• January 15, 2020

We recently posted about a “faulty machinery” case (sugar silo reclaimers) and, in that post, we referred to two earlier “faulty machinery” cases (egg-carton presses, pasta boxers). In a nutshell, we queried how these cases could be cost-justified because, it seems to us, whether or not a machine works as promised is not best (or cheaply) answered by civil litigators.

And here we go again in Cortec Corp. v. Caco Plastics et al., a fight about a “slitter rewinder and perforation machine,” known to the parties as the “Perforator.” That is, the parties have spent and will apparently continue to spend money on civil litigators to determine whether the perforator worked as it was supposed to and, if not, how much (if any) Cortec should recover for the defective product(s).

The twist in this case is that Defendant Caco Plastics argues that Cortec already settled its claim against Caco, as evidenced by an email exchange. In an email, Cortec’s CEO suggested that Cortec was entitled to something for the late delivery of a perforator. In response, Caco agreed to free delivery of two machines if Cortec paid its outstanding bill. Cortec’s CEO answered, “You have yourself a deal.”

Based on that exchange, Caco moved for judgment on the pleadings. U.S. District Court Judge Nancy E. Brasil (D. Minn.) denied the motion, however, pointing out that “the deal” was recompense for late delivery but it was not clear it was for the machine defects.

Of course, Caco’s argument was pure, if unsuccessful, legal argument, an appropriate subject for civil litigators. But now that this legal issue has fallen to the side, we’ll see whether the parties have the appetites and budgets to have civil litigators battle over the technical issues involved in the proper function of slitter rewinder and perforation machines (and the price difference (if any) between what was promised and what was delivered). For their sake, we hope they cut their losses.