Am. Commercial Lines, LLC v. Lubrizol Corp., No. 15-3242 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
ACL manufactures and operates tow boats and barges that operate in U.S. inland waterways. Lubrizol manufactures industrial lubricants and additives, including a diesel‐fuel additive, LZ8411A. VCS distributed the additive. Lubrizol and VCS jointly persuaded ACL to buy it from VCS. Before delivery began, Lubrizol terminated VCS as a distributor because of suspicion that it was engaging in unethical conduct: a Lubrizol’s employee had failed to disclose to his employer that he was also a principal of VCS. Lubrizol did not inform ACL that VCS was no longer its distributor. No longer able to supply ACL with LZ8411A, VCS substituted an additive that ACL contends is inferior to LZ8411A. VCS didn’t inform ACL of the substitution. According to ACL, Lubrizol learned of the substitution, but did not inform ACL. When ACL discovered the substitution, it sued both companies. ACL settled with VCS. The district judge dismissed Lubrizol. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting claims that Lubrizol had a “special relationship” that required it to disclose ACL’s conduct, that VCS was Lubrizol’s apparent agent, and of “quasi contract” between ACL and Lubrizol.