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Elder Care Providers of Indiana, Inc. v. Home Instead, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

September 26, 2017

ELDER CARE PROVIDERS OF INDIANA, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
HOME INSTEAD, INC., Defendant. HOME INSTEAD, INC., Counter Claimants,
v.
ANTHONY SMITH, GEORGETTE SMITH, PURPOSE HOME HEALTH, INC f/k/a Home Again Senior Care, Inc., ELDER CARE PROVIDERS OF INDIANA, INC., Counter Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON PUNITIVE DAMAGES

          SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE

         This Order resolves two pending motions. Plaintiff Elder Care Providers of Indiana, Inc. (“Elder Care”) filed a Limited Motion for Reconsideration of our Order on Cross Motions for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 338 (“SJ Order”)]. [Dkt. No. 339 (“Motion for Reconsideration”).] The Limited Motion for Reconsideration is directed towards our entry of summary judgment in favor of Home Instead on Elder Care's claim for discrimination under the Indiana Deceptive Franchise Practices Act (“IDFPA”) which addressed only the merits based issues and no damages claims. Home Instead, Inc. had also filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Regarding Punitive Damages [Dkt. No. 312], which we have not previously addressed. For the following reasons, we DENY Elder Care's Motion for Reconsideration and DENY AS MOOT Home Instead's Punitive Damages Motion for Summary Judgment.

         Background

         The facts of this case are explicated in great detail in our Preliminary Injunction Order [Dkt. No. 165] and our Order on Cross Motions for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 328]. We dispense with a full recitation of the facts here and include only the facts as necessary below.

         Discussion

          A. Motion for Reconsideration

         Motions to reconsider a summary judgment ruling are brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), which permits revision of non-final orders. Galvan v. Norberg, 678 F.3d 581, 587 n.3 (7th Cir. 2012). “[M]otions to reconsider an order under Rule 54(b) are judged by largely the same standards as motions to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e).” Woods v. Resnick, 725 F.Supp.2d 809, 827 (W.D. Wis. 2010). The Seventh Circuit has summarized the role of motions to reconsider as follows:

A motion for reconsideration performs a valuable function where the Court has patently misunderstood a party, or has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the Court by the parties, or has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension. A further basis for a motion to reconsider would be a controlling or significant change in the law or facts since the submission of the issue to the Court.

Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted). In other words, “Motions to reconsider ‘are not replays of the main event'” and “are not at the disposal of parties who want to ‘rehash' old arguments ... and such motions are not appropriate vehicles for introducing evidence that could have been produced prior to the entry of judgment or for tendering new legal theories for the first time.” Dominguez v. Lynch, 612 Fed.Appx. 388, 390 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting Khan v. Holder, 766 F.3d 689, 696 (7th Cir. 2014)); Wagner v. Nutrasweet Co., 873 F.Supp. 87, 101-02 (N.D. Ill. 1994), rev'd in part and aff'd in part on other grounds, 95 F.3d 527 (7th Cir. 1996) (citations omitted). Motions to reconsider “serve a limited function: to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v. CBI Indus., Inc., 90 F.3d 1264, 1269 (7th Cir. 1996). A motion to reconsider “is not an appropriate forum for rehashing previously rejected arguments or arguing matters that could have been heard during the pendency of the previous motion.” Id. at 1270.

         Home Instead as franchisor terminated the franchise agreement with Elder Care for three stated reasons, roughly summarized as: operating a competitor business (Home Again), diverting business to a competitor (Home Again), and adopting the confusing name Home Again. [Dkt. No. 1-3.] In response, Elder Care filed an IDFPA claim against Home Instead alleging that Home Instead had discriminated against Elder Care by terminating Elder Care's franchise agreement by wrongfully claiming that the Smiths' medical home health agency, Home Again, competed against Home Instead. According to the Smiths, Home Instead never terminated the franchise agreements of other franchisees who operated businesses that provided services overlapping with those provided by Home Instead (e.g., transportation services and housekeeping services).

         Home Instead moved for summary judgment on Elder Care's IDFPA discrimination claim. We granted that motion, concluding that Elder Care had failed to make a prima facie case of discrimination when it failed to identify a similarly-situated franchisee who both used a name confusingly similar to Home Instead and received more favorable treatment. [Order at 54 (citing Canada Dry Corp. v. Nehi Bev. Co., 723 F.2d 512, 521 (7th Cir. 1983)) (“Thus, proof of ‘discrimination' requires a showing of arbitrary disparate treatment among similarly situated individuals or entities.”).] One of the three stated reasons that Home Instead terminated Elder Care's franchise agreement was its use of the confusing name “Home Again” (the “naming issue”). [See Dkt. No. 1-3 (Notice of Termination).]

         In our Order, we held that it was improper for Home Instead to use the “name issue” as a basis to terminate the Franchise Agreement without notice and an opportunity to cure, given its delay of more than 20 months before terminating the Franchise Agreement. From that ruling, Elder Care extrapolates:

From a discrimination standpoint, the court's summary judgment ruling on the contract claim confirms the Smith Parties' position that the Smiths' use of the “Home Again Senior Care” name was not a material violation of the Franchise Agreement that allowed Home Instead to summarily terminate their franchise, but instead was only used as a contrived distinction so that Home Instead could terminate the Agreement without notice and an opportunity to cure.

[Dkt. No. 339 at ΒΆ 3 (emphasis added).] Elder Care's conclusion, however, goes well beyond ...


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