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Goughnour v. Hayward Baker, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

January 2, 2018

R. ROBERT GOUGHNOUR, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
HAYWARD BAKER, INC., a corporation, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE SURREPLY, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN REGARD TO LIABILITY AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Background

         This civil action arises out of an alleged breach of a licensing agreement for the rights to practice United States Patent No. 5, 800, 090 (“the ‘090 patent”) and United States Patent Application No. 10/352, 583 (“the Application”). The plaintiff, Dr. R. Robert Goughnour (“Goughnour”), held the ‘090 patent and the Application as the assignor. The plaintiff entered into a licensing agreement referred to as the “assignment” with Nilex Construction, LLC (“Nilex”) as the assignee. The defendant, Hayward Baker, Inc. (“Hayward Baker”), purchased some of Nilex's assets and obligations, including its rights under the licensing agreement assignment. Goughnour alleges that, beginning in April 2016, Hayward Baker has refused to comply with the terms of the licensing agreement. Plaintiff's complaint includes as Count One a petition for declaratory judgment and as Count Two a petition for specific performance of the contract. Accordingly, Goughnour seeks a declaration that Hayward Baker is bound by the licensing agreement and an order requiring specific performance of the agreement.

         Goughnour originally filed this civil action in the Circuit Court of Brooke County, West Virginia. Hayward Baker removed the case to this Court, citing diversity jurisdiction (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff filed a motion to remand (ECF No. 4). This Court entered an order (ECF No. 8) denying plaintiff's motion to remand. The parties filed a stipulation agreeing to waive their right to a jury trial and requesting a bench trial (ECF No. 17). This Court entered an order approving the joint stipulation (ECF No. 18).

         Plaintiff Goughnour then filed a motion for summary judgment in regard to liability (ECF No. 21) and a memorandum brief in support (ECF No. 22). Defendant Hayward Baker filed objections (ECF No. 27) to “plaintiff's undisputed material facts” and also filed a response (ECF No. 28) in opposition to plaintiff's motion for summary judgment in regard to liability. Plaintiff then filed a reply (ECF No. 32) to defendant's response.

         Defendant Hayward Baker then filed a motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 33) and a memorandum in support of the motion. Plaintiff filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 34) and defendant filed a reply (ECF No. 36). Plaintiff Goughnour then filed a motion for leave to file a surreply (ECF No. 37) and a surreply (ECF No. 38). Defendant Hayward Baker filed a response in opposition (ECF No. 40) and a surrebuttal (ECF No. 41) to plaintiff's motion for leave to file a surreply.

         This Court finds that the motions have been fully briefed and that the pending motions for summary judgment are ripe for decision.

         II. Applicable Law

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, this Court must grant a party's motion for summary judgment if “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). A fact is “material” if it might affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute of material fact is “genuine” if the evidence “is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party.” Id. If the nonmoving party “fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial, ” summary judgment must be granted against the plaintiff. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In reviewing the supported underlying facts, all inferences must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

         The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing the absence of any genuine issues of material fact. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. “The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with facts sufficient to create a triable issue of fact.” Temkin v. Frederick County Comm'rs, 945 F.2d 716, 718 (4th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 1095 (1992). However, “a party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but . . . must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986).

         III. Discussion

         The parties have now filed cross motions for summary judgment, which have been fully briefed and are discussed in turn below. For the following reasons, the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment as to liability (ECF No. 21) is denied, and the defendant's motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 33) is granted.

         Plaintiff Goughnour filed a motion for summary judgment in regard to liability (ECF No. 21) and a memorandum brief in support (ECF No. 22). In support thereof, the plaintiff represents that the complaint filed by the plaintiff contains two counts. Count One of the plaintiff's complaint “contains a petition for declaratory judgment wherein the Plaintiff requests that the Court declare that the terms of the contract between the Plaintiff and the Nilex Corporation are binding upon the Plaintiff and the Defendant, Hayward Baker, Inc., and that the Defendant, Hayward Baker, Inc., is legally obligated under the above referenced contract to make payments to the Plaintiff.” ECF No. 21 at 1.

         Count Two of the plaintiff's complaint “contains a cause of action which is a petition for specific performance of the same contract described in Count One of the Complaint which contract was assigned to the Defendant, Hayward Baker, Inc.” ECF No. 21 at 1-2. Plaintiff posits a list of “undisputed material facts” and asserts that “there are no genuine issues as to any material facts concerning the plaintiff's causes of action set forth in Count One and Count Two of the Plaintiff's Complaint, ” and that he is “entitled to judgment as a matter of law in regard to liability involving Counts One and Two of the Complaint.” ECF No. 2 at 2-5. Defendant Hayward Baker filed objections (ECF No. 27) to “plaintiff's undisputed material facts” contained within the motion for summary judgment as to liability and also filed a response (ECF No. 28) in opposition to plaintiff's motion. Defendant asserts, “[w]ithin its Motion for Summary Judgment in Regard to Liability, Plaintiff R. Robert Goughnour sets forth thirteen (13) material facts which he believes are undisputed.” Hayward Baker “disagrees with Goughnour's assertions and believes several of undisputed material facts put forth by Goughnour are disputed and/or contrary to the evidence produced to date.” ECF No. 27 at 1. In its response, defendant asserts Goughnour is not entitled to summary judgment as patent holders cannot charge royalties for the use of their invention after the patent term has expired and that the relevant clause of the agreement is ambiguous and the intent of the parties should therefore ...


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