Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Commitments and Contingencies

Commitments and Contingencies
12 Months Ended
Jan. 02, 2021
Commitments And Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments and Contingencies

Note 15:

  Commitments and Contingencies


On December 29, 2016, the Company served a Minnesota state court complaint for breach of contract on Skybridge Americas, Inc. (“SA”), the Company’s primary call center vendor throughout 2015 and most of 2016. The Company seeks damages in the millions of dollars as a result of alleged overcharging by SA and lost client contracts. On January 25, 2017, SA served a counterclaim for unpaid invoices in the amount of approximately $460 plus interest and attorneys’ fees. On March 29, 2017, the Hennepin County district court (the “District Court”) dismissed the Company’s breach of contract claim based on SA’s overuse of its Canadian call center but permitted the Company’s remaining claims to proceed. Following motion practice, on January 8, 2018 the District Court entered judgment in SA’s favor, which was amended as of February 28, 2018, for a total amount of $614, including interest and attorneys’ fees. On March 4, 2019, the Minnesota Court of Appeals (the “Court of Appeals”) ruled and (i) reversed the District Court’s judgment in favor of Skybridge on the call center location claim and remanded the issue back to the District Court for further proceedings, (ii) reversed the District Court’s judgment in favor of Skybridge on the net payment issue and remanded the issue to the District Court for further proceedings, and (iii) affirmed the District Court’s judgment in Skybridge’s favor against the Company’s claim that Skybridge breached the contract when it failed to meet the service level agreements. As a result of the decision by the Court of Appeals, the District Court’s award of interest and attorneys’ fees, etc. was reversed.  The Company and SA held a mediation session in July 2020.  Trial was held in August 2020 and on February 1, 2021, the District Court awarded damages against the Company in the amount of $715, plus interest, fees, and costs.  The Company filed a motion for a new trial and is waiting for the District Court to rule.

On November 15, 2016, the Company served an arbitration demand on Haier US Appliance Solutions, Inc., dba GE Appliances (“GEA”), alleging breach of contract and interference with prospective business advantage. The Company seeks over $2,000 in damages. On April 18, 2017, GEA served a counterclaim for approximately $337 in alleged obligations under the parties’ recycling agreement. Simultaneously with serving its counterclaim in the arbitration, which is venued in Chicago, GEA filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky seeking damages of approximately $530 plus interest and attorneys’ fees allegedly owed under a previous agreement between the parties. On December 12, 2017, the court stayed GEA’s complaint in favor of the arbitration. Under the terms of the Company’s transaction with Recleim LLC (“Recleim”), Recleim is obligated to pay GEA on the Company’s behalf the amounts claimed by GEA in the arbitration and in the lawsuit pending in Kentucky. Those amounts have been paid into escrow pending the outcome of the arbitration. Arbitration proceedings were held in October and November 2019.  On March 5, 2020, the arbitrator ruled in part in favor of the Company and in part in favor of GEA, and, as a result, GEA was awarded approximately $125 in damages.

AMTIM Capital, Inc. (“AMTIM”) acts as the Company’s representative to market our recycling services in Canada under an arrangement that pays AMTIM for revenues generated by recycling services in Canada as set forth in the agreement between the parties. A dispute has arisen between AMTIM and the Company with respect to the calculation of amounts due to AMTIM pursuant to the agreement. In a lawsuit filed in the province of Ontario, AMTIM claims a discrepancy in the calculation of fees due to AMTIM by the Company of approximately $2,000. Although the outcome of this claim is uncertain, the Company believes that no further amounts are due under the terms of the agreement and that we will continue to defend our position relative to this lawsuit.  Trial is currently scheduled for April 2021.

On October 4, 2018, the Company initiated litigation against a former professional services provider (“PSP”), in Illinois state court, as well as a private arbitration proceeding that was scheduled to be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, arising from PSP’s rendering of certain professional services to the Company during the period from 2011 through 2014. PSP filed a counterclaim in the arbitration seeking an award of its legal fees and costs arising from that proceeding.  The parties subsequently agreed to consolidate their respective claims into the arbitration.  The Company’s arbitration demand, as amended, sought an award of more than $50 and other relief.  On March 23, 2020, the parties entered into a settlement agreement, whereby, without any admission of liability, they exchanged mutual releases, agreed to dismiss their respective claims with prejudice, and PSP agreed to pay $800 to the Company to, among other things, assist it with certain of its costs and obligations that related to various issues underlying the arbitration proceeding.

Other Commitments

As previously disclosed and as discussed in Note 4: Note receivable, on December 30, 2017, the Company disposed of its retail appliance segment and sold ApplianceSmart to the Purchaser. In connection with that sale, as of January 2, 2021 the Company has an aggregate amount of future real property lease payments of $767, which represents amounts guaranteed or which may be owed under certain lease agreements to third party landlords in which the Company either remains the counterparty, is a guarantor, or has agreed to remain contractually liable under the lease (“ApplianceSmart Leases”).

The Company evaluated the fair value of its potential obligation under the guidance of ASC 450: Contingencies and ASC 460: Guarantees. As a result, the Company accrued the amount of liability associated with these future guaranteed lease payments. The fair value was calculated based on the amounts reported as part of the bankruptcy proceedings as ApplianceSmart terminated the leases prior to the lease termination date. The fair value was calculated based on the undiscounted lease payments, a discount rate equivalent to current interest rates associated with the leased real estate and a remote probability weighting of 1%.


The ApplianceSmart Leases either have the Company as the contract tenant only, or in the contract reflects a joint tenancy with ApplianceSmart. ApplianceSmart is the occupant of the ApplianceSmart Leases. The Company does not have the right to use the ApplianceSmart lease assets nor is the Company the primary obligor of the lease payments, hence capitalization under ASC 840 is not required. The ApplianceSmart Leases have historically been used by ApplianceSmart for their operations and the consideration has and is being paid by ApplianceSmart historically and in the future.


Any potential amounts paid out for the Company obligations and or guarantees under ApplianceSmart Leases would be recoverable to the extent there are assets available from ApplianceSmart. ApplianceSmart Leases are related party transactions. The Company divested itself of the ApplianceSmart Leases and leaseholds with the sale to Purchaser on December 30, 2017.

The Company is party from time to time to other ordinary course disputes that we do not believe to be material to our financial condition as of January 2, 2021.