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Sabre Industries Inc v. Module X Solutions LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

September 19, 2017

SABRE INDUSTRIES, INC.
v.
MODULE X SOLUTIONS, LLC, ET AL.

          HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (Record Document 97) filed by Plaintiff and Counter-Defendant Sabre Industries, Inc. (“Sabre”). Sabre seeks entry of summary judgment dismissing Count XI of Defendants’ Amended Counterclaim (Record Document 58), that is, Defendant Steven L. Schoonover’s (“Schoonover”) claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendants Module X Solutions, LLC (“MXS”), Schoonover, Jeff Hood, and Jim Dean and Counter-Plaintiff and Third Party Plaintiff MXS (collectively referred to as “Defendants”) oppose the Motion for Summary Judgment. See Record Document 114. For the reasons set forth below, Sabre’s Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED and Schoonover’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress is DISMISSED.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 24, 2014, Sabre and MXS entered into a Joint Venture Agreement (“JV Agreement”). See Docket 58 at ¶ 196; see also Record Document 97-5 (JV Agreement). The JV Agreement contained various representations by both Sabre and MXS. See Record Document 97-1 at ¶ 2 (Statement of Undisputed Material Facts). Sabre terminated the JV Agreement on April 6, 2015. See id. at ¶ 3, citing Record Document 97-6 (Letter dated April 6, 2015).

         After terminating the JV Agreement, Sabre initiated this lawsuit in October 2015 seeking to recover resulting damages. See id. at ¶ 4, citing Record Document 1. After being sued by Sabre, MXS filed a Counterclaim against Sabre. See id. at ¶ 4, citing Record Document 14. MXS subsequently amended its Counterclaim to include a Louisiana state law cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress. See Record Document 58 (Count XI) at ¶¶ 282-284. In Count XI, Schoonover alleges:

Sabre knowingly and intentionally made the false statements referenced above to Schoonover in order to prevent him from competing with Sabre in the concrete shelter market, to induce him to continue to invest money into MXS and the JV Agreement even though . . . Sabre knew that Sabre intended to breach its obligations under the JV Agreement. . . . Sabre knew and intended that Schoonover would believe and rely on [the] false assurances and that his reliance would cause him severe and harmful emotional and financial distress - at a time when they knew that Schoonover was already under severe emotional distress due to his wife’s serious illness and her comprehensive and lengthy necessary medical treatment. . . .
. . . Sabre’s false statements and allegation in this lawsuit . . . to the effect that Sabre was “extorted” by Schoonover into entering the JV Agreement, that MXS and Schoonover fraudulently induced Sabre to enter the JV Agreement and that Schoonover induced and caused MXS to breach the JV Agreement were also intended to and have caused Schoonover severe emotional distress.
These intentional false statements made to Schooner during the term of the JV Agreement and in this lawsuit constitute extreme and outrageous conduct intended to cause him severe emotional distress and [Sabre is] therefore . . . liable to him for intentional infliction of emotional distress and for all damages arising from [its] statements and his resulting severe emotional distress.

Id.

         In written interrogatory responses, Schoonover set forth a list of false statements and representations made by Sabre which he believes caused him severe emotional distress. See Record Document 97-7 at 3-4 (Answer to Interrogatory No. 3). These statements and representations all related to the JV Agreement and included that Schoonover extorted Sabre into the JV Agreement; Schoonover solicited business from Sabre’ customers in violation of the JV Agreement; Schoonover had no intention of making the JV Agreement work; and Schoonover intended to steal Sabre’s customers and key employees and harm Sabre. See id. Schoonover alleges that these statements and representations caused him to suffer extreme emotional distress. See id. In his written interrogatory responses, Schoonover stated that he had consulted with Dr. William Lent (“Dr. Lent”) about his distress and his inability to sleep. See id. (Answer to Interrogatory No. 11) at 7.

         Sabre now moves for summary judgment as to Schoonover’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. See Record Document 97. More specifically, Sabre argues that “Schoonover has no evidence to carry his burden of proving a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress because he has no evidence he suffered severe emotional distress, has no evidence Sabre’s conduct was extreme and outrageous, and has no evidence Sabre desired to inflict severe emotional distress or knew that severe emotional distress would be certain or substantially certain to result from its conduct.” Record Document 97-2 at 1-2. Conversely, relying almost exclusively upon his own affidavit, Schoonover maintains that “Sabre’s conduct was extreme, outrageous, and was intentionally inflicted upon [him]” and that he “suffered severe emotional distress as a result of Sabre’s extreme, outrageous, and intentionally inflicted conduct.” Record Document 114-1 at ¶¶ 1-2. Schoonover alleges that “Sabre management made jokes at the expense of [his] anxiety and emotional distress, which was heightened by calling him ‘crazy.’” Id. at ¶ 3.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Summary ...


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