Reliant Care Group Inc. et al v. Reliant Management Group, LLC
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER - IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment 47 is DENIED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment Pursuant to Rule 56 50 is DENIED. This matter remains se t for jury trial on Monday, August 22, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. This case will be reached first on that docket. Counsel for the parties shall appear in person for a Final Pretrial Conference on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 9:00 a.m.. ( Pretrial Conference set for 8/16/2016 09:00 AM in Courtroom 14S before District Judge Catherine D. Perry.) Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on July 5, 2016. (MCB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
RELIANT CARE GROUP, L.L.C., et al.,
RELIANT MANAGEMENT GROUP,
Case No. 4:14CV43 CDP
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This case involves the alleged infringement of trademarks and trade names.
Plaintiffs and defendant are both in the business of, among other things, providing
rehabilitative services to health care facilities. Both use some version of “Reliant”
in their names. In 2011 defendant sent plaintiffs a cease and desist letter stating
that defendant had been providing rehabilitation services under the Reliant name
since at least 2003 “with unprecedented success.” The letter stated that defendant
operated in sixteen states and soon expected to expand into Missouri; it demanded
that plaintiffs cease using the Reliant name in Missouri. Plaintiffs responded that
they had been doing business using the Reliant name in Missouri for rehabilitative
services since at least 1994.
Plaintiffs bring Lanham Act and Missouri trademark infringement claims.
Defendant’s counterclaim alleges Lanham Act and Illinois claims. The case is
before me now on the parties’ motions for summary judgment; it is set for trial on
August 22, 2016. It is apparent from the briefs and evidence submitted that almost
every material fact in this case is disputed. It is also apparent that the parties have
taken a bare-bones approach to the litigation: there are no expert witnesses or
surveys of likelihood of confusion; nor does it appear that either side even took
depositions of witnesses. The Court commends the parties for apparently keeping
the costs of the litigation low, but the record submitted does not provide a basis for
granting summary judgment to either side. I will deny both motions, and the
parties are notified that they will be reached first for trial on the August 22 docket.
Plaintiffs are Reliant Care Group, LLC, and two limited liability companies
which it owns: Reliant Care Management, LLC, and Reliant Care Rehabilitative
Service, LLC. Each of the plaintiffs is registered and operates in Missouri. Reliant
Care Management manages healthcare facilities, and Reliant Care Rehabilitative
Services is a therapy management company specializing in providing rehabilitative
services to skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, assisted living facilities, and senior
communities. The plaintiffs have been operating in Missouri since 1994. Plaintiff
These facts are set out for purposes of ruling the pending motions only. Nothing in this
Memorandum and Order relieves any party of its burden of presenting evidence at trial.
Reliant Care Group registered the “Reliant Care Group” mark in 1996.2 Plaintiffs’
claims arise from defendant’s alleged unlawful use of the “Reliant” name in
Defendant is Reliant Management Group, LLC, a Delaware limited liability
company with its principal place of business in Louisiana. Defendant began using
the name “Reliant Rehabilitation” in 2003, and it registered a service mark with
that phrase in 2008 for the provision of physical rehabilitation and physical
rehabilitation facilities.3 Defendant licensed the “Reliant Rehabilitation” mark to
its affiliate, Reliant Pro Rehab, LLC, which currently operates in Missouri.
Defendant’s counterclaims arise from plaintiffs’ alleged unlawful use of the
“Reliant” name in Illinois.
Plaintiff Reliant Care Group brings a claim under the Lanham Act for
federal trademark infringement under 15 U.S.C. § 1114(1)(a) relating to its
registered mark. All plaintiffs raise Lanham Act claims of false designation of
origin of the “Reliant” trade name and dilution of the name under 15 U.S.C. §§
1125(a) and (c), respectively. All plaintiffs also allege violations of Missouri’s
anti-dilution statute,4 and common-law trademark infringement and unfair
competition in relation to the “Reliant” name and the “Reliant Care” trademark and
RELIANT CARE GROUP, Registration No. 1,953,530.
RELIANT REHABILITATION, Registration No. 3,426,134.
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 417.061.
name. Plaintiffs seek injunctive relief, compensatory damages, lost profits,
exemplary damages, costs, and attorney’s fees.
In its seven-count counterclaim, defendant brings claims against plaintiffs
under the same theories, alleging that plaintiffs’ use in Illinois of their mark or
name that contain the word “Reliant” constitutes federal trademark infringement,
false designation of origin, and dilution; common-law trademark infringement and
unfair competition; and violates Illinois’ anti-dilution statute.5 Defendant also
claims that plaintiffs’ registered mark should be canceled under 15 U.S.C. § 1119
for plaintiffs’ failure to use the mark. Defendant seeks injunctive relief – including
cancelation of the Reliant Care Group mark and any other service mark containing
the word “Reliant” – compensatory damages, exemplary damages, costs, and
Defendant first asks me to revisit my November 2014 decision denying its
Rule 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. For the
following reasons, I will not do so.
Defendant contends that the interactive website on which my earlier ruling
partially depended contained a “mistake” that has now been corrected. It argues
765 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 1036.
that only its subsidiary, Reliant Pro Rehab, published the online content that gave
rise to plaintiffs’ claim that the “effects” of the content harmed them. In the
briefing on the original motion to dismiss, plaintiffs provided detailed argument,
with evidentiary support, demonstrating defendant’s indisputable connection with
the website at issue. Plaintiffs satisfied their burden of demonstrating the requisite
minimum contacts at the relevant time, and defendants waited more than two years
to raise this “mistake” argument, so I need not consider it. See Pecoraro v. Sky
Ranch for Boys, Inc., 340 F.3d 558, 562 (8th Cir. 2003) (court looks to contacts
“either at the time the cause of action arose, the time the suit is filed, or within a
reasonable period of time immediately prior to the filing of the lawsuit.”)
Moreover, as discussed more fully in my November 2014 Order, defendant’s
purposeful act of directing a written letter to plaintiffs informing them that it
intended to use the “Reliant Rehabilitation” mark in Missouri and demanding that
plaintiffs cease using the mark sufficiently demonstrated that defendant
intentionally targeted Missouri and intended that the effects of its trademark use be
felt in Missouri. This Court’s exercise of personal jurisdiction over defendant is
In their partial motion for summary judgment, plaintiffs contend that they
are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on all claims raised in defendant’s
counterclaim, because defendant itself does not conduct business in Illinois.
Plaintiff Reliant Care Rehabilitation Services also contends that it is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law on its own state-law claims. In its motion for
summary judgment, defendant argues that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law on all claims raised in plaintiffs’ complaint.
Summary judgment must be granted only when the pleadings and proffer of
evidence demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c);
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Torgerson v. City of
Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc). I must view the
evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and accord it the
benefit of all reasonable inferences. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 379 (2007).
Initially, the moving party must demonstrate the absence of an issue for trial.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once a motion is properly made and supported, the
nonmoving party may not rest upon the allegations in its pleadings or in general
denials of the movant’s assertions, but must instead proffer admissible evidence
that demonstrates a genuine issue of material fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Conseco
Life Ins. Co. v. Williams, 620 F.3d 902, 910 (8th Cir. 2010); Howard v. Columbia
Pub. Sch. Dist., 363 F.3d 797, 800-01 (8th Cir. 2004).
After review of the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment, I cannot
say that the evidentiary matter submitted in support of either motion establishes the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact. To discharge its burden on a motion
for summary judgment, the moving party must “show by extraneous material that
there is no triable issue of fact although one superficially appears from the
pleadings.” Jacobson v. Maryland Cas. Co., 336 F.2d 72, 75 (8th Cir. 1964). The
always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of
the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of “the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any,” which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)6). “[W]here the evidentiary
matter in support of the motion does not establish the absence of a genuine issue,
summary judgment must be denied[.]” Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S.
144, 160 (1970) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Here, the parties make numerous “statements of fact” that lack any
evidentiary support. For example, in its “Material Facts Not in Dispute,”
defendant makes several factual assertions regarding the extent to which it
conducts business in Missouri, the nature of plaintiffs’ services, the public’s
Rule 56(c) has since been amended and now provides that a party moving for summary
judgment must support its factual assertions by “citing to particular parts of materials in the
record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions,
interrogatory answers, or other materials[.]”
awareness of plaintiffs’ services, and plaintiffs’ use of the Reliant mark. To
“support” these assertions, however, defendant suggests that I “see the record,
which along with discovery responses and productions, is devoid of evidence to the
contrary.” (ECF #52-4, paras. 7, 9, 10, 13, 15, 19, 20, 25.) Unsupported assertions
in a motion for summary judgment “are meaningless.” Jacobson, 336 F.2d at 75.
Likewise, to “support” their assertion that defendant does not conduct
business in Illinois, plaintiffs submit an unauthenticated printout of an Illinois
business’s website that lacks reference to Reliant Management Group or to Reliant
Pro Rehab. (ECF #48-13.) 7 Regardless of its unauthenticated nature, this website
fails to conclusively demonstrate that defendant does not conduct business in
Illinois. Indeed, given plaintiffs’ related factual assertion that defendant provided
evidence of doing business at an Illinois facility,8 their statement that that facility’s
website does not mention its relationship with defendant appears to create a
genuine issue as to whether it does in fact conduct business in Illinois.
The allegations in plaintiffs’ complaint and in defendant’s counterclaim raise
questions appropriate for determination by a jury. See Everest Capital Ltd. v.
Everest Funds Mgmt., L.L.C., 393 F.3d 755, 760 (8th Cir. 2005); WSM, Inc. v.
See Country Club Estates, L.L.C. v. Town of Loma Linda, 213 F.3d 1001, 1006 (8th Cir.
2000)(“We suggest, in addition, that defendant, if it wishes to have the attachments to its motion
considered by the Court, have them properly authenticated or verified by affidavit.”). See also
Real Estate Network, LLC v. Gateway Ventures, LLC, No. 4:05-CV-422-CAS, 2005 WL
1668194, at *3 (E.D. Mo. July 12, 2005).
ECF #48 at para. 22 (citing RMG 000005-000019).
Hilton, 724 F.2d 1320, 1329 (8th Cir. 1984); Teter v. Glass Onion, Inc., 723 F.
Supp. 2d 1138, 1155 (W.D. Mo. 2010). Because neither side has demonstrated
with sufficient clarity that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on any
of the claims, the cross motions will be denied. Vette Co. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur.
Co., 612 F.2d 1076, 1077 (8th Cir. 1980); Jacobson, 336 F.2d at 74-75.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs’ Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment  is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment Pursuant to Rule 56  is DENIED.
This matter remains set for jury trial on Monday, August 22, 2016, at 8:30
a.m. This case will be reached first on that docket. Counsel for the parties shall
appear in person for a Final Pretrial Conference on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at
CATHERINE D. PERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 5th day of July, 2016.
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