DYNEGY MARKETING AND TRADE v. MULTIUT CORP. (August 4, 2011)
For years, Multuit purchased natural gas wholesale from Dynegy Marketing and Trade. Nachshon Draiman personally guaranteed Multuit's obligation. In 1997, Dynegy expressed interest in acquiring Multuit. Under a confidentiality agreement, it conducted its due diligence. Dynegy ultimately chose not to acquire Multuit but instead entered into a joint venture with one of Multuit's competitors. The relationship soured but Multuit continued to purchase from Dynegy. Multuit was unable to pay its current invoices, however and owed Dynegy in excess of $1.5 million by the end of 2000. On several occasions, Multuit attempted to reach agreement on a long-term price guarantee with Dynegy unsuccessfully. Dynegy ultimately stopped providing gas to Multuit in December 2002 and filed suit. Multuit responded with a host of counterclaims. Shortly after the complaint was filed, the FERC issued a report in which it identified efforts to manipulate price indices in the Western United States energy markets. Dynegy was implicated but the report was limited to the Western United States. In discovery, Multuit attempted to obtain information from Dynegy regarding its price index reporting and calculation. The magistrate judge did not allow it. Dynegy moved for summary judgment on some of its claims and all of Multuit's counterclaims. In response, Multuit submitted an excerpt from the FERC report and a lengthy declaration containing, for the first time, its damage estimates. Judge Nordberg (N.D. Ill.) excluded the declaration and granted Dynegy's motion. After denying Multuit's motion for reconsideration, the court entered judgment pursuant to Rule 54(b). The Seventh Circuit remanded for a prejudgment interest calculation. On remand, Multuit again moved for reconsideration and supplemented the record with additional affidavits. The court denied the motion and entered judgment for Dynegy. Multuit appeals.
In their opinion, Seventh Circuit Judges Kanne and Tinder and District Judge Herndon affirmed. Multuit was chastised by the panel for its "kitchen sink" approach (it presented nine issues) on appeal. The Court considered and rejected each: a) the district court did not err in excluding the declaration when it was the first time Multuit disclosed its damages theory, b) Dynegy's vague statements about "best price" did not amount to an enforceable oral contract, c) there can be no enforceable long-term price agreement when the record presents no evidence of either the price term or duration, d) Dynegy's mistake in failing to invoice Multuit for interest for a period of time did not amount to an implied agreement to forego interest, e) Dynegy offered sufficient proof of its own damages by presenting an expert who testified regarding the invoices and interest calculations, f) the record does not support a conclusion that any alleged price manipulation in the Western United States affected Dynegy's price and therefore its damages, g) Multuit cannot recover on its breach of contract counterclaim when it presented no evidence of damages, h) Multuit cannot recover on its Robinson-Patman Act counterclaim when it presented no evidence of damages, and i) Multuit waived its challenge to the denial of the motion for reconsideration by not addressing the grounds upon which the district court denied it.