United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
LUV N' CARE, LTD.
LAURAIN, ET AL.
JUDGE JOSEPH H.L. PEREZ-MONTES
RULING ON MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND/OR
JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Admar International, Inc.'s
(“Admar”) Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
And/Or Judgment on the Pleadings Dismissing EZPZ's Unjust
Enrichment Claims [Doc. No. 165]. EZPZ has filed an
opposition [Doc. No. 175], and Admar has filed a Reply [Doc.
No. 179]. The matter is fully briefed. The Court is now
prepared to rule.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
3, 2016, Luv N' Care, Ltd. (“LNC”) filed a
Complaint for Unfair Competition and Declaratory Judgment
[Doc. No. 1] against Defendants Lindsey Laurain and Eazy-PZ, LLC
(“EZPZ”). In its Complaint, LNC seeks an
injunction and damages for alleged acts of unfair competition
by EZPZ. LNC also seeks a declaratory judgment that LNC is
not violating any valid existing intellectual property right
specifically, LNC seeks an injunction and damages for
EZPZ's alleged acts of false advertising, false
representation, and unfair competition allegedly based on
false claims of infringement. [Doc. No. 21]. LNC alleges the
product giving rise to this action is a feeding mat, which is
an integrated self-sealing silicone place mat with a built-in
bowl or plate that attaches to the table using suction. [Doc.
No. 21]. LNC alleges EZPZ has no valid existing intellectual
property right that covers any aspect of LNC's feeding
mats. [Doc. No. 21]. LNC alleges EZPZ sells competing feeding
mats. [Doc. No. 21].
filed an Answer to Complaint, Answer to Amended Complaint,
and Counterclaim against LNC alleging that LNC infringed the
‘903 Utility Patent and the ‘327 Design Patent,
violated 15 U.S.C. § 1114 and 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a),
and unfairly competed with EZPZ in violation of state and
common law. [Doc. No. 27]. EZPZ seeks monetary damages and a
permanent injunction against LNC. [Doc. No. 27].
answered EZPZ's Counterclaim asserting various
affirmative defenses. [Doc. No. 33]. EZPZ amended its
Counterclaim asserting claims against third party
Counter-Defendants Admar and Nouri E. Hakim
(“Hakim”) [Doc. No. 40]. These claims included
allegations of (1) utility and design patent infringement;
(2) copyright infringement; (3) trademark infringement,
unfair competition and false designation of origin and trade
dress infringement arising from the Lanham Act; (4) unfair
trade practice under the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices and
Consumer Protection Act; and (5) unjust enrichment.
Defendants Admar, Hakim, and LNC answered, asserting various
affirmative defenses. [Doc. No. 45].
filed the pending Motion for Partial Summary and/or Judgment
on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 165] seeking dismissal of the
unjust enrichment claims asserted by EZPZ, on the basis that
the mere act of pleading other causes of action defeats
unjust enrichment as a matter of law.
responds that Admar is not entitled to partial summary
judgment because: (1) EZPZ's unjust enrichment
allegations are not based on the same conduct that allegedly
supports its infringement and unfair trade practices claims,
and (2) federal courts in Louisiana have rejected the blanket
proposition that no plaintiff may ever plead an unjust
enrichment claim alongside a claim which would grant a remedy
further responds that it does not oppose dismissal of its
unjust enrichment claims without prejudice with each party
bearing its own fees and costs, and, requests that this Court
convert this motion to a motion for voluntary dismissal under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41.
replies that EZPZ's unjust enrichment claims are invalid
as a matter of law and should be dismissed with prejudice.
Admar further argues that EZPZ should not permitted to avoid
dismissal with prejudice by its last-minute offer to dismiss
without prejudice under Rule 41, inasmuch as EZPZ has not
filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss its claim, and,
dismissal without prejudice should be refused when it is
sought to avoid an adverse result on a pending motion.
41(a)(2) provides “Except as provided in Rule 41(a)(1),
an action may be dismissed at the plaintiff's request
only by court order, on terms that the court considers
proper. If a defendant has pleaded a counter claim before
being served with the plaintiff's motion to dismiss, the
action may be dismissed over the defendant's objection
only if the counterclaim can remain pending for independent
adjudication. Unless the order states otherwise, a dismissal
under this paragraph (2) is without prejudice.”
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has
“explained that, as a general rule, motions for
voluntary dismissal should be freely granted unless the
non-moving party will suffer some plain legal prejudice other
than the mere prospect of a second lawsuit.” Clark
v. Happy Days, LLC, No. CIV.A. 10-0310, 2011 WL 61180,
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