Engineered Abrasives, Inc. v. American Machine Products & Service, Inc., No. 17-1429 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
A father and son left employment at Engineered Abrasives to start a competing business, American Machine, in 2011. Several lawsuits followed. In 2015, Engineered Abrasives won a default judgment against American Machine and its principals for $714,814.04 and injunctive relief for stealing trade secrets and infringing trademarks. Five months later, Engineered Abrasives sued again; the parties reached a settlement. American Machine’s insurer would pay $75,000 to Engineered Abrasives, and a permanent injunction would be entered against slander by American Machine or its principals with a $250,000 liquidated damages clause accompanying the injunction. American Machine returned to court in the earlier case under FRCP 60(b), reporting that the settlement covered the earlier trademark judgment as well as the new case; Engineered Abrasives contended that it had only settled the new case. The written settlement did not mention a global settlement. The district court and Seventh Circuit agreed that the settlement’s release clause is unambiguous and releases all claims and liabilities between the parties, including the earlier default judgment. Under Illinois law, a court deciding whether the parties intended to include other claims in a release cannot consider extrinsic evidence unless the contract is ambiguous.