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KNOWLTON v. VIKTRON L.P.

January 23, 1998

ROGER KNOWLTON d/b/a RGK COMPANY, Plaintiff, against VIKTRON LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HURLEY

 HURLEY, District Judge

 Pending before the Court is defendant's motion, made pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 50 and 59, for post-judgment relief, as well as plaintiff's motion, made pursuant to provisions of the Illinois Sales Representative Act, (the "Sales Act") 820 ILCS 120/3, for attorney's fees, costs and prejudgment interest.

 BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff sued defendant for unpaid commissions. The jury awarded him $ 80,245.06 for pretermination commissions (representing the difference between what defendant paid and the amount plaintiff sought as per a written contract between the two); $ 70,196.70 for post-termination commissions; and $ 75,000 in exemplary damages. The present motions followed.

 Defendant's motion is multifaceted. It argues (1) that presenting the issue of punitive damages to the jury constituted error; (2) that the judgment for pre-termination commissions should be either vacated, or reduced to $ 59,249.08; and (3) that, alternatively, a new trial should be granted.

 In addition, defendant contends that plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case and, accordingly, his claims should be dismissed. In that regard, the Court reserved decision on plaintiff's motion for judgment as a matter of law at the conclusion of plaintiff's case in chief. (Tr. at 193.) *fn1"

 Plaintiff has cross-moved for attorney's fees and costs (based on provisions of the Sales Act), and for prejudgment interest.

 DISCUSSION

 RELIEF SOUGHT BY DEFENDANT

 1. Application for Judgment as a Matter of Law as to Claims Predicated on the Sales Act. The jury's award of punitive damages, as well as the present application of plaintiff's counsel for attorney's fees, are based on the Sales Act. Sections 120/2 and 120/3 of that statute provide:

 
§ 2. All commissions due at the time of termination of a contract between a sales representative and principal shall be paid within 13 days of termination, and commissions that become due after termination shall be paid within 13 days of the date on which such commissions become due. Any provision in any contract between a sales representative and principal purporting to waive any of the provisions of this Act shall be void.
 
§ 3. A principal who fails to comply with the provisions of Section 2 . . . . shall be liable in a civil action for exemplary damages in an amount which does not exceed 3 times the amount of the commissions owed to the sales representative. Additionally, such principal shall pay the sales representative's reasonable attorney's fees and court costs.

 Neither plaintiff's original nor amended complaint contained a request for punitive damages, nor did either refer to the Sales Act. Nevertheless, in January of 1996 plaintiff specifically cited the Sales Act in his Proposed Joint Pre-Trial Order, claiming entitlement to $ 434,174.97 in punitive damages. Plaintiff, however, did not thereafter move to amend his complaint to include that claim.

 During plaintiff's opening statement, it was reiterated that he sought not only compensatory damages, but punitive ...


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