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Lyon Financial Services, Inc. v. Bella Medica Laser Center

September 16, 2010

LYON FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BELLA MEDICA LASER CENTER, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the court on Defendant James Berg's (Berg) motion for summary judgment and on Plaintiff Lyon Financial Services, Inc.'s (Lyon) motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, we grant Berg's motion for summary judgment and deny Lyon's motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

On July 12, 2007, Lyon entered into a Lease Agreement (Lease) with Defendant Bella Medica Laser Center Inc. (Bella) under which Bella leased certain equipment (Equipment). Berg, Defendant Kim Rader, and Defendant Travis Rader allegedly personally guaranteed Bella's obligations under the Lease. Bella allegedly made 25 out of the 72 payments due under the Lease and failed to make the payment due on October 4, 2009. Under the Lease, the failure to make payments is an event that constitutes grounds for a default on the Agreement. Lyon claims that it has demanded payment from Berg, Kim Rader, and Travis Rader, and they have refused to provide the missing payments.

Lyon brought the instant action and includes in the complaint a breach of contract claim brought against Bella (Count I), a breach of guaranty claim brought against Berg (Count II), a breach of guaranty claim brought against Kim Rader (Count III), a breach of guaranty claim brought against Travis Rader (Count IV), replevin claims brought against all Defendants (Count V), and detinue claims brought against all Defendants (Count VI). On May 19, 2010, the court entered default judgment against Bella, Kim Rader, and Travis Rader. On May 28, 2010, Berg filed a motion to dismiss. On July 14, 2010, since Berg sought to have the court consider materials outside of the pleadings, the court converted the motion into a motion for summary judgment. Lyon responded to Berg's motion for summary judgment and filed a motion for summary judgment on its breach of contract claim brought against Berg.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, reveals that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In seeking a grant of summary judgment, the moving party must identify "those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)(quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). This initial burden may be satisfied by presenting specific evidence on a particular issue or by pointing out "an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Once the movant has met this burden, the non-moving party cannot simply rest on the allegations in the pleadings, but, "must--by affidavits or as otherwise provided in [Rule 56]--set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). A "genuine issue" in the context of a motion for summary judgment is not simply a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists when "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); Insolia v. Philip Morris, Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 599 (7th Cir. 2000). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must consider the record as a whole, in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000).

DISCUSSION

Berg contends that on January 1, 2009, he resigned his position with Bella and that subsequently, Bella entered into a re-write of the Lease (Lease Re-write), which materially altered the terms of the Lease and constituted a new agreement. Berg also contends that he does not possess the Equipment and thus it is improper to bring replevin and detinue claims against him regarding the Equipment.

I. Local Rule 56.1

Lyon, in its response to Berg's statement of material facts, repeatedly indicates that it "does not possess sufficient information to either admit or deny the facts contained" in the pertinent paragraph. (R SF Par. 10-21, 26, 28, 32-33). While such a response may be appropriate for an answer to a complaint, it is not a proper response under Local Rule 56.1 for a response to a statement of material facts. An opposing party is required to either admit or deny facts and, if denying facts the response must include an appropriate citation to the record to support the denial. LR 56.1; Dent v. Bestfoods, 2003 WL 22025008, at *1 n.1 (N.D. Ill. 2003); see also Judson Atkinson Candies, Inc. v. Latini-Hohberger Dhimantec, 529 F.3d 371, 382 n.2 (7th Cir. 2008)(stating that "a district court has broad discretion to require strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1"). Also, when there is an evasive answer that fails to respond to the facts included in the paragraphs, such facts are deemed to be undisputed. See 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). Therefore, pursuant to Local Rule 56.1, the facts contained in paragraphs 10-21, 26, 28, and 32-33 of Berg's statement of facts are deemed to be undisputed.

II. Breach of Contract and Breach of Guaranty Claims

Berg moves for summary judgment on the breach of contract and breach of guaranty claims brought against him. Lyon moves for summary judgment on the breach ...


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