Northern Bottling Co., Inc. v. PepsiCo, Inc., No. 20-1065 (8th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of PepsiCo in an action brought by Northern, alleging that PepsiCo failed to protect Northern's interests under their exclusive bottling contracts. Applying New York common law, the court concluded that it is evident PepsiCo did not owe a duty to prevent transshipping under the express terms of the bottling contracts, and thus Northern's breach claim fails as a matter of law. The court also concluded that Northern cannot rely on an implied duty to create obligations that are not expressly included in the bottling contracts, and that duty cannot provide a basis for Northern's breach of contract claim.
Furthermore, because the bottling agreement is unambiguous and fails to confer a contractual duty on PepsiCo to prevent transshipping, and given Northern's inability to establish that PepsiCo owed a duty to prevent transshipment of products into Northern's territories, there is no genuine dispute of material fact and Northern's breach of contract claim was properly disposed of on summary judgment. Finally, the court agreed with the district court that no genuine dispute of material fact exists as to Northern's tortious interference claim.
Court Description: [Grasz, Author, with Colloton and Gruender, Circuit Judges] Civil case - Contracts. The district court did not err in determining that the parties' exclusive bottling contracts did not expressly require PepsiCo to protect against certain shipments of PepsiCo's products into plaintiff's territory, and plaintiff's breach of contract claim failed as a matter of law; nor did the court err in finding for PepsiCo on plaintiff's claims for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing or on its claims for tortious interference.