Articles Tagged with 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

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7th Circuit Court Seal

Continental Casualty Company v. Symons, et al.
7th Circuit Court of Appeals Citation: 14-2665, 14-2671 & 15-106

Decided: March 22, 2016

This fraudulent transfer case pits 2 insurance company’s – as well as the controlling family of the seller and their related businesses – against one another. despite some fancy footwork on the part of the sellers, the Court saw through the ruse to the heart of the deceit. The upshot: if it quacks like a duck then it probably is. To nobody’s surprise, fraudulent transfers were found and liability followed close behind.

Factual Background

IGF Insurance Company owed Continental Casualty Company more than $25 million for a crop-insurance business it bought in 1998. In 2002 IGF resold the business to Acceptance Insurance Company for approximately $40 million. Continental alleged in the District Court that IGF’s controlling family — Gordon, Alan, and Doug Symons — structured the sale so that most of the purchase price was siphoned into the coffers of other Symons-controlled companies rendering IGF insolvent. Specifically, Continental claimed that $24 million of the $40 million purchase price went to 3 Symons-controlled companies—Goran Capital, Inc.; Symons International Group, Inc.; and Granite Reinsurance Co.—for sham noncompetition agreements and a superfluous and over-priced reinsurance treaty. Continental, still unpaid, sued for breach of contract and fraudulent transfer.

In 1998 IGF bought Continental’s crop-insurance business at a price to be determined at either side’s option by the exercise of a put or call option. In 2001 Continental exercised its put option; under the contractual formula, IGF owed Continental $25.4 million. At that same time, IGF sold its business to Acceptance for $40 million. The Symons, who controlled IGF, structured the purchase price: $16.5 million to IGF; $9 million to IGF’s parent companies Symons International and Goran in exchange for noncompetition agreements; and $15 million to Granite, an affiliated Symons-controlled company, for a reinsurance treaty. Continental, still unpaid, sued for breach of contract and fraudulent transfer.

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Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. v. Lac Du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit Docket Nos. 14-2150, 14-2287 Opinion Date: November 24, 2015

In this case, the most recent appeal in a series of suits concerning the sale of bonds by a corporation (the “Corporation”) owned by the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (collectively, the “Tribal Entities”), the 7th Circuit clarifies the standards applicable to injunctions as well as review of lower-Court decisions and, finally, jurisdiction.

Facts
The Corporation was chartered under tribal law to own and operate the Lake of the Torches Resort Casino (the “Casino”) on tribal lands in northern Wisconsin. The Casino  is operated under tribal-state compact with the State of Wisconsin.

In 2007 the Tribe decided to diversify its operations by investing in a project to build a riverboat casino, hotel, and bed and breakfast in Natchez, Mississippi. To secure funding for the investment and refinance some existing debt, the Corporation issued taxable gaming revenue bonds in January 2008. Godfrey, as counsel to the Corporation and bond counsel for the transaction, issued 2 opinion letters as to the meaning of several bond-related documents and the legality of the transaction.

The 2008 bond issue did not go as planned, and Wells Fargo filed suit. In that action, Wells Fargo alleged that the Corporation breached a bond indenture and stated that, as trustee for the bondholders, it wanted a receiver appointed. In that case, the 7th Circuit had held that a bond indenture constituted an “unapproved management contract” under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”) and was therefore void.

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BRC Rubber & Plastics, Inc. v. Cont’l Carbon Co.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Docket: 14-1555 and 14-1416  Opinion: November 5, 2015

In this opinion the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals sets the record straight about an alleged Output-Requirements Contract and settles a dispute based on the terms of a supplier agreement.

Facts

Continental Carbon Company (CCC) sells carbon black, a material used in rubber products. BRC Rubber & Plastics (BRC) makes rubber products for the auto industry. In 2010 the companies entered into a contract under which CCC agreed to supply about 1.8 Million lbs./yr. of carbon black to BRC.  In 2011 however, Continental could no longer keep up with demand from other customers and had to refuse certain orders from BRC, which inturn put BRC in a bind with its customers, causing a chain reaction.BRC sued, alleging that CCC had breached the contract.

Procedural History

The Indiana District Court treated the agreement between them as an “Output/Requirements” contract that obligated CCC to sell as much carbon black as BRC wanted while requiring BRC to buy all its carbon black from CCC. On that basis, the District Court concluded, CCC had indeed breached its obligation by failing to sell as much carbon black as BRC wanted.
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Donnawell v. Hamburger, No. 15-1006 (7th Cir. 2015)

Appeal from District Court, ND Illinois, Eastern Div. 12 C 9074
Argued Oct.01, 2015 — Decided Oct.20, 2015

In this appeal of a shareholder derivative suit concerning a stock option plan used as executive compensation, the Plaintiff appealed from dismissal with prejudice by the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

The Plaintiff was a stockholder in DeVry Education Group, a Delaware company that owns and operates for-profit colleges. Plaintiff brought a Shareholder Derivative Action against current and former DeVry Board members. It ended up in Federal Court due to diversity of citizenship (Illinois vs. Delaware).

The 7th Circuit affirmed the District Court’s dismissal, applying Delaware corporate law.

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Duff v. Central Sleep Diagnostics, LLC
7 Cir. U.S. Court of Appeals Docket No. 13-3837 Opinion September 10, 2015

Original Claim
Investors in Central Sleep sued the company as well as Dachman, its promoter, and others. Their claims included fraud, the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), conversion, fraudulent conveyance, civil conspiracy, and securities fraud. Dachman was also singled out for fraudulent conduct; he spent stolen investor funds on a tattoo parlor, vacations, cruises, a new Land Rover, rare books, personal stock trading, and gambling. The Judge ordered Central Sleep into receivership and issued a stay against “all civil legal proceedings” involving Defendants.

Attorney Claim
Attorney Goodman had represented the Defendants and obtained a judgment for his unpaid legal fees. He submitted a claim to the Receiver for that amount; but also filed a lien on the proceeds of Dachmans’ separate State Court medical malpractice suit. Neither Goodman nor the Dachmans informed the Receiver or Judge about those proceedings. When the Receiver learned of the malpractice suit he immediately recovered the settlement proceeds and proposed a distribution plan. Goodman objected to the plan and argued that unlike the other creditors he was entitled him to full – rather than pro rata – payment.
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Carhart v. Carhart-Halaska Int’l, LLC 14-2968 (Jun 08)(7th Cir.)

Background

Federal Case

Carhart and Halaska own CHI. CHI terminated sales agent MRO. MRO filed a Federal suit for breach of contract. Carhart bought MRO’s Federal claim for $150,000 and became nominal Plaintiff. That lawsuit was actually against a company of which he was 1/2 owner.

State Case

Halaska sued Carhart in Wisconsin State Court, alleging that Carhart had breached his fiduciary duty by becoming the Plaintiff in the MRO Federal case, by writing checks against CHI accounts without approval, by depositing payments owed to CHI into Carhart’s account, and by withholding accounting and financial information.  The Wisconsin State Court appointed a Receiver, who informed the Federal court that CHI had no assets with which to pay a lawyer and consented to the entry of a $242,000 default judgment (the sum sought by Carhart), giving Carhart a profit of $92,000 on the purchase. Continue reading

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Today’s post features a pair of cases in which a foreclosure defense Attorney seems to have gone too far. Foreclosure defense has become a veritable cottage industry over the past decade and it is common for Clients to expect their lawyer to do more than fight. They want to delay “by any means necessary.” But the Courts still regard the law as a genteel profession. This means that what Clients see as run of the mill zealous lawyering comes off to the Judge as unprofessional or worse. This pair of cases highlights that point.

Case #1: In re Wendy A. Nora

Facts

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Kashwere, LLC vs. Kashwere USAJPN, LLC

Before the U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit

Docket No. 13-3730 Decided November 13