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Sunsouth Capital, Inc. v. Harding Enterprises, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division

September 14, 2017

SUNSOUTH CAPITAL, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
HARDING ENTERPRISES, LLC, and GREGGORY A. HARDING, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          W. KEITH WATKINS CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff SunSouth Capital, Inc. (“SunSouth”) brings this action against Defendants Harding Enterprises, LLC (“Harding Enterprises”) and Greggory A. Harding (“Mr. Harding”) alleging breaches of various heavy equipment leases. Before the court is SunSouth's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. # 53.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment is due to be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. JURISDICTION AND VENUE

         The court exercises subject-matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The parties do not contest personal jurisdiction or venue.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         To succeed on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must demonstrate that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The court views the evidence, and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Jean-Baptiste v. Gutierrez, 627 F.3d 816, 820 (11th Cir. 2010).

         The party moving for summary judgment “always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for the motion.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). This responsibility includes identifying the portions of the record illustrating the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Id. Alternatively, a movant who does not have a trial burden of production can assert, without citing the record, that the nonmoving party “cannot produce admissible evidence to support” a material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 advisory committee's note (“Subdivision (c)(1)(B) recognizes that a party need not always point to specific record materials. . . . [A] party who does not have the trial burden of production may rely on a showing that a party who does have the trial burden cannot produce admissible evidence to carry its burden as to the fact.”).

         If the movant meets its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to establish-with evidence beyond the pleadings-that a genuine dispute material to each of its claims for relief exists. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324. A genuine dispute of material fact exists when the nonmoving party produces evidence allowing a reasonable fact finder to return a verdict in its favor. Waddell v. Valley Forge Dental Assocs., 276 F.3d 1275, 1279 (11th Cir. 2001).

         III. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This case arises out of six equipment leases entered into by the parties between January 2011 and April 2012. SunSouth leased to Mr. Harding various pieces of heavy equipment, and Harding Enterprises was listed as a co-lessee on two of the leases. (Doc. # 1-1.) Mr. Harding personally guaranteed payment for each of the leases. (Doc. # 1-3.) Under each of the six equipment leases, Defendants defaulted in payment, prompting SunSouth to accelerate the debts and demand payment. (Doc. # 1-4 (letters from SunSouth to Mr. Harding dated July 31, and Aug. 26, 2015).)

         On November 3, 2015, SunSouth filed suit in this court, seeking injunctive relief against Defendants to surrender the equipment (Count I), detinue against Defendants to recover the equipment (Count II), and a remedy for Defendants' breaches of the equipment leases (Counts III and IV). (Doc. # 1.)

         On December 8, 2015, this court entered a Seizure Order authorizing SunSouth to repossess its collateral. (Doc. # 16.) A public auction was conducted in June 2016. (Doc. # 53-1, ¶ 4.) After applying the proceeds from that sale to Defendants' debt balance, SunSouth's detailed calculations show that Mr. Harding still owed $436, 199.86 while Harding Enterprises owed $373, 729.58 as of April 11, 2017. (Doc. # 53-1, ¶ 5.)

         On April 13, 2016, Defendants' first attorney submitted a motion to withdraw from representing Defendants, (Doc. # 23), which was granted on April 19, 2016. (Doc. # 26.) Defendants' second attorney filed a notice of appearance on June 27, 2016. (Doc. # 31.)

         Following a Rule 26(f) Planning Meeting on August 16, 2016, (Doc. # 33), SunSouth submitted its first motion for summary judgment on September 2, 2016. (Doc. # 37.) Defendants requested (Doc. # 42), and were granted, (Doc. # 44), relief from deadlines that were triggered by SunSouth's motion for summary judgment. ...


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