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Hannah's Boutique, Inc. v. Surdej

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

August 28, 2013

HANNAH's BOUTIQUE, INC., an Illinois corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
BARBARA ANN SURDEJ, ROY SURDEJ and JEFFREY SURDEDJ d/b/a PEACHES BOUTIQUE, and AGNIESZKA BIALAS. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.

On April 5, 2013, Plaintiff Hannah's Boutique, Inc. ("Hannah's") filed a twelve-count Complaint against Defendants Barbara Ann Surdej, Roy Surdej, and Jeffery Surdej d/b/a Peaches Boutique (collectively, "Peaches"), and Agnieszka Bialas (collectively, "Defendants"). (R. 1, Compl.) Defendants move to dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6), Counts I-VI of the Complaint which allege the following: Count I - Violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act: Attempted Monopolization; Count II - Violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act: Conspiracy to Monopolize; Count III - Violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act: Monopolization; Count IV - Violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act: Concerted Refusal to Deal; Count V - Violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act: Unreasonable Restraint of Trade; Count VI - Violation of Section 3 of the Clayton Act: Sale on Agreement Not to Use Goods of Competitor. (R. 19, Mot.) Defendants also seek to dismiss the state law counts (Counts VII-XIII) pursuant to 12(b)(1) for lack of federal court subject matter jurisdiction. ( Id. ) For the following reasons, the Court dismisses Defendants' motion to dismiss.

BACKGROUND

Hannah's alleges the following facts, which the Court must accept as true for purposes of this motion.

Hannah's Boutique, Inc. is an Illinois corporation which sells prom, homecoming, and evening dress apparel. (Compl. ¶ 12.) Peaches Boutique is "one of the largest retail suppliers of prom, homecoming, and even dress apparel in the Chicago market." ( Id. ¶ 11.) Peaches also has a website "for the purposes of selling prom dresses and evening apparel across the entire United States and internationally." ( Id. 17.) Defendants Barbara Ann Surdej, Roy Surdej, and Jeffrey Surdej are each principals of Peaches Boutique and are "actively engaged in its day-to-day operation and management." ( Id. ¶¶ 13-15.) Defendant Agnieszka Bialas has been the acting manager at Peaches since 2000. ( Id. ¶ 16.)

In the prom, homecoming, and evening dress apparel industry, "retailers' relationships with, and access to, the top designers are crucial in maintaining a competitive position in the market as the consumers demand the latest fashions." ( Id. 48.) Peaches has relationships with numerous women's fashion dress designers and "dominates" the Chicago Market.[1] ( Id. ¶¶ 17, 49.) Hannah's, which entered the Chicago Market in February 2009, "had started to establish a presence in the prom, homecoming and evening dress apparel industry by 2012 due to its reputable service, relationships with certain [d]esigners and ability to obtain the most recent fashion."[2] ( Id. ¶¶ 48, 52.) Based on this success, Hannah's moved to a new, larger facility in September 2011. ( Id. 56.)

After Peaches learned that Hannah's was expanding, it began contacting various dress designers to stop them from selling dresses to Hannah's and spoke with certain designers at the 2011 National Bridal Market. ( Id. 57.) Peaches threatened to stop placing orders with designers if they sold to Hannah's. ( Id. 60.) Certain designers began to reduce Hannah's access to their products and services. ( Id. 61.)

Peaches directed other designers to cease doing business with Hannah's at the 2012 Atlanta AmericasMart Prom Market in August 2012. ( Id. ¶¶ 63-64.) Specifically, "Peaches instructed the dress designers... to remove Hannah's from their websites, to stop providing prom dress catalogs and website dress images women's fashion dresses to Hannah's, and to reject Hannah's dress orders." ( Id. 64.) Beginning September 5, 2012, certain designers informed Hannah's that they could no longer fill Hannah's orders and removed Hannah's from their websites. ( Id. ¶¶ 65-67.)

At the 2012 National Bridal Market, Peaches again spoke with designers and ordered them to stop selling to Hannah's. ( Id. ¶¶ 68-70.) At that market and in the subsequent months, designers informed Hannah's that they would stop selling dresses to Hannah's, or planned to continue to refuse to sell to Hannah's. ( Id. ¶¶ 71-76.) Because these designers refused to fill Hannah's' orders, Hannah's had to order dresses from retailers in other states, thereby paying full retail prices rather than distributor prices. ( Id. 79.)

According to Hannah's, Peaches interfered with Hannah's' business relationships in other ways by trespassing on its property, obtaining shipping information from United Parcel Service regarding Hannah's' package deliveries, and surveilling Hannah's' facility and representatives. ( Id. 80.) Peaches also made false statements about Hannah's to its current and potential customers, including the following:

(a) that Hannah's is illegally selling women's fashion dresses;
(b) that Hannah's is selling "knockoff" or counterfeit designer women's fashion dresses;
(c) that Hannah's is owned, managed and operated by Muslims and that "you don't want to buy anything from those people" because you do not known what they are involved in and ...

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