Spillane Trial Group was asked to substitute into a case in Ventura County Superior Court for Plan B Management, Inc. against Diversified Panel Systems (“DPS”), six weeks before trial. Plan B claimed breach of contract and fiduciary duties arising from an oral joint venture to sell cold storage panels to customers for use in indoor grow rooms. DPS was represented by Quinn Emanuel.
We defeated two motions for issue and evidence sanctions and every motion in limine but one. On Friday July 28, 2023 the jury rendered a verdict in favor of Plan B for $12 million.
The jury found that Plan B and DPS had entered into an oral agreement to become 50/50 partners in Canna Panels, LLC. Plan B would market and sell DPS cold storage panels, traditionally used for cold rooms such as meat lockers, to customers who would use the panels to build indoor grow rooms for cannabis and other agricultural products. The jury agreed that DPS promised to split the resulting profits from payments to Canna Panels after recovering their direct costs of manufacturing the panels. DPS purported to terminate the parties’ arrangement on February 19, 2018 and declined to sell any more panels to Canna Panels or Plan B customers. The jury found that this was a breach of the parties’ agreement and a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The jury also found that DPS had breached its fiduciary duties to Plan B as a co-member of Canna Panels, LLC.
The jury awarded $10 million in compensatory damages for Plan B’s share of the profits from the parties’ venture, less their operating expenses. The jury also awarded $2 million in punitive damages against DPS.
The jury worked hard to reach a fair result. Jay Spillane and Kevin Neal, co-counsel for Plan B, offered straightforward evidence that the parties had reached and performed their agreement precisely as Plan B alleged, while DPS put Plan B’s principal’s character on trial. The jury saw through this and rendered justice.