Plaintiffs, as the partnership’s executive committee and on behalf of the partnership, brought this breach of contract action seeking a declaratory ruling that Defendant had wrongfully dissolved the partnership, as well as damages. Supreme Court granted summary judgment to Plaintiffs, determining that the partnership was not an “at-will” partnership and therefore could not be dissolved without violation of the partnership agreement. The Appellate Division upheld Supreme Court’s ruling, concluding that Defendant wrongfully dissolved the partnership. On remand for the second time, Supreme Court awarded attorneys’ fees and experts’ fees. The Court of Appeals held (1) the lower courts erred in applying N.Y. P'ship Law 62(1)(b) to decide that Defendant violated the agreement, but they correctly concluded that Defendant’s dissolution was wrongful; but (2) Supreme Court erred in awarding fees to Plaintiffs as part of the statutory damages. View "Congel v. Malfitano" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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An indenture may seek recovery on behalf of noteholders for Defendants’ alleged fraudulent redemptions intended to siphon off assets, leaving corporate obligators unable to pay the noteholders. Appellate Division denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss insofar as asserted by the indenture trustee, concluding that the relevant language of the indenture conferred standing on the trustee to pursue the fraudulent conveyance claims and other claims seeking recovery for the amounts due under the notes and that the complaint sufficiently stated a cause of action against Defendants under a veil-piercing theory. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the language of the indenture gave the trustee authority to pursue the causes of action at issue in this appeal; and (2) the alleged facts in the complaint and inferences drawn from them established the basic elements of the doctrine of piercing the corporate veil. View "Cortlandt Street Recovery Corp. v. Bonderman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

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Rule 12A, contained in Order 15 of the Cayman Islands Grand Court Rules 1995, is procedural and therefore does not apply where, as here, a plaintiff seeks to litigate his derivative claims in New York. Plaintiff owned ordinary shares in Scottish Re Group, Limited, a Cayman Islands company formerly engaged in the business of reinsurance. Plaintiff asserted both direct and derivative causes of action against Scottish Re and others. The only claims relevant to this appeal were Plaintiff’s derivative claims. Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiff’s derivative causes of action, ruling that, under Cayman Islands law, Plaintiff had not established standing because he did not seek leave of court to commence a derivative action under Rule 12A of the Rules of the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands. The Appellate Division affirmed based on Plaintiff’s noncompliance with Rule 12A, concluding that the rule applied because it was substantive rather than procedural. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiff’s derivative claims should not have been dismissed on the ground that he failed to comply with Rule 12A where Rule 12A is a procedural rule that does not apply in New York courts. View "Davis v. Scottish Re Group Ltd." on Justia Law

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There was personal jurisdiction over Defendant - a winery located in Pontevedra, Spain - under New York’s long-arm jurisdiction statute and, consequently, subject matter jurisdiction over the parties’ dispute under N.Y. Bus. Corp. Law 1314(b)(4). Supreme Court denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on lack of personal and subject matter jurisdiction. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that Defendant was not subject to personal jurisdiction under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 302(a)(1) of New York’s long-arm jurisdiction statute. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the exercise of long-arm jurisdiction over Defendant comported with federal due process because Defendant availed itself of the privilege of conducting business in New York by promoting its wine in the state, soliciting a distributor in the state, and selling wine to that New York-based distributor. View "D&R Global Selections, S.L. v Bodega Olegario Falcon Pineiro" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed from an order of the Appellate Division affirming Supreme Court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a cause of action for fraudulent inducement against Chipotle Mexican Grill and its chief executive officer. As grounds for its decision, the Appellate Division concluded that Plaintiff’s damages were speculative and the facts alleged did not support an inference of calculable damages. The dissent concluded that the case should proceed to discovery to allow Plaintiff to accumulate evidence of a pecuniary loss because the pleading must be construed liberally and damages need not be proven during the pleading stage. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to plead a cause of action for fraudulent inducement because he did not allege any out-of-pocket loss and otherwise plead a recoverable harm. View "Connaughton v Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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The Attorney General filed suit against defendants, two former officers of AIG, under the Martin Act, Gen. Bus. Law art. 23-A, and Executive Law 63(12). On appeal, defendants challenged the availability of equitable relief. The court held that the Attorney General's claims against defendants withstand summary judgment and, therefore, should proceed to trial. The court concluded that the Attorney General may obtain permanent injunctive relief under the Martin Act and Executive Law 63 (12) upon a showing of a reasonable likelihood of a continuing violation based upon the totality of the circumstances. Therefore, the court rejected defendants' argument that the Attorney General must show irreparable harm in order to obtain a permanent injunction. Furthermore, defendants' reliance upon State of New York v Fine - in which the court held that the Attorney General must demonstrate irreparable harm to obtain a preliminary injunction under the Martin Act - is misplaced. Finally, the court concluded that disgorgement is an available remedy under the Martin Act and the Executive Law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the Appellate Division. View "People v Greenberg" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

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Google Inc. and On2 Technologies, Inc. entered into a merger agreement in 2009. Thereafter, Plaintiff brought a class action on behalf of himself and other similarly situated On2 shareholders, alleging that On2’s board of directors had breached its fiduciary duty to its shareholders. Plaintiffs subsequently agreed with One2 and its directors to settle all claims with respect to the merger. After a hearing, Supreme Court found the settlement to be fair and in the best interest of the class members but refused to approve the settlement because it did not afford out-of-state class members of the opportunity to opt out, thereby prohibiting class members from pursuing any individual claims that are separate and apart from the class settlement. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the lower courts properly refused to approve the proposed settlement because the settlement would deprive out-of-state class members of a cognizable property interest. View "Jiannaras v. Alfant" on Justia Law

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In 2012, Defendant Kenneth Cole proposed a going-private merger of Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. that was subject to approval by both a special committee of independent directors and a majority of the minority shareholders. Several shareholders, including Plaintiff, commenced separate class actions alleging breach of fiduciary duty by Cole and the directors. Although the shareholder vote occurred after an amended complaint was filed, 99.8 percent of the minority shareholders voted in favor of the merger. In the amended complaint, Plaintiff sought a judgment declaring that Cole and the directors had breached the fiduciary duties they owed to the minority shareholders, an award of damages to the class, and a judgment enjoining the merger. Supreme Court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) in reviewing challenges to going-private mergers, New York courts should apply the business judgment rule as long as certain shareholder-protective conditions are present; (2) if those measures are not present, the entire fairness standard should be applied; and (3) applying that standard to this case, the courts below properly determined that Plaintiff’s allegations did not withstand Defendants’ motions to dismiss. View "In re Kenneth Cole Prods., Inc." on Justia Law