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F&M Mafco, Inc. v. Ocean Marine Contractors, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 9, 2019

F&M MAFCO, INC.
v.
OCEAN MARINE CONTRACTORS, LLC and OCEAN MARINE RENTALS, LLC

         SECTION “F”

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are two motions: (1) the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, seeking enforcement of an Ohio judgment pursuant to Louisiana's Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act; and (2) the defendants' motion for summary judgment, seeking a stay of such enforcement. For the reasons that follow, the plaintiff's motion to enforce is GRANTED, and the defendants' motion to stay is DENIED.

         Background

         This enforcement action arises out of a default judgment entered by an Ohio court and the defaulting defendants' failure to satisfy that judgment.

         On September 1, 2017, F&M Mafco, Inc. sued Ocean Marine Contractors, LLC and Ocean Marine Rentals, LLC in Ohio state court, asserting claims arising out of the performance of two contracts. First, OMC and F&M had entered into an agreement for the lease of two Manitowoc cranes. In connection with the lease agreement, two ancillary agreements were executed: (1) a security agreement, in which OMC and OMR granted F&M a security interest in three winches to secure OMC's obligations under the lease; and (2) a derrick purchase agreement, in which OMC agreed to sell F&M a $65, 000 derrick in exchange for application of the purchase price to the outstanding balance allegedly due to F&M under the equipment lease.[1] In the body of its Ohio state court complaint, F&M alleged entitlement to the following relief: (1) $606, 825 in damages arising from OMC's breach of the equipment lease; (2) immediate possession of the two winches remaining in the defendants' possession, or their value of $100, 000, pursuant to the security agreement; (3) $65, 000 in damages arising from OMC's breach of the derrick purchase agreement; and (4) damages of $30, 000 per month to compensate for lost rental income arising from OMC's failure to return the two Manitowoc cranes in its possession. But, in its demand for judgment in that complaint, F&M requested the following judgment against the defendant:

[T]he amount of $606, 825 plus accrued interest from November 1, 2016 in the First Cause of Action of the Complaint; damages in the amount of $100, 000.00 plus accrued interest from November 1, 2016 in the Second Cause of Action of the Complaint; an Order directing the immediate delivery of the collateral as described in the Second Cause of Action of the Complaint; damages in the amount of $65, 000 plus accrued interest from November 1, 2016 as set forth in the Third Cause of Action of the Complaint; damages in the amount of $30, 000 per month plus accrued interest from November 1, 2016 as set forth in the Fourth Cause of Action of the Complaint plus attorneys' fees and the costs incurred in bringing this action, and such other relief to which the Plaintiff is entitled.

         On April 3, 2018, the Common Pleas Court for Hamilton County, Ohio entered a default judgment in favor of F&M Mafco, Inc. and against Ocean Marine Contractors, LLC and Ocean Marine Rentals, LLC after finding that: (1) more than twenty-eight days had passed since the service of the summons and complaint on each defendant; (2) the defendants had failed to make an appearance, answer, or otherwise object to the complaint; and (3) the affidavit of Randy Snyder, F&M's Credit Manager, supported the allegations in the complaint. Mirroring F&M's demand for judgment, the Ohio Default Judgment declared OMC and OMR jointly and severally liable as follows:

(1) In the amount of $606, 825.00 plus accrued interest from November 1, 2016 as set forth in the First Cause of Action in the Complaint.
(2) In the amount of $100, 000.00 plus accrued interest from November 1, 2016 as set forth in the Second Cause of Action in the Complaint.
(3) In the amount of $65, 000 plus accrued interest from November 1, 2016 as set forth in the Third Cause of Action in the Complaint.
(4) Damages in the amount of $30, 000 per month plus accrued interest from November 1, 2016 as set forth in the Fourth Cause of Action of the Complaint.
(5) That the Plaintiff is entitled to a return of the equipment described in the Second Cause of Action of the Complaint that being a Gale Fox Seahorse Wench, DD125 and an Intercon Wench Model DW-200 Serial Number 2348 and all parts, components, manuals and ancillary equipment as described in the Second Cause of Action of the Complaint.

         The Ohio Judgment also awarded the plaintiff the costs incurred in bringing that action. On June 4, 2018, F&M filed suit in this Court to make executory and enforce the Ohio Judgment pursuant to La. R.S. §§ 13:4241-4248 - The Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act. Nearly six months later, on November 16, 2018, F&M moved for summary judgment. In addition to opposing the plaintiff's motion, OMC and OMR filed their own motion for summary judgment on December 3, 2018, seeking a stay of such enforcement. The Court considers the parties' competing motions together.

         I.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 instructs that summary judgment is proper if the record discloses no genuine dispute as to any material fact such that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. No. genuine dispute of fact exists if the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). A genuine dispute of fact exists only “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         The mere argued existence of a factual dispute does not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion. See id. In this regard, the non-moving party must do more than simply deny the allegations raised by the moving party. See Donaghey v. Ocean Drilling & Exploration Co., 974 F.2d 646, 649 (5th Cir. 1992). Rather, he must come forward with competent evidence, such as affidavits or depositions, to buttress his claims. Id. Hearsay evidence and unsworn documents that cannot be presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence at trial do not qualify as competent opposing evidence. Martin v. John W. Stone Oil Distrib., Inc., 819 F.2d 547, 549 (5th Cir. 1987); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2). “[T]he nonmoving party cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence.” Hathaway v. Bazany, 507 F.3d 312, 319 (5th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Ultimately, “[i]f the evidence is merely colorable . . . or is not significantly probative, ” summary judgment is appropriate. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249 (citations omitted); King v. Dogan, 31 F.3d 344, 346 (5th Cir. 1994) (“Unauthenticated documents are improper as summary judgment evidence.”).

         Summary judgment is also proper if the party opposing the motion fails to establish an essential element of his case. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). In deciding whether a fact issue exists, courts must view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). Although the Court must “resolve factual controversies in favor of the nonmoving party, ” it must do so “only where there is an actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.” Antoine v. First Student, Inc., 713 F.3d 824, 830 (5th Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         II.

         This Court, sitting in diversity, must apply Louisiana law in considering the parties' competing motions to enforce and stay enforcement of the Ohio Judgment. See In re English High Court Proceedings, No. 06-2935, 2006 WL 4515304, at *2 (E.D. La. Nov. 2, 2006) (Feldman, J.). Under Louisiana law, the Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, La. R.S. §§ 13:4241-4248, sets forth the requirements for the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, “including default judgments obtained in foreign courts.” Id.

         A.

         The Court first considers whether F&M complied with the procedural requirements set forth in the EFJA. Louisiana Revised Statute § 13:4242, relating to the ...


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