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Balshe LLC v. Ross

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

January 9, 2014

BALSHE LLC, THE SIMON LAW FIRM, and THE MEYER-CHATFIELD CORPORATION, Plaintiffs,
v.
ALAN J. ROSS and SAVE ASSOCIATES, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES B. ZAGEL, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This dispute arises out of an alleged violation of a Settlement Agreement between Plaintiffs Balshe LLC, Simon Law Firm, and Meyer-Chatfield Corporation and Defendants Alan J. Ross and SAVE Associates. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants breached the terms of a Settlement Agreement, executed on June 26, 2008, by refusing to deliver the 390 Patent to Plaintiffs. Currently before the Court is (1) Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment against Defendants on a breach of contract claim; (2) Defendants' motion for entry of summary judgment in Defendants' favor; and (3) Defendants' motion to deny Plaintiffs' Motion for partial summary judgment and transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). For the following reasons, I deny Defendants' motion to deny Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment and transfer venue in its entirety, and I grant in part and deny in part Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment.

II. PRELIMINARY MATTERS

Defendants seek to move the court to (1) dismiss this case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; (2) transfer venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1406(a); and (3) deny Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment for Plaintiffs' lack of compliance with Local Rule 56.

A. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

There is no dispute that there exists complete diversity among the parties and that the amount in controversy exceeds the value required under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. However, Defendants contend that Plaintiffs no longer have standing because they transferred 100% of their equity interests to Institutional Longevity Assets ("ILA") and MRB Pooled Benefits LLC ("MRB") without retaining the right to enforce the Settlement Agreement. In determining that the court has proper subject matter jurisdiction over this case under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, I reaffirm my April 3, 2013 order. As signatories to the Settlement Agreement, Plaintiffs are the real parties in interest to this action. Defendants have not established that Plaintiffs have transferred their rights to enforce the Settlement Agreement, and any equity interest ILA and MRB may have in Institutional Pooled Benefits LLC ("IPB") does not, at this stage, give those parties such rights.

B. Improper Venue

Defendants move to assert that venue is improper in this court and request that this case either be (1) dismissed or (2) transferred to the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). Defendants argue that 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) requires a district court to dismiss or, if in the interests of justice, transfer a case to any district or division in which it could have been brought. Defendants, however, fail to establish a prerequisite to such a dismissal or transfer-that this case is "laying venue in the wrong division or district." 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). They cannot; this case is properly before this court. 28 U.S.C. § 1391.

This case concerns the enforcement of a settlement agreement approved by this Court. Paragraph 20 of the Settlement Agreement states, in relevant part, "The parties agree that the Northern District [of Illinois] shall retain jurisdiction to enforce or settle any disputes arising out of or relating to this Agreement and agree that they will not dispute jurisdiction in the Northern District." Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that Defendants breached the Settlement Agreement pursuant to Balshe LLC v. Ross. 441 Fed.App'x. 395 (2011) ("any claim relating to nonperformance of the settlement agreement must be brought as a breach-of-contract action"). As such, a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred in this district. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a)(2), (b)(2).

I affirm my prior order of July 16, 2013, rejecting Defendants' request to transfer this matter to a different venue. [Doc. 59]. Defendants have not established that this Court is an improper venue or that the "transferee forum is clearly more convenient" than the transferor forum. 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a); Heller Financial, Inc. v. Midwhey Powder Co., Inc., 883 F.2d 1286, 1293 (7th Cir.1989).

C. Failure to Comply with Rules

Defendants also move to deny Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment on the grounds that Plaintiffs' failure to include a statement of material facts with its motion for partial summary judgment is in violation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure No. 56 and Local Rule 56. Generally, district courts have broad discretion to enforce and require strict compliance with their local rules and will only be reviewed for abuse of discretion. See Elustra v. Mineo, 595 F.3d 699, 710 (7th Cir.2010) ("We defer to the district court's understanding of its own rules."); see also Koszola v. Bd. of Educ., 385 F.3d 1104, 1108 (7th Cir.2004).

Defendants contend that violation of Local Rule 56 constitutes grounds for denial of Plaintiffs' motion. While Plaintiffs failed to include a statement of material facts with its motion on July 11, 2013, they filed the relevant statement shortly thereafter on July 21, 2013. Due to Plaintiffs' untimely filing, Defendants were given additional time to respond to Plaintiffs' motion. Plaintiffs' delay in filing a material statement of facts was not prejudicial to Defendants and does not require a denial of Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment. Notably, Defendants have ...


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