United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER ON PENDING MOTIONS
Hon. Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge United States District Court Southern District of Indiana
This matter is before the Court on seven pending motions filed by Plaintiff Wine & Canvas Development LLC and Third Party Defendants Tamara Scott, Donald McCracken, and Anthony Scott (collectively “WNC Parties”) (Filing No. 459, Filing No. 460, Filing No. 461, Filing No. 462, Filing No. 463, Filing No. 465, Filing No. 466). The Court will address each motion in turn.
1. Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law (Filing No. 459).
WNC Parties filed a Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law on December 18, 2014, requesting that the Court “stay enforcement of the Verdicts, ” enter judgment as a matter of law in favor of WNC Parties, or allow a new trial. WNC Parties previously filed a similar motion requesting a stay of enforcement of the verdicts and relief from the “judgment” (Filing No. 451), which the Court struck because the motion was premature (Filing No. 454).
This matter was tried before a jury with respect to Plaintiff Wine & Canvas’s claims for trademark infringement and false designation of origin against Defendant Christopher Muylle (“Mr. Muylle”) and Mr. Muylle’s counterclaim for abuse of process against WNC Parties. On November 21, 2014, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Muylle and against Wine & Canvas on Plaintiff’s claims for trademark infringement and false designation of origin. The jury decided in favor of Mr. Muylle and against WNC Parties on Mr. Muylle’s counterclaim for abuse of process and awarded Mr. Muylle monetary damages.
The Court usually issues final judgment following a jury verdict. However, a final judgment is issued following the return of a general or special verdict in a jury trial that concludes the case. In this matter, the jury verdict did not conclude the case. “To be final and appealable the order must end the litigation on the merits and leave nothing for the district court to do but execute the judgment.” Am. Nat. Bank & Trust Co. of Chicago v. Sec’y of Hous. & Urban Dev. of Washington, D.C., 946 F.2d 1286, 1289–90 (7th Cir. 1991) (internal citations and punctuation omitted). “The final judgment rule promotes judicial efficiency, as some issues a party seeks to appeal before a final decision may be mooted when the case is finally determined on the merits. Furthermore, the rule helps to avoid piecemeal appeals that may threaten the independence of trial judges and prevents the potential harassment and cost that a series of separate appeals from various individual rulings could create.” ITOFCA, Inc. v. MegaTrans Logistics, Inc., 235 F.3d 360, 364 n.1 (7th Cir. 2000).
On November 10, 2014, Defendant Theodore Weisser (“Mr. Weisser”) was defaulted as to liability for the claims asserted against him (Filing No. 408). Since then, Mr. Muylle’s attorneys have entered an appearance on behalf of Mr. Weisser. (Filing No. 447, Filing No. 448). No final judgment has been issued on the default against Mr. Weisser. Mr. Weisser requested that the Court set aside the default, and the Court denied his request (Filing No. 464). A damages hearing has been set on the default. Because there is no final judgment, WNC Parties’ Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law is premature. As such, the Motion is STRICKEN. WNC Parties may refile the Motion after final judgment is entered.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) authorizes the district court to make immediately appealable a judgment that disposes, with finality, of one or more (but not all) claims, even though other claims remain pending in the district court so that the suit as a whole has not been finally disposed of by that court. See Olympia Hotels Corp. v. Johnson Wax Dev. Corp., 908 F.2d 1363, 1366 (7th Cir. 1990). Here, however, the remaining claims are not factually distinct. To avoid piecemeal appeals of the same claims and for the orderly progression of this matter, final judgment will not issue until the claims against Mr. Weisser are resolved.
2. Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment (Filing No. 460).
On the same day that WNC Parties filed their Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law, they filed a Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment. This Motion similarly requests that the Court alter the “judgment” or allow a new trial based on alleged misrepresentations made to the Court and Jury by Mr. Muylle and his counsel. For the same reason stated above regarding the prematurity of the Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law, this Motion also is premature and is STRICKEN. WNC Parties may refile this Motion after final judgment is entered.
3. Motion for Oral Argument (Filing No. 462).
WNC Parties filed a Motion for Oral Argument on their Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and their Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment. Because those two motions are premature and stricken, WNC Parties’ Motion for Oral Argument is DENIED.
4. Motion to Disqualify Counsel (Filing No. 463).
WNC Parties filed a Motion to Disqualify Ronald J. Waicukauski, Carol Nemeth Joven, and the Law Firm of Price Waicukauski & Riley, LLC (“Defense Counsel”), who have served as counsel to Mr. Muylle throughout much of this litigation, from serving as counsel to Mr. Weisser. The sole basis for WNC Parties’ Motion is the previously pending motion filed by Mr. Weisser to set aside the Entry of Default. WNC Parties assert that, if the default was set aside, Defense Counsel would have “relevant knowledge and will likely be witnesses in this matter and, therefore, they are disqualified to represent Weisser.” (Filing No. 463 at 2.) The Court has denied Mr. Weisser’s request to set aside ...