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Southern Bank & Trust Co. v. Laburnum Hotel Partners, LLC

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

May 26, 2015




This matter is before the court on two Motions for Summary Judgment, filed by the Plaintiff, Southern Bank and Trust Company ("Southern"), on December 2, 2014. Southern moved for summary judgment against both the principal debtor Defendant, Laburnum Hotel Partners, LLC ("Laburnum"), see ECF Nos. 68, 69, and the individual guarantor Defendants (collectively, the "Guarantors, " and together with Laburnum, the "Defendants"). See ECF Nos. 70, 71.

The Guarantors filed their Response in Opposition ("Guarantors' Response in Opposition") on December 16, 2014. ECF No. 72. Also on December 16, 2014, Laburnum filed its Memorandum in Opposition ("Laburnum's Memorandum in Opposition"). See ECF No. 73. Southern filed its Reply to the Guarantors on December 19, 2014, ECF No. 74, and its Reply to Laburnum on December 22, 2014. ECF No. 75. On January 5, 2015, this matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) to conduct hearings, including evidentiary hearings, if necessary, and to submit to the undersigned district judge proposed findings of fact, if applicable, and recommendations for the disposition of the Motions for Summary Judgment. See ECF No. 76.

On January 9, 2015, the Guarantors, together with Southern, requested oral argument, ECF No. 77, and on January 23, 2015, the Magistrate Judge conducted a hearing. See ECF No. 79. As directed by the Magistrate Judge, on February 13, 2015, Southern filed a Memorandum Accompanying Declarations Regarding the Value of Personal Property, to which Southern attached several exhibits. ECF No. 80. On March 6, 2015, the Guarantors filed a Response and Declarations in Opposition, in which they argued that Southern failed to establish the sale value of the personal property at issue, and accordingly, that they are entitled to summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No. 81.[1] Thereafter, Southern filed another Response, ECF No. 82, to which the Guarantors filed a Reply. ECF No. 83.

The Magistrate Judge filed the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") on April 9, 2015. ECF No. 85. The Magistrate Judge recommended denying Southern's Motions for Summary Judgment, and directing an evidentiary hearing for fact finding. Id. at 1-2.

By copy of the R&R, the parties were advised of their right to file written objections to the findings and recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge. See id. at 27-28. Southern filed its Objections on April 23, 2015, ("Southern's Objections"), ECF No. 86, and on that same date, the Guarantors filed their Objections (the "Guarantors' Objections"). ECF No. 87.[2] The Guarantors then responded to Southern's Objections on May 7, 2015, ECF No. 88 (the "Guarantors' Response"), and Southern responded to the Guarantors' Objections on May 8, 2015, ECF No. 89 ("Southern's Response).[3]

At a threshold level, in making its determination on the Motions for Summary Judgment, the court ADOPTS the recommended findings of undisputed material fact set forth in the R&R.[4]

II. Standards of Review

A. Magistrate Judge Report and Recommendations

Pursuant to Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court, having reviewed the record in its entirety, shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the R&R to which the Parties have specifically objected. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge, or recommit the matter to him with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

B. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is appropriate when the court, viewing the record as a whole and in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, finds that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-50 (1986). "[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." Id. at 24 9. A court should grant summary judgment if the nonmoving party, after adequate time for discovery, has failed to establish the existence of an essential element of that party's case, on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). In essence, the nonmovant must present "evidence on which the [trier of fact] could reasonably find" for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must go beyond the facts alleged in the pleadings, and rely instead on affidavits, depositions, or other evidence to show a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; see also M & M Med. Supplies & Serv., Inc. v. Pleasant Valley Hosp., Inc., 981 F.2d 160, 163 (4th Cir. 1993) ("A motion for summary judgment may not be defeated by evidence that is 'merely colorable' or 'is not sufficiently probative.'") (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50). Conclusory statements, without specific evidentiary support, do not suffice, Causey v. Balog, 162 F.3d 795, 802 (4th Cir. 1998), nor does ”[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of ...

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