The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kugler, United States District Judge:
NOT FOR PUBLICATION (Doc. No. 237)
This matter comes before the Court pursuant to Defendant Anheuser-Busch, Inc.'s motion for attorneys' fees and sanctions. Anheuser-Busch argues that Plaintiff Shore Point Distributing Company ("Shore Point") improperly disclosed confidential information in its motion to enforce a settlement agreement between the parties (the "Settlement Motion") (Doc. No. 227). Because there is clear disagreement between the parties over whether they promised to maintain the confidentiality of a settlement agreement, and Anheuser-Busch failed to demonstrate that Shore Point acted in bad faith when it publicly filed the motion to enforce the settlement agreement, the motion is DENIED.
The events giving rise to this litigation are outlined in the Court's opinion in Warren Distributing Co. v. InBev USA LLC, No. 07-1053, 2010 WL 2326168, at *1-3 (D.N.J. June 7, 2010). Therefore, the Court will outline additional facts only as necessary to resolve the pending motion.
Crown-Beer Distributors ("Crown"), High Grade Beverage ("High Grade"), and Shore Point are beer distributors in New Jersey. Prior to this lawsuit, Anheuser-Busch paid Shore Point over five million dollars for the fair market value of the distribution rights, and then subsequently transferred those rights to Crown and High Grade. As a result of the transaction, both Crown and High Grade operate in areas that overlap with territory previously covered by Shore Point. Crown and High Grade reimbursed Anheuser-Busch for the portion of the five million dollars attributable to Shore Point's sales in territory now covered by Crown and High Grade. Crown and High Grade also agreed to indemnify Anheuser-Busch for any damages awarded to Shore Point in this litigation.
On March 6, 2007, Shore Point, Peerless, and Warren filed a lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch and InBev to recover the fair market value of the distribution rights. Prior to trial, counsel for Shore Point and Anheuser-Busch participated in mediation discussions before Magistrate Judge Schneider. When the mediation sessions proved unfruitful, counsel for Anheuser-Busch, Mr. Peter Moll, asked counsel for Crown, Mr. Richard Koenig, if he would speak to Mr. James Annarella, counsel for Shore Point, to see if they could reach a settlement. Mr. Koenig agreed to Mr. Moll's request. According to Anheuser-Busch, Mr. Moll instructed Mr. Koenig to keep strictly confidential any information discussed during the settlement negotiations. (Def.'s Opp'n Br., at 3).
On July 9, 2010, Mr. Koenig met with Mr. Annarella to begin settlement negotiations. The parties dispute certain representations made during the negotiations. First, the parties disagree over whether they promised to keep the settlement strictly confidential. Shore Point claims that Mr. Koenig never told Mr. Annarella that the settlement agreement was confidential. Mr. Annarella, claims that the email he sent to Mr. Koenig, which expressed the terms of the agreement between the parties, did not contain a provision guaranteeing strict confidentiality. (Pl.'s Letter Br., at 7; Annarella Decl. ¶ 4). Anheuser-Busch claims that the parties understood that the settlement negotiations were confidential. (Def.'s Letter Br., at 2). Second, the parties dispute whether Mr. Koenig had authority to bind Anheuser-Busch. Shore Point claims that Mr. Koenig never disclosed to Mr. Annarella that he was only authorized to speak on behalf of Crown. (Id.). Anheuser-Busch claims that Mr. Koenig never represented to Mr. Annarella that he had authority to enter a binding agreement on behalf of either Anheuser-Busch or High Grade. (Def.'s Opp'n Br., at 4).
According to Shore Point, Mr. Koenig offered Mr. Annarella $1.5 million to settle all claims against Shore Point during the meeting on July 9, 2010 and that later that day Mr. Annarella called Anheuser-Busch to accept the offer. Anheuser-Busch claims that the parties never reached an agreement. Shore Point also claims that on July 12, 2010, Mr. Annarella sent Mr. Koenig an email to confirm the terms of their agreement. The email stated:
I hope you had a good weekend.
In furtherance of our meeting on Friday, I have set forth below and want to confirm with you the settlement terms we discussed. Of course, these terms and this email are for settlement purposes only and would not be admissible if we have to go to trial.
1. Shore Point will be paid $1.5 million and dismiss all claims it ...