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Nike, Inc. v. Cardarelli

United States District Court, D. Oregon

February 26, 2015

NIKE, INC., an Oregon corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVIDE CARDARELLI, an individual, Defendant.

PER A. RAMFJORD, AMY JOSEPH PEDERSEN, LAURA E. ROSENBAUM, Stoel Rives LLP, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

ANNE DEVLAN FOSTER, ALLYSON S. KRUEGER, Dunn Carney Allen Higgins & Tongue, LLP, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANNA J. BROWN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Renewed Motion (#29) for Preliminary Injunctive Relief. For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion.

BACKGROUND

On February 17, 2003, Defendant Davide Cardarelli[1] was hired by Plaintiff Nike Incorporated's subsidiary, Nike Italy S.r.l. (Nike Italy). Defendant's employment with Nike Italy was governed by an employment agreement that provided Defendant with eligibility to receive stock options granted by Plaintiff through the Nike 1990 Stock Incentive Plan (the Plan). Plaintiff operates and maintains the Plan under which it may grant stock options to directors, officers, employees, consultants, advisors, and independent contractors.

In 2006 Nike Italy's Human Resources Department offered to "second" Defendant to Nike South Africa to serve as the General Manager. Defendant accepted the offer, and, in accordance with Plaintiff's Global Transfer Policy, Nike Italy remained Defendant's "home location" while Nike South Africa became Defendant's "host location." Defendant's "secondment" became effective in January 2007.

Between July 2004 and July 2013 Plaintiff granted Defendant ten awards of stock options under the Plan. Every stock-option grant under the Plan is subject to the terms of the Plan as well as to the terms and conditions of Stock Option Agreements that were distributed to Defendant at the time of each grant date.

Before 2008 all of the Stock Option Agreements that were distributed to and accepted by Defendant contained the following provision setting out the law governing the Stock Option Agreements: "This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the state of Oregon." Decl. of Lori Giardina (#30), Exs. 1-4, ¶ 12.

Beginning in 2008 the Stock Option Agreements distributed to and accepted by Defendant contained the following provision setting out the law governing the Stock Option Agreements:

The Option grant and the provisions of this Agreement are governed by, and subject to, the laws of the State of Oregon. For purposes of litigating any dispute that arises under this grant or the Agreement, the parties hereby submit to and consent to the jurisdiction of the State of Oregon, and agree that such litigation shall be conducted in the courts of Washington County, Oregon or the federal courts for the United States for the District of Oregon, where this grant is made and/or to be performed.

Giardina Decl., Ex. 5 at ¶ 13, Exs. 6-10.

On September 16, 2013, Nike Italy delivered a letter to Defendant advising him that he was being terminated with two months notice. At the time of his termination from Nike Italy, Defendant had a total of 37, 060 outstanding Nike stock options from grants made to him between July 2006 and July 2013, 7, 500 of which were issued under 2006 and 2007 Stock Option Agreements. Defendant's remaining vested stock options were issued under Stock Option Agreements dated 2008 or later.

On January 10, 2014, Defendant filed a complaint in Bologna, Italy, against Nike Italy. On February 24, 2014, Defendant filed a second complaint in Italy against Nike Italy. Ultimately, the Italian court consolidated Defendant's separately filed complaints (the Italian Action) and set the matter before one judge.

In the Italian Action Defendant (as the plaintiff in that action) seeks various damages flowing from his allegedly wrongful termination by Nike Italy. Specifically, in the Italian Action Defendant seeks (1) "severance indemnity, " (2) an annual bonus, (3) equitable compensation for breach of contract, (4) equitable compensation for additional assignments, (5) settlement of accounts with Social Security and Welfare, (6) lost future remuneration, and (7) "the value of the stock options which are part of the determination of the indemnities that are granted as damage for an Italian employee that has been unfairly dismissed." Decl. of Davide Cardarelli (#23) at ¶ 6. Defendant's claims in the Italian Action are solely against Nike Italy. Defendant does not bring any claims in the Italian Action against Plaintiff.

On October 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed in this Court a Complaint against Defendant for Declaratory Judgment in which Plaintiff seeks a judicial declaration "to clarify the meaning of the Stock Option Plan and the Stock Option Agreements so that the parties may know and exercise their rights and obligations and to prevent inconsistent rulings in varying jurisdictions regarding the terms of the plan."

On October 31, 2014, Plaintiff filed in this Court a Motion for Injunctive Relief in which Plaintiff "request[ed] that the Court issue an anti-suit or preliminary injunction to prevent [Defendant] from proceeding with the Italian litigation to the extent it involves or addresses claims that arise under or are related to the Stock Option Plan."

On November 25, 2014, this Court heard expedited oral argument on Plaintiff's Motion for Injunctive Relief because Plaintiff asserted exigencies warranted quick consideration of Plaintiff's Motion, concluded Plaintiff had not established at that time that it was entitled to an anti-suit injunction, and denied Plaintiff's Motion with leave to renew.

On December 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Renewed Motion for Preliminary Injunctive Relief. The Court heard oral argument on Plaintiff's Renewed Motion on January 16, 2015, and took the matter under advisement.

STANDARDS

"A federal district court with jurisdiction over the parties has the power to enjoin them from proceeding with an action in the courts of a foreign country, although the power should be used sparingly. The issue is not one of jurisdiction, but one of comity.'" E. & J. Gallo Winery v. Andina Licores S.A., 446 F.3d 984, 989 (9th Cir. 2006)(quoting ...


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