Contract Interpretation

News & Analysis as of

U.S. Supreme Court Rebukes Reliance on Yard-Man In Retiree Health Benefit Dispute

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sixth Circuit’s reliance on retiree-friendly inferences set forth in UAW v. Yard-Man are incompatible with ordinary principles of contract interpretation and should not be used when...more

Supreme Court Decides M & G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett

On January 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided M & G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett, No. 13-1010, holding that ordinary principles of contract law govern the interpretation of pension and insurance provisions of...more

Traditional Contract Rules Determine Whether Retirees Are Entitled to Lifetime Healthcare Benefits

Yesterday, in a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that courts must apply ordinary rules of contract interpretation when determining whether retiree healthcare benefits vest for life pursuant to the terms of a...more

Ericsson, Inc. v. D-Link Sys., Inc. Guidance on Determining Damages for Standard Essential Patents

Patents claiming inventions which must be used to comply with certain technical standards (for example, the Wi-Fi standard or standards for 3G) are referred to as standards-essential patents or “SEPs”. There has,...more

Real Property, Financial Services & Title Insurance Update: Weeks Ending November 28 & December 5, 2014

REAL PROPERTY UPDATE - Contract Interpretation: trial court erred by interpreting declaration in way that rendered provisions meaningless – Bethany Trace Owners’ Association, Inc. v Whispering Lakes I, LLC, et al., No....more

Actual Negotiations Trump 40-Year Georgia-Pacific Test to Determine Type of Patent Licensing Royalties

The Grigoleit Co. v. Whirlpool Corp. - Addressing a lower court’s reasonable royalty determination that chose not to rely on the Georgia Pacific factors, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently...more

2014 Autumn Review – M&A Legal Developments

We set out below a number of interesting English and European court decisions which have taken place and their impact on M&A transactions. This Insight looks at these developments and gives practical guidance on their...more

Second Circuit Considers "No Oral Modification" Clause in Helicopter Contract - The Court Examined Exceptions to "No Oral...

The Second Circuit recently issued a summary decision concerning the scope of a "no oral modification" clause in contracts governing the sale of helicopters. The underlying dispute involved three separate helicopter purchase...more

Bankruptcy Courts Fail to Enlighten on Electricity as Goods or Services

Is electricity goods or services? That seemingly simple yet confounding question is illustrated by three recent bankruptcy cases (all of which consider whether an electricity provider is entitled to an administrative expense...more

“Harmonizing” Contract Language Leads Two Circuit Courts To Deny Arbitration

Two parties recently convinced federal circuit courts that the language of their arbitration agreements was not sufficient to compel arbitration of their disputes. Both cases turned on how courts “harmonize” language from...more

ev3, Inc. v. Lesh, C.A. No. 515, 2013 (Del. Sept. 30, 2014)

In this en banc Memorandum Opinion, the Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court’s denial of the defendant-below’s motion for a new trial following a jury verdict and remanded the case for a new trial. The Supreme Court...more

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Demands More from Website Operators Before Terms of Use Will Bind Users

The Ninth Circuit’s recent opinion in Nguyen v. Barnes & Noble Inc., No. 12–56628, August 18, 2014, US 9th Circuit, provides insight regarding courts’ treatment of Internet-based contracts of interest to those operating in...more

Fifth Circuit Requests Input from the Supreme Court of Texas Regarding Interpretation of Commercial General Liability (“CGL”)...

The rule courts generally employ to interpret undefined words in insurance policies — essentially, to look to the words’ plain or ordinary meaning — sounds simple. However, many times, there is more than one meaning of such...more

New York State Court Rules That Darwin Has Duty to Defend but AIG Does Not, for Same Risk, Based on Differing Policy Language

New York state court Judge Shirley Werner Kornreich recently ruled that American International Group, Inc. (“AIG”) didn’t have to pay certain defense costs for various suits brought against QBE Holdings, Inc. and its...more

Health Plans Petition the Supreme Court to Determine Whether FEHBA Preempts State Anti-Subrogation Statutes

The Federal Employees Health Benefit Act (FEHBA) governs federal employee health plans and contains a broad preemption clause comparable to the one found in ERISA.1 Despite the similarity, state and federal courts are split...more

Is Your Arbitration Agreement Still Enforceable in Missouri After Baker v. Bristol Care, Inc.?

This summer, the Missouri Supreme Court issued a decision that will affect arbitration agreements relied on by employers across the state. The decision—one of many in a recent trend of Missouri cases restricting the...more

‘Entrepreneurs’ or Exploited Workers?

For years, employers have reacted to the size and breadth of employment laws and regulations in California by finding other means of classifying people who perform services for them. As a result, California employers today...more

Door-To-Door Selling Of Financial Instruments: Recent Clarifications By The Court Of Cassation

The interpretation of the scope of application of the investor’s right to withdraw from any contracts for the placement of financial products entered into door-to-door has again captured the attention of all players following...more

Can't You Hear Me Knocking? Amending ERISA

On October 15, 2013, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Accident Ins. Co., 134 S.Ct. 604 (2013). The specific question before the Court in that case, as expressly stated by...more

Third Circuit: Federal Court Should Decide Whether An Arbitration Clause Authorizes Classwide Arbitration – Not The Arbitrator

The Third Circuit recently was presented with the question of whether, in the context of an otherwise silent contract, the availability of classwide arbitration is to be decided by a court rather than an arbitrator. The...more

Copyright and performance rights in an online video world

We can chalk up another Internet-prompted intellectual property frontier: performance rights. People have been performing for one another for centuries. But suddenly courts are grappling with performance copyright claims,...more

Eastern District Of Pennsylvania: Closing Protection Letter Does Not Constitute “Insurance” For Purpose Of Statutory Bad Faith...

Bancorp Bank v. Lawyers Title Insurance Corp. , No. 13–6103 , 2014 WL 3325861 (E.D. Pa. Jul. 8, 2014). Eastern District of Pennsylvania explains that while Closing Protection Letter may be an indemnity contract, it is...more

Drafting and Interpreting Indemnity Agreements: Living Forward, Understanding Backwards

Black’s Law Dictionary defines indemnity as one’s obligation to make good any loss, damage or liability incurred by another to a third party. Typically, this obligation arises within a larger contract, within which the...more

Shipping 2014: United States

When does title in the ship pass from the shipbuilder to the shipowner? Can the parties agree to change when title will pass? Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, title to the vessel passes when the shipbuilder...more

As Samuel Goldwyn Reportedly Said: “Include Me Out”

A lawyer aims at precision that can never be achieved because of the bluntness of his tool – language. Consider the word “including”. Is it a term of enlargement or limitation? It is a term of enlargment when the intent is...more

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