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Najor v. Plaquemines Clay Co., LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

October 15, 2019

ROBERT NAJOR
v.
PLAQUEMINES CLAY CO., LLC, et al.

         SECTION: “J” (1)

          ORDER & REASONS

          CARL J. BARBIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 146) filed by Plaintiff, Robert Najor (“Plaintiff), and a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 154) filed by Defendant Huyen T. Nyugen, in her capacity as Trustee of the Nguyen Family Trust (“Defendant Trustee”) on Count Four of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Rec. Doc. 128). Both motions are opposed and supported by various oppositions, replies, and sur-replies. Having considered the motions and legal memoranda, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that both motions should be DENIED.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This litigation derives from a default judgment rendered in this Court on November 9, 2017, against Hai Nguyen (“Judgment Debtor”) and the Nguyen Family Trust (“the Trust”) by and in favor of Robert Najor (“Plaintiff”). (Rec. Doc. 80).

         On April 5, 2013, Plaintiff instituted an action against Judgment Debtor and Plaquemines Clay Co., LLC to recover payment owed on a promissory note[1] dated February 22, 2012. (Rec. Doc. 1, at 3). This Court entered a default judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against Judgment Debtor and Plaquemines Clay Co., LLC on March 14, 2014. (Rec. Doc. 23). Thereafter, Plaintiff filed suit against Judgment Debtor and the Trustee of the Trust, and the case was consolidated with the action instituted on April 5, 2013. (See Rec. Doc. 43).[2]

         On June 16, 2017, default was entered against Judgment Debtor and Defendant Trustee. (Rec. Doc. 69). This Court held an evidentiary hearing on October 18, 2017. (Rec. Doc. 75). Plaintiff's counsel submitted a Trial Exhibit containing, among other things, a copy of a purported cash sale in 2002 of property located at 1725 Lakeshore Drive in New Orleans, Louisiana (“the Property”) from an entity entitled National Marine Financing Corporation (“National”) to the Trust. (Rec. Doc. 77, at 1). Judgement Debtor was the President of National. The cash sale specifically names Huyen Nguyen as the Trustee of the Trust and appears to list her mailing address as that of the Property where service upon Defendant Trustee was executed. (See Rec. Doc. 77, at 1).

         On November 9, 2017, this Court entered a judgment against Judgment Debtor and the Trust. (Rec. Doc. 80). On October 5, 2018, this Court granted Defendant Trustee's motion for a new trial. (See Rec. Docs. 84, 94). This Court subsequently granted Defendant Trustee's Motion to Alter, Clarify or Amend Judgment (Rec. Doc. 98), concluding that the Court's October 5, 2018 Order had the effect of granting a new trial on all issues and entirely setting aside the Court's November 9, 2017 Judgment. (Rec. Doc. 139).

         Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint on January 16, 2019 stating seven possible claims for relief. Defendant Trustee responded with a Motion to Dismiss Counts One, Four, Six, and Seven of the amended complaint. On April 15, 2019, the Court issued an Order & Reasons granting Defendant Trustee's Motion to Dismiss regarding Counts One, Six, and Seven, but specifically retaining jurisdiction over Plaintiff's Count Four, which alleged the sale of the Property in 2002 to Defendant Trustee was a simulation resulting in an absolute or relative nullity (Rec. Doc. 141).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56); Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). When assessing whether a dispute as to any material fact exists, a court considers “all of the evidence in the record but refrains from making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence.” Delta & Pine Land Co. v. Nationwide Agribusiness Ins. Co., 530 F.3d 395, 398 (5th Cir. 2008). All reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the nonmoving party, but a party cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated assertions. Little, 37 F.3d at 1075. A court ultimately must be satisfied that “a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Delta, 530 F.3d at 399.

         If the dispositive issue is one on which the moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party “must come forward with evidence which would ‘entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial.'” Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1264-65 (5th Cir. 1991). The nonmoving party can then defeat the motion by either countering with sufficient evidence of its own, or “showing that the moving party's evidence is so sheer that it may not persuade the reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict in favor of the moving party.” Id. at 1265.

         If the dispositive issue is one on which the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may satisfy its burden by merely pointing out that the evidence in the record is insufficient with respect to an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party, who must, by submitting or referring to evidence, set out specific facts showing that a genuine issue exists. See Id. at 324. The nonmovant may not rest upon ...


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