Matthew Brown and Christopher Drewry Obtained Summary Judgment for British Magnesium Trader

April 30, 2024 11:54 AM
Matthew Brown and Christopher Drewry

Matthew Brown, partner at Carlile Patchen & Murphy LLP, and Christopher Drewry, partner at Drewry Simmons Vornehm, LLP, obtained summary judgment for a British metal and mineral trader’s United States affiliate in a complex international commercial dispute arising between two competing magnesium manufacturers based in Indiana and Montreal, Canada. In the lawsuit the plaintiff sought head start damages, disgorgement, and avoided development costs ranging between $10.9 million and $82.1 million.

The lawsuit brought by the Indiana manufacturer centered on a former employee’s efforts to join the Canadian manufacturer in competition with the plaintiff. At the outset, the plaintiff obtained an Agreed Injunction with the Canadian manufacturer relating to the latter’s work with the employee. The trader was not a party at the time but was brought in later by the plaintiff. Following extensive discovery, the plaintiff moved for contempt against all defendants for violation of the Agreed Injunction. Although the Court held the Canadian manufacturer and former employee violated the Injunction (going so far as to grant default judgment against those parties), the Court found in favor of the trader and denied plaintiff’s motion for contempt against it. Thereafter, the trader sought summary judgment on all claims against them which included aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with contract, unfair competition, and civil conspiracy. 

Through the testimony and evidence submitted with its briefing, the trader established that plaintiff could not establish its claims against the trader. The aiding and abetting claim failed as the plaintiff could not establish that the trader knowingly and substantially assisted the former employee’s alleged breach of fiduciary duties. The tortious interference with contract claim could not survive as plaintiff lacked evidence the trader had direct knowledge of any contract, and even if such knowledge existed, the trader’s actions were justified as being in furtherance of legitimate business reasons. The trader persuasively argued that the plaintiff’s unfair competition claim was redundant of its now-dismissed tortious interference claim. The plaintiff’s civil conspiracy claim failed as such cannot be a stand-alone action without any other actionable tort, which having dismissed all such claims against the trader now warranted dismissal of the conspiracy claim as well.


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