United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
MICHAEL G. JOHNSON
DOUBLE NRJ TRUCKING, INC., ET AL
ORDER AND REASONS
ZAINEY UNITED DSTATESBISTRICT JUDGE
following motion is before the Court: Motion for
Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 37) filed by Defendants,
NRJ Trucking, Inc., Ramesh Ramsarup, and Hemwatie Ramsarup.
Plaintiff, Michael G. Johnson, opposes the motion. The
motion, noticed for submission on June 26, 2019, is before
the Court on the briefs without oral argument.
factual background from this Court's prior ruling is as
According to Michael Johnson, in April 2015 he entered into
an agreement with Double NRJ Trucking to purchase a 2006
Peterbuilt commercial truck. Johnson contends that his
understanding of the contract was that he was purchasing the
truck for a price of $70, 000, for which he was to make 92
weekly payments of $1, 056.00. Johnson concedes, however,
that in May 2015 he signed a document stating that he was to
make 192 payments, as opposed to 92 payments. That document,
which is in authentic form, was between defendants Ramesh
Ramsarup and Hemwatie Ramsarup (apparently in their personal
capacities) and Johnson. (Rec. Doc. 10-3 Exhibit B).
Johnson made 92 payments and then sought to have Defendants
transfer the title but they refused. Defendants then
immediately cancelled the registration and insurance on the
truck and it continues to sit idle. Johnson characterizes the
transaction with Defendants as a conditional sales contract,
which is invalid under Louisiana law.
According to Defendants, Johnson made 105 weekly payments
from April 2015 through April 27, 2017. When Johnson stopped
making payments, counsel sent a notice of termination to
Johnson and demanded return of the truck. Defendants
characterize the transaction as a finance lease.
(Rec. Doc. 19, Order and Reasons entered 9/7/17).
same Order and Reasons quoted above, this Court stayed the
counterclaim filed by NRJ Trucking, Inc., Ramesh Ramsarup,
and Hemwatie Ramsarup (collectively "Defendants")
against Michael G. Johnson. The Court stayed the counterclaim
pending finality of parallel proceedings in state court.
Shortly after this Court issued its ruling, the state trial
judge denied Defendants' motion for new trial. On May 16,
2018, the state Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed on
different grounds in favor of Michael Johnson. (Rec. Doc.
20-2). In a subsequent Order and Reasons the Court held that
res judicata barred Defendants' counterclaim against
Johnson and dismissed the same. (Rec. Doc. 22).
claim for damages (based on various legal theories) is
scheduled to be tried to a jury on August 26, 2019.
now move for judgment as a matter of law on Johnson's
claim for damages due to lost profits. Defendants argue that
Johnson cannot meet his burden of proof because he has not
retained an expert to both quantify his damages and relate
them to any acts committed by Defendants.
judgment is appropriate only if "the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any," when viewed
in the light most favorable to the non-movant, "show
that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact."
TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James, 276 F.3d 754, 759
(5th Cir. 2002) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)). A dispute about a
material fact is "genuine" if the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
non-moving party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at
248). The court must draw all justifiable inferences in favor
of the non-moving party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477
U.S. at 255). Once the moving party has initially shown
"that there is an absence of evidence to support the
non-moving party's cause," Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986), the non-movant must
come forward with "specific facts" showing a
genuine factual issue for trial. Id. (citing Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56(e); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). Conclusional
allegations and denials, speculation, improbable inferences,
unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic argumentation do
not adequately substitute for specific facts showing a
genuine issue for trial. Id. (citing SEC v. Recile,
10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th Cir. 1993)).
Court is not persuaded that Plaintiffs failure to retain an
expert on the issue of lost profits entitles Defendants to
judgment as a matter of law on the claim. Plaintiffs claim
for lost profit damages is not complex. So long as Plaintiff
is not attempting to recover for future lost profits (which
would require a net present value calculation) or to apply an
interest factor to the claim for past lost profits, his
calculations for lost profits (which are based on simple
addition and subtraction) can be presented to the jury via
his own testimony. The defense can address on cross
examination questions such as whether the quantum claimed for
lost profits is actually attributable to some other factor,
such as a downturn in business, not connected to
Defendants' conduct. It will be the jury's role ...