Justia Arkansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries
Articles Posted in Commercial Law
Ashley Hartness entered into an oral agreement with Restoration Plus, which was owned by Rick Nuckles, for the restoration of his 1968 Pontiac Firebird. Dissatisfied with the restoration, Hartness filed suit against Nuckles, alleging breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, money had and received (unjust enrichment), conversion, fraud, deceit, and false representation. The circuit court entered judgment for Nuckles, finding that Hartness failed to comply with the notice requirement of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), which requires a party bringing suit on a warranty to notify the breaching party before filing suit. The court also rejected the remaining claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) if breach of warranty claims exist for a contract that is exclusively for services, the UCC notice requirements apply, and the circuit court did not err in ruling that Hartness’s claims for breach of warranty failed for lack of notice; and (2) the circuit court did not err in ruling that Hartness could not recover for unjust enrichment or conversion. View "Hartness v. Nuckles" on Justia Law
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
Posted in: Antitrust & Trade Regulation, Arkansas Supreme Court, Banking, Commercial Law, Consumer Law, Contracts, Injury Law
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
Posted in: Antitrust & Trade Regulation, Arkansas Supreme Court, Commercial Law, Consumer Law, Legal Ethics
This case began as a criminal action filed by the City of Clinton against Southern Paramedic Services, alleging that Southern Paramedic violated two of the City ordinances prohibiting an entity from engaging in the ambulance business within the City without first obtaining a franchise from the City Council. At issue was whether Southern Paramedic qualified for an exemption under Arkansas's Municipal Ambulance Licensing Act as an ambulance service provider who is "not-for-hire on a fee-for-service basis." The City filed a declaratory-judgment action seeking an interpretation of the statute. The circuit court eventually found that Southern Paramedic remained "not for hire" to the general public within the City. The City appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as moot, as the issue of whether Southern Paramedic was "not-for-hire on a fee-for-service basis" and not subject to the City's regulation was moot because the ordinances under which the City sought to regulate Southern Paramedic had been repealed. View "City of Clinton v. S. Paramedic Servs., Inc." on Justia Law
Shipping Point Marketing (SPM), an independent shipper, and three other independent shippers engaged Western Brokerage (Western) to arrange for he transportation of produce from Arizona to Pennsylvania and New York. Hotfoot Logistics (Hotfoot), a transportation broker in Arkansas, agreed to transport the produce through Freight Ambulance (Freight), its carrier. Freight delivered the produce, but Hotfoot allegedly was not paid for the freight charges. Hotfoot and Freight filed suit against SPM, the other shippers, and Western for breach of contract and David and Louis Fishgold for fraud. Western and other shippers were dismissed on various grounds. The circuit court then dismissed the complaint on the basis that the circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court dismissed Hotfoot's and Freight's appeal without prejudice for lack of a final, appealable order, as a named defendant, one of the independent shippers, was never dismissed from the case. View "Hotfoot Logistics LLC v. Shipping Point Mktg., Inc." on Justia Law
Appellant Crafton, Tull, Sparks & Associates (CTSA) appealed an order of the circuit court granting summary judgment against CTSA and finding that CTSA's lien was second in priority to Appellee Metropolitan National Bank's lien on certain property. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal without prejudice, holding that there was not a final order in this case nor was there an Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b) certification. The Court concluded (1) it was impossible for the Court to determine if all claims and parties pertaining to the complaint had been settled; (2) the record contained no final disposition as to Metropolitan's claims against two individual defendants; and (3) The status of CTSA's breach-of-contract claims against individual defendants and its monetary-judgment claim against another party was unclear.
Rudolph Slater was killed while operating a Yanmar tractor he purchased from Chris Elder Enterprises. The tractor had been manfactured by Yanmar Japan and later sold to Chris Elder Enterprises. Slater's wife, Wanda, filed a wrongful-death action against, among others, Yanmar Japan and Yanmar America, alleging claims for, inter alia, fraud, strict liability, breach of implied and express warranties, and negligence. The circuit court entered judgment in favor of Wanda, awarding her damages in the amount of $2.5 million. The Yanmar defendants appealed. The Supreme Court reversed and dismissed the case, holding (1) the circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction over Yanmar Japan, as there was no evidence to establish that Yanmar Japan had the requisite minimum contacts with the forum to warrant the exercise of general jurisdiction, and there was insufficient proof to show that personal jurisdiction could be predicated on the relationship between Yanmar Japan and its subsidiary, Yanmar America; and (2) the jury's finding that Yanmar America was negligent was not supported by substantial evidence, as Yanmar America owed no duty of care to Rudolph.
Posted in: Antitrust & Trade Regulation, Arkansas Supreme Court, Commercial Law, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Injury Law
Appellee filed a complaint against Appellant, alleging the nonpayment of goods totaling $713,970. Appellant did not answer the complaint, and the circuit court entered a default judgment awarding the amount alleged in the complaint, plus interest and costs. Appellant subsequently filed a motion to set aside default judgment and dismiss the case, contending that the summons did not bear a valid signature of the clerk as required by Ark. R. Civ. P. 4(b) and that the default judgment must be set aside as void under Ark. R. Civ. P. 55(c). The circuit court refused to set aside the default judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly found that the summons here was indeed valid.
The Arkansas Health Services Permit Commission awarded Hospitality Care Center a permit of approval (POA) for a nursing facility. Gracewood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center subsequently requested approval from the Commission to transfer the POA to it from Hospitality. Twin Rivers Health and Rehab opposed the transfer. The Commission ultimately granted the transfer of the POA. Twin Rivers sought judicial review of the Commission's decision and declaratory relief, naming as defendants the Commission, the Arkansas Health Services Permit Agnecy (AHSPA), Gracewood, and Hospitality. The circuit court granted the summary judgment motion of the Commission and the AHSPA and affirmed the Commission's decision. The Supreme Court (1) reversed and remanded the matter with directions to enter findings of fact and conclusions of law because the Commission did not set forth any findings of fact or conclusions of law to support its decision to grant the transfer of the POA; and (2) dismissed without prejudice that portion of the appeal relating to Twin Rivers's request for summary judgment, as the Court does not hear appeals piecemeal.
The Faigins owned a lot in the Diamante subdivision. Diamante asserted a lien on the Faigins' lot for failure to pay monthly membership dues and thereafter filed a complaint in foreclosure on the lot. The Faigins filed a motion for class certification so that they could be sued as representative parties on behalf of all lot owners in the Diamante subdivisions. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) although the circuit court abused its discretion by basing part of its decision on the question of commonality upon the ability of the proposed class to withstand a Ark. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion, (2) the element of commonality was lacking in this case where there were only seven lot owners who were in foreclosure and the Faigins' defenses to the complaint were not common to the overwhelming majority of the proposed class, and (3) because Ark. R. Civ. P. 23 requires that all elements be present before class certification is appropriate, and at least one element was lacking here, class certification was appropriately denied.
Posted in: Arkansas Supreme Court, Commercial Law, Consumer Law, Contracts, Real Estate & Property Law, Zoning, Planning & Land Use