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Gonzalez v. Landes Foods, LLC

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

March 14, 2018

ADAM GONZALEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
LANDES FOODS, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         This matter involves a dispute over a settlement agreement stemming from two cases in Indiana and Texas state courts over unpaid tortillas. The problem, according to Plaintiff Adam Gonzalez, is that the settlement agreement at issue requires that the parties' dispute be resolved in either Hamilton County Superior Court in Indiana or in the 191st Judicial District Court in Texas. The Southern District of Indiana is, of course, neither of those courts. Mr. Gonzalez therefore asks the Court to remand his lawsuit to Hamilton County Superior Court, where it was originally filed, in accordance with the terms of the settlement agreement. Defendant Landes Foods, LLC's (“Landes”) response is that remand is inappropriate pursuant to the doctrine of unclean hands. But because that doctrine does not apply to this matter, the Court GRANTS Mr. Gonzalez's Motion to Remand to State Court. [Filing No. 15.]

         I.

         Background

         The relationship and litigation history between these parties is complex, but only a sliver of that history is relevant to Mr. Gonzalez's Motion to Remand. In June 2017, the parties to this lawsuit signed a settlement agreement (the “Settlement Agreement”) to resolve two different lawsuits, one in the 191st Judicial District Court in Texas (which also included Gonzales International, Inc., which is not a party to this case), and another in Hamilton County Superior Court. [Filing No. 15-1 at 1.]

         As part of the Settlement Agreement, the parties drafted and executed two agreed judgments, which were to be filed only under certain circumstances:

4. Contemporaneously with the execution of this Settlement Agreement Gonzalez will execute two Agreed Judgments, each in the amount of. $246, 782 88. The judgment in the Indiana Lawsuit will be against Ad ant: Gonzales personally ONLY and the judgment in the Texas Lawsuit will be entered Into against GONZALEZ. INTERNATIONAL, INC/d/b/a TIA MARIA CLASSICAS ONLY. The parties further agree that the judgment in the Indiana Lawsuit against Adam Gonzalez personally will not be filed if the full settlement amount of $150, 000.00 is paid no later than December 15, 2018 and that the judgment in the The Lawsuit against GONZALEZ INTERNATIONAL, INC. d/b/a TIA MARIA CLASSICAS will not be filed if the full settlement amount of $150, 000.00 is paid no later than m the following one hundred twenty (120) days after this agreement is executed by the Parties

[Filing No. 15-1 at 3.] The Settlement Agreement also placed restrictions on the execution of the judgments, should one or both be filed:

5. Landes hereby promises to take no action or execute on said judgments in any way while payments ate made timely, Gonzalez shall be in default of this agreement if it fails to deliver any payment on or before its due date. Upon default, Gonzalez, his Texas counsel arid his Indiana counsel shall be entitled to notice of such default in writing by facsimile and e-mail. Upon notice of such -default, Gonzalez shall have a period of three (3) days, to cure such default. Any additional defaults under this payment schedule will render the Settlement Agreement in breach and the Parties will be entitled to pursue, any and all legal remedies available to them, including collecting the $246-782.88 Judgment amount minus any credits and; offsets. The parties agree that the total amount collectible between both agreed judgments, in Texas and Indiana shall be no more than the principal amount of $ 246, 782, 88, plus attorneys fees, costs and other allowable, recoverable sums for any subsequent litigation by the Parties. The Parties stipulate that, the intent of this agreement is not to grant, two judgments to Landes- for $ 246, 782, 88 for a total amount of $ 493, 565.76.

[Filing No. 15-1 at 3-4.]

         The Settlement Agreement contains the following choice of law and forum selection clause:

10. Choice of Law, The Parties hereto further agree that this Agreement shall be governed, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of Texas or the Laws, of the State of Indiana, whichever is applicable for the Specific breach. Venue for any dispute arming out of or related to, this Agreement shall exclusively lie in the Court of prior jurisdiction over this matter.

[Filing No. 15-1 at 5.]

         Mr. Gonzalez does not contest that the conditions were met for Landes to file the executed agreed judgment in Texas state court after the settlement amount was not paid in full after 120 days. [Filing No. 16 at 1; see Filing No. 13-1 at 71-73.] However, both parties agree that Landes also filed the agreed judgment in Indiana state court even though the Settlement Agreement provided that Landes was not to file that judgment unless ...


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