Justia White Collar Crime Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Contracts
Global Network Management, Ltd. v. CenturyLink Latin American Solutions, LLC
This diversity case arises out of the theft—possibly by a group of third-party contractors—of 1,380 memory cards that belonged to Global Network Management, LTD., and were stored in a data center operated by Centurylink Latin American Solutions, LLC. Global Network sued Centurylink for implied bailment, breach of contract implied in law, and breach of contract implied in fact to hold Centurylink liable for the theft of the memory cards. The district court dismissed all of the claims with prejudice, and Global Network now appeals. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. The court held that the district court correctly dismissed the contract implied in law and contract implied in fact claims. But Global Network plausibly alleged that Centurylink possessed the memory cards at the time of the theft, and as a result, the implied bailment claim survives at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage. The court explained that according to Centurylink, Global Network’s ability to visit the servers means that it did not possess the servers exclusively, and as a result, no bailment relationship was formed. But this argument does not carry the day at this stage of the proceeding, where the standard is plausibility and not probability. The court noted that it does not hold there was an implied bailment as a matter of fact or law; it only held that Global Network plausibly alleged an implied bailment. View "Global Network Management, Ltd. v. CenturyLink Latin American Solutions, LLC" on Justia Law
Liberty Insurance Corp. v. Techdan, LLC
The issue this case presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court's consideration was whether claims brought under the Insurance Fraud Protection Act (IFPA) and the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) by plaintiffs Liberty Insurance Corp. and LM Insurance Corp. (Liberty) against defendants Techdan, LLC (Techdan), Exterior Erecting Services, Inc. (Exterior), Daniel Fisher, Robert Dunlap, and Carol Junz were subject to the apportionment procedure of the Comparative Negligence Act (CNA). Liberty issued workers’ compensation policies to Techdan from 2004 to 2007. It alleged defendants misrepresented the relationship between Techdan and Exterior and the ownership structure of the two entities and provided fraudulent payroll records to reduce the premiums for workers’ compensation insurance. Techdan was indicted for second-degree theft by deception, and Dunlap entered a guilty plea to that charge on Techdan’s behalf. The court granted partial summary judgment as to Liberty’s IFPA claim for insurance fraud against Techdan, Exterior, Dunlap, and Fisher; partial summary judgment as to Liberty’s workers’ compensation fraud claim against all defendants; and partial summary judgment as to Liberty’s breach of contract claim against Techdan and Exterior. The court denied summary judgment as to Liberty’s remaining claims. The jury found Techdan liable for $454,660 in compensatory damages and found Exterior liable for $227,330 in compensatory damages, but awarded no compensatory damages against Dunlap, Fisher, or Junz. It awarded punitive damages in the amount of $200,000 against Dunlap, $10,000 against Fisher, and $45,000 against Junz, but awarded no punitive damages against Techdan or Exterior. The trial court determined all defendants should be jointly and severally liable for the $756,990 awarded as compensatory damages. The Appellate Division held the trial court erred when it imposed joint and several liability on defendants rather than directing the jury to allocate percentages of fault to defendants in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2A:15-5.2(a)(2). The Division concluded the trial court’s cumulative errors warranted a new trial, and it remanded for further proceedings. The Supreme Court concurred with the appellate court: the trial court should have charged the jury to allocate percentages of fault and should have molded the judgment based on the jury’s findings; the trial court’s failure to apply the CNA warranted a new trial on remand. The Court did not disturb the first jury’s findings on the issues of liability under the IFPA, the WCA, or Liberty’s common-law claims, or its determination of total compensatory damages. The Court found no plain error in the trial court’s failure to give the jury an ultimate outcome charge. View "Liberty Insurance Corp. v. Techdan, LLC" on Justia Law
Williams v. Nat. W. Life Ins. Co.
National Western Life Insurance Company (NWL) appealed after it was held liable for negligence and elder abuse arising from an NWL annuity sold to Barney Williams by Victor Pantaleoni. In 2016, Williams contacted Pantaleoni to revise a living trust after the death of Williams’ wife, but Pantaleoni sold him a $100,000 NWL annuity. When Williams returned the annuity to NWL during a 30-day “free look” period, Pantaleoni wrote a letter over Williams’ signature for NWL to reissue a new annuity. In 2017, when Williams cancelled the second annuity, NWL charged a $14,949.91 surrender penalty. The jury awarded Williams damages against NWL, including punitive damages totaling almost $3 million. In the Court of Appeal's prior opinion reversing the judgment, the Court concluded Pantaleoni was an independent agent who sold annuities for multiple insurance companies and had no authority to bind NWL. The Court determined that Pantaleoni was an agent for Williams, not NWL. The California Supreme Court vacated that decision and remanded, asking the appeals court to reconsider its finding that Pantaleoni did not have an agency relationship with National Western Life Insurance Company in light of Insurance Code sections 32, 101, 1662, 1704 and 1704.5 and O’Riordan v. Federal Kemper Life Assurance Company, 36 Cal.4th 281, 288 (2005). Upon remand, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment finding NWL liable for negligence and financial elder abuse. However, punitive damages assessed against NWL were reversed. The Court found no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s calculation of the attorney fee award, but remanded the case for the court to reconsider the award in light of the reversal of punitive damages. View "Williams v. Nat. W. Life Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Loreley Financing (Jersey) No. 3 Ltd. v. Wells Fargo
Plaintiffs filed suit for fraud, rescission, conspiracy, aiding and abetting, fraudulent conveyance, and unjust enrichment alleging that defendants had misrepresented that collateral managers would exercise independence in selecting assets for collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants.The Second Circuit affirmed and held that plaintiffs have failed to establish, by clear and convincing evidence, reliance on defendants' representations. In this case, plaintiffs based their investment decisions solely on the investment proposals their investment advisor developed; the advisor developed these detailed investment proposals based on offering materials defendants provided and on the advisor's own due diligence; plaintiffs premised their fraud claims on the advisor's reliance on defendants' representations; but New York law does not support this theory of third-party representations. The court also held that plaintiffs have failed to establish that defendants misrepresented or omitted material information for two of the three CDO deals at issue—the Octans II CDO and the Sagittarius CDO I. The court explained that defendants' representations that the collateral managers would exercise independence in selecting assets were not misrepresentations at all, and defendants did not have a duty to disclose their knowledge of the hedge fund's investment strategy because this information could have been discovered through the exercise of due care. View "Loreley Financing (Jersey) No. 3 Ltd. v. Wells Fargo" on Justia Law
Rainforest Chocolate, LLC v. Sentinel Insurance Company, Ltd.
Appellant Rainforest Chocolate, LLC appealed the grant of summary judgment motion in favor of appellee Sentinel Insurance Company, Ltd. Rainforest was insured under a business-owner policy offered by Sentinel. In May 2016, Rainforest’s employee received an email purporting to be from his manager. The email directed the employee to transfer $19,875 to a specified outside bank account through an electronic-funds transfer. Unbeknownst to the employee, an unknown individual had gained control of the manager’s email account and sent the email. The employee electronically transferred the money. Shortly thereafter when Rainforest learned that the manager had not sent the email, it contacted its bank, which froze its account and limited the loss to $10,261.36. Rainforest reported the loss to Sentinel. In a series of letters exchanged concerning coverage for the loss, Rainforest claimed the loss should be covered under provisions of the policy covering losses due to Forgery, for Forged or Altered Instruments, and for losses resulting from Computer Fraud. Sentinel denied coverage. In a continuing attempt to obtain coverage for the loss, Rainforest also claimed coverage under a provision of the policy for the loss of Money or Securities by theft. Sentinel again denied coverage, primarily relying on an exclusion for physical loss or physical damage caused by or resulting from False Pretense that concerned “voluntary parting” of the property—the False Pretense Exclusion. Finding certain terms in the policy at issue were ambiguous, the Vermont Supreme Court reversed summary judgment and remanded for the trial court to consider in the first instance whether other provisions in the policy could provide coverage for Rainforest's loss. View "Rainforest Chocolate, LLC v. Sentinel Insurance Company, Ltd." on Justia Law
Baek v. Clausen
Baek purchased property through his LLC and obtained financing from Labe Bank; Frank was the loan officer. Frank later moved to NCB and asked Baek to move his business, representing that NCB would provide a larger construction loan at a lower rate. In 2006, Baek entered a construction loan with NCB for $11,750,000. Baek executed a loan agreement, mortgage, promissory note, and commercial guaranty. Baek’s wife did not sign the guaranty at closing. NCB maintains that, 18 months after closing, she signed a guaranty. One loan modification agreement bears her signature but Baek‐Lee contends that it was forged and that she was out of the country on the signing date. NCB repeatedly demanded additional collateral and refused to disburse funds to contractors. The Baeks claim that NCB frustrated Baek’s efforts to comply with its demands. In 2010, NCB filed state suits for foreclosure and on the guaranty. The Baeks filed affirmative defenses and a counterclaim, then filed a breach of contract and fraud suit against NCB. The Baeks later filed a federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1964(c), suit alleging fraud. The state court granted NCB summary judgment. The federal district court dismissed, citing res judicata. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. There has been a final judgment on the merits with the same parties, in state court, on claims arising from a single group of operative facts. View "Baek v. Clausen" on Justia Law
Laguna Constr. Co. v. Carter
In 2003, the government awarded Laguna a contract for Worldwide Environmental Remediation and Construction (WERC). Under the contract, Laguna received 16 cost-reimbursable task orders to perform work in Iraq, and awarded subcontracts to several subcontractors. The physical work under the contract was completed by 2010. Laguna sought reimbursement of past costs, a portion of which the government refused to pay after an audit by the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, the government alleged that it was not liable because Laguna had committed a prior material breach by accepting subcontractor kickbacks (18 U.S.C. 371, 41 U.S.C. 53), excusing the government’s nonperformance. Three of Laguna’s officers were ultimately indicted for kickbacks. The Board granted the government summary judgment on that ground, The Federal Circuit affirmed. Laguna committed the first material breach by violating the contract’s Allowable Cost and Payment clause because its vouchers were improperly inflated to include the payment, Federal Acquisition Regulation 52.216-7. View "Laguna Constr. Co. v. Carter" on Justia Law
United States v. Segal
Segal, a lawyer, CPA, and insurance broker, and his company, were indicted for racketeering, mail and wire fraud, making false statements, embezzlement, and conspiring to interfere with operations of the IRS. Convicted in 2004, Segal was sentenced to 121 months in prison. After further proceedings, in 2011, he was resentenced to time served and ordered to pay $842,000 in restitution and to forfeit to the government his interest in the company and $15 million. In 2013, the parties entered a binding settlement that specified the final disposition of Segal’s assets. After the district judge approved the settlement the parties disagreed and returned to court. The agreement gave Segal two of eight insurance policies on his life outright and an option to purchase the others, but required that he exercise the option within six months of approval of the settlement. He opted to purchase one policy before the deadline and asked for an extension, claiming that the government had not promptly released money owed to him and had delayed his efforts to obtain information from the insurance companies. The Seventh Circuit affirmed refusal to extend the deadline, but reversed with respect to claims relating to Segal’s right to repurchase his shares of the Chicago Bulls basketball team. View "United States v. Segal" on Justia Law
Witasick v. Minn. Mut. Life Ins, Co.
Witasick was covered by a disability policy and a business overhead expense policy. His claims against both policies were honored. A dispute arose concerning coverage of some claimed business expenses. After years of negotiation, the parties settled: the insurer agreed to pay more than $4 million and Witasick agreed to release known, unknown, and future claims. The settlement contained a covenant not to sue, based on “any conduct prior to the date the Parties sign this document, or which is related to, or arises out of” the policies. During negotiations, the U.S. Government notified Witasick that he was the target of a grand jury investigation related to fraud and business expense claims on his income tax returns. Witasick was indicted in 2007. To support its charge of mail fraud, the government relied on information and documents Witasick had submitted to the insurer. An employee of the insurer testified before the Grand Jury and at Witasick’s trial. Witasick was convicted on most counts, but acquitted of mail fraud, and was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment. In 2011, Witasick sued the insurer based on the policies and cooperation with the prosecution. The Third Circuit affirmed dismissal, finding the claims prohibited by the settlement agreement. View "Witasick v. Minn. Mut. Life Ins, Co." on Justia Law
Aleynikov v. Goldman Sachs Grp., Inc
Aleynikov is a computer programmer who worked as a vice president at GSCo in 2007 through 2009. After accepting an employment offer from another company, Aleynikov copied source code developed at GSCo into computer files and transferred them out of GSCo. He was convicted of violations of the National Stolen Property Act, 18 U.S.C. 2314, and the Economic Espionage Act, 18 U.S.C. 1832. The Second Circuit reversed the conviction. He was then indicted by a New York grand jury and that case remains pending. Aleynikov filed a federal suit, seeking indemnification and advancement for his attorney’s fees from Goldman Sachs. He claims his right to indemnification and advancement under a portion of Goldman Sachs Group’s By-Laws that applies to non-corporate subsidiaries like GSCo, providing for indemnification and advancement to, among others, officers of GSCo. The district court granted summary judgment in Aleynikov’s favor on his claim for advancement but denied it on his claim for indemnification. The Third Circuit vacated with respect to advancement. The meaning of the term “officer" in GS Group’s By-Laws is ambiguous and the relevant extrinsic evidence raises genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment. The court otherwise affirmed. View "Aleynikov v. Goldman Sachs Grp., Inc" on Justia Law