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Royal Consumer Products, LLC v. Buckeye Boxes, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

June 28, 2019

ROYAL CONSUMER PRODUCTS, LLC APPELLANT
v.
BUCKEYE BOXES, INC. APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE MARY M. SHAW, JUDGE ACTION NO. 14-CI-004614

          BRIEF FOR APPELLANT: Raymond G. Smith Michael W. McClain Louisville, Kentucky.

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Carolyn A. Taggart Justin J. Joyce Cincinnati, Ohio.

          BEFORE: CLAYTON, CHIEF JUDGE; ACREE AND TAYLOR, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          CLAYTON, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Royal Consumer Products, LLC ("Royal") appeals from the Jefferson Circuit Court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Buckeye Boxes, Inc. ("Buckeye") on Royal's breach of contract claim against Buckeye. Upon careful review, we affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         In September of 2014, Royal filed a complaint against Buckeye alleging that Buckeye had breached the parties' contract by failing to timely deliver certain project boards. In its first interrogatory request, Buckeye asked that Royal "[i]dentify each person . . . who you know or believe has knowledge of any facts relevant to [the suit between the parties] or the allegations contained in the Complaint . . . [.]" In response, Royal identified Christopher Stiles and Steve Schulman, and stated:

Mr. Stiles has personal knowledge of the underlying events that gave rise to this Action. [Royal's] product orders, communications between the parties regarding [Buckeye's] failure to fulfill the terms of [Royal's] purchase orders, the necessity of [Royal] to fill those orders from other supplies, and personal knowledge of the underlying events that gave rise to this Action.

         Royal's representation of Schulman's knowledge was very similar, stating:

Mr. Schulman has personal knowledge of [Royal's] product orders, communications between the parties regarding [Buckeye's] failure to fulfill the terms of [Royal's] purchase orders, and personal knowledge of the underlying events that gave rise to this Action.

         Buckeye later submitted a second set of interrogatories and requests for the production of documents aimed at determining specific evidence of Royal's damages, requesting that Royal:

Identify each and itemize all damages that you are seeking in this lawsuit, the method by which you determined each amount, your efforts to mitigate [y]our damages, and identify all persons with knowledge regarding these damages and all documents evidencing the same.

         Royal responded to this interrogatory in June of 2017 as follows:

ANSWER: [Royal] seeks damages in the total amount of not less than $14, 331.90. That figure consists of the following categories of damages: (1) lost margins totaling $14, 331.90 (office Depot - $5, 926.68; K-Mart -$3, 617.82; and Office Max - $4, 787.40; (2) price increase (for having to resort to alternate vendors on short notice) totaling ($3, 784.16); and PAL penalties totaling $2, 098.74. [Royal] attaches hereto documentation upon which it relied to determine its damages. [Royal] mitigated its damages by seeking out orders from alternate vendors to enable [Royal] to meet its requirements. Steven Schulman and Chris Stiles have knowledge of [Royal's] damages and of the documents produced herewith.

Attached to Royal's response were several spreadsheets on which various dollar amounts and vendors were listed.

         Buckeye further submitted a notice for the deposition of Royal's corporate representative under Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure (CR) 30.02(6). Specifically, Buckeye requested that Royal designate one or more representatives to testify about the following topics:

- All communications between Royal and Buckeye regarding agreements and contracts between the parties, payment and delivery of products under any such agreements and contracts, purchase orders, and the dispute that is the subject of the litigation;
- Royal's policies and practices for making payments on invoices;
- Royal's recordkeeping, accounting, and bookkeeping policies and practices;
- Royal's communications regarding the project boards with the entity or entities that purchased the project boards from Royal;
- Royal's "lost sales and penalties," and documents regarding these lost sales and penalties;
- Royal's allegation that Buckeye had improperly placed a hold on a certain order, and this hold caused "Royal to suffer substantial damages and necessitating that Royal retain the balance of the amount owed as security until such time as Buckeye agreed to compensate Royal for said damages"; and,
- Royal's allegation that it was "forced to cover . . . by obtaining substitute boards from another seller, thereby causing Royal to incur substantial damages including but not limited to the costs of the substitute project boards, as well as expediting fees, back order fees, and lost sales."

         Royal produced Stiles as its corporate representative under CR 30.02(6), and Stiles was deposed in August of 2017.

         At the deposition, Stiles admitted that he had done nothing in the way of preparation in order to answer the questions posed to him as Royal's corporate representative under CR 30.02(6). For example:

Q: All right. What did you do to prepare for your testimony today?
A: I have done nothing.
Q: Did you review any documents?
A: No ma'am. I don't have any documents to review.
Q: Okay. Have you talked with the attorney for [Royal]?
A: I have.
Q: Okay. And when did you talk to him?
A: I've talked to him via email a couple of times about my flight today . . . about when to be here. But outside of that, ...

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