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Lycurgan, Inc. v. Rood

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

August 28, 2014

LYCURGAN, INC. d/b/a ARES ARMOR, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD R. ROOD, JR. a/k/a BRINK ROOD, et al., Defendants.

OPINION and ORDER

JON E. DEGUILIO, District Judge.

This case involves complex choice of law issues concerning a breach of contract action. To further (unnecessarily) complicate matters, the parties' filings fail to comply with the court's local rules. By way of example, single responses to multiple motions have been filed [ see, e.g., DE 48] and exhibits themselves seek relief from the court in relation to motions [ see, e.g., DE 37-1]. Going forward, motions must be filed separately (unless they involve an alternative request) and any responsive filing must not contain combined responses to multiple filings. See N.D. Ind. L.R. 7-1. Moreover, the court cannot overlook the fact that the parties' filings are inundated with personal attacks on one another which are unhelpful to resolving the issues raised. The undersigned would hope future filings focus only on the substantive issues to promote the efficient resolution of the case.

Background

This case was filed in the Superior Court of California, and after its removal to the U.S. District Court for the S.D. California based on diversity jurisdiction, it was transferred to this court. Lycurgan, a California-based firearm parts retailer, brought suit against Indiana-based defendants: Blood Brothers Armory LLC, a manufacturer and supplier of gun components, in particular AR-15 lower receivers; Richard Rood, Blood Brothers' sole member; Vision Armory LLC, an affiliate of Blood Brothers Armory; and, Michiana Investments II LLC, the owner of the membership interests of Vision Armory.[1] Lycurgan asserts (among other things) that it entered into a contract to purchase 80% AR-15 lower receivers from Blood Brothers, that Blood Brothers breached the contract by tendering non-conforming goods, and that Lycurgan has suffered damages as a result. In response, defendants filed their answer and counterclaims, in which they allege (among other things) that Lycurgan breached the contract by not honoring its promise that Blood Brothers would be its exclusive supplier of gun components and by wrongfully rejecting and not paying for the goods tendered by Blood Brothers. Other claims sounding in fraud and unfair competition lurk in the background.

Defendants' Counterclaims

Relative to Richard Rood, Jr., Blood Brothers Armory LLC, and Vision Armory LLC's ("defendants") counterclaims, it appears that after plaintiff Lycurgan moved to dismiss [DE 25] their counterclaim for defamation [DE 14 at 72-77], defendants filed an amended counterclaim for defamation [DE 35 at 75-79; DE 49 at 103-107]. In response, Lycurgan again moved to dismiss [DE 51] the counterclaim for defamation. Accordingly, the original motion to dismiss defendants' counterclaim for defamation is DENIED AS MOOT [DE 25] given that the counterclaims have since been amended. The renewed motion on the amended counterclaim for defamation remains pending [DE 51].

Plaintiff's Claims

Relative to Lycurgan's initial complaint [DE 1], defendants filed an answer [DE 14] and then moved for partial judgment on the pleadings [DE 18]. Lycurgan responded [DE 37] to the request for judgment on the pleadings, but also filed an amended complaint [DE 38]. Defendants sought to strike Lycurgan's response [DE 39] and the amended complaint as untimely [DE 41], but the magistrate judge declined to strike the filings [DE 56].

Defendants have since objected to the magistrate's decision [DE 60], a matter which the undersigned must resolve before ruling on defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings [DE 18]. If the amended complaint becomes the operative pleading, then the undersigned need not decide whether Lycurgan's response to defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings should have been struck, because the motion itself-which is premised on the insufficiency of the original complaint's allegations-would be moot.

The motion to review [DE 60] the magistrate's decision is ripe since both the response [DE 62] and reply [DE 63] have been filed. Relevant for the purposes of this order is the fact that Lycurgan's amended complaint [DE 38], when compared to the initial complaint [DE 1], adds over 35 paragraphs worth of factual assertions in support of its various state law claims. In addition, the amended complaint was filed only one day after the court ordered deadline of February 17, 2014 [DE 34].[2]

Discussion

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a), a magistrate judge may rule on "a pretrial matter not dispositive of a party's claim or defense" when such claims are referred to him. Under this court's General Order 2012-10, all non-dispositive pretrial matters are automatically referred to the magistrate judge assigned to the case. Similar to a motion to amend the complaint, a motion to strike an amended complaint is not a dispositive motion, and therefore may be delegated to a magistrate judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Hall v. Norfolk S. Ry. Co., 469 F.3d 590, 595 (7th Cir. 2006).

When reviewing a magistrate judge's order on a non-dispositive matter, a district court must "modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); see also Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Indust. Co., Ltd., 126 F.3d 926, 943 (7th Cir. 1997). "Clear error is an extremely deferential standard of review, and will only be found to exist where the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.'" Pinkston v. Madry, 440 F.3d 879, 888 (7th Cir. 2006) (quoting Anderson v. City of Bessemer, 470 U.S. 564, 573 (1985) (internal citations omitted)). An order is contrary to law "when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure." In re Fedex Ground Package System, Inc., No. 3:05-MD-527-RM, 2009 WL 5217341, *3 (N.D. Ind. Dec. 28, 2009) (citation omitted).

The parties' disagreement boils down to the fact that Lycurgan's amended complaint was admittedly filed (from California) 3 hours and 51 minutes after the deadline of February 17, 2014 (midnight EST). In his order, the magistrate judge deemed the filing timely under Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(a)(1)(C), because February 17 was a holiday [DE 56]. Defendants argue that the time computation provisions of Rule 6 do not apply to a date certain set by ...


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