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Mahdavi v. Nextgear Capital, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

April 3, 2015

JODI C. MAHDAVI, Plaintiff,
v.
NEXTGEAR CAPITAL, INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

THERESA CARROLL BUCHANAN, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on NextGear's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 65) and Defendant P.A.R. Services, Inc.'s Amended Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 68.) For the reasons described herein, NextGear's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED as to Count III of the Complaint and DENIED as to Counts I and II. P.A.R. Services, Inc.'s' Motion is GRANTED.

I. Background

On May 29, 2014, Jodi Mahdavi ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint against defendants NextGear Capital, Inc. ("NextGear") and P.A.R. Services, Inc. ("PAR") in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County. ("Compl.") (Dkt. 1-1.) This Complaint alleged that PAR wrongfully repossessed plaintiff's car on behalf of NextGear. (Compl. ¶¶ 13, 22). Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment naming her the rightful owner of the vehicle (Count I), a permanent injunction preventing the defendants from selling the vehicle at auction (Count II), and compensatory and punitive damages for trespass and conversion to plaintiff's personal property. (Id. at ¶¶ 29, 32, 45). The Complaint was removed to this Court by defendants on June 3, 2014. (Dkt. 1.) At the Final Pretrial Conference before Judge Ellis on November 20, 2014, all parties consented to the Exercise of Jurisdiction by a United States Magistrate and the case was referred to the undersigned. (Dkt. 48.) Motions for Summary Judgment were argued on March 20, 2015 and the undersigned took this matter under advisement. (Dkt. 76.)

II. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate only if the record shows 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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986), Evans v. Techs. Applications & Serv., Co., 80 F.3d 954, 958-59 (4th Cir. 1996) (citations omitted). The moving party bears the initial burden of "informing the district court of the basis for its motion, " and identifying the matter "it believes demonstrate[s] the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

Once a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, the opposing party has the burden of showing that a genuine dispute exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986); see also Ray Commc'ns, Inc. v. Clear Channel Commc'ns, Inc., 673 F.3d 294, 299 (4th Cir. 2012) (stating the opposing party must "come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.") (citations and internal quotations omitted). Importantly, the non-moving party must show more than some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. "[T]he non-moving party may not rest upon mere allegation or denials of his pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Hughes v. Bedsole, 48 F.3d 1376, 1381 (4th Cir. 1995) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986)).

In reviewing the record on summary judgment, the Court "must draw any inferences in the light most favorable to the non-movant" and "determine whether the record taken as a whole could lead a reasonable trier of fact to find for the nonmovant." Brock v. Entre Computer Ctrs., Inc., 933 F.2d 1253, 1259 (4th Cir. 1991) (citations omitted). "[A]t the summary judgment stage the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. Where there is conflicting evidence, the court must credit the evidence of both sides and acknowledge that there is a genuine issue of material fact that cannot be resolved by summary judgment. See Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1868-69 (2014) (stating that summary judgment is inappropriate where each side has put forward competent evidence that raises a dispute about a material fact).

III. Analysis

A. Counts I and II as to Defendant NextGear

In her Complaint, plaintiff alleges that her vehicle, a 2013 BMW 650i Gran Coupe with vehicle identification number WBA6B4C53DD097953 (hereinafter the "BMW") was intentionally taken from her by PAR on behalf of NextGear. (Compl. ¶¶ 15-16.) In their Motion for Summary Judgment, NextGear claims that their perfected security interest in the BMW cannot be defeated by plaintiff as she is not a purchaser in the ordinary course of business. (Dkts. 65-66.) Essentially, NextGear's Motion asks that this Court find that Mrs. Mahdavi did not purchase her vehicle in the ordinary course of business and, therefore, does not have a superior interest to NextGear's in the vehicle.

Virginia has adopted the Uniform Commercial Code which states that:

"Buyer in ordinary course of business" means a person that buys goods in good faith, without knowledge that the sale violates the rights of another person in the goods, and in the ordinary course from a person, other than a pawnbroker, in the business of selling goods of that kind. A person buys
goods in the ordinary course if the sale to the person comports with the usual or customary practices in the kind of business in which the seller is engaged or with the ...

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