United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
QUALITY EQUIPMENT LEASING, LLC, d/b/a QUALITY EQUIPMENT SALES and CELADON TRUCKING SERVICES, INC., Plaintiffs,
ALABAMA LOGISTICS, LLC, et al., Defendants.
K. KALLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case arises out of a series of leasing agreements for trucks
and trailers between Quality Equipment Leasing, LLC d/b/a
Quality Equipment Sales and Celadon Trucking Services, Inc.
(the “Plaintiffs/Lessors”) and Alabama Logistics,
LLC. Alabama Logistics defaulted on the leases and
subsequently failed to return three leased trailers to the
Plaintiffs. Those trailers were removed from the parking lot
of the Alabama Logistics' headquarters building by
Gregory Phillips, and Southern Property Management, LLC
(“SPM”) in October 2016. Phillips purportedly
denied Alabama Logistics further access to the trailers after
removing them from the company's parking lot. The
Plaintiffs filed suit to recover the missing property,
bringing claims for both breach of contract against Alabama
Logistics, and conversion against Phillips and SPM. Over the
course of this litigation, the Plaintiffs have regained
possession of all but one of the purportedly converted
trailers,  and have now filed a motion for summary
judgment, doc. 26, that is ripe and ready for review. After
carefully considering the evidence before the court, and the
Plaintiffs' brief, the court finds that the
Plaintiffs' motion is due to be granted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is proper “if the movant shows 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). A dispute about a material fact is genuine “if
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
evidence of the non-movant is to be believed and all
justifiable inferences are to be drawn in [her] favor.”
Id. at 255. It is expressly not the role of the
court to “weigh conflicting evidence or to make
credibility determinations.” Mize v. Jefferson City
Bd. of Educ., 93 F.3d 739, 742 (11th Cir. 1996); see
also Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (explaining
“[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the
evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the
facts are jury functions, not those of a judge”).
“mere conclusions and unsupported factual allegations
are legally insufficient to defeat a summary judgment
motion.” Ellis v. England, 432 F.3d 1321, 1326
(11th Cir. 2005) (per curiam) (citing Bald Mountain Park,
Ltd. v. Oliver, 863 F.2d 1560, 1563 (11th Cir. 1989)).
“[A] . . . ‘scintilla of evidence in support of
the nonmoving party will not suffice to overcome a motion for
summary judgment.'” Melton v. Abston, 841
F.3d 1207, 1219 (11th Cir. 2016) (quoting Young v. City
of Palm Bay, 358 F.3d 859, 860 (11th Cir. 2004)).
Instead, if “the record taken as a whole could not lead
a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party,
there is no genuine issue for trial, ” and summary
judgment is appropriately granted. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
(1986) (quoting First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities
Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)).
that the Defendants have not responded to Plaintiffs'
motion, the court notes that pursuant to Rule 56(e) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “[i]f a party fails to
properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly
address another party's assertion of fact, ”
summary judgment is appropriate if the facts show “the
movant is entitled to it.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3).
Plaintiffs began leasing trucks and trailers to Alabama
Logistics in July 2015. Doc. 26-2 at 3. Overall, four lease
agreements involving a total of five trucks and five Benson
flatbed trailers were signed. All the lease agreements
contained uniform language explaining that a default occurs
when, among other things, “Lessee fails to pay when due
any rent or any other payment under this Agreement.”
Id. at 8. The lease agreements also uniformly
provided that, in the event of a default, the Lessor may
“[t]erminate the Agreement . . . and require Lessee . .
. to promptly return the Vehicles;” “[d]eclare
[all] payments . . . due and payable by acceleration . . . as
liquidated damages;” and require the payment of
“expenses incurred by Lessor in enforcing its rights .
. . [including] reasonable attorney's fees.”
Id. at 8-9.
fall of 2016, Alabama Logistics ceased making payments and
defaulted on all four lease agreements. Doc. 26 at 3.
Plaintiffs subsequently exercised their rights to terminate
those agreements, and by October 31, 2016, all four leases
had been terminated. Doc. 26-7 at 3. Prior to commencing this
action, the Plaintiffs were able to recover almost all of
their equipment, with the exception of three of the Benson
flatbed trailers leased to Alabama Logistics on June 17,
2016. Doc. 26 at 3.
Phillips, the owner of SPM, held the lease for Alabama
Logistics' headquarters, where the trailers were kept.
Doc. 26-9 at 5. Phillips asserts that the owner of the
building warned Phillips that he would seize the trailers and
other heavy equipment stored at the facility if Alabama
Logistics continued to leave the vehicles in the
building's parking lot. Id. at 6. When Phillips
was unable to contact an Alabama Logistics representative, he
moved the equipment, including the trailers, on his own.
Id. at 6-7. Phillips testified that he did not have
a lien over the equipment, and that he does not seek to claim
any other form of ownership interest in the property.
Id. at 11. Phillips concedes that Alabama Logistics
never gave him permission to remove the trailers from the
company's facility. Id. at 5-6, 10.
the course of this litigation, all three of the Defendants
have consented to the issuance of a Writ of Seizure enabling
the Plaintiffs to recover the missing trailers. Docs. 20; 22.
Pursuant to these consent agreements, the court issued a Writ
of Seizure, doc. 23, for the three unreturned trailers on
March 14, 2017. One trailer, valued at $28, 000, remains
unrecovered as of August 9, 2017. Doc. 26 at 7.