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Skier's Choice, Inc. v. Skipper Marine & Affiliates

May 15, 2012

SKIER'S CHOICE, INC. PLAINTIFFS/COUNTER-DEFENDANT,
v.
SKIPPER MARINE & AFFILIATES, INC., D/B/A CHICAGO SEA RAY DEFENDANT/COUNTER-PLAINTIFF.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff ("Skipper Marine") brings forth this matter alleging four causes of action including a violation of the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law ("WFDL"), the Illinois Equipment Fair Dealership Law ("IEFDL") and breach of contract and the duty of good faith and fair dealing claims. Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant ("Skier's Choice, Inc." or "Skier's Choice") has filed a motion to strike certain paragraphs of Skipper Marine's answer to its Complaint and to dismiss Skipper Marine's counterclaims in their entirety. For the following reasons, Skier's Choice's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

Skipper Marine was the exclusive dealer of Skier's Choice Supra and Moomba brand ski boats in the greater Lake County, Illinois area from 2004-2011. During that time, with Skier's Choice's knowledge and approval, Skipper Marine also sold boats throughout Southern Wisconsin and in Western Wisconsin and Iowa through authorized sub dealers. The parties' relationship was memorialized by a series of contracts. As part of the parties' course of dealings, form contracts were issued by Skier's Choice for Skipper Marine's review in July or August of each year. Although the effective date would be September 1, in practice, the contracts between the parties were often not signed until well after September 1, if ever. It is important to note that language included in the form contracts stated that the contracts would "expire upon the signing of a new Supra Dealership Agreement by both parties or by August 31, whichever is earlier."

In the summer of 2010, as the August 31, 2010 expiration date of the 2010 ADA agreement approached, Skier's Choice and Skipper Marine began their contract negotiation process for the 2011 boating season. Although the parties exchanged various drafts of the form contract, neither party actually signed a dealership agreement for the 2011 boat season. Nevertheless, Skier's Choice and Skipper Marine continued to conduct business beyond August 31, 2010 in the same manner they had conducted business during the 2010 boating season.

In furtherance of their ongoing business relationship, during the spring of 2011, Skipper Marine negotiated two separate sponsorship agreements with two professional ski teams, under which both teams were required to use Skier's Choice boats in their practices and competition.

In May 2011, Skier's Choice representatives visited the Skipper Marine facilities in Volvo, Illinois. After this visit, Skipper Marine ordered several of Skier's Choice model year 2012 boats to sell in the upcoming year. However, between May and July 2011, unbeknownst to Skipper Marine, Skier's Choice was in negotiations with Boat House Lauderdale Lakes Chicago to replace Skipper Marine as Skier's Choice's dealer in that area.

Finally, on July 8, 2011, Skier's Choice terminated its relationship with Skipper Marine without cause. On July 25, 2011, Skipper Marine responded with a demand letter, threatening litigation and demanding certain payments and other accommodations.

In response, on August 29, 2011, Skier's Choice filed a complaint in this Court for declaratory relief. In the complaint, Skier's Choice acknowledged that an implied contract existed between the parties for the 2011 boating season, but declared that the parties disagreed with the terms of the implied contract. As such, Skier's Choice, sought relief from the uncertainty of their rights and responsibilities under the 2011 contract with Skipper Marine. In response, Skipper Marine filed both an answer and counter-claim alleging that Skier's Choice violated the WFDL, the IEFDL and breached the 2011 implied contract and the duty of good faith and fair dealing. Skier's Choice now moves to strike certain portions of Skipper Marine's answer and to dismiss each of Skipper Marine's counterclaims.

LEGAL ANALYSIS

Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth the federal pleading requirement of a short and plain statement of the claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). In order to survive dismissal, the complaint must allege sufficient factual content to raise the right to relief above a speculative level. Bell Atlantic Corp. v Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 569 n. 14, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). When considering dismissal of a complaint, the court accepts as true all well-pleaded allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Pisciotta v. Old Nat. Bancorp, 499 F.3d 629, 633 (7th Cir. 2007).

DISCUSSION

Motion to Strike

Skier's Choice seeks to strike paragraphs 6, 9, 14 and 15 of Skipper Marine's answer and admit the corresponding paragraphs into the record. Skipper Marine has since admitted that venue in the Northern District of Illinois is appropriate. Furthermore, as Skipper Marine is an Illinois corporation and Skier's Choice is incorporated in Oklahoma, the parties have established subject matter jurisdiction. Therefore, Skier's Choice's motion to strike paragraphs six and nine of Skipper Marine's answer is granted. The remaining paragraphs of ...


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