Articles Posted in Commercial Law

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Arundel Valley, LLC, the developer of a facility for a butter manufacturer, filed a complaint against Branch River Plastics, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of insulated roofing panels, alleging, inter alia, defects in roofing panels that Branch River had manufactured and supplied to Arundel Valley for a construction project. A jury found in Arundel Valley’s favor on its claims that Branch River breached implied warranties by supplying defective roofing panels. Branch River filed a motion for a new trial, which the court denied. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in declining to adjudicate whether Branch River had disclaimed implied warranties. Remanded. View "Arundel Valley, LLC v. Branch River Plastics, Inc." on Justia Law

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Darling’s Auto Mall is a franchisee of General Motors LLC (GM) and and authorized dealer. Darling’s filed two small claims actions in district court alleging that it had been underpaid by GM for certain warranty repairs in violation of the Business Practices Between Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, Distributors and Dealers Act (Dealers Act). The district court ruled in favor of Darling’s on both small claims. GM appealed and requested a jury trial de novo. The superior court granted GM’s request. After a jury trial, the superior court entered a judgment in favor of GM. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the superior court’s decision to grant a jury trial de novo was not an appealable determination; (2) the trial court did not err in denying Darling’s motion for judgment as a matter of law; and (3) the trial court properly rejected Darling’s proposed jury instructions. View "Darling's Auto Mall v. General Motors LLC" on Justia Law

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Darling’s Auto Mall is a franchisee of General Motors LLC (GM) and and authorized dealer. Darling’s filed two small claims actions in district court alleging that it had been underpaid by GM for certain warranty repairs in violation of the Business Practices Between Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, Distributors and Dealers Act (Dealers Act). The district court ruled in favor of Darling’s on both small claims. GM appealed and requested a jury trial de novo. The superior court granted GM’s request. After a jury trial, the superior court entered a judgment in favor of GM. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the superior court’s decision to grant a jury trial de novo was not an appealable determination; (2) the trial court did not err in denying Darling’s motion for judgment as a matter of law; and (3) the trial court properly rejected Darling’s proposed jury instructions. View "Darling's Auto Mall v. General Motors LLC" on Justia Law

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Wells Fargo Bank, NA (the Bank) filed a complaint for foreclosure against David and Lee Anne deBree, alleging that the deBrees were in default of a mortgage note owned by the Bank. The complaint also alleged that the Bank was a successor by merger to Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc. The deBrees denied they were in default and denied the allegation that the Bank was successor to Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Bank. At issue on appeal was an affidavit submitted by the Bank in favor of its motion that showed the rights on the note and mortgage were transferred not to Wells Fargo Bank, NA, but rather to Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc. The Supreme Court vacated the summary judgment and remanded, holding that the Bank failed to offer evidence that it owned the deBrees' mortgage and note, and therefore, it failed to demonstrate that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Wells Fargo Bank, NA v. deBree" on Justia Law

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Lewis Hatch signed a promissory note to an institution later renamed to The Bank of Maine. Although Lewis alone signed the note, both Lewis and Kathleen Hatch secured it by mortgaging undeveloped land. The Bank subsequently filed a foreclosure complaint, and later filed a motion for summary judgment. In support of its motion, the Bank relied on an affidavit of its own employee. The superior court entered summary judgment in favor of the Bank. The Hatches appealed, challenging the foundation presented by the Bank to support the admissibility of its mortgage records pursuant to the business records exception to the hearsay rule. The Supreme Court affirmed the summary judgment, holding that court did not abuse its discretion in considering the evidence, as the affidavit was sufficient to support the foundational facts required for the admissibility of the Bank's business records. View "The Bank of Maine v. Hatch" on Justia Law

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Galen Porter was the sole shareholder in County Forest Products. Porter began operating a fuel delivery business as Porter Cash Fuel but never registered that name with the Secretary of State. Porter ordered fuel and gas from A.E. Robinson in a series of transactions that continued for three years. Ultimately, the business relationship deteriorated, and A.E. Robinson refused to deliver any more products. A.E. Robinson sued County Forest and Porter seeking payment on the account. Following a non-jury trial, the court entered judgment for A.E. Robinson jointly and severally against County Forest and Porter in the amount of the invoices plus financing charges and attorney fees. The Supreme Court modified the judgment to remove the award of attorney fees and affirmed as modified, holding that the trial court (1) properly held Porter and County Forest jointly and severally liable; but (2) erred in awarding attorney fees to A.E. Robinson pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 2-207. View "A.E. Robinson Oil Co. v. County Forest Products, Inc. " on Justia Law

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Fore LLC, a Maine entity, purchased a Maine business from a New Hampshire client of William Benoit, a Massachusetts-based accountant. Fore sued Benoit, alleging that Benoit fraudulently misrepresented that the tax returns he prepared for the Maine business were accurate. The superior court granted Benoit's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court vacated the superior court's judgment, concluding that Fore made the requisite prima facie showing that Benoit's contacts with Maine were related to the claims in this case and that they were sufficient for the exercise of personal jurisdiction. Remanded to determine whether it was reasonable to require Benoit to defend this action in Maine. View "Fore, LLC v. Benoit" on Justia Law

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After Valley Firewood and Tree Farm (collectively, Valley) terminated its firewood business, Gary Voisine, on behalf of Valley, filed a three-count shareholder's derivative action against Valley and Robert Berube, a shareholder and president of Valley. After a bench trial, the superior court found Berube breached his duty to act in good faith toward Valley and awarded damages to Valley in the amount of $1,500,000, with half that sum, $750,000 plus interest and costs, to be paid over to Voisine. At issue on appeal was whether Valley itself was damaged and suffered losses as a result of Berube's conduct and whether Voisine had standing to bring the derivative action on Valley's behalf. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court, holding that Voisine lacked standing to bring a shareholder's derivative action on behalf of Valley and was not entitled to damages as a matter of law because Voisine participated in the division of assets of Valley, received the benefits of that distribution, and created a corporation to sell firewood formerly sold by Valley that was intended to replace Valley. View "Voisine v. Berube" on Justia Law

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Arrow Financial Services filed a complaint against Sarah Guiliani alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Arrow then filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to establish that Arrow owned a credit card account registered to Guiliani and that Guiliani owed an unpaid balance of $5044 on the account. In support of its motion, Arrow asserted in an affidavit that it was the assignee of Guiliani's credit card account with Washington Mutural. The district court granted Arrow's motion and awarded Arrow $3493, plus interest and court costs. The Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment, holding that the district court incorrectly granted summary judgment in favor of Arrow because disputes remained as to material facts regarding the balance due on the account and its assignment to Arrow. View "Arrow Fin. Servs., LLC v. Guiliani" on Justia Law

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Liberty Group (Liberty) retained Reliable Copy Service (Reliable) to provide services in connection with litigation. Later, Reliable filed a complaint in a Pennsylvania court of common pleas in an effort to collect on the sums owed. The Pennsylvania court subsequently entered a default judgment against Liberty. Following the end of the litigation in the Pennsylvania court, a Maine superior court entered a judgment in favor of Reliable and issued a writ of execution at Reliable's request. Liberty filed a motion for relief from judgment, arguing that the Pennsylvania default judgment was not enforceable in Maine because the Pennsylvania default judgment was void. The superior court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Pennsylvania judgment suffered from no jurisdiction defect or due process impediment that would render it void pursuant to Me. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(4); and (2) Liberty's procedural due process rights were not violated when Reliable requested and received from the Pennsylvania court an increased damages award. View "Reliable Copy Serv., Inc. v. Liberty" on Justia Law