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Machinery Solutions, Inc. v. Doosan Infracore America Corp.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division

January 26, 2018

Machinery Solutions, Inc. Plaintiff,
v.
Doosan Infracore America Corporation, and Ellison Technologies, Inc., Defendants.

          ORDER

         Plaintiff Machinery Solutions, Inc. (“MSI” or “Plaintiff”) filed this action seeking damages from Defendant Doosan Infracore America Corporation (“Doosan”) for terminating its dealership contract with MSI and for contracting with another distributor, Ellison Technologies, Inc. (“Ellison”). (See generally ECF No. 37.)

         This matter is before the court on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel against Ellison (ECF No. 131).

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Doosan manufacturers machine tools. (ECF No. 25-1 at 3 ¶¶ 8-9.) MSI alleges that it has had an ongoing contractual relationship with Doosan since 1997. (ECF No. 37 at 3 ¶ 17.) On February 10, 2009, Doosan sent MSI a “Letter of Understanding” or “Distributor Agreement” to outline the sale of new machine tool products in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. (ECF No. 1-1 at 22-25.) Pursuant to the terms of the Distributor Agreement, either party could terminate the agreement, at any time for any reason whatsoever, by giving the other party prior written notice of at least 30 days. (ECF No. 1-1 at 24 ¶ XIII.)

         On August 21, 2015, MSI received a letter (the “August Letter”) from Doosan's President in which he communicated the intent of Doosan to terminate the Distributor Agreement with MSI. (Id. at 28-30.) The August Letter stated that MSI would have 30 days to finalize all existing projects, and, after that time, MSI must cease pursuing any future business or representing that MSI is an authorized Doosan dealer. (Id. at 28.) The letter also included an attachment entitled “Conduct of Business During Transition Period.” (Id. at 29-30.) In the attachment, Doosan identified Ellison as the new Doosan dealer in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.[1] (Id. at 30 ¶ 6.)

         On August 25, 2015, MSI filed a Complaint against Doosan and Ellison (together “Defendants”) in the Court of Common Pleas for Lexington County, South Carolina. (ECF No. 1-1.) Specifically, MSI alleged claims against Defendants jointly for civil conspiracy and against Doosan singularly for breach of contract, breach of contract accompanied by a fraudulent act, violation of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act (“SCUTPA”), SC Code Ann. § 39-5-10 to -560 (2014), and violation of the Fair Practices of Farm, Construction, Industrial, and Outdoor Power Equipment Manufacturers, Distributors, Wholesalers, and Dealers Act (“FPA”), SC Code Ann. § 39-6-10 to -180 (2014). (ECF No. 1-1 at 10 ¶ 32-19 ¶ 88.) Doosan removed MSI's action from state court to this court on August 27, 2015, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 claiming that “this civil action is ‘between citizens of different States' and the amount ‘in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs.'”[2] (ECF No. 1 at 2 ¶ 3 (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1)).) MSI then filed an Amended Complaint on October 8, 2015, alleging claims against Doosan and Ellison jointly for violation of the SCUTPA, civil conspiracy, and interference with existing and prospective contracts (count 6); and against Doosan singularly for violation of the FPA, breach of contract and breach of contract accompanied by fraudulent act. (ECF No. 37 at 7 ¶ 36-17 ¶ 98.) On May 12, 2016, the court granted in part Ellison's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 42) and dismissed MSI's causes of action for violation of SCUTPA, tortious interference with existing contracts, and tortious interference with prospective contracts. (ECF No. 55 at 14.)

         On July 31, 2017, MSI filed the instant Motion to Compel seeking to “compel full and proper answers and responses to the following discovery responses . . .: 1. Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories to Defendant Ellison 5, 8, 10, 11[;] 2. Production of documents improperly designated as Attorney-Client privilege[;] and 3. Those document[s] withheld by Defendant Ellison on the ground of relevancy claiming that general discussions about replacing many dealers in the United States are not ‘relevant.'” (ECF No. 130 at 1.) Ellison filed a Response stating generally its opposition to this Motion on August 24, 2017, but it did assert that the dispute regarding Interrogatory No. 8 was moot based on additional information provided to MSI. (ECF No. 136 at 7.) On September 7, 2017, MSI filed a Reply in which it did not dispute Ellison's contention regarding Interrogatory No. 8 and further acknowledged that the privilege log issue no longer needed the court's attention. (ECF No. 144 at 5.) Additionally, on November 3, 2017, MSI filed a Notice of Partial Resolution of Motion to Compel advising the court as follows:

         Specifically, the parties have resolved the majority of issues set forth in Section I. of Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support of its Motion to Compel relating to the “Relevance of Ellison's ‘Global Plan.'” (ECF No. 131-1 at 2-5). Accordingly, Plaintiff hereby withdraws its Motion to Compel as to any “Global Plan” documents, which encompasses those documents sought in connection with Interrogatory Number 5, Request to Produce Number 1, Request to Produce Number 3, and Request to Produce Number 6.

The discovery disputes set forth in Section I. related to Interrogatory Number 11 still remain. Additionally, the additional discovery disputes Section II. and Section III. of Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support of its Motion to Compel (ECF No. 131-1 at 5-10) have not been resolved and remain before the Court for disposition.

(ECF No. 163.)

         II. JURISDICTION

         The court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, because the parties are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00. MSI is a corporation organized under the laws of South Carolina with its principal place of business in Lexington County, South Carolina. (ECF No. 37 at 1 ¶ 1.) Doosan is incorporated in the State of New York and Ellison is incorporated in the State of Delaware. (Id. at 2 ¶¶ 5 & 7; see also ECF No. 1 at 2-3.) Moreover, the court is satisfied that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00 in accordance with MSI's representation. (ECF No. 37 at 3 ¶ 11.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Discov ...


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