Anderson and Buck were in a contract relationship, under which Anderson bought gasoline from Buck. At some point, Anderson notified Buck that it would be buying gasoline from another supplier as well. Buck sent a cease-and-desist letter to Anderson, claiming that a particular provision of the contract supposedly prohibited Anderson from entering into agreements with other gasoline suppliers. In response, Anderson filed a declaratory judgment action. In due course the trial court granted summary judgment for Anderson; the state supreme court affirmed. Ray Anderson, Inc. v. Buck’s, Inc., 300 Neb. 434 (2018).
From reading the supreme court’s opinion, Buck should count itself fortunate that it wasn’t sanctioned for asserting its interpretation of the contract language. The supreme court all but accused Buck of selectively reading only the contract provision(s) it liked, while ignoring what the supreme court concluded was clearly-dispositive contrary language. See id. at 442-43.
So why wasn’t Buck sanctioned? Well, apparently Buck wasn’t the only party to assert a questionable interpretation — Anderson, for its part, claimed that it had the right to terminate the contract; but both the district court and the supreme court held that under the contract’s clear language, only Buck had the right to terminate. See id. at 444-45.
Maybe that’s why the supreme court’s opinion says nothing about sanctions: Apparently, each party advanced untenable interpretations of different provisions of the contract, and the courts might have regarded those as canceling each other out as far as sanctions were concerned.
But the fact remains that the courts had to spend time and money on what, judging from the supreme court’s opinion, was needless litigation. Perhaps each party should have been sanctioned, as a warning to others.