United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING AWSF'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
N. PARRISH UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
the court is a motion for summary judgment filed on July 20,
2018, by defendant Advanced Weather Systems Foundation
(“AWSF”). (ECF No. 600). Plaintiff GeoMetWatch
Corporation (“GeoMet”) responded in opposition on
October 15, 2018. (ECF No. 763). AWSF filed a reply on
December 3, 2018. (ECF No. 818). For the reasons below, the
motion is granted.
November 27, 2018, this court issued a memorandum decision
and order (the “Damages Order”) granting partial
summary judgment to defendants Alan E. Hall, Tempus Global
Data, Inc. (“Tempus”), and Island Park Group of
Companies, LLC (the “Hall Defendants”) on grounds
that GeoMet's damages theories were impermissibly
speculative. (ECF No. 811). In that order, the court held
that GeoMet could not establish that it suffered damages
without relying on speculation or conjecture. Specifically,
the court reviewed GeoMet's damages theories and
concluded that none can provide a basis for recovery
“because they each rely on the occurrence of one or
more contingencies that cannot be established absent
speculation.” (ECF No. 811 at 19).
to DUCivR 7-1(a)(4), AWSF joined the Hall Defendants'
motion for summary judgment insofar as it argued that GeoMet
could not prove damages causation. (ECF No. 607 at ii). AWSF
argues, and the court agrees, that the reasoning of the
Damages Order regarding GeoMet's causation theories
applies with equal force to the claims asserted against AWSF.
Thus, for the reasons explained in the court's Damages
Order, AWSF is entitled to summary judgment on the issue of
GeoMet also seeks nominal or statutory damages against AWSF
under three counts asserting statutory violations. (ECF Nos.
788-48 at 13; 553 at 143). On February 4, 2019, this court
issued a memorandum decision and order (the “Immunity
Order”) granting in part and denying in part AWSF's
motion for summary judgment based on governmental immunity.
In relevant part, that order found AWSF immune under the Utah
Governmental Immunity Act from GeoMet's claims asserting
violations of state statutes (i.e., Utah's Truth in
Advertising Act and Utah's Unfair Practices Act). (ECF
No. 825). Thus, the court has already entered summary
judgment in favor of AWSF on both of these claims. However,
GeoMet's claim against AWSF for violations of the federal
Lanham Act, under which GeoMet seeks only nominal damages, is
not affected by either the Damages Order or the Immunity
Order. The court therefore turns to that claim. On the basis
of the parties' memoranda, applicable law, and for the
reasons explained below, AWSF is also entitled to summary
judgment on GeoMet's Lanham Act claim.
judgment is appropriate when “there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The
movant bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the movant has
met this burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to
“set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (citation
omitted). To do so, the nonmoving party “must do more
than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to
the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).
the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof at trial on a
dispositive issue, that party must “go beyond the
pleadings” and designate specific facts so as to
“make a showing sufficient to establish the existence
of an essential element to that party's case.”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. “[T]he plain
language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment
. . . 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.” “[T]here is no issue
for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the
nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that
party.” Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 249.
And, “[t]o defeat a motion for summary judgment,
evidence, including testimony, must be based on more than
mere speculation, conjecture, or surmise.” Pioneer
Ctrs. Holding Co. Emp. Stock Ownership Plan & Tr. v.
Alerus Fin., N.A., 858 F.3d 1324, 1334 (10th Cir. 2017)
(quoting Bones v. Honeywell Int'l, Inc., 366
F.3d 869, 875 (10th Cir. 2004)).
summary judgment is not a “disfavored procedural
shortcut” but rather “an integral part of the
Federal Rules as a whole” that is designed “to
secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of
every action.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 1).
AWSF is Entitled to Summary Judgment on GeoMet's Lanham
prevail on a false advertising claim under 15 U.S.C. §
1125(a), a plaintiff must prove:
(1) that the defendant made material false or misleading
representations of fact in connection with the commercial
advertising or promotion of its product; (2) in commerce; (3)
that are either likely to cause confusion or mistake as to
(a) the origin, association or approval of the product with
or by another, or (b) ...