A court in Indiana has thrown out an appeal from an island-based company that was ordered to pay $4.3m by an American court.
Vannin Healthcare Global’s Ltd appealed against the award to Illumination International LLC after a dispute over personal protective equipment that wasn’t delivered in 2020.
In November 2020, Illumination International LLC paid Vannin Healthcare Global Ltd $2.8 million as a down payment on 705,000 boxes of medical gloves, which Vannin promised to deliver within 40 days.
However, those boxes never materialised and Vannin also failed to return the $2.8m down payment, resulting in Illumination taking it to court where a jury ruled in favour of the American firm.
Vannin’s appeals argued both that the trial court erred in denying its motion for a directed verdict and that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s verdict.
Documents from the Court of Appeals of Indiana show that Vannin contracted with Kotinochi Joint Stock Company (Kotinochi), which had represented itself as an F1 distributor for VGlove, to procure the gloves.
Non-Vietnamese companies cannot buy directly from VGlove and, instead, must use an a proper distributor (known as an F1).
Illumination was also informed that an F1 distributor would be used to procure the gloves and a middle party arranged for the payment to be sent to Kotinochi for a down payment before the remaining amount was paid. However, the gloves were never delivered.
The documents add that Oliver van Veen, who is listed as the owner of Vannin, was involved in the negotiations and had ‘provided copies of documents purporting to be contracts showing Vannin to be a VGlove distributor and had sent text messages purporting to show gloves that Vannin had secured in connection with another contract’.
The appeals court also documented that Illumination’s Rick Li had claimed during the original trial that Mr van Veen had told him he ‘deserved to get scammed because [he] didn’t do enough due diligence’.
At the end of that original trial, Vannin sought to have the matter decided by a directed verdict, a ruling entered by a trial judge after determining that there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to reach a different conclusion.
However, the trial judge refused this and said that the question of fact over a breach of contract had to be decided by a jury, with it subsequently finding in Illumination’s favour.
Part of Vannin’s appeals focussed on its claim that the trial judge erred by doing this, however, the appeal judges disagreed, saying that because the two sides were so far apart in their conflicting evidence, it had to be decided by a jury.
The second part focussed on a supposed lack of evidence, with Vannin asserting that ‘Illumination’s claim for breach of contract hinges entirely upon a claim that Vannin failed to deliver the [gloves] in accordance with the terms of the Agreement’ and that its duty to deliver the gloves to Illumination was only triggered when VGlove received the downpayment.
Vannin said that because there is no evidence that VGlove received the down payment, there couldn’t be any breach of contract, something which Illumination disputed.
Judges Cale Bradford, Leanna Weissmann and Patricia Riley said: ‘At trial, Illumination presented evidence indicating that Oliver had held Vannin out as an agent for VGlove.
‘The evidence demonstrated that Oliver had made statements suggesting that Vannin was acting as an agent for VGlove and had shown Yi documents which purported to show Vannin’s position as an agent for the sale of gloves from VGlove.
‘In addition, the jury could have reasonably inferred from Oliver’s statement to Yi that Yi “deserved to get scammed because [he] didn’t do enough due diligence” that Oliver had held himself out to be an agent of VGlove, despite knowing that Vannin did not hold any such position.’
They further found that the jury was, based on the evidence presented to the court, right to make the ruling that it did and as such, rejected the appeal and ordered Vannin Healthcare Global to pay Illumination International LLC the $4,358,342.67 previously awarded.