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Reserve Hotels Pty Ltd. v. Mavrakis

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 23, 2015

RESERVE HOTELS PTY LIMITED, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
THEODORE MAVRAKIS, Defendant-Appellee

Argued May 19, 2015.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 1:13-cv-07475--Harry D. Leinenweber, Judge.

For RESERVE HOTELS PTY LIMITED, as trustee for the NBF Trust, Nicolas Balagiannis, Plaintiffs - Appellants: John Merrill Heaphy, Attorney, Harrison & Held, Llp, Chicago, IL.

For Theodore Mavrakis, Defendant - Appellee: Bruce N. Menkes, Attorney, Mandell Menkes, LLC, Chicago, IL.

Before POSNER, EASTERBROOK, and MANION, Circuit Judges. POSNER, Circuit Judge, dissenting.

OPINION

Page 739

Manion, Circuit Judge.

Nicolas Balagiannis and his company, Reserve Hotel PTY Limited, sued Theodore Mavrakis in the district court and in Greece for breach of contract arising from a failed business venture involving a casino. When Balagiannis failed to confirm his compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement, Mavrakis ceased making payments under the agreement, so Balagiannis sued to enforce it. The district court dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim. We affirm.

I. Background

In the aftermath of a casino investment venture gone awry, Balagiannis and Mavrakis entered into a settlement agreement. Under the agreement, Mavrakis would pay Balagiannis $1.225 million; in exchange, Balagiannis would dismiss pending litigation in the district court with prejudice and " withdraw the Complaint he ha[d] filed against Mavrakis" in the Greek legal system no later than September 28, 2012. Mavrakis made three of five agreed payments, and in March 2012, Balagiannis sent a three-page letter to a district attorney in Athens. The letter did not expressly or generally reference withdrawal of the complaint against Mavrakis. Instead, it only requested " completion of the ongoing preliminary investigation." After Balagiannis refused to confirm that he had withdrawn the Greek complaint, Mavrakis declined to make the final two payments amounting to $925,000. In October 2013,

Page 740

Balagiannis filed this suit alleging that Mavrakis breached the settlement agreement. Mavrakis moved to dismiss on grounds that Balagiannis failed to allege that he had satisfied his own obligation to withdraw the Greek complaint. Three months later (and nineteen months after the September 28, 2012, date that withdrawal of the complaint was required under the settlement agreement), Balagiannis filed a declaration with the district court (dated March 4, 2014, and filed in Greece), which may (or may not) have withdrawn the complaint in Greece. The district court held that Balagiannis failed to allege plausibly his compliance with the settlement agreement, and dismissed the suit. Balagiannis timely appealed.

II. Analysis

We will treat the district court's order as a judgment on the pleadings, which we review de novo. Northern Indiana Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. v. City of South Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452 (7th Cir. 1998). Because settlement agreements are contracts, we look to state law for the rule of ...


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