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McGinley v. Luv n' Care, Ltd.

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

July 19, 2019

MICHAEL L. McGINLEY, ET AL.
v.
LUV N' CARE, LTD., ET AL.

          KAREN L. HAYES, MAG. JUDGE

          RULING

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is the Motion to Amend Rulings on Motions for Summary Judgment and Related Judgment [Doc. No. 241] filed by Plaintiffs Michael L. McGinley and S.C. Products, Inc. (collectively “Plaintiffs”). Luv n' care, Ltd. (“LNC”), Admar International, Inc. (“Admar”), BuyBabyDirect, LLC (“BBD”), Bayou Graphics and Design, LLC (“BGD”), Control Services, Inc. (“CS”), and HHHII, LLC (“HHHII”) (collectively “Defendants”) have filed an Opposition [Doc. No. 246]. The matter is fully briefed.

         The Court is now prepared to rule on the motion.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On March 30, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against Defendant Luv N. Care, Ltd. (“LNC”), alleging various patent infringement claims pertaining to its “'178 Patent” for a flexible panel rinse cup product [Doc. No. 1]. On July 27, 2018, Plaintiffs expanded their claims with an Amended Complaint [Doc. No. 109], which (1) included a claim pertaining to its '178 Patent for indirect infringement against LNC; (2) added a number of companies, including Defendants Admar, BGD, CS, and HHHII, that are commonly-owned and controlled by LNC and its principals as additional defendants; and (3) included a claim pertaining to its '178 Patent of infringement against a new Defendant BuyBabyDirect, LLC (“BBD”), and a separate, equitable claim against LNC and all of the other Defendants asserting that they constitute a “single business enterprise, ” or alter egos, or joint venturers. Plaintiffs contended that all Defendants are jointly and severally liable to Plaintiffs for the unlawful acts of each other.

         On November 6, 2018, Defendants Admar, BGD, CS, and HHHII (collectively “Moving Defendants”) filed a Motion for Summary Judgment to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Claims (“MSJ to Dismiss Claims”) [Doc. No. 133]. On January 24, 2019, the Court denied the MSJ to Dismiss Claims [Doc. Nos. 172, 173]. In its Ruling, the Court stated that “. . . to the extent that Moving Defendants request summary judgment holding that they have not infringed or induced infringement of any of Plaintiffs' alleged patent rights, the motion is DENIED because those claims have not been asserted against them.” [Doc. No. 172 at 5]. The Court further found that there were genuine issues of material fact which precluded summary judgment. [Doc. No. 172 at 9].

         On November 8, 2018, all Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking a ruling that the '178 Patent asserted by Plaintiffs is not infringed. [Doc. No. 137]. Plaintiffs also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking a ruling that the importation into and/or the use, offers to sell and actual sale of the Nuby Tear Free Rinse Pail (“Accused Device”) literally infringed claims 1 and 6 of the '178 Patent. [Doc. No. 136]. On May 15, 2019, the Court granted Defendants' motion and denied Plaintiffs' Motion. [Doc. Nos. 237, 238].

         Plaintiffs move the Court pursuant to F.R.C.P. 54(b) to revise its Rulings on Motions for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 237] and related Judgment [Doc. No. 238] to (A) clarify that the Court's summary judgment of noninfringement was entered solely in favor of Defendants Luv n' care, Ltd. and BuyBabyDirect, LLC, and (B) include the Court's determination as to the continued viability of the claims of relief stated in Count III of the Amended Complaint [Doc. No. 109] in light of the Court's summary judgment of noninfringement [Doc. No. 238], and (C) identify the claims that remain pending in the case after the Court's consideration of and ruling as to Count III. [Doc. No. 241 at 1]. In addition, Plaintiffs move the Court for its Order holding that neither Plaintiffs nor Defendants can be justly deemed the “prevailing party” in this action and that each side must bear its own costs of suit under F.R.C.P. 54(d)(1). Id. at 2.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Plaintiffs' Request to Clarify that the Court's Summary Judgment of Noninfringement was Entered Solely in Favor of Defendants Luv n' care, Ltd. and BuyBabyDirect, LLC.

         The Court granted Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment of Noninfringement for all Defendants [Doc. Nos. 237, 238], which included Defendants Admar, BGD, CS, and HHHII (collectively “Moving Defendants”). Plaintiffs contend that the only Defendants in whose favor a summary judgment of noninfringement could be entered is Luv n' care, Ltd and BuyBabyDirect, LLC. [Doc. No. 241-1 at 2]. According to Plaintiffs, the Court already denied the MSJ to Dismiss Claims [Doc. No. 133] filed by Moving Defendants, and determined that these Defendants could not obtain summary judgment relief. Id.

         Specifically, the Court stated “to the extent that [these] Defendants request summary judgment holding that they have not infringed or induced infringement of any of Plaintiffs' alleged patent rights, the motion is DENIED because those claims have not been asserted against them.” [Doc. No. 172 at 5]. In the present motion, Plaintiffs argue that the Court “apparently overlooked its prior ruling and decision recognizing that Plaintiffs had not asserted any infringement claims against Admar International, Inc., Bayou Graphics and Design, LLC, Control Services, Inc., and HHHII, LLC, and thus, these Defendants could not obtain such summary relief.” [Doc. No. 241-1 at 2-3].

         The issue is not that the Court overlooked its prior ruling. Instead, the MSJ to Dismiss Claims was a procedurally flawed attempt by Moving Defendants to exit the case. In effect, Moving Defendants asked the Court to deny Plaintiffs' single business entity claim without proper factual support for doing so. Although the motion was partially postured as a motion for summary judgment for noninfringement, it was actually a motion to deny Plaintiffs' equitable relief claim of a single business enterprise. Given this procedural history, the ...


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