A reminder to practitioners: when a contract is unambiguous, the submission of a hurricane of extrinsic evidence to “interpret” it on a pre-answer motion to dismiss won’t fly.

A breach of contract action brought against Robert Zimmerman a/k/a Bob Dylan and Universal Music seeking to capitalize on the widely-reported blockbuster sale of Dylan’s 600-song catalog

In one of my first posts, entitled Restrictive Covenants: The Importance of Understanding Their Contractual Limits, I wrote about a First Department decision upholding a portion of Justice Andrea Masley’s Order enjoining a defendant modeling agent and agency from unfairly competing, disclosing, or misappropriating the plaintiff’s confidential information and interfering with the plaintiff’s contractual

Earlier this year, my colleague, Madeline Greenblatt, wrote about the emergence of a new body of case law emanating from the myriad effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the real estate industry.  In her blog, Madeline discussed a recent decision from the Manhattan Commercial Division (Borrok, J.), rejecting a commercial tenant’s argument

A cause of action accrues, triggering the commencement of the statute of limitations period, when “all of the factual circumstances necessary to establish a right of action have occurred, so that the plaintiff would be entitled to relief” (Gaidon v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am.).  The “continuing wrong” doctrine is an exception

Recently, Justice James Hudson issued a decision testing the limits of New York’s Long Arm Statute. The Court was tasked with determining whether personal jurisdiction exists over an out-of-state defendant, based on a claim arising from an out-of-state contract, but where a portion of the work under the contract was performed in New York.

In

The statutes of limitations set forth in the CPLR are default rules, and parties generally are free to modify default rules by agreement.  But statutes of limitations also further the important public interests, such as avoiding stale claims and giving repose to our affairs.  In light of the public interests involved, there are substantial limits on how much parties can agree to lengthen, shorten, or waive the limitations periods applicable to claims arising under New York law.

For example, while parties can agree to a shorter limitations period than prescribed by the CPLR, a recent case by Albany County Commercial Division Justice Richard Platkin serves as a sharp reminder that a contractually shortened limitations period must be reasonable under the circumstances and, in many cases, the reasonableness of such an agreement depends not only on the length of the limitations period itself, but also on the accrual date.


Continue Reading Expect Careful Scrutiny of Contractually Shortened Statutes of Limitations

Proximate cause is a necessary element in tort law, but also applies to claims of breach of commercial contract.  In a recent decision by Justice Barry R. Ostrager in MUFG Union Bank, N.A. v. Axos Bank et al., No. 652474/2019, 2020 N.Y. Slip Op. 51101(U) (Sup. Ct., New York County Sept. 25, 2020), the Commercial Division of the Supreme Court, New York County addressed, among other things, the issue of whether a defendant’s breach was a proximate cause of plaintiff’s damages in denying one defendant’s motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss plaintiff’s breach of contract claim.

The parties to the action are MUFG Union Bank, N.A. (“Union”), Epiq Systems, Inc. (“Epiq”), and Axos Bank, Axos Fiduciary Services, Axos Nevada, LLC, and Seller Sub, LLC (collectively, “Axos”).

On or about September 27, 2012, Union and Epiq entered into a Joint Services Agreement (“JSA”), effective October 1, 2012, as amended. Pursuant to the JSA, Union and Epiq agreed, among other things, “to jointly promote their products and services to bankruptcy and insolvency professionals and also fiduciary types as may be agreed upon by the parties on a case-by-case basis,” which professional and fiduciary types were deemed “Joint Clients”. Specifically, Union provided deposit services to bankruptcy trustee customers and Epiq provided software services to bankruptcy trustee customers. The JSA expressly restricted Union and Epiq’s ability to assign the JSA or transfer Joint Client relationships or accounts without the other’s prior written consent. Notwithstanding this restriction, Epiq, without consent of Union, decided to sell its software business to Axos. In order to circumvent the anti-assignment provision in the JSA, Epiq established Seller Sub, LLC (“Seller Sub”), identified as “a special purpose entity wholly owned by Epiq and allegedly created for the sole purpose of effectuating the transfer of the JSA to Axos without Union’s consent.” Epiq formed Seller Sub one day before entering into a fifh amendment of the JSA with Union. Epiq then transferred the JSA to Seller Sub. Axos then acquired Seller Sub with the JSA. But Epiq directly transferred its software business to Axos. Thereafter, Axos terminated the JSA with Union and the action ensued.
Continue Reading Proximate Cause In Breach Of Contract Actions: Is Loss A Foreseeable Consequence Of Circumstances Created By The Breaching Party?

In 2015, our colleagues in the white-collar criminal defense bar braced for the impact of a memorandum penned by then Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.  The Yates Memo encouraged both federal prosecutors and civil enforcement attorneys to make increased efforts to hold culpable individuals accountable for corporate misconduct.

The Yates Memo embodied the precept

As New York courts reopen and the mandatory stay-at-home order is lifted, what remains unclear is how the numerous Executive Orders issued by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo during the COVID-19 pandemic will affect individuals and businesses who, based on the economic effects of the crisis, may no longer be able to abide by previously issued