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BP Amoco Chemical Co. v. Flint Hills Resources LLC

July 27, 2009

BP AMOCO CHEMICAL COMPANY, PLAINTIFF/COUNTER--DEFENDANT,
v.
FLINT HILLS RESOURCES LLC, DEFENDANT/COUNTER--PLAINTIFF.
FLINT HILLS RESOURCES LLC, THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF,
v.
V. BP CORPORATION NORTH AMERICA INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Amy J. St. Eve

BP AMOCO'S RESPONSE TO FHR'S MOTION IN LIMINE NO. 10 BP AMOCO CHEMICAL COMPANY AND BP CORPORATION NORTH AMERICA INC.'S RESPONSE TO FLINT HILLS RESOURCES, LLC'S MOTION IN LIMINE REGARDING OTHER LITIGATION

Flint Hills Resources, LLC ("FHR") seeks to bar BP Amoco Chemical Company and BP Corporation North America Inc. (together, "BP Amoco") from introducing evidence of lawsuits in which FHR and related entities*fn1 make claims and allegations nearly identical to those that FHR makes here.*fn2 According to FHR, BP Amoco intends to introduce this evidence only to "portray [FHR]... as a 'chronic litigant' to induce the jury to decide this case on an emotional and improper basis." (FHR MIL No. 10, at 2 ¶ 2.) FHR is flatly wrong. While it may very well be true that FHR is a "chronic litigant" as part of a business model or other approach designed to seek purchase price adjustments (reductions) in executed contracts, BP Amoco will not introduce the evidence of similar litigation in order to establish any chronic litigation strategy by FHR. Instead, BP Amoco will introduce this evidence for at least four legitimate and relevant purposes:

(i) to demonstrate, in conjunction with other evidence, that FHR did not actually and/or justifiably rely upon BP Amoco's representations regarding production capacity at the Joliet refinery. BP Amoco believes that the jury will be readily able to conclude, based upon the evidence, that FHR intended to sue from the start, thus negating the element of justifiable reliance in its fraud claims;

(ii) to show, in conjunction with other evidence, that FHR's motive in filing this lawsuit was not to remedy BP Amoco's contractual deficiencies, but simply to obtain a purchase price adjustment or other benefits it was unable to secure by pre-sale negotiations;

(iii) in conjunction with other evidence, to oppose FHR's allegations that it was prevented from conducting adequate due diligence; and

(iv) to suggest, in conjunction with other evidence, that FHR's damage claims are unreasonable and are not made in good faith.

The purposes for which this evidence will be offered at trial are proper under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b), which states that evidence of other acts may be presented for purposes such as proof of intent, plan, knowledge, or absence of mistake. See Fed. R. Evid. 404(b). Evidence of other lawsuits, according to the Seventh Circuit, is admissible if it meets a four-part test:

"(1) The evidence must be directed toward establishing something at issue other than a party's propensity to commit the act charged;

(2) The other act must be similar enough and close enough in time to be relevant to the matter at issue;

(3) The evidence must be such that the jury could find the act occurred and the party in question committed it; and

(4) The prejudicial effect of the evidence must not substantially outweigh its probative value."

Gastineau v. Fleet Mortgage Corp.,137 F.3d 490, 494-95 (7th Cir. 1998). The evidence that BP Amoco will introduce-which is aimed at establishing issues other than FHR's propensity to sue-is admissible under this test and established case law.

I. THE EVIDENCE OF SIMILAR LITIGATION IS ADMISSIBLE TO ESTABLISH THAT FHR DID NOT RELY UPON BP AMOCO'S REPRESENTATIONS

Reliance is an element of FHR's fraud claim relating to BP Amoco's production capacity representations. Reliance also was an element, throughout this litigation, of FHR's condition-of-assets fraud claims-which FHR only recently dropped. BP Amoco will argue and present evidence from which the jury can conclude that, because FHR planned all along to sue BP Amoco in order to obtain a purchase-price adjustment, ...


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