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Electrical Mechanical Solutions v. Monforte Exploration, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

May 1, 2019

ELECTRICAL MECHANICAL SOLUTIONS
v.
MONFORTE EXPLORATION, LLC

          RULING

          SHELLY D. DICK CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment[1] filed by Plaintiff, Electrical Mechanical Solutions (“Plaintiff”). Defendant, Monforte Exploration, LLC (“Defendant”) has filed an Opposition[2] to the motion, to which Plaintiff filed a Reply.[3] For the reasons which follow, Plaintiff's motion shall be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that, over the course of eighteen months, Defendant failed to pay any rent due for a generator it leased from Plaintiff under an Equipment Lease Agreement (“the Agreement”) executed July 6, 2016. Plaintiff filed suit claiming Defendant's default under the Agreement and seeking to recover monies owed under the Agreement, interest, and attorney's fees and costs. Plaintiff has alternatively argued that, should the Court find that the Agreement does not provide for the recovery of attorney's fees, Plaintiff is entitled to attorney's fees under La. R.S. 9:2781 as the Agreement constitutes an “open account.”[4]

         Defendant opposes Plaintiff's motion only to the extent that Plaintiff argues the Agreement constitutes an “open account” under Louisiana law. Defendant fails to offer any summary judgment evidence or argument to controvert its default or the amount due under the Agreement.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         “The court shall 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.”[5] “When assessing whether a dispute to any material fact exists, we consider all of the evidence in the record but refrain from making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence.”[6] A party moving for summary judgment “must ‘demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact,' but need not negate the elements of the nonmovant's case.”[7] If the moving party satisfies its burden, “the non-moving party must show that summary judgment is inappropriate by setting ‘forth specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue concerning every essential component of its case.'”[8] However, the non-moving party's burden “is not satisfied with some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a scintilla of evidence.”[9]

         Notably, “[a] genuine issue of material fact exists, ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'”[10] All reasonable factual inferences are drawn in favor of the nonmoving party.[11] However, “[t]he Court has no duty to search the record for material fact issues. Rather, the party opposing the summary judgment is required to identify specific evidence in the record and to articulate precisely how this evidence supports his claim.”[12] “Conclusory allegations unsupported by specific facts … will not prevent the award of summary judgment; ‘the plaintiff [can]not rest on his allegations … to get to a jury without any “significant probative evidence tending to support the complaint.”'”[13]

         B. Default under the Lease Agreement

         On July 6, 2016, Defendant leased a Land Pride Custom Build Diesel Genset generator from Plaintiff pursuant to an Equipment Lease Agreement.[14] The Agreement provides that Defendant would operate the generator month-to-month aboard a fixed platform in the Gulf of Mexico on the outer continental shelf.[15] Defendant took possession of this generator in 2016 and maintained possession until the Court ordered repossession on August 16, 2018.[16] Plaintiff contends it has attempted to recover the amount due, but the Defendant has consistently refused to pay. Plaintiff cites Section III of the Agreement entitled Compensation, which details Defendant's rent obligations under the Agreement.[17]Appendix A of the Agreement provides for a rate of $175.00 per day (or $4, 900.00 per month) in rent for the generator.[18] The invoices submitted by Plaintiff demonstrate that Defendant has failed to pay any rent from May 2017 through mid-August 2018, resulting in an outstanding balance of $86, 450.00.[19] Further, Plaintiff submits an invoice detailing $11, 534.70 in late fees Defendant accrued during this time period, which results in a total balance of $97, 984.70.[20]

         Plaintiff also claims that attorney's fees are available under the Remedies section of the Agreement. Section VI (2) provides:

Lessor may exercise any other right or remedy available to it by law or by agreement, and may in any event recover legal fees and other expenses incurred by reason of a Default or the exercise of any remedy hereunder, including expenses of repossession, repair, storage, transportation, and disposition of the Equipment.[21]

         Defendant has not challenged or argued that attorney's fees are not available under the Remedies section of the Agreement. The Court finds that this provision contemplates recovery of attorney's fees in the event of a Default. Thus, Plaintiff's alternative argument that ...


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