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Financial Pacific Leasing, LLC v. Prairie Emergency Services, S.C.

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

July 8, 2013

FINANCIAL PACIFIC LEASING, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
PRAIRIE EMERGENCY SERVICES, S.C., RAO KILARU, and KRISHNA KILARU, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM ORDER AND OPINION

ROBERT M. DOW, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiff Financial Pacific Leasing, LLC ("FPL") filed this action against Defendants Prairie Emergency Services, S.C. ("Prairie"), Rao Kilaru ("Rao") and Krishna Kilaru ("Krishna"). Plaintiff alleges breach of contract and replevin as to Defendant Prairie and breach of guaranty as to Defendants Rao and Krishna. Plaintiff seeks damages, interest, late fees, and attorney's fees and costs. This matter is now before the Court on Plaintiff's unopposed motion for summary judgment [19]. For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted in part as to Count III, the breach of guaranty claim against Defendant Krishna.[1]

I. Background

The relevant facts are taken from Plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1 Statement of Material Facts ("SOF") [21]. Despite having the opportunity, Defendant Krishna - who is represented by counsel - neither has responded to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment nor submitted a response to Plaintiff's SOF. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) provides that "[a]ll material facts set forth in the statement required of the moving party will be deemed to be admitted unless controverted by the statement of the opposing party." The Court therefore deems admitted all of the facts set forth in Plaintiff's SOF.

Plaintiff FPL is a limited liability company registered under the laws of the state of Washington with its principal place of business in Washington. [21] ¶ 1. Plaintiff's sole member is Financial Pacific Holding Corp., a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Washington. Id. ¶ 1. Defendant Prairie is an Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in Joliet, Illinois. Defendant Prairie has filed for bankruptcy protection under Title 11 of the United States Code. Id. ¶ 2. Defendant Rao is a citizen of Illinois. Id. ¶ 3. Like Defendant Prairie, Defendant Rao has filed for bankruptcy protection under Title 11 of the United States Code. See [23]. Defendant Krishna is a citizen of Illinois. [21] ¶ 5. The Court is not aware of any bankruptcy petitions that have been filed on her behalf.

Defendant Rao was the president of Defendant Prairie between May 2011 and September 2012. Id. ¶ 8. In that capacity, Defendant Rao on or about May 6, 2011 executed an equipment lease agreement ("the Agreement") on behalf of Defendant Prairie. Id. ¶ 7. Pursuant to the Agreement, Brickhouse Small Business Leasing, LLC ("BSBL"), a non-party, agreed to lease certain equipment to Prairie. Id. In exchange, Defendant Prairie agreed to make sixty consecutive monthly lease payments to BSBL. See id. ¶ 13. First and last payments of $5, 600.32 were to be made in advance, and the remaining payments of $2, 800.67 each were to be made monthly. See id. The Agreement defined failure to make timely payments as an "event of default" entitling BSBL to assess late charges, repossess the leased equipment, collect on an accelerated basis the balance due and owing, collect prejudgment interest at the rate of 10% per annum, and receive payment of any attorneys' fees and costs it incurred. See id. ¶¶ 15-16. Defendant Prairie also executed a Pre-Funding Lease Acceptance Agreement and Authorization to Commence Lease ("Acceptance and Authorization") pursuant to which it waived its right to assert any claim or defense against BSBL regarding the leased equipment and its delivery. Id. ¶ 11. Defendants Rao and Krishna each personally guaranteed Defendant Prairie's timely performance of its obligations under the Agreement. See id. ¶¶ 9-10. In their guaranties, Defendants Rao and Krishna waived their right to receive notice of any default by Defendant Prairie. Id. ¶ 19. Defendants Rao and Krishna also waived their right to require BSBL to proceed against Defendant Prairie or the leased equipment prior to seeking relief from them, id. ¶ 20, and agreed to pay reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred by BSBL in the event of a default. See id. ¶ 17.

Immediately after signing the Agreement, BSBL assigned all of its rights, title, and interest in the Agreement and Defendant Rao's and Krishna's guaranties to Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 12.

Plaintiff fully performed all of its obligations under the Agreement and guaranties. Id. ¶ 18. Defendant Prairie made thirteen of the sixty payments due under the Agreement. Id. ¶ 14. Defendant Prairie failed to make the fourteenth payment, due July 15, 2012, triggering an "event of default" under the Agreement. Defendant Prairie has failed to make all subsequent payments. Id. Defendant Krishna has not made any payments pursuant to her guaranty. Id. ¶ 21.

Plaintiff filed this lawsuit alleging breach of contract and replevin against Defendant Prairie and breach of guaranty against Defendants Rao and Krishna on September 20, 2012. See [1]. Plaintiff repossessed the leased equipment on January 25, 2013. [21] ¶ 22. Plaintiff was able to remarket and sell in a commercially reasonable manner one piece of the equipment, netting $600. Id. ¶ 23. The amount owed under the Agreement as of March 14, 2013 - the remaining forty-seven payments of $2, 800.67 each, less the $600 recovery and discounted to present value at a rate of 6% per the Agreement - was $125, 430.15. Id. ¶ 24; id. Ex. 1 ¶ 20. The Agreement also provides that Plaintiff is entitled to ten percent per annum prejudgment interest, which Plaintiff calculated to be $8, 349.48 as of March 14, 2013, [21] ¶ 24; id. Ex. 1 ¶ 20, and late charges, which Plaintiff calculated to be $1, 262.30. [21] ¶ 24; id. Ex. 1 ¶ 20. Both the Agreement and Defendant Krishna's guaranty provide that Plaintiff is entitled to recover "reasonable costs and attorneys' fees" it incurs in connection with their enforcement. See id. Ex. 1 Ex. A ¶ 9; id. Ex. 1 Ex. C ¶ 6. Plaintiff has provided the Court with documentation indicating that it has incurred $8, 330.00 in attorneys' fees and $654.94 in costs prosecuting this action. See id. Ex. 4.

II. Analysis

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary 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). To avoid summary judgment, the opposing party must go beyond the pleadings and "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250\ (1986) (quotation omitted). A genuine issue of material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248. The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Summary judgment is proper against "a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 322. The party opposing summary judgment "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [opposing] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [opposing party]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

Although Defendants did not respond to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, the Court must still assess whether Plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Summary judgment will be granted only if, employing the above standard, such a ruling is appropriate. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3) ("If a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may grant summary judgment if ...


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