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Thompson Research Group, LLC v. Winnebago Industries, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

October 17, 2019

THOMPSON RESEARCH GROUP, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
WINNEBAGO INDUSTRIES, INC., Defendant.

          HOLMES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM

          WILLIAM L. CAMPBELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Pending before the Court are Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 48); Plaintiff's Response (Doc. No. 62); and Defendant's Reply (Doc. No. 73). For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant's Motion (Doc. No. 48) is GRANTED in part, and DENIED in part. The Court grants summary judgment on the fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation claims, and denies summary judgment as to all other claims.

         Defendant's Motion to Disregard or to Strike (Doc. No. 74) is DENIED, as moot, as the Court did not consider the disputed evidence in reaching its decision.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Thompson Research Group, LLC (“TRG”) alleges Defendant Winnebago Industries, Inc. (“Winnebago”) refused to pay it fair compensation for its role in initiating Winnebago's acquisition of Grand Design RV, LLC (“Grand Design”). (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff asserts claims for breach of contract, breach of implied contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment. (Id.)

         TRG is a firm owned by Kathryn Thompson and Chris White that provides equity research, sell-side research, corporate advisory, and consulting services. (Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 1 (Doc. No. 63) (hereinafter “Plaintiff's Response to Facts”)). Winnebago is a publicly-traded corporation that manufactures recreational vehicles. (Id. ¶ 2). Grand Design manufactures travel trailers and fifth-wheel products, commonly known as “towables.” (Id. ¶ 3). In October, 2016, Winnebago publicly announced its acquisition of Grand Design. (Doc. No. 9 ¶ 31). The parties vehemently disagree about the facts leading up to that acquisition, and whether TRG is entitled to a “finders fee” for its involvement.

         Through the pending motion, Winnebago seeks summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims. To support its motion, Winnebago has propounded 116 statements of “undisputed” material facts, most of which are “disputed” by TRG. (Doc. No. 63). Winnebago also seeks to strike several of TRG's responses, as well as other items of evidence filed by TRG in response to the summary judgment motion. (Doc. No. 74). As discussed herein, with the exception of the fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation claims, even if the Court disregards the evidence challenged by Winnebago, resolution of this case requires a determination of disputed facts and inferences to be drawn from those facts, as well as credibility determinations, all of which are to be made by a jury.

         III. Analysis

         A. The Standards Governing Motions for Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment should be granted "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Supreme Court has construed Rule 56 to “mandate[] the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, a court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. See, e.g., Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Shreve v. Franklin County, Ohio, 743 F.3d 126, 132 (6th Cir. 2014). The court does not make credibility determinations, weigh the evidence, or determine the truth of the matter. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

         B. Breac ...


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