Justia Arkansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation
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Holline and William Parsons (Plaintiffs) were enrolled in Today's Option, a Medicare Advantage Plan sponsored by the Pyramid Life Insurance Company (Pyramid). After Plaintiffs were each disenrolled from their respective plans, they brought suit against Pyramid, asserting numerous state law claims. The circuit court granted Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment in part declaring that the Medicare Act did not provide the exclusive remedy for Plaintiffs' claims in this case. Pyramid then moved for Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b) certification and a stay pending appeal, requesting permission to file an interlocutory appeal on the issues of whether Plaintiffs' state-law claims arose under the Medicare Act and whether their claims, to the extent they did not arise under the Act, were expressly preempted by the Act. The circuit court certified this appeal pursuant to Rule 54(b). The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal without prejudice, holding that the finding supporting Rule 54(b) certification was in error. View "Pyramid Life Ins. Co. v. Parsons" on Justia Law

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State Farm filed a complaint for negligence against Appellant, alleging that Appellant was at fault in an automobile accident with State Farm's insured. Appellant counterclaimed, alleging that State Farm was unjustly enriched as a result of having engaged in the deceptive and unlawful business practice of causing collection-style letters to be mailed in an attempt to collect unadjudicated, potential subrogation claims as debts. Appellant's counterclaim identified two putative classes. State Farm filed a motion to strike the class allegations. Rather than granting the motion to strike class allegations, the circuit court denied class certification "for the reasons stated in State Farm's motion." The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court acted without due consideration of the Court's foregoing case law on typicality, commonality, and predominance and therefore abused its discretion in prematurely denying class certification at the early pleading stage of this case. Remanded. View "Kersten v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Appellant requested her medical records from a medical clinic. Pursuant to its contract with Appellant's medical care provider, Healthport, Inc., a private company that fulfills such requests for medical records, obtained and sold Appellant the copies of her requested medical records. Healthport collected sales tax on charges for services rendered in retrieving and copying the medical records. Appellant subsequently filed a class-action complaint against Healthport for violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA), unjust enrichment, and a declaratory judgment that Healthport illegally collected the sales tax. Healthport impleaded the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DF&A) by filing a counterclaim and a third-party complaint seeking declaratory judgment on whether the State's tax statutes require the collection of sales tax on labor and copy charges associated with the production of medical records. The circuit court granted Healthport's and DF&A's motions for summary judgment, finding that sales tax applied to the sale of copies of medical records and that this conclusion rendered Appellant's additional claims moot. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal without prejudice for lack of a proper Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b) certificate, as the circuit court's Rule 54(b) certificate failed to comply with Rule 54(b). View "Holbrook v. Healthport, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellants filed a complaint against Appellees asserting claims for conspiracy, fraud, and violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act after Appellees took control of a biotech company and bought out the former CEO of the company. The circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of Appellees. Appellants then filed a motion to reconsider seeking to vacate the judgment, which was denied. On appeal, Appellees filed motions to dismiss Appellants' appeal, alleging that Appellants' motion to reconsider was a nullity and that the notice of appeal was untimely because it was not filed within thirty days of entry of summary judgment. The Supreme Court denied the motions to dismiss, holding that the motion to reconsider was a valid motion. View "Muccio v. Hunt" on Justia Law

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Appellee initiated this putative class-action lawsuit against DIRECTV, seeking damages for herself individually and on behalf of other former DIRECTV subscribers who paid an early cancellation fee to DIRECTV after they terminated DIRECTV's service. Appellee alleged that DIRECTV's enforcement and collection of its early cancellation fee was deceptive and unconscionable in violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Appellee moved to certify the litigation as a class action. DIRECTV moved to compel Appellee to arbitration in accordance with the arbitration provision in the customer agreement that DIRECTV alleged had been mailed with Appellee's first billing statement. The circuit court denied the motion to compel arbitration and granted Appellee's motion for class certification. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court correctly denied DIRECTV's motion to compel Appellee to arbitration on the basis that Appellee cancelled her service so quickly she did not assent to the arbitration agreement by her continued use of service; and (2) there was no merit to DIRECTV's arguments for reversal of the class-certification order. View "DIRECTV, Inc. v. Murray" on Justia Law

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Defendant Jack Boyajian, a licensed attorney, was engaged by clients seeking recovery of debts from individuals. The State brought a consumer-protection complaint against Boyajian and his two law offices asserting violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA). The circuit court entered summary judgment finding violations of the ADTPA, assessed a civil penalty, and enjoined Defendants from conducting business in Arkansas until the civil penalty was paid. Boyajian appealed. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the case, holding (1) the ADTPA is inapplicable to an attorney collecting on debts in the course of the practice of law; and (2) because Boyajian was engaged in the practice of law at the time of the alleged acts, the ADTPA was not applicable. View "Boyajian v. State" on Justia Law

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Corey McMillan, individually and on behalf of a purported class, filed a complaint against Live Nation Entertainment and Ticketmaster (collectively Ticketmaster), alleging that Ticketmaster charged fees in excess of the printed ticket price to musical or entertainment events in Arkansas and asserting that the additional charges violated Ark. Code Ann. 5-63-201(a)(1)(B), which makes it unlawful for any person, corporation, firm, or partnership to offer for sale any ticket to any music entertainment event at a greater price than that printed on the ticket or the advertised price of the ticket. The Arkansas Supreme Court accepted certification from the U.S. district court to answer a question of Arkansas law and held that section 5-63-201 by its plain and unambiguous language applies to a person, corporation, firm, or partnership and does not exclude exclusive ticket agents of public facilities who sell music entertainment tickets that include in the price of the ticket additional fees, resulting in the price of the ticket being more than the face value and advertised price of the ticket. View "McMillan v. Live Nation Entm't, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellant Central Oklahoma Pipeline successfully bid for the construction of a natural gas pipeline. Appellant subsequently sued the companies that engaged it (the Hawk defendants), and an engineering company (CTS), asserting (1) against the Hawk defendants, claims for breach of contract and a violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA); and (2) against CTS, negligence or failing to give notice of its requirement to inform Appellant of the necessity of having a contractor's license. Appellant then filed an amended complaint adding Lee Hallmark and several John Does as defendants, contending that they were employees of the Hawk defendants and that their negligence was imputed to the Hawk defendants under the doctrine of respondeat superior. The circuit court granted the defendants' motions for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in (1) ruling that Ark. Code Ann. 17-25-103(d) barred Appellant's claims for breach of contract and a violation of the ADTPA; (2) determining that section 17-25-103(d) was constitutional; and (3) ruling that Ark. Code Ann. 17-25-313 does not impose a tort duty on engineers who fail to inform prospective bidders that they must have a contractor's license. View "Cent. Okla. Pipeline, Inc. v. Hawk Field Servs., LLC" on Justia Law

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Metropolitan National Bank (MNB) loaned Grand Valley Ridge several million dollars for the completion of a subdivision. After Grand Valley failed to make its interest payments, MNB filed a petition for foreclosure. Grand Valley and Thomas Terminella, a member of Grand Valley (collectively, Appellants), filed an amended counterclaim alleging various causes of action. During the trial, the circuit court granted Appellants' motion to take a voluntary nonsuit of their claims of negligence and tortious interference with contract. The circuit court held in favor of MNB. The court subsequently granted MNB's petition for foreclosure and awarded a judgment against Appellants. Thereafter, Appellants filed a complaint alleging their original nonsuited counterclaims and adding additional claims. MNB moved to dismiss Appellants' complaint and filed a motion for sanctions. The circuit court granted both motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding, inter alia, (1) because Appellants brought claims clearly barred by the statute of limitations, the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in awarding sanctions; and (2) the circuit court properly granted summary judgment for MNB on Grand Valley's nonsuited issues based on the applicable statute of limitations. View "Grand Valley Ridge LLC v. Metropolitan Nat'l Bank" on Justia Law

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The State brought a consumer-protection action against Bennett & DeLoney, a Utah law firm, and the owners and principals thereof to redress and restrain alleged violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA). The thrust of the complaint alleged that Bennett & DeLoney violated the ADTPA by attempting to collect penalties on dishonored checks greater than those amounts permitted by Ark. Code Ann. 4-60-103. The circuit court (1) granted partial summary judgment for the State, finding that the collection of amounts in excess of those set forth in section 4-60-103 violated the ADTPA; and (2) found that section 4-60-103 provided an exclusive remedy for recovery on dishonored checks and that the use of remedies set forth in Ark. Code Ann. 4-2-701, relating to a seller's incidental damages, was not permitted. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed, holding that the ADTPA has no application to the practice of law by attorneys, and the circuit court erred in concluding otherwise. View "Bennett & Deloney P.C. v. State" on Justia Law