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Beesley v. Hansen

United States District Court, D. Utah

April 10, 2019

MARK BEESLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
THEODORE HANSEN, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Jill N. Parrish United States District Court Judge

         Before the court is a motion for summary judgment brought by plaintiff Mark Beesley on his sole claim for breach of contract. [Docket 52]. The court had initially set this motion for a hearing. But upon reviewing the briefs, the court determines that a hearing is not necessary. The court GRANTS the motion because Beesley established that he is entitled to judgment in his favor as a matter of law.

         BACKGROUND

         Theodore Hansen borrowed money from Beesley and used Beesley's credit card for business expenses. Beesley also provided business consulting services to Hansen. Hansen and Beesley executed a contract in which they agreed that an attached spreadsheet accurately represented that Hansen owed Beesley $370, 976. The contract stated that this amount, plus interest on outstanding sums, would be due upon demand.

         Beesley sued Hansen, asserting a breach of contract cause of action. Beesley later moved for summary judgment. He argued that he should prevail as a matter of law because the undisputed facts showed that he had performed his obligations under the contract and that Hansen had breached the agreement by failing to pay the amount owed.

         ANALYSIS

         “The elements of a prima facie case for breach of contract are (1) a contract, (2) performance by the party seeking recovery, (3) breach of the contract by the other party, and (4) damages.” Am. W. Bank Members, L.C. v. State, 342 P.3d 224, 230-31 (Utah 2014) (citation omitted). In order to determine whether Beesley has shown that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on his breach of contract claim, the court must initially determine whether Beesley has produced undisputed evidence establishing the first and second elements of the claim under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court then turns to the question of whether Hansen has admitted facts establishing the third and fourth elements of a breach of contract claim under Rule 36.

         I. RULE 56

         Summary judgment is appropriate when “the movant shows that 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 then 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). To do this, 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).

         Beesley met his initial burden of demonstrating the absence of disputed material facts for the first two elements of his breach of contract claim. He produced the contract, which was electronically signed by both himself and Hansen. Beesley also provided an affidavit declaring that he had fully performed his obligations under the contract by loaning Hansen money and performing consulting services for him. Indeed, the contract itself recites that Beesley had loaned Hansen money and provided consulting services.

         The burden then shifted to Hansen to set forth evidence showing a genuine dispute of material fact as to the first two elements of the breach of contract claim. Hansen did not shoulder this burden. Hansen responded to Beesley's claims that it was undisputed that the parties had formed a contract and that Beesley had performed his obligations under the contract with bald assertions that each of these facts was disputed. But simply writing the word “Disputed” as a response to Beesley's statement of undisputed facts is insufficient to create a genuine dispute. “A party asserting that a fact . . . is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .; or (B) showing that the materials cited [by the moving party] do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Hansen cites no evidence that would create a dispute of fact, nor does he show how the evidence provided by Beesley fails to establish the absence of a genuine dispute regarding the existence of a contract or Beesley's performance under the contract. Thus, Beesley has established the first two elements of his breach of contract under Rule 56.

         II. RULE 36

         The third and fourth elements of Beesley's breach of contract claim are breech and damages. Beesley relies upon Hansen's admissions made pursuant to Rule 36 to establish these elements.

         Rule 36 provides that a party may serve on another party a request to admit the truth of facts relevant to the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(1). “A matter is admitted unless, within 30 days after being served, the party to whom the request is directed serves on the requesting party a written answer or objection addressed to the matter and signed by the party or its attorney.” Id. 36(a)(3). Facts deeded admitted through a failure to respond may support a motion for summary judgment. Id. 56(c)(1)(A); H. ...


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