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Landale Signs and Neon, Ltd. v. Runnion Equipment Co.

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

April 3, 2017




         Plaintiff Landale Signs and Neon, Ltd. (“Plaintiff”) contracted to purchase a truck-mounted crane from Defendant Runnion Equipment Company (“Defendant” or “Runnion”). During the pendency of that sale, an unknown third party (Defendant John Doe) intercepted information related to the transaction, utilized that information to pose as Runnion, and convinced Plaintiff to wire the vehicle's purchase price to him. Plaintiff has, at various points, alleged that Runnion is liable under theories of negligence, negligent misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of contract (both express and implied). [22] at 5-14.

         On December 22, 2016, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint. [29] at 1-19. The dismissal of Plaintiff's contractual theories, however, was without prejudice, and Plaintiff re-alleged those same contractual claims in its Third Amended Complaint. [33] at 1-13.

         Two motions are currently before the Court: Plaintiff's request that the Court reconsider its dismissal with prejudice of Plaintiff's negligence claim, [31] at 1-4, and Runnion's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Third Amended Complaint, [34] at 1-5. As more fully explained below, both motions are denied.

         I. Background [1]

         In April of 2016, Plaintiff and Runnion executed a sales contract for a truck-mounted crane worth $87, 625. [33] at 3. During the preceding negotiations, Plaintiff and Runnion communicated, at least in part, via e-mail. Id. On May 12, 2016, Plaintiff received an e-mail, ostensibly from Runnion, with instructions on how to wire the payment to Runnion pursuant to the terms of the agreement. Id. Plaintiff followed these instructions and remitted payment for the agreed amount of $87, 625. Id.

         Runnion subsequently informed Plaintiff that it never received the payment. Id. In response, Plaintiff showed Runnion the string of e-mails wherein an entity purporting to be Runnion instructed Plaintiff on how to make payment for the vehicle. Id. Plaintiff now alleges that Runnion's computer network, database, and servers were accessed by Defendant John Doe, who utilized the information he or she intercepted from Runnion to pose as Runnion and fraudulently instruct Plaintiff to wire him or her $87, 625. Id. at 3-4.

         Plaintiff further alleges that Runnion was aware or should have been aware that its computer network, database, and servers were being improperly accessed by Defendant John Doe. Id. at 4. During the parties' negotiations, Plaintiff's President, Mr. Darrell Brown, noticed that there was a delay in receiving e-mails from Runnion's President, Mr. Patrick Runnion. Id. Mr. Brown inquired as to the cause of this delay, and Mr. Runnion indicated that he was aware of potential interference with his e-mail account. Id. Mr. Runnion further represented that an unknown party had previously been intercepting his e-mails during a prior transaction (though Runnion in that instance was able to avert any potential theft). Id.

         Plaintiff now alleges that, as part of the foregoing negotiations, Runnion “agreed to complete the transaction with the intent to safeguard any sensitive information from disclosure to third parties, ” and the “parties' mutual intent constitute[d] a meeting of the minds regarding safeguarding sensitive information from disclosure to third parties.” Id. at 12.

         II. Legal Standard

         To survive Defendant's motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Third Amended Complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Yeftich v. Navistar, Inc., 722 F.3d 911, 915 (7th Cir. 2013). A “claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. This Court must construe the Complaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, accept as true all well-pleaded facts, and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor. Id.; Long v. Shorebank Dev. Corp., 182 F.3d 548, 554 (7th Cir. 1999). Statements of law, however, need not be accepted as true. Yeftich, 722 F.3d at 915. Rule 12(b)(6) limits this Court's consideration to “allegations set forth in the complaint itself, documents that are attached to the complaint, documents that are central to the complaint and are referred to in it, and information that is properly subject to judicial notice.” Williamson v. Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2013).

         Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration, meanwhile, is made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1), which permits the Court, in the exercise of its discretion, to relieve a party from an order on the grounds of “mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.” Relief under Rule 60(b)(1) is “regarded as an extraordinary remedy which is granted only in exceptional circumstances.” Longs v. City of S. Bend, 201 F. App'x 361, 364 (7th Cir. 2006).

         III. Analysis

         A. Plaintiff's Motion ...

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