PFB, LLC v. Neal Trabich
UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
PFB, LLC, Plaintiff - Appellant, v. NEAL TRABICH; RONALD CORUZZI; GOLF PARTNERS, LLC, Defendants Appellees.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. William D. Quarles, Jr., District Judge. (1:07-cv-00961-WDQ)
December 1, 2008
December 29, 2008
Before NIEMEYER and KING, Circuit Judges, and HAMILTON, Senior Circuit Judge.
Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded by unpublished per curiam opinion.
Steven B. Gould, BROWN & GOULD, LLP, Bethesda, Maryland, for Appellant. Neal Trabich, Appellee Pro Se. Richard L. Costella, John Robert Fischel, MILES & STOCKBRIDGE, PC, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellees Ronald Coruzzi and Golf Partners, LLC.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
PER CURIAM: PFB, LLC ("PFB") appeals from the district court's
order granting summary judgment in favor of Neal Trabich, Ronald Coruzzi, and Golf Partners, LLC (collectively, "Defendants").
The district court held that Defendants' allegedly fraudulent representations did not constitute a warranty under Maryland
law, that PFB's lost income projections on its claims for fraud and breach of contract were speculative, and that PFB failed to prove it had incurred any recoverable out-of-pocket expenses. We have thoroughly reviewed the record and find the district court did not err in concluding that PFB could not recover
benefit-of-the-bargain or lost profit damages on its fraud and breach of contract claims, as PFB failed to establish such
damages with reasonable certainty.
Furthermore, we find the
district court did not err in holding that PFB failed to provide sufficient expenses. evidence to permit recovery of out-of-pocket
Accordingly, we affirm these rulings for the reasons See PFB, LLC v. Trabich, No. 24, 2008). However, for the
stated by the district court. 1:07-cv-00961-WDQ (D. Md. Apr.
reasons stated below, we vacate the district court's dismissal of PFB's breach of contract claim and remand for further
proceedings. The district court dismissed PFB's fraud and breach of contract claims on the ground 2 that PFB failed to prove it
suffered any actual damages.
However, while other jurisdictions
require proof of actual damages to sustain a breach of contract action, Maryland courts have held that "[i]t is well settled that every injury to the rights of another imports damage, and if no other damage is established, the party injured is at least entitled to a verdict for nominal damages." Cottman v.
Maryland, Dep't of Natural Res., 443 A.2d 638, 640 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1982) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted); see also Planmatics, Inc. v. Showers, 2002 WL 312516, at *1 (4th Cir. Feb. 28, 2002) (No. 01-1520) (unpublished)
(citing Stueber v. Arrowhead Farm Estates Ltd. P'ship, 519 A.2d 816, 818 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1987)). Accordingly, even though
PFB failed to provide evidence sufficient to support its claims for lost profits or out-of-pocket expenses, its cause of action for breach of contract cannot fail as a matter of law because PFB is entitled to, at the very least, nominal damages, if the fact-finder determines there was a breach. See Planmatics,
Inc. v. Showers, 137 F. Supp. 2d 616, 624 (D. Md. 2001). In this case, the district court made no finding as to whether Defendants committed fraud or breached the operating
agreement, as PFB's action was dismissed due to its failure to provide sufficient we and reliable evidence to the of actual damages. court to
determine whether Defendants were in breach of their contractual 3
obligations and, as a result, are liable for nominal damages. Furthermore, we leave for the district court on remand to
address whether PFB is entitled to attorneys' fees pursuant to the terms of the parties' operating agreement, 1 as well as the issue of whether punitive damages are available and warranted in this case. 2 Accordingly, we affirm the district court's ruling as to PFB's failure to establish compensatory damages in regard to its claims of fraud and breach of contract, vacate the district court's dismissal of PFB's contract action, and remand for
further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are
Under the terms of the operating agreement, any party who "breaches or threatens to breach this Agreement shall pay the costs, expenses and fees (including, without limitation, attorneys fees) of the other Persons bound by this agreement that are incurred as a result of or in connection with, such breach or threatened breach." See Shell Oil Co. v. Parker, 291 A.2d 64, 71 (Md. 1972) (to award punitive damages, "there must first be an award of at least nominal compensatory damages"); Miller Building Supply, Inc. v. Rosen, 485 A.2d 1023, 1027-28 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1985) (while not available for "mere breach of contract," punitive damages may be awarded "when the tort of fraud and a contract action are merged into a single lawsuit").
argument would not aid the decisional process. AFFIRMED IN PART, VACATED IN PART, AND REMANDED
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?