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Craftline Graphics, Inc. v. Total Press Sales & Service LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

June 13, 2019

CRAFTLINE GRAPHICS, INC., and KAPPA GRAPHICS, L.P., Plaintiffs,
v.
TOTAL PRESS SALES & SERVICE, LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          HOLLY A. BRADY JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs Craftline Graphics, Inc.'s (“Craftline”) and Kappa Graphics, L.P.'s (“Kappa”) Evidence in Support of Request for Damages in Connection with their Motion for Default Judgment (ECF No. 32) (the “Evidence Submission”). The Evidence Submission is the culmination of a long process whereby Plaintiffs have repeatedly attempted to obtain default judgment against Defendant Total Press Sales & Service, LLC. (See ECF Nos. 11, 17, 19, 25). Unfortunately, Plaintiffs' filings seeking entry of default judgment and damages have failed to satisfy legal requirements. The most recent Order and Opinion from this Court (ECF No. 29) granted Plaintiffs additional time to submit admissible evidence related to the claim for damages related to Kappa's anticipated repair costs. (Id. at 17-18). Plaintiffs were subsequently granted an additional ten days to submit such evidence. (ECF No. 31). Having reviewed the Evidence Submission, the Court concludes that the evidence submitted does not satisfy the threshold for admissible evidence. Accordingly, judgment will be entered in favor of the Plaintiffs in the amount of $1.00 as nominal damages based upon the absence of evidentiary proof of actual damages.

         THE EVIDENCE SUBMISSION [1]

         The nine-page Evidence Submission is accompanied by two affidavits. The first is the affidavit of Robert Cook, Craftline's Vice President of Operations (ECF No. 32-2). Cook testified to the allegations in Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint, setting forth Defendant's errors and omissions in disassembling and reassembling the printing press that is the subject of this lawsuit (the “Press”). (ECF No. 32-2 at 1-3). Cook then attempted to designate evidence in support of two categories of damages. First, Cook testified that Craftline paid ManRoland, Roland Graphics Services, and other vendors a total of $60, 972.73 because of Defendant's breach. Then, Cook testified that he “spoke with Richard Grobarek and other ManRoland technicians about the problems [Defendant] was causing caused [sic] during the reassembly, installation, and repair of the Press. The total amount of ManRoland's estimates is $500, 759.91.” (Id. at 4). Appended to Cook's affidavit is the affidavit of David J. Bosko, Vice President of Finance for Craftline. (Id. at 6-7). Bosko's affidavit serves as Craftline's attempt to authenticate documents via an affidavit from a records custodian. Bosko attached two sets of documents to his affidavit: (1) an account payment summary reflecting the $60, 972.73 amount in Cook's affidavit (Id. at 8); and (2) correspondence and estimates from ManRoland (Id. at 9-19) (the “ManRoland Estimates”).

         The second affidavit is from Timothy J. Cotter, Jr., Senior Vice President of Operations for Kappa (ECF No. 32-1). The key part of Cotter's affidavit is paragraph 10, wherein Cotter testified:

Paragraph 3., Contract Price and Payment of the Contract, required Kappa to pay [Defendant] a total of $294, 450, in accordance with the milestone schedule found at Paragraph 3. (b). Of the $294, 450.00 due to [Defendant], Kappa paid $213, 000 in 2015 and $40, 000 in 2016, for a total of $253, 000.00. None of the money was returned by [Defendant] to Kappa.

(Id. at 3) (original emphasis). Appended to Cotter's affidavit is the affidavit of Martin Genello, Controller for Kappa (Id. at 5-6). Like Bosko's affidavit, Genello's affidavit serves as a records custodian affidavit. Attached to Genello's affidavit is summary of payments Kappa made to Defendant (Id. at 7). The total of those payments is $253, 000.00.

         LEGAL ANALYSIS

         A. ManRoland Estimates

         The purpose of this Court's May 24, 2019, Opinion and Order, other than to dispose of those claimed damages that were not supported by law, was to give Plaintiffs another opportunity to submit admissible evidence regarding the anticipated cost to repair the Press. From the beginning of their attempts to obtain default judgment, Plaintiffs have relied on the ManRoland Estimates to support these anticipated costs. Therefore, the primary, and in fact only, task for Plaintiffs following the May 24, 2019, Opinion and Order was to present the ManRoland Estimates in admissible form and justify the necessity and reasonableness of the amounts shown therein. Plaintiffs have failed to do so.

         Although upon default the factual allegations of a complaint relating to liability are taken as true, those allegations relating to the amount of damages suffered are ordinarily not. See United States v. Di Mucci, 879 F.2d 1488, 1497 (7th Cir. 1989). Once the default is established, and thus liability, the plaintiff still must establish his entitlement to the relief he seeks. In re Catt, 368 F.3d 789, 793 (7th Cir. 2004). The plaintiff must provide evidence of damages. 10 Moore's Federal Practice, § 55.32[1][d] at p. 55-45 (3d ed. 2013) (“The claimant must establish the amount of damages . . .”). Where a party uses affidavits to support its claim for damages, the evidentiary material offered should consist of material within the personal knowledge of the affiant and not hearsay, and attached exhibits should be accompanied by sworn statements of the circumstances that would qualify them as full exhibits. Oceanic Trading Corp. v. Vessel Diana, 423 F.2d 1, 4 (2nd Cir. 1970). Judgment cannot be entered based on claims of damages that are unsupported by admissible evidence. See Cent. Laborers' Pension, Welfare and Annuity Funds v. Stormer Excavating, Inc., 2008 WL 5142159 (S.D. Ill. 2008).

         Plaintiffs first attempted to introduce the ManRoland Estimates through the affidavit of their counsel, Kevin Podlaski (“Podlaski”) (ECF Nos. 12-5, 17-4, 20-3), and then through the affidavit of Robert Towns, President and General Counsel for Spartan Organization, Inc. (ECF No. 26-3). Plaintiffs now attempt to introduce the documents through the Cook/Bosko affidavits. However, these repeated attempts are little more than different verses to the same song. In each case, Plaintiffs wholly fail to introduce the ManRoland Estimates in a way that either establishes their authenticity or resolves the clear hearsay problem. Simply put, the ManRoland Estimates are no more admissible in their current form than they were when they were submitted for the first time eighteen months ago.

         Authentication of evidence is governed by Article IX of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Rule 902(11) states that domestic records of a regularly conducted activity, i.e., business records, are self-authenticating if they meet the requirements of Rule 803(6)(A)-(C) and if the compliance with those requirements is shown by a certification of a custodian or other ...


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