Riedlinger v. Steam Brothers, Inc.

20120111 John Riedlinger, Steam Brothers of
Austin/Albert Lea, LLC, Dale Stroh,
Kevin Vetter, K&M, Inc., Leo Horner,
and Duane Leier, Plaintiffs and Appellees
v.
Steam Brothers, Inc., d/b/a Steam
Brothers Carpet Cleaning, Defendant and Appellant

Appeal from: District Court, South Central Judicial District, Burleigh County
Judge Cynthia Feland
Nature of Action: Contracts
Counsel:
Appellant: Benjamin John Hasbrouck
Appellant: Lawyer not licensed in N.D.
Appellee: Rob Andrew Stefonowicz
Appellee: Lawyer not licensed in N.D.
Term: 09/2012   Argument: 09/04/2012  2:45pm
ND cite: 2013 ND 14
NW cite: 826 N.W.2d 340

Listen to recording of oral argument in MP3 format

Issues: Appellant's Statement of the Issues:
1. Did the district court err by prohibiting discovery on issues encompassed by the pleadings?
2. Did the district court err by denying (without addressing) Steam Brothers' request for discovery under Rule 56(f) and granting Licensees' motion for summary judgment on the basis of their un-crossexamined affidavits?
3. Did the district court err by granting summary judgment in favor of Licensees on the basis of a factual comparison made between the Agreements at issue and prior agreements between the parties which were not submitted as part of the summary judgment record?
4. Did the district court err in deciding on summary judgment that the parties intended that the Agreements could not be terminated without mutual consent (for example, for breach) because they did not contain an express provision setting forth the remedy of termination?
5. Did the district court err in deciding on summary judgment that Licensees were not obligated to provide Steam Brothers with information necessary to enforce express provisions of the Agreements when the Agreements assume (in a confidentiality provision) that Licensees will provide the information "directly" by virtue of the "operation" and "enforcement" of the Agreements and, when entering into the Agreements, Steam Brothers expected and intended to be provided with the information?

Appellee's Statement of the Issues:
I.Whether the district court properly granted Licensees an order preventing SBI from obtaining their confidential information because (a) the written license agreements are unambiguous and completely integrated, barring parol evidence from altering their terms, (b) the License Agreements "fully govern" the relationship, do not require disclosures, and provide that neither party has "power to obligate the other," and (c) SBI requested irrelevant information in an attempt to retroactively support its purported terminations of the License Agreements.
II.Whether SBI was entitled to additional discovery before the district court granted Licensees summary judgment declaring the parties' rights and obligations under the license agreements given that (a) the license agreements are unambiguous and completely integrated, barring parol evidence from altering their terms, (b) the License Agreements "fully govern" the relationship, do not give SBI the rights it asserted or obligate Licensees in the manner claimed by SBI; and (c) SBI requested irrelevant information.
III.Whether the district court, in declaring the parties' rights and obligations, properly considered the entirety of the license agreements and an earlier franchise agreement between the parties given that the license agreements (a) reference the parties' obligations under the earlier agreements, (b) terminated those earlier agreements, and (c) expressly state that the parties intended to convert the franchise relationship "to a very different type of business relationship."
IV.Whether the district court properly decided that SBI did not have a right to terminate the license agreements given that (a) they are unambiguous and completely integrated, (b) they "fully govern" the relationship, (c) they specifically grant and preserve SBI's "remedies" for a breach but do not grant it any termination right, (d) their fully paid-up terms extend beyond Licensees' lifetimes, and (e) SBI lacked evidence that Licensees committed a material breach.
V.Whether the district court properly declared that Licensees are not obligated to disclose their confidential business information to SBI given that the license agreements (a) are unambiguous and completely integrated, barring parol evidence of SBI's former owner's intent and beliefs, (b) expressly state that they "fully govern" the relationship, (c) do not require disclosures, and (d) provide that neither party has "power to obligate the other."

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Docket entries:
102/16/2012 NOTICE OF APPEAL: 02/14/2012
202/16/2012 ORDER FOR TRANSCRIPT: 02/14/2012
303/14/2012 ANNOUNCED DISQUALIFICATION: Sandstrom, Dale V.
403/13/2012 ELEC. RECORD ON APPEAL dated March 3, 2012 (ENTRY NOS. 1-108)
503/22/2012 Court Reporter's acknowledgement of Order for Transcript
603/28/2012 Updated Affidavit of John A. Cotter
703/30/2012 Updated Affidavit of Emily Duke
803/30/2012 TRANSCRIPTS DATED July 21, 2011 & November 29, 2011 (2 vols.) & C.O.S.
903/30/2012 DISK - tra (7/21/11 & 11/29/11) (e-mailed)
1005/08/2012 APPELLANT BRIEF
1105/08/2012 APPELLANT APPENDIX
1205/09/2012 DISK - atb (CD-ROM)
1306/07/2012 APPELLEE BRIEF
1406/07/2012 APPELLEE APPENDIX
1506/07/2012 DISK - aeb
1606/25/2012 REPLY BRIEF
1706/26/2012 DISK-RYB
1808/09/2012 NOTICE OF ORAL ARGUMENT SENT
1908/23/2012 SITTING WITH THE COURT: Merrick, Thomas E.
2009/04/2012 APPEARANCES: Benjamin J. Hasbrouck; Rob A. Stefonowicz
2109/04/2012 ARGUED: Benjamin J. Hasbrouck; Rob A. Stefonowicz
2209/04/2012 ORAL ARGUMENT WEBCAST
2301/28/2013 DISPOSITION: REVERSED AND REMANDED
2401/28/2013 UNANIMOUS OPINION: VandeWalle, Gerald W.
2501/28/2013 costs on appeal taxed in favor of Appellant
2601/30/2013 Judgment Sent to Parties
2702/21/2013 MANDATE
2802/26/2013 RECEIPT SIGNED BY DISTRICT COURT CLERK'S OFFICE
2903/21/2013 Corrected/Substitute Opinion Page (Page 8, Paragraph 14, Line 17 and replaces N.C.C.C. with N.D.C.C

Generated from Supreme Court Docket on 11/24/2014