Jeld-Wen recently filed a motion to dismiss Steves and Sons Inc. (Steves) antitrust and tortious interference claims in its ongoing legal battle. According to Jeld-Wen, “this case is a breach of contract case and nothing more.”

For nearly four years, “Steves and Jeld-Wen litigated a wide-ranging dispute that generated multiple jury verdicts, numerous final decisions, and several related appeals,” a portion of Jeld-Wen’s motion reads, adding that, “This is not that case.” In the current case, “Steves alleges an entirely distinct breach of contract based on an unrelated ‘allocation’ provision in the parties’ Supply Agreement that played no role in the prior litigation,” the company alleges.

According to the recent motion, Steves’ claim involves a new dispute that began in November 2019. According to Steves, any purported breach of the Supply Agreement by Jeld-Wen automatically “equates to an antitrust injury traceable back to the 2012 CMI acquisition (and hence entitles Steves to treble its breach of contract damages and possible attorneys’ fees), no matter how distantly removed in time or how remote in causal nexus that subsequent breach may be from the years-old acquisition.”

Jeld-Wen’s acquisition of Craftmaster Manufacturing Inc. (CMI) in 2012, “has no connection to the alleged contract breach at issue in this case,” a portion of Jeld-Wen’s motion suggests. “Steves does not and cannot plausibly allege an antitrust claim on these facts, because its First Amended complaint does not plausibly allege the essential elements of antitrust impact, injury, and causation that are required to state a claim under the Clayton Act,” the company further suggests.

According to Jeld-Wen, Steves’ first amended complaint, “continues to include a meritless claim for tortious interference, premised on the theory that the alleged breaches of contract prevented Steves from serving its own customers or acquiring new ones.”

Jeld-Wen alleges Steves’ allegation that it “tortiously interfered with Steves’ contracts and business expectancies,” fails as a matter of law for three reasons, which according to Jeld-Wen’s motion include:

  • First, Delaware law prohibits a plaintiff from “bootstrapping” a tortious interference claim onto a breach of contract claim;
  • Second, Steves fails to allege that JELD-WEN had the requisite knowledge to support a claim for either “tortious interference with contract” or “tortious interference with prospective contractual relations;” and
  • Third, the First Amended Complaint does not allege a breach of contract.

Look to a future article for additional updates on this case.

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