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Choice Hotels International, Inc. v. Papamkrupa Hospitality, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

December 9, 2019

CHOICE HOTELS INTERNATIONAL, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
PAPAMKRUPA HOSPITALITY, LLC, a/k/a Paramkrupa Hospitality, LLC, an Oklahoma limited liability company, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Gregory K. Frizzell United States District Judge

         This is a trademark infringement action brought by plaintiff Choice Hotels International, Inc. against defendant Papamkrupa Hospitality, LLC (“PHL”). Before the court is the Motion of Choice Hotels to Enforce a Settlement Agreement [Doc. 40]. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.

         I. Background

         The following facts are not in dispute. On July 2');">2, 2');">2019, Choice Hotels notified the court that “the parties have reached a settlement and are working on formal settlement documents that will include a stipulated permanent injunction.” [Doc. 33; see also Doc. 40-1]. A few weeks later, on July 30, 2');">2019, counsel for Choice Hotels provided PHL's counsel with “a copy of [its] draft settlement agreement with its attachments: 1) stipulated permanent injunction and proposed order; and 2');">2) contingent judgment and proposed order.” [Doc. 40-2');">2, p. 2');">2]. In the email transmission, counsel for Choice Hotels noted “if everything looks good, let me know and I will . . . push to my client for approval and execution.” [Id.]. Counsel for PHL responded with proposed revisions without indication they were subject to client approval. [See Doc. 40-4].

         On August 19, 2');">2019, counsel for Choice Hotels notified PHL's counsel that “Choice Hotels has agreed to your requested changes to the settlement documents. Attached is a PDF version of the finalized documents. Please have them executed by you and your client and forward them back to Bob and I. If you anticipate having any difficulty in getting them executed before the 2');">22');">2nd please let us know immediately a[s] that is the deadline set by the Court.” [Doc. 40-5');">5, p. 2');">2]. The next day, counsel for PHL responded “I do not anticipate any problems in getting executed copies back to you by tomorrow, but will let you know asap, if that changes.” [Doc. 40-6, p. 2');">2].

         But PHL did not provide executed copies of the settlement documents. Instead, on August 2');">21, PHL's counsel e-mailed Choice Hotels' counsel the following:

As a point of confirmation, rather than clarification, it is my and my client's understand[ing] and position that this Settlement and Release Agreement encompasses any and all claims that were brought or that could have been brought in the Lawsuit, including any claims related to breach of contract, royalty payments/fees, etc. In other words, Choice hotels shall not be able to file another lawsuit against Paramkrupa or any of its members arising out of or relating to the Subject Property or the franchise agreement.
Specifically, Sections 1.9, 3.1, and 3.2');">2 have the legal effect of resolving any and all disputes by and between Choice and Paramkrupa related to the franchise agreement and the Subject Property.

         [Doc. 40-7, p. 2');">2]. The three sections referenced by counsel discuss the scope of the releases contained in the agreement. Section 1.9 of the Settlement and Release Agreement provides:

A dispute has arisen between the Parties involving defendant's alleged unauthorized use and infringement of the CHOICE family of marks at or in association with the Subject Property, resulting in the Lawsuit. The Lawsuit and all claims asserted therein or which could have been asserted by or between the Parties relating to Defendant's alleged infringement of the CHOICE family of marks, are collectively referred to as the “Dispute.”

         [Doc. 40-5');">5, p. 5');">5]. This language is identical to § 1.9 in the draft transmitted on July 30 [see Doc. 40-2');">2, p. 4]. Section 3.1 provides:

In consideration for the Settlement Amount set forth in Paragraph 2');">2.1, the Stipulated Judgment pursuant to Paragraph 2');">2.2');">2, the Stipulated Permanent Injunction pursuant to Paragraph 2');">2.3 and releases set forth herein, Plaintiff hereby releases and forever discharges Defendant its respective officers, directors, present and former employees, agents, warrantors, successors, assignees, predecessors, representatives, attorneys, insurers, all affiliated entities, and all other persons and business entities in any way associated with Defendant from any and all claims, demands, costs, expenses, charges, or any other liabilities which were or could have been brought in the Lawsuit and which arise out of Defendant's alleged unauthorized use of the CHOICE family of marks at or in connection with the Subject Property.

         [Doc. 40-5');">5, p. 6 (emphasis added)]. Section 3.2');">2 similarly provides:

In consideration of the releases set forth in 3.1 and the other terms and conditions of this Agreement, Defendant releases and discharges Plaintiff its respective officers, directors, present and former employees, agents, warrantors, successors, assignees, predecessors, representatives, attorneys, insurers, all affiliated entities, and all other persons and business entities in any way associated with Plaintiff from any and all claims, demands, costs, expenses, charges, or any other liabilities which were or could have been brought in the Lawsuit ...

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