The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chesler, U.S.D.J.
This matter comes before the Court on four motions in these two cases: 1) in Civil Action No. 10-4587, the motion to dismiss by Defendant Samsung Semiconductor Europe GmbH ("SSEG"); 2) in Civil Action No. 10-4587, the motion to dismiss by Defendant Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. ("SECL"); 3) in Civil Action No. 10-6803, the motion to dismiss by Defendant Samsung Electronics America, Inc. ("SEAI"); and 4) in Civil Action No. 10-6803, the motion to remand by Plaintiff PNY Technologies, Inc. ("PNY"). This Court heard oral argument on these motions on February 15, 2011. For the reasons stated below, the three motions to dismiss will be granted to the extent that these cases shall be stayed pending arbitration, and the motion to remand will be denied.
These two cases arise from a dispute between two electronics manufacturers, Samsung and PNY Technologies, Inc. ("PNY.") SSEG, SECL, and SEAI are all Samsung companies, and for convenience in this Opinion, unless the distinction between these entities is material, they will be generally referred to as "Samsung." The complaints in both cases allege that a nondisclosure agreement was executed by PNY and SSEG in 2008. On September 8, 2010, PNY filed a complaint (the "FC Complaint") against SSEG and SECL in this Court, Civil Action No. 10-4587, complaining generally of disclosure of confidential information in breach of the agreement. On October 19, 2010, PNY filed a complaint (the "SC Complaint") against SEAI in the Superior Court of New Jersey, making generally similar allegations. On December 22, 2010, SEAI removed the pending state court action to this Court, and it became Civil Action No. 10-6803.
The Samsung entities have brought three motions to dismiss in the two cases, generally contending that the complaints must be dismissed because PNY is obligated to arbitrate these disputes. PNY has moved to remand the removed case.
I. Relevant legal standard
A. Motions for summary judgment Summary judgment is appropriate under FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a) when the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the evidence establishes the moving party's entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-movant, and it is material if, under the substantive law, it would affect the outcome of the suit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the non-moving party's evidence 'is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.'" Marino v. Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).
"When the moving party has the burden of proof at trial, that party must show affirmatively the absence of a genuine issue of material fact: it must show that, on all the essential elements of its case on which it bears the burden of proof at trial, no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party." In re Bressman, 327 F.3d 229, 238 (3d Cir. 2003) (quoting United States v. Four Parcels of Real Property, 941 F.2d 1428, 1438 (11th Cir. 1991)). "[W]ith respect to an issue on which the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof . . . the burden on the moving party may be discharged by 'showing' -- that is, pointing out to the district court -- that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325.
Once the moving party has satisfied its initial burden, the party opposing the motion must establish that a genuine issue as to a material fact exists. Jersey Cent. Power & Light Co. v. Lacey Township, 772 F.2d 1103, 1109 (3d Cir. 1985). The party opposing the motion for summary judgment cannot rest on mere allegations and instead must present actual evidence that creates a genuine issue as to a material fact for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Siegel Transfer, Inc. v. Carrier Express, Inc., 54 F.3d 1125, 1130-31 (3d Cir. 1995). "[U]nsupported allegations . . . and pleadings are insufficient to repel summary judgment." Schoch v. First Fid. Bancorporation, 912 F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir. 1990). "A nonmoving party has created a genuine issue of material fact if it has provided sufficient evidence to allow a jury to find in its favor at trial." Gleason v. Norwest Mortg., Inc., 243 F.3d 130, 138 (3d Cir. 2001).
If the nonmoving party has failed "to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial, . . . there can be 'no genuine issue of material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Katz v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 972 F.2d 53, 55 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23).
II. The motions to dismiss
Although Defendants have framed their motions as motions to dismiss, this Court finds them to be motions to compel arbitration. "A district court decides a motion to compel arbitration under the same standard it applies to a motion for summary judgment." Kaneff v. Del. Title Loans, Inc., 587 F.3d 616, 620 (3d Cir. 2009). These motions will be decided under the summary judgment standard.
As to the motion to dismiss in the removed case, PNY opposes it as, inter alia, an unwarranted motion for reconsideration of a motion to dismiss which was already made in state court and denied. As Samsung contends, however:
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and when there is a question as to our authority to hear a dispute, it is incumbent upon the courts to resolve such doubts, one way or the other, before proceeding to a disposition on the merits.
Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co. v. Wood, 592 F.3d 412, 418 (3d Cir. 2010) (quotation omitted). Because Defendants' motions question this Court's authority to hear these disputes, it is appropriate for this Court to ...