Monday, October 8, 2012

House Me Maybe



Bennington Housing Authority v. Lake, 2012 VT 82.

In the practice of law there are cases that come to your doorstep mid-process.  That is the client has done things a certain way for a long enough time that whether you agree with the steps they have taken or not, you are going to have to defend it in court. 

This is why lawyers make the big bucks and what infuriates the public so much.  How can you defend your client’s actions, they ask?  The answer is we have no choice.  The client did what he or she did.  Our job is to just put the best face on it and go forward. 

One Trick Contract



Long Trail Condo. Assoc. v. Engelberth Construction, Inc., 2012 VT 80.

There are concepts within the law that are the legal equivalent of St. Elmo’s Fire.  They are unearthly, luminescent without illuminating, and harbingers of difficulty.  The Economic Loss Rule is first and foremost among these Will O’ the Wisps. 

The Rule is a court created doctrine that serves a simple and admirable purpose: bringing order and sense to business relationships and effectuating the intent of the parties.  It says this: when the primary nature of the parties’ relationship is contractual and when the damage done is limited to the object/building that was purchased through the contract, then the recovery will be under the terms of the parties’ contract and not negligence. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Friendly Foreclosure



Daniels v. Elks Club of Hartford, 2012 VT 55.

Oh boy!  Sometimes there comes a case that is complicated.  And sometimes there comes a case that divides the SCOV.  And sometimes there comes a case that takes up a completely new area of law where the SCOV has to reason its way to an answer that is not immediately evident.  And then there are cases like today’s that read like a seven layer salad composed of all these issues and then some. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

To Be or Not to Be . . . A Franchisee (An unconventional pop-culture tragedy)



Evans Group, Inc. v. Foti and Foti Fuels, Inc., 2012 VT 77

[Act 1-Prologue]

To be, or not to be, a Franchisee, that is the question: Whether sub-distributor twas authorized to use refiner’s trademark in the pursuit of outrageous fortune, or to simply carry fuel across the Green Mountains until the Distributor said “no more.”  Ay, tis when the heart-ache began.  That franchise, though devoutly wished, twas perhaps just a dream, or, in the King’s Court, an Oppressor’s wrong, and that is what must give us pause.

The scene is fair Vermont.  Two wholesale fuel distributors, both with well-established reputations and long-standing customers, penned a lucrative distributing agreement on the back of a napkin.  The proposed deal went a little something like this: Appellee/distributor would sell fuel to Appellant/sub-distributor at a slight mark-up, which would then be re-sold to sub-distributor’s customer.