April 12, 2019
Appeals from the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No.
l:16-cv-02182 - William T. Lawrence, Judge.
Flaum, Easterbrook, and Sykes, Circuit Judges.
Indianapolis 500 race has been a fixture of American life
since 1911, interrupted only by world war. So when its 100th
running arrived in 2016, organizers wanted to shift the
race-weekend entertainment into high gear. They engaged Karma
International, LLC, an event-planning company, to host a
the Indianapolis 500 itself-which sold out for the first time
in history-the Karma party was a disappointment. Poor ticket
sales prevented Karma from covering its expenses. Karma sued
the racetrack for breach of contract, accusing it of failing
to adequately promote the party. The racetrack
counterclaimed, alleging that Karma ignored its own
advertising obligations. The district judge rejected
Karma's claim at summary judgment, ruling that the
damages theory rested on speculation. A jury found Karma
liable on the counterclaim, awarding $75,000 in damages.
Karma appeals, seeking review of the summary-judgment ruling
and the denial of its posttrial motions for judgment as a
matter of law or a new trial.
affirm. Karma's evidence of damages is indeed
speculative, so its claim fails under Indiana law. And we see
no reason to second-guess the jury's determination that
Karma breached the parties' contract by failing to
fulfill its promises to advertise the event online.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC, sponsors the annual
Indianapolis 500 race and associated race-weekend events,
which include musical acts and other festivities. In 2015
Karma International became a licensee of Maxim, a men's
magazine. Karma has hosted Maxim-branded entertainment at
large sporting events, including a party prior to the 2016
Super Bowl in San Francisco.
early 2016 Karma began negotiations with the Speedway to host
a Maxim-branded event at that year's 100th-running of the
race. The parties eventually agreed on terms memorialized in
a March 2016 agreement. The Speedway promised to provide
"marketing support via [its] social channels and ...
dedicated e-mail to [its] database." In return Karma
pledged to promote race-weekend activities with a
"banner ad on Maxim.com (minimum 1 million
impressions)." It also promised to provide
"marketing support via Maxim social channels for [the
Indy 500] [m]usic events (Carb Day, Legend's Day and Indy
500 Snake Pit)."
fulfill its advertising obligations under the contract, the
Speedway sent four promotional e-mails in May 2016 promoting
the Maxim party:
• May 9: A dedicated e-mail to 334 sponsors and suite
• May 20: A dedicated e-mail to 13,824 fans
• May 21: A cross-promotional e-mail to ...