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MURPHY v. TEXACO
June 21, 1983
ROBERT MURPHY, WILLIAM LEO AND PAUL WASZAK, PLAINTIFFS,
TEXACO, INC., DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Three lessees of gasoline stations owned by Texaco, Inc. ("Texaco")
sued Texaco, challenging (under the Petroleum Marketing Practices Act,
15 U.S.C. § 2802, and perhaps under Illinois law as well) its
termination of (and refusal to renew) their leases and franchises. In
turn Texaco filed a four-count amended counterclaim. Counterclaim Count I
("Count I") asserts plaintiffs' liability under Illinois law for rent
incurred during the post-termination period in which they have continued
to occupy and operate their service stations. Texaco now moves under
Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 56 for summary judgment on Count I. For the reasons
stated in this memorandum opinion and order Texaco's motion is granted.
Some time during 1979 or 1980 each plaintiff signed the same standard
lease form (the "Lease") and Agreement of Sale (both drafted by Texaco),
entitling him to lease a service station, to market Texaco products under
the Texaco brand name and to use the Texaco trademarks to promote such
sales. Under Lease ¶ 2(a), Texaco was permitted to "terminate or
fail to renew this Lease only for good cause and not in bad faith."
Each plaintiff began selling non-Texaco brand name products at some
point during the term of his Lease. In late September or early October
1981 each plaintiff attempted to notify his customers of that practice by
posting in the window of his service station the following sign:
ATTENTION THIS STATION DOES NOT NECESSARILY SELL TEXACO PRODUCTS, ASK
ATTENDANT FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Dealers Ass'n. The Management
Nonetheless each plaintiff continued to use Texaco's trademarks,
including the large Texaco hexagonal sign and Texaco-trademarked gasoline
pumps. Texaco objected to plaintiffs' practices as an abuse of each
plaintiff's right to use Texaco trademarks and brand names and as a
violation of his franchise obligations. Consequently Texaco gave advance
notice to each plaintiff of its intention to terminate (and not renew)
his Lease and franchise effective February 1, 1982.
Each plaintiff refused to vacate his service station on the designated
termination date. Subsequently Texaco instituted eviction proceedings
against at least one of the three plaintiffs under Illinois' forcible
detainer laws. To date plaintiffs remain in possession of their
Count I seeks damages and injunctive relief to remedy the injuries
suffered by Texaco as a result of plaintiffs' possession of the gasoline
stations since February 1, 1982. As for its damages element, Count I is
apparently based on two alternative theories:
1. If plaintiffs' continued possession of those
facilities is wrongful, plaintiffs are liable for
any resulting damages.
2. If plaintiffs establish the Leases were still
in force (by showing Texaco improperly terminated
the Leases), plaintiffs are liable for the rent
incurred since February 1, 1982.
Regardless of which theory is applicable, there is no factual dispute
that defeats Texaco's entitlement as a matter of law to the same accrued
amount, equal ...
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