Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Nutramax Laboratories, Inc. v. Manna Pro Products LLC

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division

April 17, 2017

Nutramax Laboratories, Inc., and Nutramax Laboratories Veterinary Sciences, Inc., Plaintiffs,
v.
Manna Pro Products, LLC, Nutri-Vet Wellness, LLC, and 21st Century Animal HealthCare, LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         Plaintiffs Nutramax Laboratories, Inc., and Nutramax Laboratories Veterinary Services, Inc., (together, “Nutramax” or “Plaintiffs”) filed this action against Defendants Manna Pro Products, LLC, Nutri-Vet Wellness, LLC, and 21st Century Animal HealthCare, LLC (“21st CAHL” or “21st Century”) (collectively “Defendants”) “alleging that Defendants’ ‘Petnology Essentials’ product line of health supplements for pets infringed on Nutramax’s trademark by employing copycat packaging and using improper comparisons to Nutramax’s Cosequin product line and that these actions violated South Carolina law on unfair competition.” (ECF No. 44 (referencing ECF No. 8).)

         This matter is before the court on Nutramax’s Petition for Attorneys’ Fees for Contempt Proceeding as to 21st CAHL. (ECF No. 50.) 21st CAHL objects to the Petition “because the amount of fees Plaintiffs seek is unreasonable in view of the facts before the Court.” (ECF No. 53 at 1.) For the reasons set forth below, the court DENIES WITHOUT PREJUDICE Nutramax’s Petition for Fees.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND OF THE MATTER

         The court provided the following summation of facts relevant to the pending Motion for Fees in an Order entered on December 1, 2016:

On July 8, 2016, the parties submitted a Joint Stipulation of Settlement and Order (“Settlement Order”), along with a consent order, dismissing the case under the terms of the Settlement Order, both of which the court endorsed and entered the same day. (ECF Nos. 31, 32.)
The Settlement Order contains several recitals, which, the parties agreed, “constitute a material part of [the Settlement Order.]” (ECF No. 32 ¶ 9; see id. at 1–3.) The recitals depict and describe the packaging for Nutramax’s line of products; depict the packaging for Defendants’ Pentology line of products, referring to the Pentology line as the “Accused Products;” and state that “disputes have arisen between the [p]arties regarding the Accused Products and, specifically, the alleged similarity between [Nutramax’s] packaging and the Accused Products’ packaging,” referring collectively to such disputes as the “Disputes.” (Id. at 1–2.) The recitals also state that “the [p]arties desire to fully and finally resolve any and all claims and disagreements between them asserted in, arising out of, or in any way regarding the Disputes on the terms . . . set forth” in the Settlement Order. (Id. at 2.)

In relevant part, ¶ 1 of the terms of the agreement, titled “Settlement Terms,” states

In full and complete settlement of the Disputes . . ., the [p]arties agree as follows: (a) Within seven (7) calendar days of the Effective Date, Defendants shall pay [Nutramax] thirty-five thousand dollars ($35,000). (b) As of the Effective Date, and for all times in the future, Defendants . . . shall not manufacture, distribute ship, advertise, market, promote, transfer, sell, or offer to sell the Accused Products in the packaging shown [in the recitals]. (c) As of the Effective Date, and for all times in the future, Defendants . . . shall not manufacture, distribute ship, advertise, market, promote, transfer, sell, or offer to sell any products that either (i) use [Nutramax’s] packaging, or (ii) [use] the packaging of the Accused Products as depicted [in the recitals]. (d) As of the Effective Date, and for all times in the future, Defendants . . . shall not reference or use in any manner the words Nutramax, Nutramax Laboratories®, Cosequin®, Dasuquin®, or any other of [Nutramax’s] products or trademarks, whether in advertising or marketing statements or for any purpose or reason, and regardless of the channel of trade or medium of advertising (including on its website or through any agent, distributor or reseller, such as Amazon.com), and whether for product comparison purposes or not. Defendants further agree not to make any indirect or implied written or oral comparison between any product and any of Plaintiffs’ products by using identical or substantially similar claims made on Plaintiffs’ products (for example, a currently-prohibited comparison by implication would be “compare to #1 vet recommended brand,” “same formula as the #1 vet-recommended brand”). (Id. ¶ 1 (emphasis added).) The Settlement Order[’]s effective date was July 8, 2016 (Id. at 1.) In exchange for Defendants’ agreement that they would not engage in the conduct detailed above as well as other consideration, Nutramax agreed to release and discharge Defendants from any liability “with respect to the Disputes and any action or omission arising out of or relating to the Disputes.” (Id. ¶ 3.) The parties expressly agreed that the court retained jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the Settlement Order and may enforce the Settlement Order. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 11.) The parties also agreed that “in any motion practice or other proceeding initiated to enforce the terms of [the Settlement Order,] the prevailing party shall be entitled to its reasonable attorneys’ fees.” (Id. ¶ 12.)

(ECF No. 44 at 1–3.)

         Thereafter, on August 30, 2016, Nutramax filed an Emergency Motion for Contempt of this Court’s July 8, 2016 Settlement Order asserting that 21st CAHL had failed to comply with the Settlement Order by “continuing to advertise and sell its ‘21st century Essential Pet Joint Health’ (“Essential Pet”) product line of health supplements pets, which includes on its packaging the phrase ‘compare to the active ingredients in Cosequin® [products].’” (ECF No. 44 at 3 (citing ECF Nos. 34-1 at 3–5 & 34-3.) 21st CAHL opposed Nutramax’s Contempt Motion asserting that it was “based upon an improper reading of a single term in the . . . ‘Settlement Agreement’[] and disregards express language throughout the Settlement Agreement regarding the intended scope of the agreement.” (ECF No. 37 at 1.) After holding a motion hearing on November 29, 2016 (ECF No. 43), to allow the parties to clarify their arguments, the court entered an Order on December 1, 2016, granting in part Nutramax’s Contempt Motion to the extent it sought “a finding of contempt, an award of attorneys’ fees, and an order of disgorgement.” (ECF No. 44 at 20.) Accordingly, the court ordered 21st CAHL to (1) “disgorge to Nutramax its net profits from all sales, on or after July 8, 2016, of products within its Essential Pet line that employ or employed packaging with comparative advertising containing the word Cosequin or that are sold or were sold through a website that employed comparative advertising containing the word Cosequin at the time of the sale” and (2) “pay to Nutramax reasonable attorneys’ fees associated with the prosecution of the instant [Contempt] [M]otion.” (Id. at 21.)

         Thereafter, on January 11, 2017, Nutramax filed the instant Petition for Attorneys’ Fees against 21st CAHL. (ECF No. 50.) 21st CAHL filed Objections to Nutramax’s Petition on January 18, 2017, to which Nutramax filed a Reply in Support on January 23, 2017. (ECF Nos. 53 & 54.)

         II. JURISDICTION

         This court initially had jurisdiction over Nutramax’s claims via 28 U.S.C. § 1331, as the claims arose under the Trademark and Copyright Laws of the United States. The court appropriately heard Nutramax’s state law claims based on supplemental jurisdiction since they were “so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). In the parties’ Settlement Order, the court “retain[ed] jurisdiction with respect to the implementation and enforcement of the terms of th[e] Stipulation and the Parties to th[e] Stipulation submit[ted] to the jurisdiction of the Court for those purposes.” (ECF No. 32 at 7 ¶ 11.)

         III. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.