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Hemlock and Sachsen manufacture components of solar-power products. They entered into a series of long-term supply agreements (LTAs), by which Hemlock in Michigan would supply Sachsen in Germany with set quantities of polycrystalline silicon (polysilicon) at fixed prices from 2006-2019. The market price of polysilicon was initially well above the LTA price, but the market price plummeted after the Chinese government began subsidizing its national production of polysilicon. The parties reached a temporary agreement to lower the LTA price in 2011. When that agreement expired, Hemlock demanded that Sachsen pay the original LTA price for 2012. Sachsen refused. Hemlock sued for breach of contract. The district court granted Hemlock summary judgment and awarded nearly $800 million in damages and prejudgment interest. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The district court: properly struck Sachsen’s antitrust defense because enforcing the take-or-pay provision does not require the parties to engage in the precise conduct that is allegedly unlawful; properly struck Sachsen’s defense that the LTAs illegally tied Sachsen’s predominant demand for polysilicon to a single seller in violation of E.U. antitrust law; properly concluded that Sachsen’s affirmative defenses of commercial impracticability and frustration of purpose lack merit; and properly awarded the full amount of the remaining contract price as liquidated damages, despite Sachsen’s argument that the award was an unreasonable penalty. View "Hemlock Semiconductor Operations, LLC v. SolarWorld Industries Sachsen GMBH" on Justia Law

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Faisal is a citizen of the United Kingdom, residing in London. Mardia is a U.S. citizen. They married in Bangladesh in 2009, while Mardia was a student in Michigan. She remained in Michigan to complete her studies. In 2011, Mardia moved to London; in 2013 she applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain, In 2014, Mardia, then pregnant, traveled to Knoxville, where she had lived previously. The couple disputes whether she intended to return to the UK. Faisal traveled to Knoxville on a three-month visa. Mardia gave birth to twins in Knoxville and the family moved into an apartment. Faisal’s visa expired; he returned to London. Mardia insists she told him then that she intended to remain in the U.S. with the children. Faisal visited the U.S. in April 2015. The next month, the entire family traveled to the UK. The parties dispute their intentions. In July 2015, Mardia traveled with the children to Bangladesh. Their tickets indicated they were scheduled to return to London on August 5. Mardia claims she told her husband that she would not return. Faisal claims he did not learn her plans until August 4, when she flew to Knoxville with the children. He sought their return under the Hague Convention, as implemented by 22 U.S.C. 9001. The Sixth Circuit affirmed denial of Faisal’s petition, finding that he failed to establish that the UK was the children’s habitual residence at the time Mardia retained them. View "Ahmed v. Ahmed" on Justia Law

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Gerboc used the Wish Marketplace website to buy portable speakers for $27. Sellers on Wish can include a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, which appears (crossed-out) on a product’s “detail page.” Gerboc saw “$300” next to the speakers’ purchase price. Gerboc believed the crossed-out price was a promise of a 90% markdown but the speakers allegedly never sold for $300. Gerboc decided that he never received the promised discount and filed suit on behalf of himself and a class of similarly situated buyers. Arguing that Wish’s price visuals are deceptive, he alleged breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud, and violations of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (OCSPA). ContextLogic removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d). Gerboc abandoned his contract claim; the court dismissed his unjust enrichment, fraud, and class OCSPA claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Gerboc did not establish unjust enrichment; he got what he paid for. Nor did he establish the notice element of an OCSPA claim: The consumer must show either that the Ohio Attorney General had already “declared [the seller’s practice] to be deceptive or unconscionable” or that an Ohio court had already “determined [the practice] . . . violate[s] [the OCSPA]” before the seller engaged in it. View "Gerboc v. ContextLogic, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law, Contracts

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In 1998, Tibbetts was convicted of murder, aggravated murder, and aggravated robbery and was sentenced to death. Tibbetts filed his first habeas petition in 2003, challenging “the administration of the death penalty by lethal injection.” A Magistrate determined found the claim meritless. Tibbetts did not object to this ruling, abandoning that claim. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of the petition. Tibbetts filed his second habeas petition in 2014, listing 10 grounds for relief, all relating to execution by lethal injection under Ohio law. The district court determined that this was a second-or-successive petition, over which it lacked jurisdiction, and transferred it to the Sixth Circuit, which dismissed. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act limits the authority of federal courts to grant relief to individuals who previously filed a habeas petition; petitioners challenging state court judgments must seek authorization in a federal appeals court before filing a “second or successive” petition in district court, 28 U.S.C. 2244(b). A second-or-successive petition stating claims that were presented in a prior petition “shall be dismissed.” Tibbetts argued that he could not raise his lethal-injection challenge until the state adopted the revised execution protocol. Tibbetts raised such a general claim in his first petition, none of the newly arising circumstances identified in his second petition are necessary to a general claim that his sentence to death by lethal injection is unconstitutional. View "In re: Tibbetts" on Justia Law

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A tree fell on Kaitlyn and Joshua. Kaitlyn died. She was pregnant. Doctors delivered the baby, but he died an hour later. Joshua survived with serious injuries. A state jury found the Somerset Housing Authority liable and awarded $3,736,278. The Authority belonged to the Kentucky Housing Authorities Self-Insurance Fund, which provided a policy with Evanston. Evanston sought a declaratory judgment limiting its liability under the Fund’s policy to $1 million. Meanwhile, through mediation of the state court case, Evanston agreed to pay the “policy limits” in return for an agreement to dismiss the state court action and release the Authority from further liability. Evanston claimed that $1 million was the coverage cap; the defendants claimed it was $2 to $4 million. The district court determined that there was complete diversity and ruled for Evanston on the merits. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The district court properly aligned the parties given their respective interests in the primary dispute at the time of filing, so that diversity jurisdiction was not destroyed. The policy obligates Evanston to provide a maximum of $1 million of coverage per “occurrence,” with an aggregate limit of $2 million for more than one occurrence. The contract defines “occurrence” as “an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions.” When one tree falls at one time, that is one occurrence and one accident. View "Evanston Insurance Co. v. Housing Authority of Somerset" on Justia Law

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Tanner, convicted of murder in 2000, unsuccessfully sought habeas relief, arguing that the Michigan Supreme Court unreasonably applied Supreme Court precedent when it upheld the denial of funding for a defense serology or DNA expert, and when it held that there was sufficient evidence to convict Tanner. The Sixth Circuit granted relief. Tanner was convicted based on insufficient evidence. The inculpatory evidence establishes, at best, “reasonable speculation” that Tanner was in the crime scene’s parking lot around the time of the murder and that she was last in possession of the murder weapon approximately a month before the murder. The court noted contradictory testimony; the lack of evidence that Tanner entered the building or that the knife was in her possession near the time of the murder. The blood found at the scene matched Tanner’s blood type and PMG subtype. Millions of people share Tanner’s blood type and PGM subtype and there is no way of knowing whether the blood belonged to the perpetrator or to one of the people who gathered after the murder. An unidentified woman’s blood was on the victim’s shirt. The victim was killed during a struggle and the blood did not come from Tanner or from any of her hypothesized accomplices. View "Tanner v. Yukins" on Justia Law

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In 1986, Thompson, having served 12 years of a life sentence for an unrelated murder for hire, killed his prison-farm supervisor, stole his possessions, and fled. Thompson was captured and convicted of murder, robbery, and escape. Thompson was granted a retrial on direct appeal, then pleaded guilty to all three counts to avoid jury sentencing. A state court held that Commonwealth was entitled to jury sentencing despite the plea agreement. The jury returned a death-penalty verdict. In state post-conviction proceedings, Thompson succeeded on his claim that the trial court had failed to hold a mandatory competency hearing but was unsuccessful on his other claims for relief. After the trial court held the required competency hearing and found that Thompson had been competent to plead guilty, the Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed Thompson’s convictions and sentences. The Sixth Circuit affirmed denial of Thompson’s federal habeas corpus petition raising claims that the jury improperly considered extraneous evidence when it discussed a news account about another violent criminal who had committed a murder after earning parole at age 70; that jury instructions violated the Supreme Court’s 1988 holding, Mills v. Maryland, because they stated that the “verdict” had to be returned unanimously but did not expressly state that unanimity was not required for a juror to find a mitigating factor; and the Kentucky Supreme Court did not adequately conduct a comparative-proportionality review in assessing whether Thompson’s death sentence was excessive or disproportionate. View "Thompson v. Parker" on Justia Law

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Brown arrived to pick up Hamilton for what he thought was a date. Hamilton’s boyfriend, Stewart, was waiting for him. A struggle ensued. Shots were fired. The men grappled down an apartment stairwell building and out the door. At the end of a trail of blood, Brown lay dead with several gunshot wounds in his chest. Stewart was gone. Michigan charged Stewart and Hamilton with felony murder, felon in possession of a firearm, armed robbery, and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. The evidence at a joint trial showed that Stewart and Hamilton planned to rob Brown. The jury found Stewart guilty. The court sentenced him to life for the first-degree felony murder conviction, two years for the felony-firearm conviction, and 25-50 years for the armed robbery and conspiracy convictions. The jury also found Hamilton guilty. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Stewart’s conviction, finding some claims forfeited, others without error, and still others harmless. The federal district court granted habeas relief. The Sixth Circuit reversed. The state court properly found that any of Hamilton’s statements that were admitted in violation of the Confrontation Clause were cumulative of properly admitted evidence and not outcome-determinative. Given the judge’s curative instructions, prosecutorial statements about credibility did not deprive Steward of due process. View "Stewart v. Trierweiler" on Justia Law

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In 2004, when the Sentencing Guidelines were deemed mandatory, Raybon pleaded guilty to distributing more than 50 grams of cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), agreeing that he qualified as a career offender under U.S.S.G. 4B1.1, based on a prior drug trafficking conviction and a conviction for assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. The career offender designation increased his guidelines range to 262-327 months’ imprisonment (from 140-175 months). The Sixth Circuit affirmed a sentence 295 months’ imprisonment. Ten years later, under a different regime of “effectively advisory” Guidelines, Raybon moved to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255 based on the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Johnson, which invalidated the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e)(2)(B)(ii), as unconstitutionally void for vagueness. Raybon argued that his predicate conviction for assault with intent to do great bodily harm no longer qualified as a crime of violence under an identically-worded residual clause in the career offender guideline. The district court denied the motion as untimely. The Sixth Circuit affirmed; whether the 2015 Johnson decision applies to identical language in the mandatory guidelines is an open question. Raybon’s appeal was not based on a right newly established by the Supreme Court in 2015. View "Raybon v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 1990, Stan and Bara Jurcevic opened an account at the St. Paul Croatian Federal Credit Union (SPCFU). The National Credit Union Administration Board (NCUAB) charters and insures credit unions, 12 U.S.C. 1766, and can place a credit union into conservatorship or liquidation. From 1996-2010, Stan obtained $1.5 million in share-secured loans from SPCFU. Federal auditors discovered that SPCFU’s COO had been accepting bribes in exchange for issuing loans and disguising unpaid balances. SPCFU had $200 million in unpaid debts. NCUAB placed SPCFU into conservatorship and eventually liquidated its assets. NCUAB alleged that Jurcevic failed to disclose a $2,500,000 loan from PNC and an impending decrease in his income; and that he planned to use the loan funds to save his company, Stack. PNC obtained a $2,000,000 judgment against Jurcevic and Stack. NCUAB sued the Jurcevics and Stack and obtained an injunction, freezing the Jurcevics’ and Stack’s assets, except for living expenses. The district court dismissed claims of fraud, conspiracy, and conversion as time-barred and dismissed claims against Bara and Stack as a matter of law. Jurcevic appealed and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Board cross-appealed and intervened in the Chapter 7 proceedings. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the asset freeze; the court properly employed the preliminary injunction factors. The court reversed the dismissals because the court did not consider the date of the NCUAB’s appointment and the date of discovery as possible accrual dates for the limitations statute. View "National Credit Union Administration Board v. Jurcevic" on Justia Law