United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Northstar
Sourcing, LLC's (“Northstar”) Motion for
Summary Judgment. Dkt. # 16. Defendant Rocket Dog Brands, LLC
(“Rocket Dog”) opposes the motion. Dkt. # 19. For
the reasons stated below the Court GRANTS the motion.
Northstar is a company headquartered in Bellevue, Washington
that contracts with Chinese factories to manufacture shoes,
sometimes also designing and selling shoes directly to
retailers. Mot. at 1; Guess Decl. (Dkt. # 20) ¶ 3, Ex. B
(“Perkins Dep.”) at 16:18; 21:2-10. Defendant
Rocket Dog is a Delaware Limited Liability Company doing
business in California and Washington that wholesales and
sometimes designs shoes. Answer ¶3; Resp. at 3 (citing
Guess Decl., Ex. A (“Taylor Dep.”) at 9:16-20).
2009, Northstar and Rocket Dog began working together. Compl.
¶ 9; Answer ¶ 9. Pursuant to their arrangement,
Northstar manufactured shoes for Rocket Dog in China and then
shipped them to the various ports identified in Rocket
Dog's purchase orders. Compl. ¶9-10; Answer
¶9-10. Northstar then issued invoices to Rocket Dog for
the fulfilled purchase orders. Compl. ¶10; Answer
alleges that in 2015, Rocket Dog fell behind on its payments.
Compl. ¶11-15. Nevertheless, Northstar continued to
accept purchase orders from Rocket Dog while Rocket Dog
committed to paying down its debt. Perkins Decl. ¶ 5;
Guess Decl. ¶4, Ex. C (“Briskie Dep.”) at
17:22-18:7. According to Northstar, despite efforts to
negotiate Rocket Dog's debt, Rocket Dog made little
effort to pay down the outstanding balance. Mot. at 2. In
September, 2015, Northstar's CEO, Robert Perkins, warned
Rocket Dog that Northstar would withhold future shipments if
Rocket Dog did not start paying its past-due invoices.
Perkins Decl., Ex. 4. In January, 2016, after Rocket Dog
promised and then failed to make a $150, 000.00 payment on
its debt, Northstar declared Rocket Dog in default and took
possession of all goods that had been produced by Northstar
but not yet received by Rocket Dog. Perkins Decl., Ex. 5-6.
particular, Northstar retained possession of shoes that
Northstar had manufactured for Rocket Dog in fulfillment of
an order from Rocket Dog's customer, Payless Shoes.
Perkins Decl. ¶15. In order to mitigate damages, Rocket
Dog agreed to transfer ownership of the existing orders from
Payless to Northstar, with the effect that Northstar was paid
directly by Payless Shoes for the order originally arranged
by Rocket Dog. Bay Decl., (Dkt. # 17) ¶ 2, Taylor Dep.
at 43:14-17; 44:12-45:3; Resp. at 6.
the parties were negotiating the logistics of the Payless
order, Mr. Perkins called several Payless representatives.
See Guess Decl., Exs. E-G; id., Perkins
Dep. at 70:12-75:23. The parties disagree about the content
and effect of Mr. Perkins' calls. See id.,
Perkins Dep. at 72:18-73:12; Resp. at 9-16. Mr. Perkins
testified that his conversations with the Payless
representatives were solely about the logistics of
transferring the Payless shipment, and that he did not
discuss Rocket Dog's financial status during these calls.
Guess Decl., Perkins Dep. at 72:18-73:6. In contrast, one
Payless employee testified that Mr. Perkins told him Rocket
Dog “potentially . . . [was] bought out by a different
company in the prior summer.” Guess Decl., Ex. E
(“Steinhardt Dep.”) at 13:6-8. Another Payless
employee testified that Mr. Perkins told him Rocket Dog was
in “financial distress.” Id., Ex. F
(“Underhill Dep.”) at 19:10-13. A third Payless
employee, who did not talk to Mr. Perkins but was told about
Mr. Perkins' calls, characterized Mr. Perkins'
behavior as “unprofessional” and
“unusual” and characterized Mr. Perkins'
comments about Rocket Dog as “derogatory, ”
although this employee was unable to recall anything specific
he was told about Mr. Perkins' calls. Id. Ex. D
(“Kapcar Dep.”) at 10:14-25.
Payless employees also testified that Mr. Perkins' phone
calls did not affect Payless' ongoing decisions about
doing business with Rocket Dog. See Bay Decl., Ex. B
(“Hitch Dep.”) at 17:19-18:11; 35:17-19
(testifying that the “style sensibility of Rocket Dog
wasn't really aligned with where [Payless] was
headed”); id., Steinhardt Dep. at 17:7-12
(testifying that Mr. Perkins' phone call and alleged
disclosure of information about Rocket Dog did not affect
Rocket Dog's relationship with Payless); id.,
Kapcar Dep. at 18:1-4 (same); Underhill Dep. at 15:14-18
(testifying that Payless remains open to doing business with
Rocket Dog, assuming Rocket Dog addresses issues with vendor
performance and product assortment). In contrast, Rocket Dog
claims that Mr. Perkins' phone calls harmed Rocket
Dog's relationship with Payless and resulted in a
substantial loss of business. Resp. at 9-16.
addition to the Payless order, Northstar also claims that
Rocket Dog owes an outstanding debt of $2, 094, 326.00 from
orders that Northstar had already produced and shipped on
behalf of Rocket Dog. Perkins Decl. ¶ 15; Hofmann Decl.,
Exs. 1-3. The parties briefly attempted to negotiate a
payment plan for this amount, but ultimately did not reach an
agreement. Perkins Decl. ¶ 19, Ex. 3 at 14;
id., Taylor Dep. at 29:11-12.
March 18, 2016, Northstar filed suit against Rocket Dog,
alleging causes of action for breach of contract and unjust
enrichment, seeking “no less than $2, 185,
947.93.” Compl. (Dkt. # 1). Rocket Dog asserted
counterclaims for breach of contract and for tortious
interference with contract/business expectancy. Answer (Dkt.
# 5). Northstar now moves for summary judgment on its
affirmative claims and on Rocket Dog's counterclaims.
a review of the motions and evidence, the Court found that
the amount Northstar was claiming in damages varied between
its Complaint, Motion for Summary Judgment, and the evidence
cited in support thereof. Compare Compl.
¶¶ 15, 21 ($2, 185, 947.93), with, Mot. at
3 n. 1 ($2, 094, 325.64), Bay Decl., Taylor Dep. at 43:18-20
($2, 343, 000.00). The Court ordered oral argument and
offered Northstar an opportunity to cite relevant portions of
the record and support its damages and interest calculations
with additional evidence, if necessary. Dkt. # 23. Rocket Dog
was also offered the opportunity to support its objections to
Northstar's damages claim with citations to the record
and additional evidence. Id. Both parties submitted
additional evidence supporting their arguments regarding
damages. See Dkt. #24-26. On May 25, 2017, the Court
held oral argument on the subject of damages. Dkt. # 27. No
party requested an evidentiary hearing.