United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
LEO TRIPP, ET AL.
RICHARD PICKENS, ET AL.
L. HORNSBY, Judge
A. DOUGHTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Leo Tripp; his father, Jimmy Tripp; and their business
associate, Steve Stone, brought this action against
Defendants Richard Pickens (“Pickens”) and
Richart Distributors d/b/a Flomore Products
(“Flomore”), alleging that they failed to honor a
contract to split the profits on a solar-powered oil field
pump. Plaintiffs assert claims of breach of contract,
promissory estoppel, detrimental reliance, and violations of
the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act
(“LUTPA”). They seek damages and declaratory
move the Court for summary judgment [Doc. No. 96] on (1)
Plaintiffs' claim for revenue from future sales of the
solar-powered pump as an element of damages and (2) all of
Plaintiffs' claims against Flomore and Pickens brought
pursuant to LUTPA. Plaintiffs oppose the motion. [Doc. No.
100]. Defendants have filed a reply in support of their
motion. [Doc. No. 106].
following reasons, the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
not conceding that a contract existed, for purposes of this
motion, Defendants contend that, even if there was a contract
and even if the contract were breached, the undisputed facts
entitle them to summary judgment as requested.
undisputed that in October 2013, Plaintiffs met
representatives of the Defendants at a trade show for oil
field supply products. Ultimately, the relationship between
Plaintiffs and Defendants developed to the point that they
discussed the idea of launching a new product, specifically a
solar-powered chemical injection pump to be used in
April 2014, Pickens and Flomore Manager of Operations, Mitch
Carey, flew from Oklahoma to Louisiana to meet with
Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs contend that they demonstrated the
prototype of the S2000 pump in Arcadia, Louisiana. They
further contend that they entered into an oral agreement with
Pickens whereby Plaintiffs would complete the design and
development of the pump, and the pump would then be marketed
and sold through Flomore. Plaintiffs further contend that the
parties agreed that they would split the profits 50/50 from
sales of the pump, which became known as the Flomore S2000
Solar Pump (“the S2000”). Even if this oral
agreement or contract existed, it is undisputed that it had
no specified term.
this meeting in Louisiana, Plaintiffs traveled to Oklahoma
several times to work on the S2000's design and
production. They met and worked with a number of Flomore
employees and machine shop. Plaintiffs contend that in 2014
Flomore began marketing and selling the S2000 that they
helped design without paying them 50% of the profits.
further contend that, after the instant lawsuit was filed,
they learned in discovery that Defendants secretly applied
for a provisional patent for the S2000 in 2014 and a
non-provisional patent one year later. Plaintiffs further
contend that Flomore failed to include them as inventors and
wrongfully hid the patent application.
about April 23, 2018, following a failed mediation between
the parties and shortly before the then-scheduled trial date,
Pickens sent a letter to Plaintiffs notifying them that
Flomore was terminating “the disputed contract, ”
pursuant to Louisiana Civil Code Article 2024, effective May
31, 2018. He followed up with a second letter on May 24,
2018, confirming the alleged termination and notifying them
that as of June 1, 2018, Flomore would no longer manufacture
or sell the Flomore S2000 pump or any other pump that
contains any parts that were the subject of the patent
application. Finally, Pickens indicated that, at that time,
the patent had not issued, but that he was prepared “to
tender” the patent rights by assignment. [Doc. No.
96-5, Exh. C].
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), A[a] party may move
for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense--or
the part of each claim or defense--on which summary judgment
is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the
movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." The moving party bears the initial
burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion by
identifying portions of the record which highlight the
absence of genuine issues of material fact. Topalian v.
Ehrmann, 954 F.2d 1125, 1132 (5th Cir. 1992); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1) ("A party asserting
that a fact cannot be . . . disputed must support the
assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in
the record . . .). A fact is “material” if proof
of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of
the lawsuit under applicable law in the case. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute
about a material fact is "genuine" if the evidence
is such that a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict
for the nonmoving party. Id.
moving party can meet the initial burden, the burden then
shifts to the nonmoving party to establish the existence of a
genuine issue of material fact for trial. Norman v.
Apache Corp., 19 F.3d 1017, 1023 (5th Cir. 1994). In
evaluating the evidence tendered by the parties, the Court
must accept the evidence of the nonmovant as credible and
draw all justifiable inferences in its favor.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. However, “a party
cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations,
unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of
evidence.” Turner v. Baylor Richardson Med.
Ctr., 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).
Claim for Damages from Future Sales of the Flomore
Defendants move for summary judgment on Plaintiffs'
claims for damages from the future sales of the Flomore
S2000. Specifically, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs are
barred from seeking damages for sales of the Flomore S2000
after May 31, 2018, because any alleged oral contract was of
indefinite duration, that they properly terminated the
alleged contract with Plaintiffs, ...