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Manipoun v. Dibela

United States District Court, S.D. California

September 9, 2019

MERIDA MANIPOUN a.k.a. ANOMA SENGVIXAY, Plaintiff,
v.
LOU DIBELLA; CHRIS KELLY; LINDA CARR; JAMES COX; SAN DIEGO EUROPEAN MOTORCARS, LTD. d/b/a ASTON MARTIN OF SAN DIEGO; and DOES 1-20, Defendants.

          ORDER: (1) GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; (2) DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR ORDER REQUIRING PLAINTIFF TO POST AN UNDERTAKING; AND (3) DIRECTING THE CLERK OF COURT TO CLOSE THIS CASE (DOC. NOS. 56, 62)

          HON. ANTHONY J. BATTAGLIA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court are Defendants James Cox and Aston Martin of San Diego's motion for summary judgment and motion for order requiring Plaintiff to post an undertaking. (Doc. Nos. 56, 72.) Plaintiff filed oppositions to both of Defendants' motions. (Doc. Nos. 59, 65, 70.) Plaintiff filed replies. (Doc. Nos. 60, 66, 73.) For the reasons set forth more fully below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment and DENIES Defendants' motion for order requiring Plaintiff to post an undertaking.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 7, 2016, Merida Manipoun (“Plaintiff”) participated in the “Dream Machine, ” a promotional event held at Viejas Casino and Resort (“Casino”). (Doc. No. 50-1 at 4; Doc. No. 62-1 at 2-3.) Plaintiff was issued a “V Club Card” that garnered entries into a drawing each time the V Club Card was used on the slot machine. (Id.) Plaintiff “earned the opportunity” to participate in the drawing and was called on stage to select a single envelope from various envelopes available. (Doc. No. 50-1 at 5.) Plaintiff picked an envelope containing a certificate for an Aston Martin V8 Vantage (the “Car”). (Id.) Casino issued Plaintiff a Form 1099 indicating a $134, 000 income, the suggested retail value of the Car. (Id. at 6.)

         On May 12, 2016, Mr. Dibella, the Casino's manager, called Plaintiff to inform her she would not be receiving the Car. (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 26.) Defendants assert the Casino disqualified Plaintiff from the contest because she allowed her companion to use her V Club Card to improperly gain entries into the drawing, which constituted a violation of the contest rules. (Doc. No. 62-1 at 2.)

         On November 16, 2017, Plaintiff sued Defendants and three other defendants for fraud, conspiracy to defraud, breach of unfair competition, and breach of unilateral contract. (Doc. No. 1.) Other defendants to this action were Lou Dibella, Chris Kelly, and Linda Carr. (Id.) On May 10, 2018, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Defendants Dibella and Carr from this litigation. (Doc. No. 31.) On August 1, 2019, at the hearing on this present motion, Plaintiff stated that claims against Defendant Kelly were also dropped. (Doc. No. 88 at 6.)

         On November 7, 2018, Defendants James Cox and Aston Martin of San Diego (“Defendants”) filed a motion for an order requiring Plaintiff to post an undertaking. (Doc. No. 56.) On February 6, 2019, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 62.) On February 20, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to strike Defendants' motion for summary judgment as her response to Defendants' motion. (Doc. No. 65.) While this Court's briefing schedule on the Defendants' summary judgment motion did not permit sur-replies, (Doc. No. 63), the Court granted Plaintiff's motion to file a sur-reply. (Doc. No. 69.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 if the moving party demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A fact is material when, under the governing substantive law, it could affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. The moving party can satisfy this burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating the nonmoving party failed to establish an essential element of the nonmoving party's case on which the nonmoving party bears the burden of proving at trial. Id. at 322-23. “Disputes over irrelevant or unnecessary facts will not preclude a grant of summary judgment.” T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

         Once the moving party establishes the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to set forth facts showing a genuine issue of a disputed fact remains. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 330. When ruling on a summary judgment motion, a court must view all inferences drawn from the underlying facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendants bring two separate motions. Defendants seek summary judgment as well as an order requiring Plaintiff to post an undertaking.

         A. Motion for Summary Judgment

         Defendants seek summary judgment, or partial summary judgment, as to the following causes of action: (1) fraud; (2) conspiracy to defraud; (3) breach of unfair competition law; and (4) breach of unilateral contract. (Doc. No. 62.) However, the Court notes that at the hearing on August 1, 2019, Plaintiff abandoned her claims of fraud, conspiracy, and unfair competition against Defendants. Plaintiff solely argued that her breach of contract claim survives Defendants' motion. However, since the briefing addressed all four claims, the Court will briefly address each claim on the merits.

         Further, Plaintiff argued that Defendants' motion was untimely as Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend her complaint and reopen discovery was pending. Plaintiff moved to strike Defendants' motion on this basis. However, the Court previously denied Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend her complaint. (Doc. No. 76.) Accordingly, the Court denies Plaintiff's request to strike Defendants' motion as moot.

         i. Fraud

         To prevail on a fraud claim, a plaintiff must prove: (1) the defendant made a false representation as to a past or existing material fact; (2) the defendant knew the representation was false at the time it was made; (3) in making the representation, the defendant intended to deceive the plaintiff; (4) the plaintiff justifiably and reasonably relied on the representation; ...


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