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Union Pacific Railroad Company v. Lemoine

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

September 21, 2017

UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY
v.
MOREL G. LEMOINE DISTRIBUTORS

          RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 50) filed by Defendants Morel G. Lemoine Distributors, Martin G. Lemoine, and Veronica Lemoine. The Motion seeks the dismissal of all claims brought against these Defendants by Plaintiff due to the expiration of the applicable prescriptive period. (Doc. 50). Plaintiff filed a response, Defendants filed a reply, and Plaintiff filed a sur-reply. (Doc. 54; Doc. 55; Doc. 60). Oral argument is not necessary. For the following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that from 1995 through 1998, Defendants Martin G. Lemoine, Veronica Lemoine, and Keith James Glaser defrauded Plaintiff of up to $2 million through Plaintiffs dealings with Defendants' company, Moral G. Lemoine Distributors ("MGLD"), which is also named in the Complaint. (See Doc. 1 at pp. 1-4; Doc. 54 at p. 1). From 1995 to 1998, Martin G. Lemoine served as the president and CEO of MGLD. (Doc. 1 at p. 3). His wife, Defendant Veronica Lemoine, was also employed by MGLD.[1] (M)Defendant Keith James Glaser[2] was employed by MGLD as a supervisor of the drivers that transport fuel. (See Id. at pp. 3-6; Doc. 54 at p. 2).

         The alleged fraud stemmed from a contract that Plaintiff entered into with Defendants whereby MGLD agreed to purchase, deliver, and provide fueling services to Plaintiff at its Livonia, Louisiana railyard. (Doc. 1 at p. 2). As part of the agreement, Plaintiff agreed to reimburse the costs of purchasing and transporting the fuel. (Id.). Pursuant to the agreement, "field tickets, " a type of receipt, would indicate the amount of fuel that was provided to a particular vehicle and the cost to be paid by Plaintiff. (Doc. 54 at pp. 1-2). An invoice would be generated by Defendants based on the field tickets. (Id. at p. 2).

         Plaintiff alleges that MGLD's drivers were instructed by company officials to write the actual amount fueled in a manifest that was separate from the field tickets. (Id.). Defendant Keith Glaser would then allegedly prepare fraudulent field tickets containing phantom amounts of fuel that "padded" the field tickets so that MGLD received more money from Plaintiff than what was due. (Id.). The invoices would be prepared according to the phony numbers, rather than the genuine numbers written in the manifests. (Id.). In response to this scheme, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants on July 12, 2004, almost six years after the alleged scheme had occurred. (See Doc. 1 at p. 3).

         Yet, Plaintiff first received a tip about the scheme in 1998 from District Attorney Ricky Ward of the 18th Judicial District of Louisiana. (Doc. 50-5 at p. 2). District Attorney Ward contacted Jim Watson, who was employed by Plaintiff as a Union Pacific Railroad Police Officer [3] working at the Livonia facility. Ward claimed that Defendant Martin G. Lemoine was "ripping off Plaintiff by "padding" the fuel bills. (Id. at pp. 1-2). After receiving this information, Watson and Union Pacific Railroad Company Supervisory Police Officer Paul Miller Spoke with Paul Crocker, the Plaintiffs director of Locomotive Management in Livonia. (See id.) Crocker informed the officers that it would be very difficult to continue to steal from Plaintiff with the new process Plaintiff implemented since that time. (Id.).

         After receiving the information in 1998, Plaintiffs officers did nothing. (See Doc. 50-6 at p. 29:24-25; Id., 30:1-8). Plaintiff did not attempt to investigate the matter. (Id.). Nor did Plaintiff invoke its contractual right to inspect the books of MGLD. (See Id.; Doc. 50-3 at p. 7).

         Finally, in July of 2003, Plaintiff initiated an investigation of the alleged fraudulent activity. (Doc. 54 at p. 1). At this time, Rex Averill, a former employee of MGLD, provided Plaintiff with documents that revealed the scheme. (Doc. 54 at pp. 1-2). In July of 2004, almost a year after Averill presented additional evidence of the fraud, Plaintiff filed suit. (Doc. 1).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "[W]hen a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party must 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 marks and footnote omitted).

         In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the Court "view[s] facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in [its] favor." Coleman v. Rous. Indep. Sch. Dist., 113 F.3d 528, 533 (5th Cir. 1997). At this stage, the Court does not evaluate witness credibility, weigh evidence, or resolve factual disputes. Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991). However, if the evidence in the record is such that a reasonable jury, drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, could arrive at a verdict in that party's favor, the motion for summary judgment must be denied. Id. On the other hand, the non-movant's burden is not satisfied merely upon a showing of "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a scintilla of evidence." Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994).

         In sum, summary judgment is appropriate if, "after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, [the non-movant] 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." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 411 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Summary judgment will lie only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Sherman v. Hallbauer, 455 F.2d 1236, 1241 (5th Cir. 1972).

         III. ...


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