United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
GENTEX CORPORATION, Plaintiff.
HELICOPTER HELMET, LLC, Defendant.
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
Helmet, LLC, moved to dismiss Gentex Corporation's
Amended Complaint. For the reasons that follow, that motion
will be denied in part and granted in part.
Court explained the background of this action in its
Memorandum Opinion on Helicopter Helmet's first motion to
dismiss,  and will therefore not do so again.
Whether Helicopter Helmet's Antitrust Suit Against Gentex
Was “Related to” the 2012 Pennsylvania
Court previously held that Gentex's original complaint
failed to sufficiently allege that Helicopter Helmet's
antitrust claims were “in any way related to” the
2012 Pennsylvania Lawsuit such that they would be barred by
the Settlement and Release Agreement. Helicopter Helmet
argues that Gentex has failed to cure that deficiency. This
Court respectfully disagrees.
Amended Complaint, Gentex alleges that, during discovery in
the 2012 Pennsylvania Lawsuit, Helicopter Helmet
“threatened to pursue claims against Gentex . . . for
alleged antitrust violations.” From this allegation (which
was not in the original complaint), this Court can-and
therefore must-assume that Helicopter Helmet threatened
to bring these claims either as additional counterclaims in
the 2012 Pennsylvania Lawsuit or in a separate action in
retaliation for that 2012 Pennsylvania Lawsuit. Consequently,
the claims may be “related to” the 2012
Pennsylvania Lawsuit in some way.
Whether the Settlement and Release Agreement is Prohibited
Under Pennsylvania Law
Helmet argues that, even if the Settlement and Release
Agreement can be read to apply to Helicopter Helmet's
antitrust claims against Gentex, the agreement is
unenforceable under Pennsylvania law because it would release
Gentex from liability for intentional tortious
true that, under Pennsylvania law, “parties are not
permitted to intentionally harm one another, ” and
Pennsylvania courts will not enforce exculpatory contracts
attempting to release intentionally harmful
conduct.However, that bar applies only when parties
are attempting to contract around liability for future
conduct. Helicopter Helmet's complaint in
Delaware argues that Gentex violated various state and
federal antitrust laws through a course of conduct that
allegedly began in 2013. The Settlement and Release Agreement
was entered into on March 25, 2015. Therefore, if the
agreement is found to apply to Helicopter Helmet's
antitrust claims, it would not be void as against public
policy, since it was entered into after that allegedly
anticompetitive conduct occurred.
Whether Count III Should Be Dismissed or Transferred Under
the First-Filed Rule
Helicopter Helmet argues-as it did in its first motion to
dismiss- that this Court, pursuant to the “first-filed
rule, ” should stay proceedings on Gentex's
antitrust claims, or in the alternative, transfer this case
to the United States District Court for the District of
Delaware. For the reasons discussed previously,
this Court will stay proceedings on Count III of
Gentex's Amended Complaint.