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CHRONISTER v. ATLANTIC RICHFIELD CO.

February 27, 1987

A. EDWARD CHRONISTER, individually and trading and doing business as MID-ATLANTIC SUPER ICE, MID-ATLANTIC WHOLESALE, and DELAWARE VALLEY SLUSH, Plaintiff
v.
ATLANTIC RICHFIELD COMPANY, PRESTIGE STATIONS, INC., WILLIAM ROBUSTELLI, and GARY L. BAIR, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CALDWELL

 William W. Caldwell, United States District Judge.

 Introduction

 Plaintiff, A. Edward Chronister initiated this action alleging violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C §§ 1962(a)(b)(c) and (d). The complaint also sets forth various claims under state law. Plaintiff's claims are based upon his contention that defendants, Atlantic Richfield Company ("ARCO"), Prestige Stations, Inc. ("PSI"), and William Robustelli, conspired with Gary Bair *fn1" for the purpose of driving plaintiff out of business and eliminating him as a competitor with Bair in the market for distribution of certain products to AM/PM MiniMarkets. All defendants, Robustelli, ARCO and PSI, have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. For the reasons which follow, we will grant their motions.

 Background

 Based upon the pleadings, affidavits and depositions, the following is the background of this litigation. In 1981 and 1982, ARCO was the franchisor of conventional service stations and AM/PM MiniMarkets throughout the United States. PSI was and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ARCO which acted as a franchisee owning and operating AM/PM's. In addition to the PSI owned franchises, ARCO franchised numerous AM/PM's to independent dealers. Defendant, Robustelli was and is an employee of ARCO, serving as a district manager for service stations in the Reading/Lancaster district.

 Beginning in June, 1982, a dispute between Bair and plaintiff arose concerning Bair's ownership interest in Mid-Atlantic Wholesale. Several meetings involving plaintiff, Bair and Robustelli, who was a friend of Bair, were held for the purpose of resolving this dispute. Despite the parties' efforts to come to an agreement, none was reached. Negotiations were hampered by Bair's removal of the company records and his refusal to return them. The positions of the parties hardened and plaintiff alleges that on June 14, 1982 Robustelli demanded that he make Bair a partner, threatening him with the loss of his business. It is further alleged that Robustelli and Bair delivered an ultimatum to plaintiff that Bair was to work for Mid-Atlantic for $525/week until the notes were paid off and that he was then to receive a 50% interest in Mid-Atlantic for $1. Plaintiff, however, refused to accept these terms and Bair departed from Mid-Atlantic, taking with him a majority of plaintiff's employees. Plaintiff alleges at this point Robustelli began to prematurely demand payment for oil which he bought from Robustelli on credit in April, 1982. This dispute continued for sometime and plaintiff claims that he received numerous visits and telephone calls from Robustelli and Larry Cramer, an ARCO salesman, demanding payment for the oil or its return. *fn2"

 Plaintiff resisted payment of the charges for oil on the grounds that he was owed large sums from PSI. He informed Robustelli of this situation, and pursuant to Robustelli's request, an audit of Mid-Atlantic's account was performed and PSI made additional payments to plaintiff. It was also discovered at this time that Bair had misappropriated PSI checks payable to Mid-Atlantic for approximately $12,000. As a consequence, PSI stopped payment on these checks and issued replacement checks.

 In addition, ARCO was demanding payment in the amount of $18,000 for certain promotional glasses which had been ordered by Mid-Atlantic. Plaintiff refused to pay these charges, asserting that the glasses were ordered by Bair without his authorization or knowledge. ARCO, however, continued to demand payment and requested that PSI hold all checks payable to Mid-Atlantic until the account was settled. Despite ARCO's request, PSI's records indicate that no checks were ever withheld. In fact, a final payment of $ 5,920.89 was made to plaintiff in February, 1983.

 Plaintiff's business problems were compounded when Bair entered into competition with him in July, 1982. Operating under the name of Super Ice Distributors, Bair contacted ARCO in an attempt to become a recommended AM/PM supplier, but was informed of ARCO's allegiance to Mid-Atlantic. Accordingly, neither ARCO nor PSI, promoted, assisted or were associated with Bair's business.

 Discussion

 Summary Judgment Standard

 We must evaluate defendants' motion for summary judgment under the following, well established standard:

 
Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, Adickes v. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 90 S. Ct. 1598, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142 (1970) and must resolve all reasonable doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue of material fact against the movant.

 Hersh v. Allen Products Company, Inc., 789 F.2d 230, 232 ...


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