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Proconn Power, Inc. v. Stolarik Builders, Inc.

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

May 9, 2013

PROCONN POWER, INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
STOLARIK BUILDERS, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN A. NORDBERG, Senior District Judge.

Introduction

In this diversity jurisdiction lawsuit, plaintiff ProConn Power, Inc. ("ProConn") asserts two counts against defendant Stolarik Builders, Inc. ("Stolarik"). Stolarik has filed a motion to dismiss the second count, which combines into one count a state law defamation claim and a tortious interference claim. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

Background

The following allegations are taken from the complaint and assumed true for purposes of ruling on this motion. This case arises out of a construction project known as the Department of Navy Midwest Automated Gate Program at the U.S. Naval Station, Great Lakes, Illinois (hereinafter, the "Project"). (Cmplt. § 5.)

The U.S. Navy entered into a prime contract with Northrop Grumman. (§ 6.) Northrop Grumman was required to furnish a payment and performance bond ("Payment Bond"). ( Id. )

On June 1, 2011, plaintiff ProConn contracted with Alutiiq, Inc., a subcontractor of Northrop Grumman, to provide services for the Project. (§ 7.) ProConn then entered into discussions with defendant Stolarik about the possibility of Stolarik working as a subcontractor to ProConn. (§ 8.) However, ProConn and Stolarik never entered into a subcontract, in part because Stolarik never complied with subcontract requirements such as providing proof of insurance. (§ 9.)

Even though the parties did not enter into a contract, on July 15, 2011, Stolarik sent several employees to the Project to begin work. (§ 10.) When ProConn learned about this, it told Stolarik to stop working and leave the site because there was no subcontract. (§ 11.) The workers stopped sometime around July 19th. ( Id. )

On July 21st, ProConn wrote to Stolarik telling it to remove any equipment and to submit an invoice for the approximately two and a half days of work on the Project. (§ 12.)

Stolarik did not respond to this letter. Instead, it began contacting the U.S. Navy, Northrop Grumman, and Alutiiq requesting payment for work it had done on the project. (§ 13.)

After hearing about these requests, ProConn sent Stolarik a letter on July 3rd requesting that Stolarik cease contacting these entities and that it submit an invoice directly to ProConn for any work it believed it should be paid for. ( Id. )

Stolarik again did not respond to the letter from ProConn. (§ 14.) Instead, on July 9th, Stolarik submitted a claim against the Payment Bond for $344, 239.98. (§ 15.) This amount far exceeds the few days' worth of work done by a couple of employees. (§ 16.)

On August 6, 2012, counsel for ProConn sent a letter to Stolarik requesting that it remove its claim on the Payment Bond because the parties never entered into a contract and because Stolarik's work could at best only account for a small fraction of the amount of money claimed. (§ 17.) Stolarik did not respond to this letter, nor did it remove its claim on the Payment Bond. ( Id. )

The complaint contains two counts. Count I is a claim for declaratory relief in which ProConn seeks a judicial declaration (pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-2202) that Stolarik has no right to make a claim on the Payment Bond and that such claim must be removed. (§ 21.) Count II is a claim for defamation and tortious interference with business relationships. ProConn alleges that the claim on the Payment Bond has damaged its relationships ...


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