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Princeton Industrial, Prods. v. Precision Metals Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

August 17, 2015

PRINCETON INDUSTRIAL, PRODUCTS, INC., an Illinois corporation, Plaintiff,
PRECISION METALS CORP., a New York corporation, Defendant

Page 813

For Princeton Industrial Products, Inc., an Illinois Corporation, Plaintiff: Bruce N. Menkes, LEAD ATTORNEY, Mandell, Menkes LLC, Chicago, IL; Rebecca Ann Edwards, Mandell Menkes LLC, Chicago, IL.

For Precision Metals Corp., a New York Corporation, Defendant: Dennis F. Esford, LEAD ATTORNEY, Windy City Trial Group, Chicago, IL.

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The parties in this case entered into a contract calling for plaintiff, Princeton Industrial Metals (" Princeton" ) to supply certain machined parts for the defendant, Precision Metals Corp. (" PMC" ) to use in weapon mounts it was producing for the United States government. This went along smoothly for about two years. Then, on July 21, 2010, the buyer for PMC, Rose Schleifer, sent an email to Kendall Knapik of Princeton with " a schedule for [PMC]" for June through December. The schedule represented an increase in the quantity of parts that PMC had ordered from Princeton. As such, PMC's buyer wrote, " [l]et me know if there will be any problems meeting this schedule." [Dkt. # 12-2, at 65]. Apparently, there were not, as Princeton provided the new numbers, and PMC paid for the shipments in due course -- for over a year. But, after September 26, 2011, PMC made no further payments. Defendant has refused to pay the outstanding balance of $100,660.09. Plaintiff has sued under theories of breach of contract and unjust enrichment. The defendant moved for summary judgment, but was unable to prove there was no genuine issue of fact precluding a judgment in its favor. See Princeton Industrial Products v. Precision Metals, 2015 WL 1810319 (N.D.Ill. 2015). Now, the plaintiff seeks summary judgment in its favor.



Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate only when " the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In a summary judgment proceeding, a court may not weigh the evidence or decide which inferences should be drawn from the facts. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). Still, " a factual dispute is 'genuine' only if a reasonable jury could find for either party." Rosario v. Brawn, 670 F.3d 816, 820 (7th Cir. 2012)(citation omitted). To survive summary judgment, a non-moving party must " show through specific evidence that a triable issue of fact remains on issues for which the nonmovant bears the burden of proof at trial." Knight v. Wiseman, 590 F.3d 458, 463-64 (7th Cir. 2009)(citation omitted). The evidence the nonmovant submits in support of his position must be " sufficiently strong" that a jury could reasonably find for the nonmovant. Id.


Summary Judgment Under Local Rule 56.1

As always, the facts underlying this summary judgment proceeding are drawn from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 submissions.

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" For litigants appearing in the Northern District of Illinois, the Rule 56.1 statement is a critical, and required, component of a litigant's response to a motion for summary judgment." Sojka v. Bovis Lend Lease, Inc., 686 F.3d 394, 398 (7th Cir. 2012). Local Rule 56.1 requires a party seeking summary judgment to include with its motion " a statement of material facts as to which the ... party contends there is no genuine issue and that entitle the ... party to a judgment as a matter of law." Local Rule 56.1(a)(3); Ciomber v. Cooperative Plus, Inc., 527 F.3d 635, 643 (7th Cir. 2008). Each paragraph must refer to the " affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials" that substantiate the asserted facts. Local Rule 56.1(a)(3); F.T.C. v. Bay Area Business Council, Inc., 423 F.3d 627, 633 (7th Cir. 2005).

The party opposing summary judgment must then respond to the movant's statement of proposed material facts; that response must contain both " a response to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement," Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B), and a separate statement " consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment," Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C); Ciomber, 527 F.3d at 643. Again, each response, and each asserted fact, must be supported with a reference to the record. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B); Cracco v. Vitran Exp., Inc., 559 F.3d 625, 632 (7th Cir. 2009); Bay Area Business Council, Inc., 423 F.3d at 633.

The district court is entitled to enforce strict compliance with its local rules regarding summary judgment motions. Yancick v. Hanna Steel Corp., 653 F.3d 532, 537 (7th Cir. 2011); Schmidt v. Eagle Waste & Recycling, Inc., 599 F.3d 626, 630 (7th Cir. 2010). Responses and facts that are not set out and appropriately supported in an opponent's Rule 56.1 response will not be considered. See Shaffer v. American Medical Association, 662 F.3d 439, 442 (7th Cir. 2011); Bay Area Business Council, 423 F.3d at 633. As a result, the movant's properly supported facts will be deemed admitted. Apex Digital, Inc. v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 735 F.3d 962, 965 (7th Cir. 2013).



We don't know exactly when the relationship between PMC and Princeton began. According to Princeton's office manager from 2003 through 2012, Kendall Knapik, PMC began to order parts for machine gun mounts from Princeton " [i]n March" -- she does not say in what year. [Dkt. # 78-1, ¶ 5]. In its amended complaint, Princeton says it was March of 2009. [Dkt. # 12, ¶ 7]. In its statement of facts, it asserts it was March of 2008. [Dkt. # 78, ¶ 5]. Ultimately, the year doesn't really matter.

In any event, PMC needed the parts because it had a machine gun mount contract with the U.S. Army. [Dkt. #78, ¶ 6]. When PMC needed parts, PMC would obtain a quote from Princeton; if it was acceptable, PMC would send Princeton its order by email or fax. [Dkt. # 78, ¶ ¶ 7, 8]. Princeton says that ordering was done by " purchase orders or other documents." [Dkt. #78, ¶ 7]. PMC submits that, according to both its and Princeton's internal procedures, purchase orders were required. [Dkt. #91, ¶ ¶ 7, 25, 36, 45, 55, 63, 71, 79, 87; Dkt. #82-1]. Purchase orders included a warning that the " terms of this order shall not be changed or modified in any way except by written instrument signed by an authorized representative of the purchaser . . . ." [Dkt. # 83, ¶ 7].

Princeton would include an invoice for the parts shipped with each shipment.

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[Dkt. # 78, ¶ 9]. Each invoice stated the quantity of parts shipped, the part number of the parts shipped, and the applicable purchase order. [Dkt. # 78, ¶ 9]. Princeton also sent a copy of the invoice by U.S. mail. [Dkt. # 78, ¶ 9]. Every invoice warned " [a]ll claims for shortages or rejections must be made by the buyer [PMC] within 15 days after receipt of material. No material may be returned without authorization." [Dkt. # 78-1, at 30-246; Dkt. # 91, ¶ 9].

There are nine parts involved in the dispute in this case. The general pattern of the orders of these parts was the same. In January 2009, PMC ordered 10,000 of all except one of the parts. [Dkt. # 78, ¶ ¶ 17, 26, 37, 46, 56, 64, 72, 80]. In about half of these orders, 5,000 of each type of part were to be delivered in installments from February to September of 2009. [Dkt. # 78, ¶ ¶ 18, 27, 38, 47]. In those instances, the purchase orders stated that the delivery schedule for the second installment of 5,000 parts was " to be determined." [Dkt. # 78, ¶ ¶ 19, 28, 39, 48]. As for all but one of the remaining types of parts, delivery was to be in installments from March 2009 through July 2009. [Dkt. # 78, ¶ ¶ 57, 65, 73, 81]. On April 8, 2010, PMC sent Princeton a schedule showing the delivery dates for some of the remaining parts, the number varying depending on the part. [Dkt. # 78, ¶ ¶ 21, 32, 41, 51, 58, 66, 74, 82; Dkt. # 78-1, at 18].

On July 21, 2010, at 1:31 p.m., Princeton's Kendall Knapik sent Rose Schleifer of PMC an email asking when they would be getting new orders and what the production schedule was after August. [Dkt. #82-1, at 11]. Ms. Schleifer (PMC) wrote back at 1:55, saying she was working on the schedule and would try to get it to her the next day. New orders would be ready early the next week. [Dkt. # 82-1, at 12]. Then, at 3 p.m., Ms. Schleifer (PMC) sent the following an email to Ms. Knapik (Princeton):

[Dkt. #12-2]. As can be seen, Ms. Schleifer informed Ms. Knapik, " Attached is the schedule from Jun-Dec. Let me know if there will be any problems meeting this schedule." [Dkt. # 12-2]. As can also be seen, the email included a chart, which listed purchase order numbers, part numbers, and quantities to be delivered in each of the months from June to December. [Dkt. #12-2]. The ...

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