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McCoppin v. Camargo Sports and Apparel

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler

February 20, 2018

MICHAEL R. MCCOPPIN, et al., Appellants,
v.
CAMARGO SPORTS AND APPAREL, et al., Appellees.

         CIVIL APPEAL FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS Case No. CV2011-02-0591

          Mark W. Raines, for appellants

          James J. Allen and Camargo Sports and Apparel, Inc., appellees, pro se

          OPINION

          RINGLAND, J.

         {¶ 1} Plaintiffs-appellants, Michael McCoppin, et al., appeal the decision of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, awarding McCoppin $3, 100 in damages for breach of an employment contract. For the reasons detailed below, we affirm.

         {¶ 2} Kenneth Cox and Jeffrey Lutes ("Shareholders"), along with McCoppin, are the former shareholders of W.E. Michaels Sports Group Inc. ("W.E. Michaels"), a defunct Ohio corporation formerly headquartered in Middletown. Camargo Sports & Apparel, Inc. ("Camargo") is a defunct Ohio corporation formerly headquartered in Cincinnati. Both corporations sold sporting goods and apparel, mostly to high school athletic teams. James Allen was the president of Camargo during all relevant times.

         {¶ 3} On May 31, 2006, the parties executed an asset purchase agreement whereby Camargo would purchase W.E. Michaels for $202, 274. As part of this agreement, Camargo also agreed to assume W.E. Michael's contract and lease obligations, most notably, several pieces of equipment used for embroidery and logo prints.

         {¶ 4} The purchase agreement further required Camargo and McCoppin to execute an employment contract, which they did shortly after the closing. Under the terms of the employment contract, McCoppin was to remain an employee of Camargo in exchange for $600 in weekly wages plus unspecified commissions.

         {¶ 5} Camargo was to continue operation at W.E. Michaels' North Clinton Street location in Middletown. Though Camargo took possession of the premises after purchasing W.E. Michaels, the parties never executed a lease agreement.

         {¶ 6} Camargo faltered soon after purchasing W.E. Michaels. The relationship between Allen and McCoppin also quickly soured. At the time McCoppin terminated his employment, Camargo owed him five weeks of wages, as well as commissions for his entire tenure. In October 2006, Camargo vacated the North Clinton Street address due to a water and pest intrusion and relocated to another location in Middletown. Following the closure, McCoppin opened an athletic facility in the North Clinton Street property that featured batting cages and weightlifting equipment.

         {¶ 7} Camargo ceased operations in 2008. In February 2011, McCoppin and the Shareholders filed this action against Camargo, Allen, and Kathleen Barton, Allen's wife. The complaint alleged that Camargo and Allen failed to assume the equipment leases and wrongfully removed equipment from the business premises in violation of the terms of the equipment leases. McCoppin and the Shareholders further alleged that Camargo and Allen unlawfully used W.E. Michaels' vendor accounts to their detriment, and that McCoppin is owed back wages and commissions.[1]

         {¶ 8} Though Camargo had not yet filed an answer, the record reflects that Allen and his wife attended a pretrial conference, appearing pro se. A pretrial order dated August 22, 2011 states that plaintiffs and plaintiffs' counsel did not appear. The notation further indicated that the court would "send a 10 day notice of dismissal" to plaintiffs and their counsel for failure to prosecute their claim.

         {¶ 9} On December 17, 2012, McCoppin and the Shareholders moved for summary judgment. The motion included McCoppin's affidavit, which averred damages and breach of contract allegations. On January 11, 2013, the trial court granted the motion for summary judgment. The trial court awarded McCoppin and the Shareholders $231, 711.76, plus costs and interest. In addition, the trial court also awarded McCoppin individually $11, 298 plus costs and interest. Over a year later, the trial court entered an amended judgment entry. The amended judgment entry maintained the prior judgments against the parties and the respective damages.

         {¶ 10} On April 22, 2015, the Allens, now with counsel, moved for relief from judgment pursuant to Civ.R. 60(B). In affidavits, the Allens claimed they had no notice of the motion for summary judgment or of the judgment entry against them. McCoppin and the Shareholders filed a written motion in opposition. However, at the hearing on the motion, McCoppin and the Shareholders withdrew their opposition to the Civ.R. 60(B). On June 3, 2015, the trial court granted the Civ.R. 60(B) motion for relief from judgment. Following this ...


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