Articles Posted in Commercial Law

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A Law Firm had an escrow account with a Bank and authorized an employee to sign checks on the account by herself. The employee began embezzling money from the Firm’s various escrow accounts by engaging in a scheme called “check-kiting,” which involved the employee writing and depositing checks between the Bank account and the Law Firm’s account at another bank. More than three years after the last activity on the Bank account the Law Firm sued the Bank, raising four claims, including violations of the Uniform Commercial Code and common-law causes of action. The court of appeals concluded that the claims were barred by the one-year repose period of Ky. Rev. Stat. 355.4-406. The Supreme Court affirmed on other grounds, holding that the claims were barred by the three-year statute of limitations under Ky. Rev. Stat. 355.4-111. View "Mark D. Dean, P.S.C. v. Commonwealth Bank & Trust Co." on Justia Law

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Certified Tool and Manufacturing Corporation purchased a Komatsu press and agreed in a “lease” to pay Capital Community Economic/Industrial Development Corporation monthly payments for the press. Certified Tool later obtained a loan from Delphi Automotive Systems, LLC and granted Delphi an interest in its property under a security agreement. Delphi perfected its security interest. After Certified Tool defaulted on the promissory note and security agreement, Delphi filed a declaratory judgment action asserting that its perfected security interest in the Komatsu press was superior to the unperfected security interest claimed by Capital Community. The court of appeals concluded that Capital Community’s security interest in the Komatsu press was not subject to the provisions of Article 9 of the state’s Uniform Commercial Code. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no basis for excusing Capital Community’s failure to comply with Article 9, and therefore, Delphi’s perfected security interest in the Komatsu press prevailed over Capital Community’s unperfected security interest. View "Delphi Auto. Sys., Inc. v. Capital Cmty." on Justia Law

Posted in: Commercial Law

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James Taylor sued Chase Bank for failure to comply with the Uniform Commercial Code in regard to a check that had been returned for insufficient funds. The trial court concluded that there was an arbitration agreement between the parties and referred the case to arbitration. The arbitrator later granted Chase’s motion to dismiss the claim because of Taylor’s delay in filing the arbitration claim. Thereafter, the trial court set aside its earlier order finding that an arbitration agreement existed and its referral of the case to arbitration and denied Chase’s motion to confirm the arbitration award. Chase took an interlocutory appeal of the order denying its motion to confirm the arbitration order, arguing that the trial court was bound to confirm the arbitrator’s decision. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court had the authority to set aside the order compelling arbitration after the arbitrator had rendered a dispositive order because the matter was not final and there was insufficient proof of the existence of a valid arbitration agreement. View "JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Bluegrass Powerboats" on Justia Law

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Creditor attempted to collect on debt incurred by a wholly-owned subsidiary, but the subsidiary had been deprived of all income and rendered asset-less by the acts of its parent and grandparent corporations (Appellees). Creditor sued Appellees, seeking to pierce the corporate veil and establish Appellees' liability for the judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment to Creditor and the court of appeals affirmed, finding it appropriate to pierce the corporate veil where the evidence showed the subsidiary was merely an instrumentality or alter ego of Appellees, operated by them to achieve tax benefits and avoid various liabilities. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding the lower courts properly pierced the subsidiary's corporate veil to hold Appellees liable for the debt to Creditor because Appellees exercised complete dominion and control over the subsidiary, depriving it of a separate existence, and both Appellees derived the benefits associated with the lease with Creditor while rendering the subsidiary an income-less and asset-less shell incapable of meeting its lease obligations. View "Inter-Tel Techs., Inc. v. Linn Station Props., LLC" on Justia Law

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General Electric (GE) obtained a judgment against Intra-Med for breach of contract. Thomas Schultz was the president and sole shareholder of Intra-Med. After collecting only a portion of the judgment, GE intervened in another lawsuit and filed a third-party complaint against Schultz seeking to pierce the corporate veil and hold him personally liable for the judgment against Intra-Med. The trial court entered judgment on the pleadings in favor of GE, allowing GE to pierce Intra-Med based upon the instrumentality theory of veil piercing. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding (1) none of Schultz's affirmative defenses negated the fact that he admittedly used corporate funds and property as his own to GE's detriment, and (2) Schultz's admissions fulfilled the requirements for piercing the corporate veil and supported the trial court's judgment on the pleadings. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court improperly granted GE's motion for judgment on the pleadings, as Schultz's admissions did not conclusively establish harm, fraud, or unjust loss, the three elements that must be established to warrant a piercing of the corporate veil under the instrumentality theory. View "Schultz v. Gen. Elec. Healthcare Fin. Servs., Inc." on Justia Law

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This case arose from a consolidated appeal. In the underlying cases, the respective property owners failed to satisfy their debt obligations to professional lending institutions, which precipitated the foreclosure proceedings. In both cases, the professional lenders asserted that their respective mortgages were superior to the general tax liens filed pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 134.420(2). The circuit court entered a judgment granting the professional lenders' liens priority over the other liens. The court of appeals determined that the circuit court had erred in reordering the priorities and reversed the judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals, holding (1) the prior-recorded section 134.420(2) tax liens enjoyed priority pursuant to the long established first-to-file doctrine; and (2) the doctrine of equitable subrogation does not act to relieve a professional lender of a negligent title examination. View "Wells Fargo Bank v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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In this case the Kentucky Supreme Court considered whether to adopt the "economic loss rule," which prevents the commercial purchaser of a product from suing in tort to recover for the economic losses arising from the malfunction of the product itself. The case involved a claim to insurers for a damaged piece of machinery. The insurers sued the manufacturers to recover the amount paid, claiming several causes of action including negligence, strict liability, and negligent misrepresentation. The trial court held the economic loss rule barred the tort claims. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's adoption and application of the rule. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding (1) the economic loss rule applies to claims arising from a defective product sold in a commercial transaction, and that the relevant product is the entire item bargained for by the parties and placed in the stream of commerce by the manufacturer; and (2) the economic loss rule applies regardless of whether the product fails over a period of time or destroys itself in a calamitous event, and the rule's application is not limited to negligence and strict liability claims but also encompasses negligent misrepresentation claims. View "Giddings & Lewis, Inc. v. Industrial Risk Insurers" on Justia Law