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United Gulf Marine, LLC v. Continental Refining Company, LLC

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third District, Allen

December 18, 2017

UNITED GULF MARINE, LLC, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CONTINENTAL REFINING COMPANY, LLC, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

         Appeal from Allen County Common Pleas Court Trial Court No. CV 2017 0040

          Matthew C. Huffman for Appellant

          Anthony J. Hornbach and Jesse J. Jenike-Godshalk for Appellee

          OPINION

          PRESTON, P. JUDGE.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Continental Refining Company, L.L.C. ("CRC"), appeals the April 16, 2017 judgment entry of the Allen County Court of Common Pleas granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiff-appellee, United Gulf Marine, L.L.C. ("UGM"). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         {¶2} On January 27, 2017, UGM filed a complaint in which it alleged that CRC breached two commercial contracts-the Transmix Agreement and the Naphtha Agreement. (Doc. No. 1). On February 21, 2017, CRC filed a motion requesting additional time to respond to UGM's complaint, which the trial court granted on February 23, 2017. (Doc. Nos. 5, 6). Before CRC filed its answer, UGM filed an amended complaint on March 7, 2017. (Doc. No. 7).

         {¶3} On March 23, 2017, CRC filed its answer to UGM's amended complaint and filed counterclaims against UGM alleging that UGM breached the Transmix Agreement. (Doc. No. 8). In its answer, CRC admitted "that the parties agreed to Allen County, Ohio relating to Counts I through V of the Amended Complaint but denie[d] that the parties agreed to Allen County for Counts VI and VII."[1] (Id.). Further, CRC alleged as its first defense that "[t]he Naphtha Agreement provides for exclusive jurisdiction and venue in Denver, Colorado" and, as such, that the Allen County Court of Common Pleas "is without jurisdiction with respect to disputes relating to the Naphtha Agreement." (Id.).

         {¶4} On April 7, 2017, UGM filed its answer to CRC's counterclaims. (Doc. No. 9). That same day, UGM filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint, which the trial court granted on April 25, 2017. (Doc. Nos. 10, 11). UGM filed its second amended complaint on April 26, 2017. (Doc. No. 12). In its second amended complaint, Counts I through IV relate to the Transmix Agreement and Counts V and VI relate to the Naphtha Agreement. (Id.).

         {¶5} On May 22, 2017, CRC filed its answer to UGM's second amended complaint. (Doc. No. 15). In its answer, CRC admitted "that the parties agreed to Allen County, Ohio relating to Counts I through IV of the Second Amended Complaint but denie[d] that the parties agreed to Allen County for Counts V and VI." (Id.). Further, CRC again alleged as its first defense that "[t]he Naphtha Agreement provides for exclusive jurisdiction and venue in Denver, Colorado" and, as such, that the Allen County Court of Common Pleas "is without jurisdiction with respect to disputes relating to the Naphtha Agreement." (Id.).

         {¶6} On May 31, 2017, UGM filed a motion for summary judgment seeking judgment in favor on Counts I and V of its second amended complaint and CRC's counterclaims. (Doc. No. 16).

         {¶7} That same day, UGM filed "Motion To Deem Requests Admitted" requesting that the trial court deem admitted each of UGM's requests for admissions because CRC failed to timely respond. (Doc. No. 17). On June 12, 2017, CRC responded to UGM's motion requesting the trial court to deem admitted its request for admissions. (Doc. Nos. 18, 19, 20, 21). On June 19, 2017, the trial court denied UGM's motion requesting the trial court deem admitted UGM's request for admissions and ordered CRC to respond to UGM's request for admissions by July 12, 2017. (Doc. No. 23).

         {¶8} On June 15, 2017, UGM filed its response to CRC's counterclaims. (Doc. No. 22).

         {¶9} On June 23, 2017, CRC filed a motion requesting additional time to respond to UGM's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 24). UGM filed a memorandum in opposition to CRC's motion requesting additional time to respond to UGM's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 25). On June 30, 2017, the trial court granted CRC's motion and ordered it to respond by July 10, 2017. (Doc. No. 26).

         {¶10} On July 10, 2017, CRC filed its response to UGM's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 28). In its response, CRC requested that the trial court dismiss UGM's claims regarding the Naphtha Agreement or deny summary judgment in favor of UGM regarding those claims based on the forum-selection clause contained in the Naphtha Agreement. (Id.). That same day, CRC filed a motion for summary judgment requesting that the trial court award summary judgment in favor of CRC as to its counterclaims and "enforce [the forum-selection clause contained in the Naphtha Agreement by] grant[ing] summary judgment in favor of CRC and thereby dismissing] ...


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