United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
matter comes before the Court upon Defendant Stryker's
Motion For Reconsideration and Plaintiff's Motion for
Leave to File a Surreply. (Docs. 211, 217). Defendant seeks
reconsideration of the Court's partial summary judgment
ruling, entered May 11, 2018. (Docs. 207, 208). Having
considered the Motions, the summary judgment record, and
applicable law, the Court will grant leave to file a surreply
but decline to reconsider its ruling.
is an orthopedic surgeon who developed devices and techniques
for use in surgery. (Doc. 179) at 3; (Doc. 186) at 16.
Between 2000 and 2007, he entered into a series of
Confidentiality Agreements with medical device manufacturer
Stryker (individually, Defendant). (Doc. 178-3) at 1; (Doc.
179) at 3-4; (Doc. 186) at 16. The parties agreed “to
begin discussions [about] a possible business
relationship” relating to Plaintiff's flexible
drill system technologies. Id. In 2009, Defendant
purchased certain intellectual property pursuant to a Royalty
Agreement. (Doc. 178-5); (Doc. 186-1) at 3.
the next few years, Defendant paid royalties as agreed on the
TwinLoop FLEX device. (Doc. 186) at 20. Defendant then
developed three new devices, which constitute Improvements to
the confidential flexible drill technology disclosed pursuant
to the Confidentiality Agreements. (Doc. 186-1) at 7; (Doc.
178-1) at 6. The parties tried to negotiate a royalty
agreement with respect to the new devices, but the informal
discussions failed. (Doc. 186-1) at 6, 48-58.
12, 2016, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint for
Breach of Contract (Complaint). (Doc. 34). In Count I, he
alleges he owns the new devices and any profits therefrom
pursuant to the terms of the Confidentiality Agreements.
(Doc. 34) at 8-9; (Doc. 186-1) at 6-7. Count I alternatively
alleges the Royalty Agreement entitles Plaintiff to royalties
on the new devices. Id. The Complaint also raises
various state law claims based on the alleged misuse of
Plaintiff's intellectual property (Counts II-VII). (Doc.
34) at 10-14.
separate motions, Defendant moved for summary judgment on all
counts in the Complaint. (Docs. 178 and 179). The first
motion addressed Plaintiff's claims for breach of the
Confidentiality Agreements (Count I), breach of the Royalty
Agreement (Count I), and breach of the obligation of good
faith and fair dealing (Count II). (Doc. 178). The second
summary judgment motion addressed Plaintiff's remaining
“Non-Contract Claims, ” including unjust
enrichment (Count VII). (Doc. 179 at 1, 25). On May 11, 2018,
the Court entered partial summary judgment in favor of
Defendant. (Docs. 207, 208). The Court determined the Royalty
Agreement superseded the Confidentiality Agreements with
respect to Plaintiff's flexible drill technology. (Doc.
207) at 11. Hence, Plaintiff's claim alleging breach of
the Confidentiality Agreements was dismissed. With respect to
the remainder of Count I, however, Defendants failed to
establish that the Royalty Agreement forecloses royalties on
the new devices. Id. at 12. The Court therefore
declined to grant summary judgment on Plaintiff's
remaining contract claims. Id.
second motion on the “Non-Contract Claims”
(Counts III-VII) also yielded mixed results. The Court
dismissed Plaintiff's claims for common law unfair
competition (Count III); violation of New Mexico's Unfair
Trade Practices Act (Count IV); and misappropriation of trade
secrets (Count V). (Docs. 207) at 13-16. However, the Court
denied summary judgment with respect to Counts VI (quantum
meruit) and Count VII (unjust enrichment). Id. The
ruling states, in relevant part:
Theequitable remedies [of quantum meruit and unjust
enrichment] typically “may only be invoked in the
absence of an express contract or when grossly inequitable
circumstances require it.” Arena Resources, Inc. v.
Obo, Inc., 2010-NMCA-061, ¶ 16, 238 P.3d 357.
Grossly inequitable circumstances include “fraud, real
hardship, oppression, mistake, unconscionable results, and
the other grounds of righteousness, justice and
morality.” Id. The Court cannot determine if
the circumstances here are inequitable, and the parties'
contract rights have yet to be defined. Therefore, the
summary judgment motion will be denied with respect to
Plaintiff's claims for unjust enrichment and quantum
(Doc. 207) at 14.
instant Motion to Reconsider challenges the unjust enrichment
ruling (Count VII). (Doc. 211). Defendant contends the Court
should have applied New Jersey unjust enrichment law.
Alternatively, Defendant contends the claim should be
dismissed under New Mexico law. Plaintiff filed a response to
the Motion, Defendant filed a reply, and Plaintiff sought
leave to file a surreply. (Docs. 212, 213, and 217). Because
the latter request is unopposed, the Court will grant the
motion (Doc. 217) and consider the surreply pursuant to
D.N.M. LR-Civ 7.1(b) and 7.4(b).
moves for reconsideration under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b)
(interlocutory orders) and 59(e) (final orders). The parties
agree, and the case law confirms, that the same general
standard applies under both rules. See Ankeney v.
Zavaras, 2013 WL 1799997, * 3 (10th Cir. 2013);
Tomlinson v. Combined Underwriters Life Ins. Co.,
684 F.Supp.2d 1296, 1299 (N.D. Okla. 2010); Sump v.
Fingerhut, Inc., 208 F.R.D. 324, 326-27 (D. Kan. 2002).
Grounds for reconsideration include: “(1) an
intervening change in the controlling law, (2) new evidence
previously unavailable, and (3) the need to correct clear
error or prevent manifest injustice.” Servants of
the Paraclete v. Does, 204 F.3d 1005, 1012 (10th Cir.
2000). A motion to reconsider is also “appropriate
where the court has misapprehended the facts, a party's
position, or the controlling law.” Id.
primarily contends the Court erred by applying New Mexico
law, rather than New Jersey law, to the unjust enrichment
claim (Count VII). Specifically, Defendant argues the Royalty
Agreement's choice-of-law provision governs the unjust
enrichment claim, as that is the only contract now at issue.
Defendant did not urge the Court to apply New Jersey contract
principles to Count VII in its summary judgment papers. (Doc.
179) at 25-27. To the contrary, the motion labels Count VII
as a “Non-Contract Claim, ” and cites New Mexico
unjust enrichment law in support of dismissal. Id.
at 1, 25-27. It is well-established that a motion to
reconsider cannot be based on new “arguments that could
have been raised in prior briefing.” Servants
of Paraclete, 204 F.3d at 1012.
even if the Court considered Defendant's new argument,
New Jersey law does not mandate reconsideration. New Jersey
law prohibits a recovery for both unjust enrichment
and breach of contract. See generally Winslow v. Corp.
Express, Inc.,364 N.J.Super. 128');">364 N.J.Super. 128, 143, 834 A.2d 1037
(N.J. App. Div. 2003). However, plaintiffs are expressly
permitted to present the two alternative theories at trial.
See Caputo v. Nice-Pak Prod., Inc., 300 N.J.Super.
498, 505, 693 A.2d 494, 497 (N.J. App. Div. 1997) (allowing
plaintiff to present alternative theories and noting,
“if the jury found that there was no valid contract,
the jury could then consider whether plaintiff nonetheless
might recover for unjust enrichment”). The Court is
therefore not required to dismiss the ...