Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Souley Vegan LLC v. Webb

United States District Court, N.D. California

October 25, 2019

SOULEY VEGAN LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
DEBORAH WEBB, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO SET ASIDE DEFAULT, DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS, AND GRANTING MOTION TO ENFORCE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

          CHARLES R. BREYER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Souley Vegan LLC (“Souley Vegan”) settled its Lanham Act and California unfair competition claims against defendants Deborah, Leroy, and Yachidiyel Webb (collectively, “Webb”) in an agreement requiring Webb to replace the name “Souly Vegan Café” with “SooGood Vegan Café.” Webb violated the Settlement Agreement by continuing to use the name “Souly Vegan Café” and taking steps to adopt a new name other than “SooGood Vegan Café.” Souley Vegan sought and received a default judgment against Webb.

         These motions followed. First, Webb moves to set aside the default. Mot. to Set Aside Default (dkt. 20). The motion is unopposed, so it will be granted. Second, Webb moves to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue or, in the alternative, to transfer venue. Mot. to Dismiss (dkt. 23). Because Webb waived objections to personal jurisdiction and venue explicitly, in the Settlement Agreement, and implicitly, by failing to raise those defenses in her motion to set aside the default, the motion to dismiss will be denied. Third, Souley Vegan moves to enforce the Settlement Agreement. Mot. to Enforce (dkt. 26). Because none of Webb's claimed defenses to enforcement of the agreement apply, Souley Vegan's motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Souley Vegan is a vegan soul food restaurant in Oakland, California. Dyson Decl. ¶¶ 3-4 (dkt. 33). Souly Vegan Café is a vegan soul food restaurant in Durham, North Carolina. Cheruvu Decl. Ex. A ¶ B (dkt. 26). The similar names have led to various mix-ups, such as social media posts tagging the wrong restaurant, orders placed with the wrong establishment, and employees calling in sick to the wrong employer. Dyson Decl. ¶ 10.

         After hearing about Souly Vegan Café from a customer, Id. ¶ 8, Souley Vegan sent Webb multiple cease-and-desist letters, Supp. Cheruvu Decl. Exs. A; C (dkt. 33). Webb's then-attorney, James Ruane, replied that Webb did not believe there was any danger of consumer confusion. Id. Ex. B. Unsatisfied with this response, Souley Vegan filed suit, bringing Lanham Act claims for trademark infringement and false designation of origin as well as a California unfair competition claim. Compl. at 7-10 (dkt. 1).

         Soon after Souley Vegan filed the instant action, Souly Vegan Café shareholder and former manager Vinston Wickers contacted Souley Vegan's lawyer, Padmini Cheruvu, to initiate settlement negotiations. Cheruvu Decl. Ex. C. For the next four months, Cheruvu and Vickers discussed a possible settlement agreement by phone and email. Id. Negotiations focused on finding a mutually acceptable new name for Webb's restaurant. Id. At one point, Cheruvu offered to draft an agreement allowing Webb to choose any new name other than “SoulGood Café, ” “SoulGood Vegan Café, ” or “Soul-licious Vegan Café.” Id. But in the end, the parties settled on a specific new name for Webb's restaurant: “SooGood Vegan Café.” Id.

         The Settlement Agreement was signed April 9, 2019, by Souley Vegan owner Tamearra Dyson and defendants Deborah, Leroy, and Yachidiyel Webb. Errata Ex. 1 at 6 (dkt. 32). It requires Webb to cease using the name “Souly Vegan Café” and adopt the name “SooGood Vegan Café” within thirty days. Id. ¶¶ 1-3. The Settlement Agreement's forum selection clause provides that “[t]he United States District Court for the Northern District of California, or the appropriate state court in the city and county of Alameda, shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any legal action or proceeding arising out of or relating to this Agreement.” Id. ¶ 17. The forum selection clause waives any objection to the personal jurisdiction or venue of those courts. Id.

         Webb violated the Settlement Agreement by continuing to do business as Souly Vegan Café after the thirty-day phase-out period ended, failing to adopt the name “SooGood Vegan Café, ” and attempting to adopt the name “Soul Good Vegan Café.” Cheruvu Decl. ¶¶ 7-13. In response, Souley Vegan moved for entry of default, on the grounds that Webb failed to timely appear or respond to the complaint. Mot. for Default (dkt. 16). Default was entered June 5, 2019. Entry of Default (dkt. 18).

         Nearly two months later, Webb moved to set aside default, Mot. to Set Aside Default, which Souley Vegan does not oppose, Statement of Non-Opp'n (dkt. 30). Webb subsequently filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue, or, in the alternative, to transfer venue. See generally Mot. to Dismiss. Souley Vegan then filed a motion to enforce the Settlement Agreement. See generally Mot. to Enforce.

         II. MOTION TO DISMISS

         A. Legal Standard

         a. Dismissal for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

         A defendant may challenge the Court's personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). The plaintiff bears the burden of establishing the Court's personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Cubbage v. Merchent, 744 F.2d 665, 667 (9th Cir. 1984). “When a district court acts on a defendant's motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(2) without holding an evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff need make only a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts to withstand the motion to dismiss.” Ballard v. Savage, 65 F.3d 1495, 1498 (9th Cir. 1995). This standard is satisfied if the plaintiff produces admissible evidence which, if believed, would be sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction. See Harris Rutsky & Co. Ins. Servs., Inc. v. Bell & Clemens Ltd., 328 F.3d. 1122, 1129 (9th Cir. 2003). Uncontroverted allegations in the plaintiff's complaint must be taken as true, and factual conflicts must be resolved in the plaintiff's favor. Id.

         b. Dismissal for Improper Venue

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) provides that if an action is brought in the wrong court, a defendant can move to dismiss for improper venue. In deciding such a motion, the pleadings need not be accepted as true and the Court may consider facts outside the pleadings. Murphy v. Schneider Nat'l, Inc., 362 F.3d 1133, 1137 (9th Cir. 2004). All reasonable inferences and factual conflicts should be resolved in favor of the non-moving party. Id. at 1138.

         B. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.