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Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Siegel

April 16, 2007

WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., PLAINTIFF,
v.
PAUL SIEGEL, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Samuel Der-yeghiayan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Plaintiff Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.'s ("Wells") motions in limine and Defendant Paul Siegel's ("Siegel") motions in limine. For the reasons stated below, we grant in part and deny in part the motions in limine.

BACKGROUND

Wells alleges that it is a national banking association and that Ty-Walk Liquid Sales, Inc. ("Ty-Walk") pledged its accounts receivable, other rights to payment, contract rights, and the proceeds stemming from those rights to Wells as security for loans that were extended to Ty-Walk by Wells under a loan agreement ("Loan Agreement"). Wells alleges that Ty-Walk ceased doing business in August 2001, and that in June 2003, an order was entered in the Circuit Court of the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, Kendall County, Illinois, granting Wells possession of the collateral of the Loan Agreement. Wells has brought the instant action to enforce the contractual rights of Ty-Walk that were assigned to Wells as part of the Loan Agreement.

Wells alleges that Ty-Walk was a grain merchant that marketed grain for farmers. Siegel is allegedly a grain farmer who entered into a program operated by Ty-Walk that was called the Farmer's Marketing Program ("FMP"), under which Ty-Walk marketed Siegel's grain. Wells contends that Siegel participated in the FMP under the terms of an agreement ("FMP Agreement"). Wells claims that when Ty-Walk ceased doing business, Siegel owed Ty-Walk $380,525 pursuant to the terms of the FMP Agreement and Siegel has refused to pay the balance due. Wells also contends that Ty-Walk provided Siegel with additional goods and services totaling $20,678.47, and Siegel refuses to pay for them. Wells further alleges that Ty-Walk made a loan payment to Commodity Credit Corporation on behalf of Siegel in the amount of $50,758.16, and Siegel refuses to reimburse Ty-Walk.

Wells brought the instant action and included in its complaint a claim alleging a breach of contract claim based on a breach of the FMP Agreement (Count I), a breach of contract claim based upon the alleged failure to pay for the additional goods and services provided by Ty-Walk (Count II), and a breach of contract claim based upon the alleged failure to repay the loan payment made by Ty-Walk on behalf of Siegel (Count III). Wells filed a motion for summary judgment and on October 19, 2006, we denied Wells' motion for summary judgment on Counts I and III and granted Wells' motion for summary judgment on Count II. The parties have now filed motions in limine.

DISCUSSION

I. Wells' Motions in Limine

Wells moves to bar evidence and argument relating to certain convictions.

Wells also moves to bar the testimony of certain witnesses and to bar any reference to other lawsuits brought by Wells. Finally, Wells moves to bar any reference to the decision of Wells to extend a loan to Ty-Walk.

A. Motion to Bar Evidence and Argument Relating to Convictions

Wells moves to bar evidence and argument relating to the convictions of John C. "Buzz" Gibbons ("Gibbons") and Kathleen Lestina ("Lestina"). Wells brought the instant action to recover monies that were allegedly owed by Siegel to Ty-Walk. Gibbons and Lestina were convicted of crimes stemming from their operation of Ty-Walk in what Siegel calls the "biggest grain elevator scandal ever to hit Illinois." (S. Ans. SJ 3). Wells anticipates that at trial Siegel will attempt to introduce the convictions of Gibbons and Lestina in support of Siegel's contention that his account records with Ty-Walk were untrustworthy. In our October 19, 2006, ruling granting in part and denying in part Wells' motion for summary judgment, we noted that the mere fact that officers of Ty-Walk were convicted of crimes does not create a genuinely disputed issue as to whether Siegel's account with Ty-Walk was accurate and trustworthy. We stated that "Siegel cannot simply erase $20,678.47 in debt for [g]oods and [s]ervices that he purchased simply because Ty-Walk was involved in the alleged Scandal." (10/19/06 OP 10). Wells argues that the introduction of the convictions of Gibbons and Lestina are unduly prejudicial and should be excluded under Federal Rule of Evidence 403.

Despite our prior ruling, Siegel continues to argue for the admission of the convictions of Gibbons and Lestina contending that the conviction "for creating false documents to enlarge the amount of grain held by Ty-Walk directly attacks the validation of the alleged contract and are appropriate to prove [Siegel's] affirmative defenses." (W. Conv. Ans. 4). We ...


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