by the exclusive distribution contract to resell them in Puerto
These decisions make clear that, under the law protecting
Mendez as an exclusive distributor, Mendez's rights were not
violated by the transactions between DiGiorgio and Grande, which
took place in New Jersey. In other words, the contracts between
Mendez and the Suppliers were not breached because, under Puerto
Rico law, an exclusive distributor does not have the right to
enjoin transactions that take place outside Puerto Rico, even if
the products are exchanged for ultimate resale in Puerto Rico.
The conduct of DiGiorgio and Mendez under the circumstances of
this case cannot be said to be an interference with Mendez's
The Court is aware that the Court of First Instance in Puerto
Rico specifically stated that, in making its ruling regarding
the scope of Law 75, it did not intent to dispose of any
tortious interference claim. The dismissal of the tortious
interference claim, however, is the inescapable result of the
Court of First Instance's decision. The Court of First Instance
limited Mendez's rights as the Suppliers' exclusive distributor
by prohibiting it from taking action against the DiGiorgio
Grande transactions. Because those transactions do not affect
Mendez's contractual rights, they cannot give rise to a cause of
action for tortious interference with contract. DiGiorgio and
Mendez are each entitled to summary judgment on this basis.
In sum, the Court finds that, as a matter of law, Mendez has
not offered any evidence to demonstrate that either DiGiorgio or
Grande maliciously and intentionally interfered with its
contracts. And, even if Mendez had made such a showing, Mendez
cannot as a matter of law show that such interference resulted
in a breach of those contracts. For these reasons, summary
judgment is granted for DiGiorgio and Grande on Mendez's
tortious interference counterclaim. Moreover, because Mendez's
counterclaim for declaratory judgment is entirely derivative of
its tortious interference counterclaim, it also cannot stand.
Summary judgment also will be granted for DiGiorgio and Grande
on the declaratory judgment counterclaim.
Mendez cross-moves for futher discovery that it claims is
required before the summary judgment motion may be decided. Such
request is denied. None of the lines of inquiry proposed by
Mendez could produce facts that would reveal a contract right on
Mendez's behalf that would be infringed by the DiGiorgio-Grande
transactions. Even if additional discovery would solidify
Mendez's position that it had "exclusive distributor" rights in
Puerto Rico, such a showing would have no bearing on the Court's
finding that DiGiorgio and Grande did not maliciously interfere
with Mendez's rights. Nor is there even an allegation of
improper conduct by DiGiorgio or Grande. The only further
evidence sought by Mendez related to DiGiorgio's "plans" to sell
products to grocers located in Puerto Rico. Such plans, even if
discovered, could not amount to malice.
For the reasons stated, DiGiorgio's and Grande's motions for
summary judgment are granted. Mendez's cross-motion for
additional discovery is denied.
Plaintiff DiGiorgio Corporation ("DiGiorgio") and Third Party
Defendant A. Cordero Badillo, Inc., d/b/a Supermercados Grande
("Grande") have each filed motions for summary judgment on the
counterclaims asserted by Defendant Mendez and Company, Inc.
The Court has considered the motions and the evidentiary
submissions from all the parties and concluded that, as a matter
of law, Mendez cannot prevail on its counterclaims.
It is on this — day of October, 2002:
ORDERED that DiGiorgio's motion for summary judgment on
Mendez's counterclaims is GRANTED; and
ORDERED that Grande's motion for summary judgment on Mendez's
counterclaims is GRANTED.