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Revitalization Partners, LLC v. Equinix, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

March 2, 2017

EQUINIX, INC., Defendant.


          JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge


         Before the court is Defendant Equinix, Inc.'s (“Equinix”) motion for summary judgment. (Mot. (Dkt. # 11).) In its response, Revitalization Partners, LLC, (“Revitalization”) opposes Equinix's motion and requests that the court grant Revitalization a continuance to obtain discovery relevant to the issues raised in its complaint and in Equinix's motion. (Resp. (Dkt. # 17) at 11-13.) The court has considered the motions, all submissions filed in support thereof and opposition thereto, the balance of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, [1] the court GRANTS Equinix's motion for summary judgment and DENIES Revitalization's request for a continuance.


         On March 5, 2012, the King County Superior Court appointed Revitalization as the general receiver for Lighthouse Electrical Group, LP (“Lighthouse”). (Dorsett Decl. (Dkt. # 12) ¶ 2, Ex. A-2 at 1, 13-24.)[2] Before being placed into a receivership, Lighthouse performed electrical contractor services in Seattle, Washington. (Neupert Decl. (Dkt. # 18) ¶ 3.) Revitalization was appointed as Lighthouse's receiver pursuant to a request by Lighthouse's primary secured creditor, Columbia State Bank (“Columbia”). (Dorsett Decl., Ex. A-2 at 14-15.) Under the King County Superior Court's Receivership Order, Revitalization took control of Lighthouse's assets and was charged with liquidating them pursuant to RCW 7.60.260. (Id. at 13-24.)

         Upon reviewing Lighthouse's outstanding accounts receivable, Revitalization noted an apparently outstanding obligation in the amount of $251, 216.01 (the “Disputed Obligation”) for services that Lighthouse performed for Equinix. (Neupert Decl. ¶ 4.) Revitalization contacted Scott Hettema at Equinix on or about May 18, 2012, regarding payment, and Equinix responded by providing records of payments it made to Lighthouse. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 7-9.)

         Equinix and Lighthouse's business dealings between 2010 and 2012 bear on the instant motion. On or about July 6, 2010, Michael McCormick, a representative of Lighthouse, completed an ACH Payment Form from Equinix requesting that all amounts owing to Lighthouse be deposited into a Columbia State Bank account in the name of Lighthouse Electrical Group, ending in account number 9968 (the “First Lighthouse Account”). (Dorsett Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. C-2 at 2; L. Anderson Decl. (Dkt. # 13) ¶ 5, Ex. B.) Under the terms of the ACH Payment Authorization Form, this procedure for making payments would remain in place until Lighthouse notified Equinix of its termination or change. (L. Anderson Decl., Ex. B.) Between July 6, 2010, and January 25, 2012, Equinix submitted payments for obligations due and owing to Lighthouse by depositing funds directly to the First Lighthouse Account. (Neupert Decl. ¶ 7.) Lighthouse performed the disputed $251, 216.01 worth of electrical services for Equinix between December 2011, and January 2012. (L. Anderson Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. A.)

         On or around January 26, 2012, Sandra Blackburn, Lighthouse's Vice President of Special Projects, submitted an ACH Payment Form to Equinix and requested that payments owing to Lighthouse be remitted to a Key Bank account in her name, ending in account number 4840 (the “Blackburn Account”). (Neupert Decl. ¶ 8; S. Blackburn Decl. (Dkt. # 15) ¶¶ 2-3; see also Dorsett Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. D at 2.) Ms. Blackburn is married to Michael Blackburn, the founder, President, and co-owner of Lighthouse prior to receivership. (M. Blackburn Decl. (Dkt. # 14) ¶ 2; Dorsett Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. B-1 at 15.) Mr. Blackburn confirms that Ms. Blackburn had actual authority to change Equinix's method of payment to direct payment to the Blackburn Account. (Dorsett Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. C-1 at 38; M. Blackburn Decl. ¶ 3.) Between February 9, 2012, and February 23, 2012, Equinix made three payments to the Blackburn Account totaling $318, 920.96 (the “Equinix Funds”).[3] (Neupert Decl. ¶ 9.) Mr. Blackburn knew that Equinix deposited funds into the Blackburn Account to satisfy its obligation to Lighthouse. (Dorsett Decl., Ex. C-1 at 37.) On or about February 28, 2012, Ms. Blackburn completed another ACH Payment Form with Lighthouse requesting that Equinix deposit future payments owing to Lighthouse into a Columbia Bank account in the name of Lighthouse Electrical Group, ending in account number 0008 (“Second Lighthouse Account”). (Id. ¶ 10; see also Dorsett Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. E at 2.)

         On August 3, 2016, Revitalization filed its complaint in King County Superior Court against Equinix claiming monies due in the amount of $251, 216.01 for labor and supplies that Lighthouse provided to Equinix.[4] (Notice (Dkt. # 1) at 3, Ex. 2 ¶ 3.3.) On August 29, 2016, Equinix removed this suit to federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). (Id. at 1-2.) On December 7, 2016, Equinix filed the instant motion for summary judgment. (Mot. at 10.)


         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence 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); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Galen v. Cty. of L.A., 477 F.3d 652, 658 (9th Cir. 2007). A fact is “material” if it might affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is “‘genuine' only if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable fact finder to find for the non-moving party.” Far Out Prods., Inc. v. Oskar, 247 F.3d 986, 992 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49).

         The moving party bears the initial burden of showing there is no genuine dispute of material fact and that the movant is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If the moving party does not bear the ultimate burden of persuasion at trial, it can show the absence of a dispute of material fact in two ways: (1) by producing evidence negating an essential element of the nonmoving party's case, or (2) by showing that the nonmoving party lacks evidence of an essential element of its claim or defense. Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Fritz Cos., 210 F.3d 1099, 1106 (9th Cir. 2000). “When the party moving for summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial.” C.A.R. Transp. Brokerage v. Darden Rests., Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000). If the moving party meets its burden of production, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to identify specific facts from which a fact finder could reasonably find in the nonmoving party's favor. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         The court is “required to view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the [non-moving] party.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). The court may not weigh evidence or make credibility determinations in analyzing a motion for summary judgment because these responsibilities belong to the jury, not a judge. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50. Nevertheless, the nonmoving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Scott, 550 U.S. at 380 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986)). Accordingly, “mere allegation and speculation do not create a factual dispute for purposes of summary judgment.” Nelson v. Pima Cmty. Coll., 83 F.3d 1075, 1081 (9th Cir. 1996).

         B. Equinix's Motion ...

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