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May 17, 1999


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scheindlin, District Judge.


Plaintiff Gidatex, S.r.L. ("Gidatex") filed this suit against Defendants Campaniello Imports, Ltd., Campaniello Imports of Florida, Ltd., and Campaniello Enterprises, Inc. (collectively "Campaniello") in 1997, alleging violations of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1) and 1125(a), common law trademark infringement, and common law unfair competition. Campaniello, in turn, asserted counterclaims for breach of contract, unfair competition, misappropriation and unjust enrichment. All of the counter-claims except unjust enrichment were previously dismissed. See Gidatex v. Campaniello, 13 F. Supp.2d 420 (S.D.N.Y. 1998). Gidatex now moves for summary judgment on Campaniello's remaining counterclaim. For the reasons stated below, plaintiff's motion is granted.

I. Background

Familiarity with the facts of this case as described in two prior opinions is presumed. See Gidatex, 13 F. Supp.2d 420; Gidatex v. Campaniello, 13 F. Supp.2d 417 (S.D.N.Y. 1998). Nevertheless, for the purposes of the instant motion, some background is necessary.

From 1974 to 1994, Campaniello acted as the exclusive sales representative for Saporiti Italia, an Italian furniture manufacturer. In March 1994, Campaniello sued Saporiti for breach of contract, fraud, and misrepresentation (the "1994 Litigation"). Subsequently, under the supervision of an Italian bankruptcy court, Saporiti leased its assets to Gidatex, which entered into a distributorship agreement with Campaniello similar to the one between Saporiti and Campaniello ("Gidatex Agreement"). As part of the agreement, Campaniello agreed to withdraw the 1994 Litigation against the Saporiti defendants. In return, Gidatex engaged Campaniello as the exclusive distributor of Saporiti Italia furniture in the United States and other Western Hemisphere countries through March 31, 1995, with an automatic five-year extension if Gidatex purchased Saporiti's assets.

Campaniello and Gidatex were unable to sustain an amicable relationship and Gidatex verbally terminated the Agreement in April 1995. Immediately after the verbal termination, Campaniello sought compensation from Gidatex for the value of the customer services provided by Campaniello to Saporiti Italia customers. See Correspondence of Thomas Campaniello to Dario Fillippini, dated April 17, April 25 and November 3, 1995, attached to Declaration of Thomas Campaniello ("Campaniello Decl."), defendants' president, dated March 17, 1998, Exs. 1, 3, 4.*fn1

Within eight months after the verbal termination, Gidatex's counsel requested that Campaniello's counsel "advise [its] client to discontinue the use of the Saporiti trademark in connection with its business." Correspondence of David Botwinik to Stephen Hochhauser, dated December 22, 1995, attached to Declaration of Thomas Bailey, counsel for Gidatex, dated February 24, 1998 ("Feb. 24 Bailey Decl."), Ex. B. Then, in October 1997, Gidatex demanded that Campaniello "cease and desist" any use of the Saporiti Italia trademark.*fn2 Correspondence from Thomas G. Bailey, Jr. to Campaniello Imports, Ltd., dated October 17, 1997, Feb. 24 Bailey Decl., Ex. D. Campaniello refused to comply with Gidatex's request, believing that it was justified in continuing to use the trademark at those stores carrying the remaining Saporiti Italia stock.*fn3 See Campaniello Decl., at ¶ 15. Campaniello continued to use signs bearing the Saporiti Italia name on the storefront of its showrooms in New York City, Dania, Florida, and Dallas, Texas, and to maintain telephone listings under the Saporiti Italia name. In addition, Campaniello continues to use the Saporiti Italia name to advertise its warehouse sales, see Campaniello Decl., at ¶ 15 and Ex. 6, and on its delivery trucks and other vehicles. See Correspondence of Investigator Michael Kessler to Thomas Bailey, dated March 30, 1998, attached to Second Supplemental Declaration of Thomas Campaniello ("Second Supp. Campaniello Decl."), dated January 7, 1999, Exs. D and D4. Gidatex filed this action alleging trademark infringement in December 1997.

According to Campaniello, Gidatex now plans to authorize at least four other American distributorships to sell Saporiti Italia furniture. These distributorships, located in close proximity to existing Campaniello showrooms in New York City, Dania, Florida, Dallas, Texas, and Washington, D.C. will have the right to use the Saporiti Italia name and will sell the same type of furniture that Campaniello still stocks.

II. Standard of Review — Summary Judgment

Under Rule 56(c), summary judgment shall be granted in favor of the moving party "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). A factual issue is material if its resolution could affect the outcome of the dispute. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Converse v. General Motors Corp., 893 F.2d 513, 514 (2d Cir. 1990). The burden of demonstrating that no factual dispute exists is on the moving party. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986); Schwapp v. Town of Avon, 118 F.3d 106, 110 (2d Cir. 1997). Once this burden has been met, the non-moving party must come forward with evidence that is more than "mere speculation and conjecture," Western World Ins. Co. v. Stack Oil, Inc., 922 F.2d 118, 121 (2d Cir. 1990), but "would be sufficient to support a jury verdict in its favor." Goenaga v. March Of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, 51 F.3d 14, 18 (2d Cir. 1995).

The court must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, resolving all ambiguities and drawing all factual inferences in that party's favor. See D'Amico v. City of New York, 132 F.3d 145, 148 (2d Cir. 1998). If there is evidence in the record from which a fair inference may be drawn in favor of the non-movant on a material issue of fact, summary judgment must be denied. See Chambers v. TRM Copy Centers Corp., 43 F.3d 29, 37 (2d Cir. 1994). But, if the evidence presented by the non-moving party is "merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Scotto v. Almenas, 143 F.3d 105 (2d Cir. 1998) (quoting Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-250, 106 S.Ct. 2505).

III. Discussion

Unjust enrichment under New York law falls under the umbrella of quasi-contract. See E. Allen Farnsworth, Contracts ยง 2.20, at 103-104 (2d Ed. 1990); see also Lightfoot v. Union Carbide Corp., 110 F.3d 898, 905 (2d Cir. 1997) ("[U]nder the quasi-contractual doctrine of unjust enrichment, courts may infer the existence of an implied contract to prevent one person who has obtained a benefit from another from unjustly enriching himself at the other party's expense."); Clark-Fitzpatrick, Inc. v. Long Island R.R., 70 N.Y.2d 382, 521 N.Y.S.2d 653, 516 N.E.2d 190 (1987). An unjust enrichment claim under New York law must contain the following elements: (1) the defendant was enriched; (2) enrichment was at the plaintiff's expense; and (3) the defendant's retention of the benefit would be unjust. See Van Brunt v. Rauschenberg, 799 F. Supp. 1467, 1472 (S.D.N.Y. 1992). The third element is satisfied when the circumstances are such "that equity and good conscience require defendant to make restitution." Violette v. Armonk Associates, L.P., 872 F. Supp. 1279, 1282 (S.D.N.Y. ...

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