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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues one today

Coca-Cola Company v. Babyback's International, Inc., a 16-page, unanimous opinion written by Justice Dickson, begins:

This opinion centers on the enforceability of an alleged business agreement reflected in a memo prepared and faxed by one party to another. The trial court denied separate motions for summary judgment filed by each of the three defendants, but certified its order for interlocutory appeal for two of the defendants. As to its denial of the motion for partial summary judgment filed by defendant Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. ("CCE"), the trial court's certification order described the "fundamental issue" as:
whether a legally sufficient written contract was signed for the alleged national co-marketing agreement to satisfy the requirements of Indiana's Statute of Frauds. . . . If an adequate writing is determined to not exist, a question of law remains whether the equitable doctrines of part performance or promissory estoppel can support plaintiff's claims for lost future profits. If an adequate writing is determined to exist, these alternative positions of plaintiff need not be litigated.
Appellants' Joint App'x. at 762. With regard to defendant Coca-Cola Company ("Coke USA"), the certification order stated that "the issue is whether Coke USA's efforts to protect its property interests were justified as a matter of law, thereby precluding plaintiff's [tortious] interference claims." Id.

The Court of Appeals accepted the interlocutory appeals and affirmed the trial court. Coca-Cola Co. v. Babyback's Int'l, Inc., 806 N.E.2d 37 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004). We granted transfer and now reverse the denial of CCE's motion for partial summary judgment as to the issues described in the trial court's certification order. With respect to Coke USA's motion, we summarily affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court's denial of summary judgment. Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A)(2). * * *

Conclusion After denying CCE's motion for partial summary judgment, the trial court certified this interlocutory appeal, specifically identifying three issues for appellate consideration: (1) the suf-ficiency under the Statute of Frauds of the written memorandum of the alleged national co-marking agreement; (2) the availability of the doctrine of part performance; and (3) the availabil-ity of the doctrine of promissory estoppel. See Appellants' Joint App'x. at 762. As to each of these issues, we hold that there is no genuine issue of determinative fact and that CCE is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. The denial of CCE's motion for partial summary judgment is reversed, and this cause is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consis-tent with this opinion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 1, 2006 12:25 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions