United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISIOIN AND ORDER
Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court
Court has before it Defendant's Motion for Judgment as a
Matter of Law Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
50(b) and/or to Alter or Amend Judgment Pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) (Dkt. 326), Plaintiff's
Second Rule 59 Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment and for New
Trial (Dkt. 327), and Defendant's Motion for New Trial
Pursuant to Federal Rule 59(a) Dkt. 328).
second trial in this case recently ended. Much of the
background of the case is set forth in the Court's
earlier decision granting a new trial. But the Court will
outline the background again in limited detail here.
case involves a breach of contract claim brought against
Heinz by Bright Harvest. Bright Harvest alleges Heinz
breached the Co-Pack Agreement when they stopped purchasing
sweet potato fries prior to its expiration. Bright Harvest
and Heinz signed the Co-Pack Agreement on December 7, 2009.
The Co-Pack Agreement set terms, conditions, and prices for
Bright Harvest to produce sweet potato fries under
Heinz's Ore-Ida label. (Dkt. 45-2, p. 1).
Agreement set forth that Heinz “shall place purchase
orders with Co-Packer [Bright Harvest], and Co-Packer shall
sell and deliver to Heinz, quantities of the products [sweet
potato fries] under the terms of this Agreement.” (Dkt.
10-1, p. 4). The term of the Agreement was from December 1,
2009 until November 30, 2015. (Dkt. 10-1, p. 4). The
Agreement established a “non-binding planning target of
10 million pounds of sweet potato fries per year, ” and
indicated that it was “the intent of the Parties that
Heinz will deliver to Co-Packer purchase orders for such
Products as hereinafter provided, subject to the current
capacity of Co-Packer to produce such Products.” (Dkt.
10-1, p. 5). In addition, Heinz was to provide rolling weekly
demand files with 5 weeks of firm production orders and 8
weeks of forecast. (Dkt. 10-1, p. 5). No purchase order could
exceed 50% of Bright Harvest's current forecasted volume
without mutual consent. (Dkt. 10-1, p. 5). Further, Heinz was
to provide Bright Harvest 12 to 18 month rolling forecasts
quarterly for operational management and capacity planning.
(Dkt. 10-1, p. 6).
Harvest began supplying Heinz with sweet potato fries in
2009. In the first year of the contract, Bright Harvest
produced approximately half of the requested 400, 000 pounds
of sweet potato fries, and in 2010, they produced 6 million
pounds for Heinz. (Dkt. 45-1, p. 5). While the Agreement was
still in effect, Heinz began producing sweet potato fries in
its Ontario, Oregon facility. (Dkt. 45-1, p. 5). And, in
March 2011, it submitted a 13-month rolling forecast to
Bright Harvest requesting only 4.1 million pounds of sweet
potato fries between April 2011 and 2012. (Dkt. 45-1, p. 6).
Sweet Harvest claimed that this drop in requested production
constituted a breach of the Co-Pack Agreement. To settle this
dispute, Heinz drafted a letter revising its forecast from
4.1 million pounds to over 7 million pounds, which Bright
Harvest signed. (Dkt. 45-1, p. 6). However, beginning in July
of 2011, Heinz provided Bright Harvest with 12-18 month
forecasts showing zero volume for all products after
September 2012. (Dkt. 45-1, p. 8). Regarding this as a breach
of the Co-Pack Agreement, Bright Harvest filed a breach of
contract claim against Heinz in July 2011.
trial was held in March 2015. At the conclusion of the trial,
the jury was given a special verdict form containing three
questions. (Dkt. 153-1). The first question required the jury
to determine whether or not the Co-Pack Agreement was an
enforceable contract. The jury answered that it was. The
second question asked the jury to decide whether or not Heinz
had breached the Co-Pack Agreement. The jury answered that it
had not. As a result, the third question regarding the amount
of damages was not answered by the jury.
Harvest then filed a motion to amend the judgment, or, in the
alternative, for a new trial. The Court granted a new trial.
The second trial was conducted in February/March 2016. The
jury in the second trial determined that the Co-Pack
Agreement between the parties was an enforceable requirements
contract, and that Heinz breached the contract. The jury then
awarded damages of $976, 370.52 for lost fixed overhead, and
$238, 518.56 for lost profits. Heinz now asks for judgment as
a matter of law. Both parties also ask the Court to alter or
amend the judgment, or for a new trial.
legal standards for a Rule 50(b) motion, a Rule 59(a) motion,
and a Rule 59(e) motion are similar but not identical. The
Court will set forth the legal standard for each motion as it
separately addresses them below.
Heinz's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or to ...