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Creativ Pultrusions, Inc. v. Cooper B-Line, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

August 27, 2019

COOPER B-LINE, INC., d/b/a EATON B-LINE, Defendant.



         I. Introduction

         Before the Court is the Motion to Stay Discovery (ECF No. 43) of Defendant Cooper B-Line, Inc., doing business as Eaton B-Line ("Defendant"). The Motion is fully briefed (ECF Nos. 44, 46, 50), and the Court held oral argument on the Motion on August 19, 2019. The Motion is now ripe for disposition.

         For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion to Stay Discovery is DENIED.

         II. Subject-Matter Jurisdiction and Venue

         The Court has diversity jurisdiction over this dispute pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) because Plaintiff Creativ Pultrusions, Inc. ("Plaintiff") is a citizen of a different state than Defendant, and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. (ECF No. 1-1 ¶¶ 2-3, 40; ECF No. 4 ¶¶ 2-3.)

         Because this case was originally filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, venue is proper in the Western District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). See Polizzi v. Cowles Magazines, Inc., 345 U.S. 663, 666 (1953) (explaining that the proper venue of a removed action is "the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such [removed] action is pending").

         III. Background [1]

         According to its Complaint, Plaintiff is a manufacturer of fiberglass-reinforced polymer pultrusion products. (ECF No. 1-1 ¶ 7.) Among other products, Plaintiff manufactures certain cable-tray and strut products (the "Products") that are designed by Defendant and supplied to Defendant for marketing and sale. (Id.)

         In June 1998, Plaintiff entered into a Partnership Agreement with Defendant for the manufacture, marketing, and sale of the Products. (Id. ¶ 8.) Under the Partnership Agreement, Plaintiff is the exclusive manufacturer of the Products, and Defendant has exclusive marketing rights to the Products. (Id. ¶ 9.) Further, the Partnership Agreement requires Plaintiff to provide the Products to the partnership at its cost and requires Defendant to design and market the Products for the partnership at its cost. (Id. ¶ 10.) Pursuant to the Agreement, Plaintiff and Defendant are to divide the net earnings of the partnership on a 50/50 basis at the end of each month. (Id.)

         From June 1998 through December 2017, the parties performed in accordance with the Partnership Agreement. (Id. ¶ 12.) However, in December 2017, Defendant entered into an agreement with someone other than Plaintiff to source the Products, which Plaintiff alleges violated the exclusivity provisions of the Partnership Agreement. (Id. ¶ 16.) Defendant ceased requesting the Products from Plaintiff for Defendant to market and sell, and Plaintiff was left with hardware inventory in its possession that was not requested by Defendant. (Id.)

         On April 26, 2018, Defendant sent a notice to Plaintiff that it was terminating a different agreement between the parties -the Private Labeling Agreement, which was dated May 1, 2005. (Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff claims that the Private Labeling Agreement is a contract between Plaintiff and Defendant that is distinct from the Partnership Agreement and that gave Plaintiff the right to market and sell certain of Products to customers. (Id.) Plaintiff asserts that Defendant's attempt to cancel the Private Labeling Agreement did not cancel the Partnership Agreement. (Id. ¶ 18.) Accordingly, Plaintiff claims that the Partnership Agreement is still effective and that Defendant has failed to comply with the terms of the Agreement. (Id. ¶ 21.)

         On November 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed its Complaint (ECF No. 1-1) in the Court of Common Pleas of Bedford County, Pennsylvania. In the Complaint, Plaintiff brought three claims for relief: (1) a declaratory judgment claim seeking a declaration that the Partnership Agreement is in effect and enforceable through at least June 30, 2022, and that the parties are required to perform according to its terms through at least that date (id. ¶ 35); (2) a breach-of-contract claim for breach of the Partnership Agreement (id. ¶¶ 37-40); and (3) an unjust-enrichment claim for Defendant's receipt of benefits due to other parties supplying Defendant with the Products and Defendant failing to provide Plaintiff with fifty percent of the profits from those sales (id. ¶¶ 42-44).

         Defendant filed its Answer, Affirmative Defenses, and Counterclaim (ECF No. 4) on December 20, 2018. Defendant brought the following four counterclaims: (1) a breach-of-contract counterclaim based on Plaintiff's alleged breach of the Private Labeling Agreement (id. ¶¶ 39-49); (2) an unjust-enrichment counterclaim for the proceeds that Plaintiff received from Defendant that were improperly based on Plaintiff's inflated costs for the production of the Products (id. ¶¶ 50-56); (3) a counterclaim for conversion due to Plaintiff's failure to return the tooling for cable-tray products to Defendant when Defendant terminated the Private Labeling Agreement (id. ΒΆΒΆ 58-66); and (4) a declaratory judgment claim seeking a ...

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