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Envy Hawaii LLC v. Volvo Car USA LLC

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

November 8, 2019

ENVY HAWAII LLC doing business as Volvo Cars Honolulu, Plaintiff,
v.
VOLVO CAR USA LLC, Defendant. VOLVO CAR USA LLC, Counter-Claimant,
v.
ENVY HAWAII LLC doing business as Volvo Cars Honolulu; MIKHAIL FEDOTOV, Counter-Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTIONS IN LIMINE

          Helen Gillmor States District Judge.

         This case involves contract disputes and claims of improper business practices between a local automobile dealership and the national distributor of Volvo automobiles.

         Envy Hawaii LLC (“Envy Hawaii”), doing business as Volvo Cars Honolulu, was established in December 2012. Envy Hawaii purchased the rights to operate the sole Volvo franchise in Hawaii.

         Envy Hawaii contracted with Volvo Car USA LLC (“Volvo Car USA”) to operate its franchise. Volvo Car USA is located in New Jersey and is the exclusive importer and wholesaler of Volvo automobiles in the United States.

         In 2015, Mikhail Fedotov became the sole owner and manager of Envy Hawaii.

         In January 2017, Envy Hawaii filed suit against Volvo Car USA. Envy Hawaii's First Amended Complaint alleges eight causes of action, including claims that Volvo Car USA LLC violated the Automobile Dealers' Day in Court Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1221 et seq., the Robinson-Patman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 13(a), and several Hawaii state statutes.

         Volvo Car USA LLC has filed counterclaims against both Envy Hawaii LLC and its owner Mikhail Fedotov. The Second Amended Counterclaim contains eleven causes of action including claims for fraud, misrepresentation, breach of contract, unlawful recording, cybersquatting, and unjust enrichment.

         There are three motions in limine pending before the Court.

         I. Envy Hawaii LLC's Motions In Limine

         A. Envy's Motion In Limine No. 1: Motion To Exclude Allegations Of Surreptitious Records (ECF No. 165)

         Envy Hawaii LLC seeks to preclude Volvo Car USA LLC from introducing allegations that in February 2017, Envy Hawaii LLC's Chief Operating Officer, John Martinho, made unlawful surreptitious recordings during a Volvo Retailer Conference in California.

         Volvo Car USA LLC's Second Amended Counterclaim contains the following allegations:

88. In addition, on February 20 and 21, 2017, Martinho surreptitiously recorded the confidential proceedings at a Volvo Retailer Conference (the “Conference”) in Yountville, California, which he attended as a representative of Envy.
89. One of [Volvo Car USA]'s major purposes in convening the Conference was to share confidential business plans and marketing information with Volvo retailers, including the display of new Volvo models which have not yet been publicly announced.
90. Because of the confidential nature of the information shared with Volvo retailers at the Conference, participants were not permitted to bring in cell phones or any other devices with which they could record the proceedings. To enforce this prohibition, [Volvo Car USA] required participants to go through airport-style metal detectors before entering the Conference.
91. In violation of this prohibition, and unknown to [Volvo Car USA], Martinho brought a pen containing a concealed recording device into the Conference.
92. During a confidential presentation on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, the second day of the Conference, the security staff at the Conference noticed Martinho acting strangely, including continually grabbing his pocket pen and moving it in a twisting motion.
93. After the presentation, security staff approached Martinho and asked to see the pen. Martinho initially denied having a pen. After security staff specified the location of the pen (i.e., in the inside pocket of Martinho's suit), Martinho turned over the pen.
94. The pen had a camera with a 64-gigabyte S.D. memory card. Martinho admitted that he was using the device to record the Conference, although he denied having photographed the vehicles.
95. Martinho was excluded from the remainder of the Conference.

(Second Amended Counterclaim at ¶¶ 88-95, ECF No. 75).

         Volvo Car USA has asserted two claims against Envy Hawaii based on ...


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