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BMO Harris Bank N.A. v. J-Lin Trucking, Inc.

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

March 25, 2019

BMO HARRIS BANK N.A., Plaintiff,
v.
J-LIN TRUCKING, INC. and JAMES JONES, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES T. MOODY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff BMO Harris Bank N.A. (“BMO” or “plaintiff”) brought this action for breach of contract against defendants J-Lin Trucking, Inc. (“J-Lin”) and James Jones (“Jones”). (DE # 1.) Now, plaintiff moves for summary judgment on all claims. (DE # 19.) For the reasons stated below, the motion will be granted.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment must be granted 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). A genuine issue of material fact exists when “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Not every dispute between the parties makes summary judgment inappropriate; “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Id. To determine whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must construe all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Ogden v. Atterholt, 606 F.3d 355, 358 (7th Cir. 2010). If the nonmoving party fails to establish the existence of an essential element on which he or she bears the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment is proper. Massey v. Johnson, 457 F.3d 711, 716 (7th Cir. 2006).

         In the case at hand, defendants did not file a response to the motion for summary judgment, despite being given proper notice of the motion. (See DE # 19-5.) Pursuant to N.D. Ind. Local Rule 7-1(d)(4), a party's failure to file a response within the time prescribed may subject the motion to summary ruling. Nevertheless, “a nonmovant's failure to respond to a summary judgment motion, or failure to comply with [the local rules], does not, of course, automatically result in judgment for the movant.” Keeton v. Morningstar, Inc., 667 F.3d 877, 884 (7th Cir. 2012). BMO “must still demonstrate that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Id. Although defendants have not provided their own versions of the facts, we still view all facts asserted by BMO in the light most favorable to defendants and draw all reasonable inferences in their favor. Id.

         II. BACKGROUND

         J-Lin entered into four Master Lease Agreements and one Loan and Security Agreement with General Electric Capital Corporation (collectively, the “Agreements”). (DE # 19-3 at 2.) General Electric Capital Corporation later assigned the Agreements to BMO. (Id. at 10-11.)

         On December 28, 2012, the parties entered into the first Master Lease Agreement (“Agreement 1”). (DE # 19-3 at 13.) J-Lin agreed to make monthly payments for a term of 60 months in exchange for financing for the use of a 2012 Kenworth Model T660-Series vehicle. (Id. at 2.) On February 5, 2013, the parties entered into a second Master Lease Agreement (“Agreement 2”), whereby J-Lin agreed to make monthly payments for a term of 60 months in exchange for financing for the use of a 2012 Kenworth Model T700 vehicle. (Id. at 2, 26.) On November 21, 2013, the parties entered into a third Master Lease Agreement (“Agreement 3”), whereby J-Lin agreed to make monthly payments for a term of 60 months in exchange for financing for the use of a 2014 Kenworth Model T680 vehicle. (Id. at 2-3, 29.) On January 15, 2014, the parties entered into a fourth Master Lease Agreement (“Agreement 4”), whereby J-Lin agreed to make monthly payments for a term of 60 months in exchange for financing for the use of another 2014 Kenworth Model T680 vehicle. (Id. at 3, 32.) Lastly, on June 24, 2015, the parties entered into a loan and security agreement (“Agreement 5”), whereby J-Lin agreed to make monthly payments for a term of 60 months in exchange for financing for the use of a 2012 Kenworth Model T660-Series vehicle. (Id. at 3, 35.) Pursuant to those agreements, General Electric Capital Corporation provided J-Lin with financing for the equipment described in the Agreements. (Id. at 47.)

         On December 28, 2012, February 5, 2013, November 21, 2013, January 15, 2014, and June 24, 2015, contemporaneously with the execution of the Agreements, defendant Jones executed five Continuing Guaranties (collectively, the “Guaranties”). (DE # 19-3 at 4, 41-44.) Each Guaranty states that Jones will “unconditionally guarantee” all of J-Lin's “present and future liabilities, obligations, and indebtedness to GE Capital.” (Id.) More specifically, Jones agreed “to pay on demand the entire [i]ndebtedness and all losses, costs, attorneys' fees and expenses which may be suffered by GE Capital by reason of [J-Lin]'s default” under the Agreements.[1] (Id.) These Guaranties were later assigned to BMO. (Id. at 10-11.)

         On January 1, 2017, J-Lin trucking defaulted under the terms of the Agreements by failing to make the minimum monthly payments. (DE # 19-3 at 4.) All of the Agreements define default as the failure to pay any amount owed.[2] (Id. 19-3 at 3, 16, 37.) All say that upon default, BMO may declare any indebtedness “immediately due and payable.” (Id. at 3, 16-17, 37.)

         In two letters dated April 28, 2017, BMO notified J-Lin and Jones, respectively, that J-Lin was in default and that the balance due was $369, 142.91. (DE # 19-3 at 4, 47, 49.) Defendants owed $72, 055.40 on Agreement 1 (id. at 51), $57, 344.73 on Agreement 2 (id. at 52), $85, 591.14 on Agreement 3 (id. at 53), $91, 542.72 on Agreement 4 (id. at 54), and $62, 608.92 on Agreement 5 (id. at 55). After certain equipment was retrieved and sold, the balance due was reduced to $281, 173.30, according to plaintiff. (Id. at 4.) Neither J-Lin nor Jones have paid this amount. (Id. at 5.)

         On May 25, 2017, BMO filed a complaint containing two claims: (1) a breach of contract claim against J-Lin for breach of the Agreements (“Count I”), and (2) a breach of contract claim against Jones for breach of the Guaranties (“Count II”). (DE # 1 at 8-9.)

         On April 10, 2018, plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment in its favor on Counts I and II of the complaint. (DE # 19.) Neither defendant responded to the motion in any manner. The motion is now ripe for ruling.

         III. ...


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