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Master-Halco, Inc. v. Security Industries, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

October 1, 2014

MASTER-HALCO, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
SECURITY INDUSTRIES, INC. n/k/a FENCE AND DOOR SECURITIES, INC. and DANN.Y.S. JONES, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

RUDY LOZANO, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the: (1) "Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, " filed by Plaintiff, Master-Halco, Inc., on June 2, 2014 (DE #17); (2) Plaintiff's Motion to Vacate Order of August 20, 2014 and for Summary Ruling on Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, filed by Plaintiff, Master-Halco, Inc., on August 25, 2014 (DE #21); and (3) "Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, filed by Plaintiff, Master-Halco, Inc., on September 12, 2014 (DE #26). For the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment (DE #17) is GRANTED as to LIABILITY. The Clerk is hereby ORDERED to enter judgment as a matter of law in favor of Plaintiff, Master-Halco, and against Defendants, Security Industries, Inc. n/k/a Fence and Door Securities, Inc. and Danny S. Jones. The parties are hereby ORDERED to attend a hearing on the issue of damages set before this Court on November 4, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. The motion to strike (DE #26) is DENIED. The motion to vacate (DE #21) is also DENIED.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Master-Halco, Inc., filed the instant motion for summary judgment on June 2, 2014 (DE #17). Later the same day, it filed a memorandum in support (DE #18) and a motion entitled on the docket "Motion to Supplement Motion for Summary Judgment." (DE #19.) On August 20, 2014, this Court granted the motion to supplement and deemed the Plaintiff's designation of evidence in support of its motion for summary judgment as filed. (DE #20.) This Court also ordered the Defendants to file a response to the motion for summary judgment on or before September 4, 2014. Id. Plaintiff then filed a motion to vacate that order, claiming it incorrectly labeled its designation of evidence as a motion to supplement, and because Defendants already missed the 28-day window in which to file a response in opposition, they should not be entitled to additional time to file a response. (DE #21.)

Defendants filed a response within the additional time ordered by the Court, on September 4, 2014 (DE #23). Plaintiff then moved to strike the response as untimely under L.R. 56-1. (DE #26.) Plaintiff also filed a reply in support of the motion for summary judgment on September 15, 2014 (DE #28). Thus, the motions are fully briefed and ripe for adjudication.

DISCUSSION

Motion to Strike

Plaintiff contends that its entry labeled "Motion to Supplement Motion for Summary Judgment" (DE #19), filed on June 2, 2014, was incorrectly titled on the docket, and is merely the evidence designated in support of its motion for summary judgment. As such, when this Court granted the motion to supplement, and gave Defendants additional time to file a response to the motion for summary judgment (DE #20), Plaintiff believes the extension of time was improper. They move to vacate this Court's order (DE #21), and also to strike Defendants' response to the motion for summary judgment (DE #26).

It is this Court's practice that when the opposing party fails to file a response to a motion for summary judgment pursuant to L.R. 56-1, that this Court takes it upon itself to then order the party to respond within an additional 15 days. As such, even if Plaintiff had not filed its motion to supplement the motion for summary judgment, this Court would have granted Defendants an additional 15 days to file a response after the Court noticed that the time had elapsed for a timely response. Moreover, motions to strike are heavily disfavored, and usually only granted in circumstances where the contested evidence causes prejudice to the moving party. Kuntzman v. Wal-Mart, 673 F.Supp.2d 690, 695 (N.D. Ind. 2009); Gaskin v. Sharp Elec. Corp., No. 2:05-CV-303, 2007 WL 2228594, at *1 (N.D. Ind. July 30, 2007). As discussed below, even considering the arguments and evidence set forth by Defendants, summary judgment on liability is appropriate, and this Court prefers to rule upon all the evidence before it. Therefore, the motion to vacate this Court's order extending the time for Defendants to respond (DE #21) and the motion to strike (DE #26) are DENIED.

Motion for Summary Judgment

Pursuant to Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper only if it is demonstrated that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Nebraska v. Wyoming, 507 U.S. 584, 590 (1993); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). In other words, the record must reveal that no reasonable jury could find for the nonmovant. Karazanos v. Navistar Int'l Transp. Corp., 948 F.2d 332, 335 (7th Cir. 1991); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, a court must view all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; NUCOR Corp. v. Aceros Y Maquilas de Occidente, 28 F.3d 572, 583 (7th Cir. 1994).

The burden is upon the movant to identify those portions of "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, " if any, that the movant believes "demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once the movant has met this burden, the nonmovant must support its assertion that a fact is genuinely disputed by citing to particular parts of materials in the record. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Becker v. Tenenbaum-Hill Assoc., Inc., 914 F.2d 107, 110 (7th Cir. 1990); Schroeder v. Lufthansa German Airlines, 875 F.2d 613, 620 (7th Cir. 1989). "Whether a fact is material depends on the substantive law underlying a particular claim and only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.'" Walter v. Fiorenzo, 840 F.2d 427, 434 (7th Cir. 1988) (emphasis in original) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).

"A party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleading, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact which requires trial." Beard v. Whitley Country REMC, 840 F.2d 405, 410 (7th Cir. 1988) (emphasis in original); see also Hickey v. A.E. Staley Mfg., 955 F.2d 1385, 1391 (7th Cir. 1993). Therefore, if a party fails to establish the existence of an essential element on which the party bears the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment will be appropriate. In this situation, there can be "no genuine issue as to any material fact, ' since ...


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