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Advertising Specialty Institute v. Hall-Erickson, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
601 F.3d 683 (2010)


Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) (plaintiff) was a trade-information publisher for the corporate promotional product industry. ASI had more than 24,000 members. It put on about 80 trade shows per year for the buyers and sellers of corporate promotional products. Each year, it held one of its trade shows in Chicago. ASI entered into a contract with Hall-Erickson, Inc. (defendant), the manager of an annual trade show featuring a company doing business as The Motivation Show, each fall in Chicago. Under this contract, Hall-Erickson would give ASI the right of first refusal to participate in any opportunity relating to the promotional product industry. In May 2003, ASI put on its annual Chicago trade show. Later in 2003, Hall-Erickson put on its annual convention in Chicago featuring The Motivation Show, inviting Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) to co-locate its trade show at the convention. PPAI was a direct rival of ASIs in the corporate promotional products industry. Hall-Erickson did not invite ASI to participate. ASI sued Hall-Erickson for breach of contract, alleging that Hall-Erickson had failed to give ASI the right of first refusal to participate in Hall-Erickson’s 2003 show. At trial, ASI’s expert testified that ASI lost revenues of $500,000 to more than $1,000,000 by not participating in Hall-Erickson’s show. ASI did not address the issue of how participating in two trade shows in Chicago in the same year might have affected attendance and revenues. Additionally, ASI did not identify which companies would have likely participated in the second show, nor did ASI get data from PPAI about PPAI’s revenues from the show. Also, ASI did not provide evidence of the companies that participated in PPAI’s show. Finally, ASI did not address the possible effects of PPAI holding an independent trade show. The trial court found in favor of ASI. However, the district court awarded ASI nominal damages of $1 because ASI had failed to prove damages with reasonable certainty. ASI appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Cudahy, J.)

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