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Double R & J Trucking Service, Inc. v. Patton Installations of Florida, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 21, 2015

DOUBLE R & J TRUCKING SERVICE, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
PATTON INSTALLATIONS OF FLORIDA, L.L.C., et al., SECTION

ORDER

SUSIE MORGAN, District Judge.

Before the Court are (1) a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Clark Construction Enterprises, L.L.C. ("Clark") and Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company ("Hartford"), [1] and (2) a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Hamp's Construction, L.L.C. ("Hamp's").[2] The Court has reviewed the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, and now issues this Order.

BACKGROUND

This suit arises out of two levee repair projects for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Defendant Hamp's was awarded Contract P-17A to perform certain levee repairs ("Project 1"). Hamp's subcontracted to Defendant Clark to perform portions of Project 1. Additionally, Clark was awarded Contract WBV-MRL 3.2 to perform certain levee repairs ("Project 2"). Pursuant to the contract for Project 2, Clark procured a surety bond and/or payment bond from Defendant Hartford whereby Hartford guaranteed payment to all subcontractors should Clark or its subcontractors fail to pay for work performed under Project 2.

Clark subcontracted portions of the work for Project 1 and Project 2 to Defendant Patton Installations of Florida, L.L.C. ("Patton"). Patton then hired Plaintiff Double R & J Trucking Service, Inc. ("Double R & J") to perform trucking services on Project 1 and Project 2. Double R & J claims the Defendants have failed to pay it for services rendered on Project 1 and Project 2 totaling $59, 964.62. Double R & J filed suit against Defendants Patton, Clark, Hamp's, and Hartford asserting claims for open account, breach of contract, payment under the Miller Act, penalties under the Louisiana Prompt Payment Act, and unjust enrichment.[3]

On December 3, 2014, Defendants Clark and Hartford filed a motion for partial summary judgment, [4] and Defendant Hamp's filed a motion for summary judgment.[5] On December 16, 2014, default was entered by the Clerk of Court against Defendant Patton, as provided in Rule 55(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[6]

STANDARD OF LAW

Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure directs the court to "grant summary judgment 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."[7] A fact is "material" if it may affect the outcome of the action, and a dispute is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party.[8]

When assessing whether a material factual dispute exists, the Court considers "all of the evidence in the record but refrains from making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence."[9] All reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party, [10] but "unsupported allegations or affidavits setting forth ultimate or conclusory facts and conclusions of law are insufficient to either support or defeat a motion for summary judgment."[11] There is no genuine dispute of material fact if, even viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, no reasonable trier of fact could find for the nonmoving party, thus entitling the moving party to judgment as a matter of law.[12]

LAW AND ANALYSIS

Defendants Clark, Hartford, and Hamp's seek summary judgment with respect to Double R & J's claims against them for open account, breach of contract, violations of the Louisiana Prompt Pay Act, and unjust enrichment.[13] They contend that because there is no contract between Double R & J and Clark, Hartford, or Hamp's, Double R & J cannot maintain open account, breach of contract, or Louisiana Prompt Pay Act claims against them.[14] Further, because a remedy of law exists for Double R & J to recover any unpaid amounts it may be owed, they contend Double R & J cannot maintain claims against them for unjust enrichment.[15] Thus, Clark, Hartford, and Hamp's seek dismissal of Double R & J's open account, breach of contract, Louisiana Prompt Pay Act, and unjust enrichments claims, with prejudice.[16] Hamp's also argues Double R & J's claim against it under the Miller Act should be dismissed, with prejudice, "because Double R & J is a third-tier subcontractor to Hamp's... and cannot maintain a claim under the Miller Act against Hamp's."[17]

A. Open Account and Breach of Contract Claims

Clark, Hartford, and Hamp's seek dismissal of the open account and breach of contract claims asserted against them. Double R & J's opposition to both motions states that "a reading of the Complaint indicates that the open account claim and breach of contract claim are only alleged against Patton."[18] Although Plaintiff contends the Complaint is clear and the motions for summary judgment should be denied, presumably as moot, the Court finds the Complaint to be vague and will rule on the motions for summary judgment.

All parties agree and the Court finds that, because there is no contract between Double R & J and Clark, Hartford, or Hamp's, Double R & J does not have an action against them under Louisiana law based on open account or breach of contract. Furthermore, Double R & J has clarified it is not asserting open account or breach of contract claims against Clark, Hartford, or Hamp's, and in effect does not oppose the motions for summary judgment with respect to these claims. Therefore, there are no factual disputes, and the ...


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