Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Essex Crane Rental Corp. v. C.J. Mahan Construction Company

August 25, 2008

ESSEX CRANE RENTAL CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF/COUNTER-DEFENDANT,
v.
C.J. MAHAN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, INC., AND SAFECO INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, DEFENDANTS/COUNTER-PLAINTIFF.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: George W. Lindberg Senior U.S. District Judge

Judge George W. Lindberg

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Essex Crane Rental Corporation ("Essex") brought this diversity action against defendants C.J. Mahan Construction Company, Inc. ("Mahan") and Safeco Insurance Company of America ("Safeco"), alleging state law claims of breach of contract. Mahan counterclaimed, alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act. Before the Court is Mahan's motion for summary judgment as to Essex's claims and as to two counts of its counterclaim against Essex; Essex's amended motion for summary judgment as to its claims against Mahan, and Mahan's counterclaim; and Safeco's motion for summary judgment as to Counts IX and X of Essex's complaint. For the reasons stated below, the motions are granted in part and denied in part.

I. Factual Background

Essex leases equipment to construction businesses. During the time relevant to this action, Mahan was a contractor for the State of West Virginia on several bridge construction projects. Safeco executed a labor and material bond relating to Mahan's work on these bridge projects. In 2004 and 2005, Mahan entered into agreements with Essex, under which Mahan agreed to lease three cranes from Essex ("Crane 1030," "Crane 3212," and "Crane 1093"), for use in Mahan's West Virginia bridge construction projects.

II. Analysis

Summary judgment shall be granted "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating that no material issue exists for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has properly supported its motion, the nonmoving party must offer specific facts demonstrating that a material dispute exists, and must present more than a scintilla of evidence to support its position. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). Where, as here, the parties file cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court "considers the merits of each cross-motion separately and draws all reasonable inferences and resolves all factual uncertainties against the party whose motion is under consideration." Murray v. HSBC Auto Fin., Inc., No. 05 C 4040, 2006 WL 2861954, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 27, 2006). As an initial matter, the Court notes that it previously struck all of the parties' initial summary judgment filings as deficient, and gave all of the parties an opportunity to file amended motions for summary judgment that comply with the Local Rules. Despite this second chance, the amended filings still exhibit significant departures from the requirements of the Local Rules. Since the parties have now had two opportunities to comply with the Local Rules, the Court will hold them strictly to the Rules' requirements, as discussed further below.

A. Essex's Claims Relating to Crane 1030

1. Count I

In Count I of its complaint, Essex alleges that Mahan breached the rental agreement for Crane 1030 by failing to pay $1,370.00 for service done on Crane 1030 by Essex on May 24, 2005. Under the rental agreement for Crane 1030, Essex is responsible for paying for expenses arising from the end-of-lease inspection, while Mahan must pay for repairs necessitated as a result of accidental or negligent damage during the lease. Mahan argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on Count I because the $1,370.00 bill was for an inspection performed by Essex at the time the lease ended, and not for repairs.

Essex's work order for the May 24, 2005 visit indicated that an Essex employee "checked out damage to Boomstop, looked for other damage to gantry, checked out boom, checked fluid levels of planetaries, inspection, checked out jobsite for other parts, dealt with customer." The box for "Inspection" is checked on the work order, while the box for "Repair" is not checked. Essex's invoice indicates that the technician spent 4.5 hours on "Inspection," and notes that "Tech arrived on site 05/24/2005 to perform inspection." A May 26, 2005 e-mail from Essex's Director of Operations stated that Essex had sent a technician to inspect the crane after being advised that the crane had been damaged, but that the technician was unable to perform a complete inspection because the crane had been "rigged down," or disassembled. Mahan returned the crane in May 2005.

Essex has offered no evidence that its technician performed repairs on Crane 1030 during his May 24, 2005 visit, rather than an inspection. Accordingly, Mahan's motion for summary judgment as to Count I of Essex's complaint is granted, and Essex's motion is denied.

2. Count II

In Count II of its complaint, Essex alleges that Mahan failed to pay $23,877.95 for repairs to Crane 1030 that the crane required at the time Mahan returned it to Essex. Mahan concedes that it is responsible for paying for repairs made to the boom stop, since the damage to the boom stop was apparent during the May 24, 2005 inspection. However, Mahan contends that any other damage to Crane 1030 occurred after Mahan returned the Crane to Essex. Mahan also argues that Essex was not entitled to repair the crane itself, and that in any event, Essex failed to provide the requisite notice of damage to the crane.

The rental agreement for Crane 1030 requires Mahan to maintain the crane, and to return it to Essex at the end of the lease period "in good operating condition, well greased, oiled, cleaned and repaired." Under the rental agreement, Mahan is responsible for paying for repairs necessitated by Mahan's accidental or negligent damage to the cranes during the lease period, while Essex is responsible for repairs related to normal wear. The rental agreement provides that Essex "shall make an inspection upon return of the Equipment, such inspection to be at [Essex's] expense. Any loss or damage to Equipment shall be listed and notice thereof supplied to [Mahan] within thirty (30) days after return of the Equipment to [Essex]." The rental agreement also provides that if Mahan violated any term of the agreement, Essex may, at its discretion, "recover full damages for any injuries to the Equipment, . . . all expenses for service, repair, and cleaning of the Equipment to restore it to good serviceable condition."

Mahan first contends that it is not responsible for paying for the repairs made by Essex at the end of the lease term, because only Mahan can repair any loss or damage to Crane 1030. Although Mahan claims that "[t]he lease is clear that repairs performed by Essex, or at its sole discretion, are not repairs of loss or damage that are the responsibility of Mahan," Mahan cites only testimony by Essex's regional operations manager to that effect. However, under the provisions noted above, the rental agreement allows Essex to recover expenses incurred in repairing Crane 1030

The parties have not offered evidence as to the precise date Mahan returned Crane 1030 to Essex. However, it would appear that Mahan returned it between May 25, 2005 and May 31, 2005, since it had not been returned as of the May 24, 2005 inspection, and the parties agree that the crane was returned in May 2005. On June 15, 2005, Essex's Director of Operations sent an e-mail to Mahan's Vice President of Operations, listing certain loss and damage to Crane 1030. Essex sent Mahan an invoice dated September 1, 2005, for repairs in the amount of $23,877.95. The invoice included items that were not listed in Essex's June 15, 2005 e-mail. In addition, Essex charged Mahan for markup for parts and labor, which Essex concedes was not part of the rental agreement.

Mahan argues that the damage other than existing damage to the boom stop occurred after it returned Crane 1030 to Essex. In support of this argument, Mahan offers evidence that during the May 24, 2005 inspection, when Crane 1030 was rigged down (and thus inoperable), the Essex technician noted on the work order that the crane's hour meter read 8456 hours. A July 1, 2005 inspection report noted that the crane's hour meter read 8495 hours. Mahan argues that the damage necessarily occurred after Mahan returned the crane, because the May 24, 2005 inspection did not reveal any damage other than to the boom stop.

The Court finds that Mahan is not responsible for expenses relating to any damage not disclosed in the June 15, 2005 e-mail, since any additional damage was not disclosed within thirty days after Mahan returned the crane, as required under the rental agreement. However, Mahan has not offered sufficient evidence to show that it is not responsible for expenses relating to damage listed in the June 15, 2005 e-mail. Nor is the Court persuaded by Mahan's reliance on the May 24, 2005 inspection as revealing only boom stop damage, since Mahan itself cites an Essex e-mail stating that a complete inspection was not possible on May 24, 2005 because the crane was rigged down. Mahan's motion for summary judgment is granted as to the part of Count II relating to damage not identified in Essex's June 15, 2005 e-mail and as to charges for markup; it is denied as to the remaining charges.

The Court turns to Essex's motion for summary judgment as to Count II. First, the Court notes that Essex has failed to offer evidence supported by citations to the record that Mahan failed to pay for the repairs at issue, a basic issue in a breach of contract claim. In addition, Essex only offers evidence that a July 1, 2005 inspection revealed that repairs to Crane 1030 were needed. However, Essex offers no evidence establishing when Mahan returned Crane 1030, or showing that it notified Mahan of any of the damages listed in the July 1, 2005 report within thirty days after Mahan returned Crane 1030, as required by the rental agreement. Because Essex has failed to establish that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law as to Count II of its complaint, its motion for summary judgment as to Count II is denied.

B. Essex's Claims Relating to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.