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Eastern Division Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Siegel

June 27, 2007

EASTERN DIVISION 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 Defendant Paul Siegel's ("Siegel") motion for reconsideration. For the reasons stated below, we deny the motion for reconsideration.

BACKGROUND

Siegel is a farmer and has been a farmer since the 1970s. Ty-Walk Liquid Sales, Inc. ("Ty-Walk") was a grain merchant that marketed grain for farmers and provided farmers with additional goods and services. Siegel began marketing his grain through James Tyler & Sons and switched his grain transactions to Ty-Walk due to the fact that Ty-Walk charged a lower commission. In 2001 Ty-Walk ceased doing business. Ty-Walk had previously pledged its accounts receivable, other rights to payment, contract rights, and the proceeds stemming from those rights to Plaintiff Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells") as security for loans that Wells extended to Ty-Walk under a loan agreement ("Loan Agreement"). After Ty-Walk ceased doing business, an Illinois state court entered an order, which granted Wells possession of the collateral of the Loan Agreement. Wells brought the instant action asserting TyWalk's contractual rights and alleging that Siegel had breached certain contractual obligations owed to Ty-Walk. Wells included in its complaint a claim alleging a breach of contract claim based on a breach of the Farmer Marketing Program ("FMP") operated by Ty-Walk (Count I), a breach of contract claim based upon the alleged failure to pay for 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). 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.

A bench trial commenced on April 23, 2007, and concluded on April 26, 2007. Following the trial, the parties filed post-trial briefs relating to Counts I and III, and on June 8, 2007, the court entered a ruling in favor of Siegel on Counts I and III. Final judgment was then entered on June 8, 2007, in favor of Siegel on Counts I and III and in favor of Wells on Count II. The filing period for all motions for reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) ("Rule 59(e)") began to run when final judgment was entered on all Counts and Siegel filed the instant motion, pursuant to Rule 59(e), seeking reconsideration of the court's October 19, 2006, ruling granting Wells' motion for summary judgment on Count II.

LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 59(e) permits parties to file, within ten days of the entry of a judgment, a motion for reconsideration seeking to alter or amend the judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e); see also Hill v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., 405 F.3d 572, 576 (7th Cir. 2005)(indicating that although Rule 59(e) is titled "motion to alter or amend judgment," it is referred to by the courts as a "motion for reconsideration"); Talano v. Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, Inc., 273 F.3d 757, 760 (7th Cir. 2001)(referring to a Rule 59(e) motion as a "Motion for Reconsideration"). Rule 59(e) motions do not give a party the opportunity to rehash old arguments or to present new arguments or evidence "that could and should have been presented to the district court prior to the judgment." Moro v. Shell Oil Co., 91 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir. 1996)(citing LB Credit Corp. v. Resolution Trust Corp., 49 F.3d 1263, 1267 (7th Cir. 1995)). Rather, under Rule 59(e) motion, the movant "must clearly establish either a manifest error of law or fact or must present newly discovered evidence" in order to be successful. LB Credit Corp., 49 F.3d at 1267 (quoting Federal Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Meyer, 781 F.2d 1260, 1268 (7th Cir. 1986)). The decision of whether to grant or deny a motion brought pursuant to Rule 59(e) "is entrusted to the sound judgment of the district court. . . ." In re Prince, 85 F.3d 314, 324 (7th Cir. 1996).

DISCUSSION

Siegel argues that the court made a manifest error of law in granting Wells' motion for summary judgment on Count II. In support of the motion for reconsideration, Siegel presents only a general argument claiming that since the court made findings regarding the unreliability of Ty-Walk records in the June 8, 2007 bench trial ruling, the court must have erred when it relied on documents such as an affidavit signed by Ellen Trach ("Trach Affidavit") in granting Wells' motion for summary judgment on October 19, 2006 on Count II. However, as the court explained in its October 19, 2006, ruling, the court based its ruling on more than the Trach Affidavit. Although Siegel contends that this court made a manifest error of law in the October 19, 2006, ruling, Siegel fails to address the bases for the court's ruling. The court ruled on October 19, 2006, based upon the proper summary judgment standard, Local Rules, and materials in the record before the court at that juncture.

I. Local Rule 56.1

We based in part our October 19, 2006, ruling on Local Rule 56.1. Siegel fails to recognize the significance of his responses to Wells' statements of material facts, and fails to address in his motion for reconsideration whether certain facts were properly deemed undisputed pursuant to Local Rule 56.1. Instead, Siegel attempts to tie Local Rule 56.1 to the requirements in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 ("Rule 56"). (Mot. 5). While, Local Rule 56.1 is triggered when a summary judgment motion is filed under Rule 56, Local Rule 56.1 is an independent local rule intended to isolate factual disputes for the court that is separate from the requirements of Rule 56 and nothing alleviated Siegel from his obligation to comply with the local rules in responding to Wells' motion for summary judgment. See Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920, 922 (7th Cir. 1994)(stating that a court is not "obliged in our adversary system to scour the record looking for factual disputes and may adopt local rules reasonably designed to streamline the resolution of summary judgment motions").

The Seventh Circuit has made clear that the statements of material facts and responses are not mere formalities and "that a district court is entitled to expect strict compliance with Rule 56.1." Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Servs., Inc., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004)(stating that "[s]ubstantial compliance is not strict compliance"); Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 604 (7th Cir. 2006) (stating that "district courts are entitled to expect strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1"). Thus, we properly assessed Siegel's responses to Wells' statements of material facts in accordance with Local Rule 56.1. See Dent v. Bestfoods, 2003 WL 22025008, at *1 n.1 (N.D. Ill. 2003)(stating that, pursuant to Rule 56.1, any facts included in a party's statement of facts that are not properly denied by the opposing party are deemed to be admitted); Jankovich v. Exelon Corp., 2003 WL 260714, at *5 (N.D. Ill. 2003)(indicating that evasive denials that do not directly oppose an assertion are improper and thus the contested fact is deemed to be admitted pursuant to Local Rule 56.1).

II. Receipt of Goods and Services and Agreement to Pay

In Count II, Wells alleged that Ty-Walk provided Siegel with certain goods and services ("Goods and Services") such as fertilizer and chemicals totaling $20,678.47, and Siegel refused to pay for them. Siegel argued in response to Wells' motion for summary judgment that there was insufficient evidence to conclusively show ...


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