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United States v. Carolina Casualty Insurance Co.

June 28, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FOR THE USE AND BENEFIT OF TECHNICA, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAROLINA CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, ET. AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John A. Houston United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DOC. # 63]

INTRODUCTION

Pending before this Court is the motion for summary judgment filed by defendants Carolina Casualty Insurance Company, Candelaria Corporation and Otay Group, Inc. ("defendants"). The motion has been fully briefed by the parties and oral argument has been entertained. After a careful consideration of the record as a whole, the pleadings submitted in support of, and in opposition to, defendants' motion, the oral argument of counsel presented at the hearing, and for the reasons set below, this Court GRANTS defendants' motion and enters judgment in favor of defendants on all claims presented in plaintiff's complaint.

BACKGROUND*fn1

Plaintiff Technica, L.L.C. ("Technica" or "plaintiff") filed a complaint on September 8, 2008, alleging two causes of action: (1) under the Miller Act, 40 U.S.C. §§ 3131, et seq., against defendant Candelaria Corporation ("Candelaria") and Candelaria's payment bond surety, defendant Carolina Casualty Insurance Company ("CCIC"); and (2) for breach of contract against defendant Otay Group, Inc. ("Otay"). Plaintiff's claims stem from construction work performed for a federal construction project known as "ICE El Centro SPC - Perimeter Fence Replacement/Internal Devising Fence Replacement" located in El Centro, California ("the project"). The project consisted of replacement and construction of fencing at the El Centro United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") detention facility. Candelaria was the general contractor for the project and CCIC was Candelaria's surety on the payment bond.

Candelaria entered into a subcontract with Otay on December 12, 2007, in which Otay agreed to supply labor and equipment necessary to complete a portion of the project. Technica subsequently entered into an agreement with Otay concerning work on the project, the subject of which is one of the focal points of this lawsuit.*fn2 On June 6, 2008, Otay's subcontract with Candelaria was terminated for cause.

Candelaria and CCIC filed an answer to the complaint on October 23, 2008. Otay filed an answer to the complaint on October 29, 2008. On November 4, 2008, Candelaria and CCIC filed an amended answer along with a cross-claim against Otay. Otay filed an answer to the cross-claim on December 1, 2008. The cross-claim was subsequently dismissed upon the parties' joint motion. Candelaria and CCIC filed a second amended answer, with leave of court, on May 4, 2009, along with a counter-claim against Technica.

Technica filed an answer to the counter-claim on May 26, 2009.

The instant motion for summary judgment was filed on September 28, 2009. Plaintiff filed its opposition to the motion on January 5, 2010. On January 6, 2010, the Court vacated the pretrial conference date of January 25, 2010, indicating that the conference would be rescheduled if necessary after resolution of the pending motion for summary judgment. Upon defendants' ex parte request filed January 8, 2010, the Court granted a continuance of the motion hearing and filing deadline for reply, rescheduling the hearing from January 19, 2010 to February 8, 2010. Oral argument was entertained on February 8, 2010. After hearing the argument of counsel, this Court took the motion under submission.

DISCUSSION

1. Legal Standard

Summary judgment is properly granted when "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and ... the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Entry of summary judgment is appropriate "against a party who 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, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of establishing an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. "If the moving party has the burden of proof at trial (e.g., a plaintiff on a claim for relief, or a defendant on an affirmative defense), the moving party must make a 'showing sufficient for the court to hold that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party.' Thus, if the moving party has the burden of proof at trial, that party must establish beyond peradventure all of the essential elements of the claim or defense to warrant judgment in [its] favor.'" Pecarovich v. Allstate Ins. Co., 272 F. Supp.2d 981, 985 (C.D. Cal. 2003)(citing Calderone v. U.S., 799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986) and quoting from Schwarzer, Summary Judgment Under the Federal Rules: Defining Genuine Issues of Material Fact, 99 F.R.D. 465, 487-88 (1984)(internal citations omitted)).

Once the moving party meets the requirements of Rule 56, the burden shifts to the party resisting the motion, who "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986). Without specific facts to support the conclusion, a bald assertion of the "ultimate fact" is insufficient. See Schneider v. TRW, Inc., 938 F.2d 986, 990-91 (9th Cir. 1991). A material fact is one that is relevant to an element of a claim or defense and the existence of which might affect the outcome of the suit. The materiality of a fact is thus determined by the substantive law governing the claim or defense. Disputes over irrelevant or unnecessary facts will not preclude a grant of summary judgment. T.W. Electrical Service, Inc. v. Pacific Electrical Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987)(citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).

When making this determination, the court must view all inferences drawn from the underlying facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. "Credibility determinations, the weighing of evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a ...


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