United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
DENTONS U.S. LLP By: William M. Gantz One of the attorneys
for Defendants Yun Martin Lu, Thomas Castile, Polymax
Thermoplastic Elastomers LLC and Nantong Polymax Elastomer
Technology Co., Ltd.
DEFENDANTS' RULE 50(B) MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A
MATTER OF LAW AND ALTERNATIVE MOTION PURSUANT TO RULE
S. SHAH, JUDGE
Nantong Polymax Elastomers LLC (“Nantong
Polymax”) and Polymax Thermoplastic Elastomers LLC
(“Polymax TPE”), Yun Martin Lu (“Dr.
Lu”) and Thomas Castile (“Castile”)
(collectively “Defendants”), hereby file this
renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b). Defendants are entitled to judgment as a
matter of law on Counts II (tortious interference with
contract) of the Amended Complaint as set forth below
notwithstanding the jury verdict reached on June 3, 2019.
Rule 50(a) provides the following:
(1) In General. If a party has been fully heard on an issue
during a jury trial and the court finds that a reasonable
jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to
find for the party on that issue, the court may:
(A) resolve the issue against the party; and
(B) grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law against
the party on a claim or defense that, under the controlling
law, can be maintained or defeated only with a favorable
finding on that issue.
(2) Motion. A motion for judgment as a matter of law may be
made at any time before the case is submitted to the jury.
The motion must specify the judgment sought and the law and
facts that entitle the movant to the judgment.
[Rule 50(a)] standard is whether the evidence presented,
combined with all reasonable inferences permissibly drawn, is
legally sufficient to support the verdict when viewed in the
light most favorable to the nonmovant.” Petit v.
City of Chicago, 239 F.Supp.2d 761, 767-68 (N.D. Ill.
2002), aff'd, 352 F.3d 1111 (7th Cir. 2003). If
the Court determines that no rational jury could return a
verdict for Plaintiff, then it should grant Defendants'
Rule 50(a) motion. Id. (citing Dadian v. Village
of Wilmette, 269 F.3d 831, 837 (7th Cir.
Court does not grant a Rule 50(a) Motion, but takes it under
advisement, the movant may still file a renewed motion under
Rule 50(b). In a Rule 50(b) motion, the court
“construes the evidence strictly in favor of the party
who prevailed before the jury and examines the evidence only
to determine whether the jury's verdict could reasonably
be based on that evidence.” Passananti v. Cook
County, 689 F.3d 655, 659-660 (7th Cir. 2012). The court
may, at its discretion, direct the entry of judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b)(3).
DEFENDANTS ARE ENTITLED TO JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW ON
COUNT II (TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE WITH CONTRACT).
support a claim for tortious interference with contractual
relations under Illinois law, PolyOne has the burden to prove
the following elements: (1) the existence of a valid and
enforceable contract; (2) the defendant's awareness of
the contractual relation; (3) the defendant's intentional
and unjustified inducement of breach of the contract; (4)
breach by the other contracting party caused by the
defendant's wrongful conduct; and (5) resulting damages.
Cromeens, Holloman, Sibert, Inc. v. AB Volvo, 349
F.3d 376, 397-98 (7th Cir. 2003).
cannot establish breach of the employment contract based upon
trade secrets because it is preempted by ITSA, and, in any
event, the jury found in favor of Defendants on the trade
secret claims. Thomas & Betts Corp. v. Panduit
Corp., 108 F.Supp.2d 968, 971-72 (N.D. Ill. 2000).
Kutka's employment contract(s) states the following
concerning non-competition during employment: Kutka agreed he
would not “promote or assist, financially or otherwise,
any person, firm, association, partnership, corporation or
other entity engaged in any business that competes with the
business of PolyOne.” (PEX007 ¶4); (PEX221
¶4). PolyOne has taken the position and has argued that
Kutka breached his employment contract with PolyOne by (1)
providing Defendants with information related to the Supreme
Corq extruder equipment for auction in March 2011 (PEX093);
(2) assisting Defendants with recruiting Rob Banning or Tony
Henry to work for Polymax (PEX189); and (3) providing input
to Defendants related to the office layout for Polymax TPE.
(PEX203). These were the only acts unrelated to alleged trade
secret misappropriation identified and argued by Plaintiff
and which could conceivably qualify as underlying acts of
breach by Kutka which could have been induced by Defendants.
There Was No. Evidence of Damages Proximately Caused by the
Alleged Underlying Breaches By Kutka.
court should grant this motion for the plain reason that
PolyOne did not present any evidence related to damages
proximately caused by these alleged breaches of his
employment contract. Plaintiff did not present any evidence
that Kutka failed to perform his job responsibilities or that
PolyOne was otherwise adversely affected as a result of
Kutka's breach of contract as induced by any Defendant.
PolyOne also did not connect any damages to the evidence that
supported Kutka's breach of contract. PolyOne did not
lose any opportunity with respect to the public auction of
the Supreme Corq equipment. Walter Ripple admitted on
cross-examination that PolyOne was not interested in
purchasing the Supreme Corq equipment. (Tr. 1200:9-1201-3).
addition, there was no testimony that Kutka committed any act
that could be construed as “recruiting” either
Tony Henry or Rob Banning, nor did PolyOne present or claim
any specific damages relating to any opportunities to hire or
work with Rob Banning or Tony Henry. Kutka attended one
dinner at Bobby Deerfield Restaurant on April 25, 2013 where
Tony Henry joined. (PEX189; Tr. 344:24-346:15). Defendants
never hired Tony Henry. Plaintiff presented no evidence of
any loss with respect to Tony Henry, or even that they were
interested in hiring Tony Henry, or that Tony Henry provided
any advantage or business opportunity to Defendants which
rightfully belong to the Plaintiff.
Rob Banning is an independent consultant who has the freedom
to be employed where he chooses. There was no evidence or
testimony otherwise. Plaintiff did not put on any case that
Robert Banning provided any information, any advantage or
opportunity that belong to Plaintiff or otherwise helped
Defendants in any way which damaged Plaintiff. There was no
testimony that Rob Banning had anything to do with Nomacorc,
nor did Plaintiff put on any testimony that it lost any other
piece of business, or any other customer or project in any
way for any reason, let alone related to the brief period of
time which Polymax TPE worked with Rob Banning. In fact, in
response to Defendants' motion in limine no. 2 seeking to
bar any evidence of loss or damages related to ...