United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division
C.R. ENGLAND, INC., a Utah corporation, Plaintiff,
SWIFT TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, a Delaware corporation, SWIFT TRANSPORTATION CO. OF ARIZONA, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, SWIFT TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, JOHNNY FOWLER, an individual, KEVIN WHITLEY, an individual, ALFONSO RUIZ, an individual, AKIMA BROOKS, an individual, and ANDERSON COMER, an individual, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
DEE BENSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendants Swift Transportation Company, Swift Transportation
Co. of AZ, LLC, and Swift Transportation Services, LLC
(“Swift”). (Dkt. No. 81.) The court held a
hearing on the Motion on March 21, 2017. (Dkt. No. 146.) At
the hearing, Plaintiff was represented by Scott Hagen and
Calvin R. Winder, and Swift was represented by Stephen E. W.
before the court is Plaintiff C.R. England, Inc.'s
(“England”) Motion for Rule 41(a)(2) Dismissal.
(Dkt. No. 188.) The Motion has been fully briefed by the
parties, and the court has considered the facts and arguments
set forth in those filings. Pursuant to civil rule 7- 1(f) of
the United States District Court for the District of Utah
Rules of Practice, the Court elects to determine the motion
on the basis of the written memoranda and finds that oral
argument would not be helpful or necessary. DUCivR 7-1(f).
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
enters into employment contracts with its truck drivers who
have participated in England's training program or
another training program at England's expense. The
agreements provide that the driver will work exclusively for
England for a nine-month period of time, and that the driver
will not work for any other competing trucking company during
that same nine-month period of time. (Complaint, Dkt. No. 2,
¶ 27.) Each agreement also provides that England will
forgive the driver's tuition debt if the driver completes
the nine-month period of exclusive driving for England.
October 28, 2014, England filed suit against Swift alleging
that it gave notice of these agreements to Swift, and that
Swift intentionally hired the truck drivers still under
contract with England anyway. (Id. ¶¶
27-29.) England brought claims against Swift for Tortious
Interference with Contract, Tortious Interference with
Prospective Economic Advantage, Unjust Enrichment, and Civil
Conspiracy. (Id., ¶¶ 108-45.)
April 27, 2016, Swift filed a motion for summary judgment.
(Dkt. No. 81.) Swift argued that England's claims for
tortious interference and civil conspiracy should be
dismissed either because the driver agreements at issue were
unenforceable, or because England failed to allege that Swift
interfered with England's business relationships by
“improper means.” Swift also argued that
England's claim for unjust enrichment should be dismissed
because it was not a proper measure of damages for the claims
alleged, and that it was unsupported by the facts alleged by
court held oral argument on the Motion for Summary Judgment
on March 21, 2017. At the conclusion of the hearing, the
court asked for further briefing on the required elements of
a claim for intentional interference with contract in light
of conflicting holdings in this court. The parties filed
simultaneous briefs on this issue on April 21, 2017. (Dkt.
Nos. 153, 154.) After reviewing the briefing submitted by the
parties, the court issued an Order Certifying Questions to
the Utah Supreme Court, pursuant to Rule 41 of the Utah Rules
of Appellate Procedure, requesting clarification as to
whether the tort of intentional interference with contract
requires proof of “improper means” under Utah
law, and, if so, what constitutes “improper
means.” (Dkt. No. 166.) On August 2, 2017, the court
stayed this case pending the Opinion of the Utah Supreme
Court. (Dkt. No. 174.)
February 27, 2019, the Utah Supreme Court issued its Opinion.
(C.R. England v. Swift, 2018 UT 8 (2018); Dkt. No.
179.) The Court held that “improper means” is a
required element of a claim of tortious interference.
(Id.) The Court also clarified that “to prove
the element of improper means based on an alleged violation
of an established industry rule or standard, the plaintiff
must provide evidence of an objective, industry-wide
standard.” (Id.) This matter was remitted to
this court on March 26, 2019. (Dkt. No. 181.)
1, 2019, England moved for leave to file supplemental
briefing regarding its undue enrichment claim. (Dkt. No.
182.) The court denied that motion on July 22, 2019. (Dkt.
25, 2019, England filed a Motion for Rule 41(a)(2) Dismissal
of its tortious interference claims (Counts II and III).
(Dkt. No. 188.) England acknowledged that the allegations in
those counts were insufficient to satisfy the “improper
means” element of either intentional interference tort
following the Opinion of the Utah Supreme Court clarifying
the standard. (Id. at 3.) England stated that it did
not seek leave to amend to assert some other “improper
means” and that the dismissal would be with prejudice.
(Id. at 3-4.) Swift opposed the Motion, arguing that
England's motion did not truly seek dismissal with
prejudice, but rather sought voluntary dismissal so that it
could pursue the same claims in other fora. (Dkt. No. 193 at
for Rule 41 Dismissal
Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2) provides that after an
answer has been filed, “an action may be dismissed at
the plaintiff's request only by court order, on terms
that the court considers proper.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 41.
“Absent ‘legal prejudice' to the defendant,
the district court normally should grant such a
dismissal.” Ohlander v. Larson, 114 F.3d 1531,
1537 (10th Cir. 1997). Factors relevant to the legal
prejudice analysis include “the opposing party's
effort and expense in preparing for trial; excessive ...