NPR reports about the pink slime libel suit.
When a shipment of sand was tainted by excess moisture, the contract between the two companies involved in the transaction required that any suit be filed within four months of the delivery. As the plaintiff corporation’s suit was filed over two years later, it was untimely.
In 2014, Vesuvius Corporation and American Commercial Lines, LLC (“ACBL”), entered into a shipping contract to transport olivine sand from New Orleans, Louisiana to Vesuvius’ facility in Wurtland, Kentucky, by way of a river barge. The shipment arrived in January 2015, at which time Vesuvius’ employees inspected the cargo and found it damaged by excess moisture. The employees notified ACBL, and ACBL arranged for a surveyor to perform an inspection that same day. The surveyor found no structural defect in the barge, and instead concluded that the sand was wet when it was loaded and that some of that moisture had evaporated during transit, condensed on the overhead portion of the cargo space, and dripped back onto the sand. The surveyor filed his report with ACBL on Feb. 23, and ACBL promptly contacted Vesuvius to disclaim liability. Continue reading
Justice Clarence Thomas has just called for a reconsideration of the landmark 1964 case of The New York Times v. Sullivan, but the timing of this call is interesting. It came right after Trump’s complaints that the current libel laws make it too difficult for public figures to win libel lawsuits – disregarding the fact that that’s the point.
According to Thomas, the decision was not Constitutional, nor was it in the spirit of the founding fathers who drafted and ratified the Constitution. Instead, Thomas claims they were policy-driven decisions that were disguised as constitutional law.
Despite the fact that the First Amendment is part of a federal document governing the entire country, Thomas claims the duty of protecting citizens’ rights should remain with the states, claiming the states were perfectly capable of handling cases of libel on their own until the case in question came into existence in 1964 – almost 175 years after the First Amendment was ratified. Thomas thinks the states are able on their own to walk that fine line between encouraging public discussion and providing a reasonable remedy for any potential harm that one’s reputation might suffer, but the facts of the case tell a different story.
The lawsuit was filed by L.B. Sullivan over an advertisement that ran in The Times to support the civil rights movement. Sullivan was a city commissioner for the city of Montgomery, AL. His name wasn’t even mentioned in the ad, but he filed his libel lawsuit anyway and won a whopping $500,000 in the lower courts. It was just one of many such lawsuits filed by Southern politicians as a way to prevent the civil rights movement from gaining national attention.
When the case reached the Supreme Court, all nine judges ruled in favor of The Times. Continue reading
When a holding company guaranteed lease that a subsidiary assumed for railcars, and then failed to honor guaranty when subsidiary defaulted on the lease, judgment in favor of railcar supplier was affirmed. The appellate panel found that the holding company’s guaranty was a contract to pay a debt, not a lease for goods or services, and the Uniform Commercial Code did not apply as a result.
In January 2003, Ponderosa Petroleum Company entered into a lease with General Electric Railcar Services Corporation for 47 railcars to carry crude petroleum. Over the next several years, the companies executed several riders to the lease agreement extending the term of the lease agreement. The last extension gave the agreement a termination date of February 2020. In April 2015, Associated Energy Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of NuDevco Partners Holdings, assumed the obligation to make payments under the lease, though Ponderosa remained the party to the lease.
In September 2015, Union Tank acquired the lease, riders, and railcars from General Electric Capital Corporation. That same month, Associated Energy sent a notice of termination of the lease to GE Railcar, citing as a justification that the railcars were approaching the end of their permitted use to haul crude oil. The lease did not authorize termination for this reason. Associated Energy then began to return the railcars to Union Tank, and discontinued rental payments at the end of the month. Union Tank invoked NuDevco Partners’ lease guaranty, but NuDevco refused to honor it. Continue reading
When a restaurant owner was sued for broadcasting DirecTV and paying only residential subscription rates instead of higher commercial subscription rates, the owner could not seek coverage under the insurance policy. The policy protected against suits for libel, slander, or defamation, and even though DirecTV had alleged that the owner had damaged its reputation, the owner was not alleged to have made any statement, and therefore the facts did not indicate any act of libel, slander, or defamation entitling the owner to a defense of the suit.
Martinsville Corral, Inc. owns two Texas Corral restaurants in Indiana. In December 2013, Society issued an insurance policy to MCI that provided general business liability coverage. MCI also purchased additional coverage under an “Employment-Related Practices Liability Endorsement.” The Endorsement requires Society to cover MCI for “damages resulting from a ‘wrongful act’ to which the policy applies.” Continue reading
Where dance academy and employee had an employment contract that specified non-compete provision lasting “not less than five years,” the provision meant five years under Illinois law, and the reasonableness of the restriction was a fact-based question requiring more evidence to determine.
In April 2017, Pam’s Academy of Dance/Forte Arts Center sued Callie Marik, a former employee, seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief. The complaint alleged breach of contract and violation of the Illinois Trade Secrets Act. Pam’s Academy alleged that Marik breached the parties’ non-disclosure and restrictive covenant agreement by opening a dance studio within 25 miles of Pam’s Academy and soliciting students and/or teachers from an improperly obtained customer list.
Marik moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that all of Pam’s Academy’s claims were defective because the provisions of the contract were invalid and unenforceable under Illinois law, and the complaint failed to allege a plausible basis for the allegation that Marik misappropriated a customer list. After a hearing, the trial court struck paragraph 7 of the original agreement, which banned Marik from soliciting, interfering with, diverting, or otherwise communicating with any customers or employees of the academy for purposes of providing similar services as the academy. The court found that this restriction, having no time limitation, was overly broad. The court then certified two questions for interlocutory review seeking an answer as to whether employment-based restrictive covenants with time periods of not less than five years and not less than three years were enforceable under Illinois law, and whether, in the context of employment-based restrictive covenants, whether the terms “not less than five years” and “not less than three years” meant five and three years, respectively. The Illinois Appellate Court, Third District authorized the appeal. Continue reading
When two sisters, minority shareholders and directors of a moving company, were denied access to corporate books, the trial court erred in finding that, as corporate directors, they had absolute access to corporate records. Rather, they had presumptive access and the corporation was required to demonstrate that request for documents was made for the improper purpose.
Barbara Munroe-Diamond, Sally Sharkey, James P. Munroe, and Michael F. Munroe are siblings and the shareholders and directors of the Pickens-Kane Moving and Storage Company. In the winter of 2013, the board of directors hired Ft. Dearborn Partners, Inc. to provide a fair market value for the company’s stock. The next summer, a valuation of $3158 per share for controlling share and $1522 per share for minority shares was issued. Controlling shares of the company were entirely owned by James and Michael Munroe, while Barbara and Sally owned minority shares.
The board of directors unanimously authorized the company to redeem minority shares for $1522 per share. In early 2015, following negotiation, the company paid $1600 per share for minority shares. Every minority shareholder except Barbara and Sally redeemed their stock. Both sit on the board of directors. In July 2016, Barbara and Sally made a demand upon the company to make available for inspection and copying any and all documents pertaining to the corporate minutes, stock certificates, lists of assets and liabilities, and other business records. James and Michael refused to comply with the request, arguing that Barbara and Sally gave no purpose for their request or how their request related to their duties as directors.
After negotiations for the records failed, the sisters filed a mandamus action in Illinois court seeking to compel production of the records. The circuit court entered an interim order requiring the brothers to allow access to the books, finding that the sisters, as directors, had an absolute and unqualified right to examine the books and records of the corporation. The brothers then appealed. Continue reading
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