100 F.3d 462 (6th Cir. 1996), 94-1763, DXS Inc. v. Siemens Med. Systems Inc.

Docket Nº:94-1763
Citation:100 F.3d 462
Party Name:DXS, INC., a Michigan Corporation, f/k/a Flint X-Ray, Inc., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. SIEMENS MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC., a Foreign Corporation, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:November 15, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 462

100 F.3d 462 (6th Cir. 1996)

DXS, INC., a Michigan Corporation, f/k/a Flint X-Ray, Inc., Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

SIEMENS MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC., a Foreign Corporation, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 94-1763

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

November 15, 1996

Argued November 13, 1995.

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On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

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Neill T. Peters (argued and briefed), Metamora, MI, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Ronald S. Katz (argued and briefed), Barbara E. Biagas, Paul S. Schmidtberger, Coudert Brothers, San Francisco, CA, Rodger D. Young, Young & Associates, Southfield, MI, for Defendant-Appellee.

Before: ENGEL, MILBURN, and NORRIS, Circuit Judges.

ENGEL, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-Appellant DXS, Inc. ("DXS") appeals the district court's orders granting summary judgment against DXS on its antitrust claims, granting judgment as a matter of law against DXS on its claims for tortious interference, and declining to admit DXS's evidence of lost parts sales. At issue is whether (1) DXS's antitrust claims were time-barred; (2) DXS adduced evidence sufficient to sustain its tortious interference claims; and (3) DXS's evidence of lost parts sales should have been admitted. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

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FACTS

Siemens Medical Systems, Inc. ("Siemens"), a foreign corporation, manufactures and sells x-ray equipment. Siemens also services that equipment under both its warranty and post-warranty service contracts. DXS, a Michigan corporation, is an independent service organization that services medical equipment, including Siemens's x-ray equipment.

In 1975, DXS's predecessor in interest, Flint X-Ray, Inc. ("Flint X-Ray"), signed a contract to act as an authorized sales and warranty service agent for Siemens in the lower peninsula of Michigan.1 Siemens lawfully terminated that relationship in December 1985. Thereafter, Siemens sold and serviced its own equipment, and Siemens and DXS competed in servicing Siemens's equipment.

On October 1, 1986, Siemens adopted a series of policies regarding its maintenance services. Those policies were sampled in a few districts, including Michigan, and distributed to local field offices for inclusion in Siemens's office manuals. On January 12, 1987, Siemens notified DXS of the policies by registered letter (the "Notification").

Specifically, Siemens informed DXS that Siemens would no longer service equipment previously serviced by an unauthorized third party without first conducting a safety and inspection check. Siemens also informed DXS that it would not provide a warranty on equipment that was not sold by Siemens or by an authorized dealership. Finally, Siemens informed DXS that Siemens would sell replacement parts only to authorized dealers or directly to Siemens's customers.

According to Siemens, these three policies were well justified. The policy on safety checks was designed to ensure that equipment was installed and serviced in compliance with Siemens's high standards of quality. The policies on parts and warranties were designed to reduce Siemens's liability for improper installation by others.

According to DXS, on the other hand, Siemens adopted these policies with the intent to diminish DXS's ability to compete for the maintenance service business of Siemens's medical equipment. The obvious impact of the policies, DXS says and the court below found, was to diminish or eliminate DXS's ability to service Siemens's medical x-ray equipment.

The Notification indicated that the sales and service policies were effective immediately. However, because DXS had been permitted to purchase Siemens's replacement parts up to that time, the Notification provided that the policy of not selling spare parts to DXS would not be effective until April 13, 1987.

DXS did not contact Siemens about the change in policy. Nor did it attempt to purchase any parts from Siemens after January 12, 1987. Instead, DXS developed alternative sources for Siemens's parts and continued to offer maintenance service and to repair parts for Siemens's medical x-ray equipment in competition with Siemens.

Other than notifying DXS of its new policies, Siemens took no action to implement the new policies. Instead, it continued to sell parts to third parties and to warranty equipment installed by third parties. In February 1987, Siemens decided not to enforce the new policies as written. It opted instead to continue business as usual.

In 1988, Siemens made representations to hospitals that were customers of DXS, including Diagnostic Radiology Associates ("DRA") and St. Luke's Hospital ("St. Luke's"), regarding Siemens's warranties. According to DXS, Siemens misrepresented its warranties to DRA and St. Luke's to the detriment of DXS. DXS claims that Siemens made similar misrepresentations to Saginaw General Hospital ("Saginaw"), also a customer of DXS, in 1988 or 1989. Siemens contends that it did not misrepresent its warranties to these hospitals and that any representations it made to Saginaw occurred in 1986, not in 1988 or 1989.

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On April 12, 1991 -- more than four years after the Notification -- DXS filed suit against Siemens alleging (1) monopolization in violation of 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. Section(s) 1; (2) tying in violation of Section(s) 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. Section(s) 2; (3) violation of the Michigan Antitrust Reform Act, Mich. Comp. Laws Section(s) 455.722-.733; (4) tortious interference with contractual and business relationships; and (5) conspiracy. DXS voluntarily dismissed the conspiracy claim at the First Case Management Conference on July 18, 1991. On April 30, 1992, DXS amended its complaint to add a claim for fraud.

Siemens moved for summary judgment on the antitrust claims on grounds that they were untimely filed. On the recommendation of a magistrate judge, the district court granted the motion and dismissed DXS's antitrust claims. Siemens later moved for summary judgment on DXS's fraud and tortious interference claims. The district court dismissed DXS's fraud claims in their entirety and DXS's tortious interference claims as to six of the nine customer hospitals originally at issue. The court left pending claims of tortious interference relating to DRA, St. Luke's, and Saginaw, which proceeded to trial commencing on April 18, 1994.

On the fourth day of trial, Siemens moved for a mistrial on grounds that DXS had violated the court's pretrial rulings on Siemens's motions in limine. The court granted Siemens's motion and began a new trial on April 24, 1994. At the close of DXS's case at the second trial, Siemens moved for judgment as a matter of law. The court granted the motion as to all of DXS's claims, dismissing the action (with prejudice).

The court first dismissed DXS's tortious interference claims as to DRA and St. Luke's on grounds that DXS had failed to prove that Siemens misrepresented its warranties to the hospitals and that, even if it had, those misrepresentations were not a causative factor in severing the relationship between DXS and its customers. Next, the court dismissed the claim as to Saginaw on grounds that DXS failed to carry its burden to show that the alleged misrepresentations occurred within the period of the statute of limitations. Finally, the Court dismissed DXS's tortious interference claims as to all three hospitals on grounds that DXS had failed to produce adequate evidence of damages.2 DXS timely appealed.

DISCUSSION

I.

DXS first claims that the district court erred in granting summary judgment against DXS on its antitrust claims. According to DXS, the court erred because (1) "the notice of an impending but unimplemented policy of a refusal to deal and tying of parts and services not resulting in concurrent competitive damage does not accrue an anti-trust cause of action," and (2) "the series of overt acts by Siemens resulting in the actual successive loss of DXS's customers constitutes continuing anti-trust violations within the statutory period."

We review a district court's grant of summary judgment de novo. City Management Corp. v. United States Chem. Co., 43 F.3d 244, 250 (6th Cir. 1991). When reviewing a motion for summary judgment, all facts and any inferences that may be permissibly drawn from those facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citing United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962) (per curiam)).

Summary judgment is appropriate where there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); LaPointe v. United Airworkers, Local 600, 8 F.3d 376, 378 (6th Cir. 1993). "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an

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otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). A factual dispute is "material" if, under the governing law, its resolution might affect the action's outcome. Id. at 248. A factual dispute is "genuine" if a reasonable factfinder could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

The statute of limitations for federal antitrust actions is four years from the date of the accrual of the action. 15 U.S.C. Section(s) 15b. The statute of limitations for actions to recover damages under the Michigan Antitrust Reform Act is also four years. Mich. Comp. Laws Section(s) 445.781.

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