United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion for
partial summary judgment (Dkt. No. 39) and Defendant's
motion to withdraw admissions (Dkt. No. 46). Having
thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the
relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary
and hereby GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Plaintiffs'
motion (Dkt. No. 39) and DENIES Defendant's motion (Dkt.
No. 46) for the reasons explained herein.
otherwise indicated, the following facts are uncontroverted.
Zane White and his limited liability company, Fish LLC
(collectively “Plaintiffs”), engaged Defendant to
upgrade the engines on Plaintiffs' vessel and make other
repairs. (Dkt. No. 39 at 3.) Defendant brought the vessel
ashore and replaced the engines at its boat yard, but did not
finish the job on land. (Id. at 6.) It launched the
vessel and towed it to Plaintiffs' boathouse on November
3, 2015, intending to finish the job on-site. (Dkt. No. 40-7
at 2-3.) The vessel sank in the boathouse on or about
November 22, 2015 before any additional work could be
performed. (Dkt. No. 39 at 8.)
witnessed the vessel sink. Holly James, an independent boat
detailer, testified that she entered the boathouse on the
evening of Friday November 20th to return items to Mr. White.
(Dkt. No. 45-1 at 32.) She observed the vessel floating at
its normal position in the water without the bilge pump
running. (Id. at 33, 34.) Two days later, Port of
Everett personnel discovered the vessel sunken in the
boathouse. (Dkt. No. 40-16 at 5.) Zane White was out of state
throughout this period and has no personal knowledge
regarding the sinking. (Dkt. Nos. 39 at 15, 44 at 4.)
bring claims for breach of a bailment agreement, breach of
contract, breach of the implied warranty of workmanlike
performance, and negligence and/or gross negligence. (Dkt.
No. 14 at 4-7.) Defendant counter-claims for breach of
contract, alleging Plaintiffs failed to pay amounts owing for
the work it did on the vessel before it sunk along with the
salvage and storage services Defendant rendered after the
vessel sunk. (Dkt. No. 15 at 8-9.) Trial in this matter is
scheduled to begin June 4, 2018. (Dkt. No. 16.)
now move for partial summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 39.) They
ask the Court to: (1) find that Defendant is liable as a
matter of law for all but Plaintiffs' negligence claims,
(2) dismiss some of Defendant's affirmative defenses, and
(3) dismiss Defendant's counter-claim. (Id. at
1.) By separate motion, Defendant asks the Court to withdraw
certain admissions it made by virtue of an untimely response
to Plaintiffs' second request for admissions. (Dkt. No.
to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
“[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant
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). In making such a
determination, the Court must view the facts and inferences
to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-50
Once a motion for summary judgment is properly made and
supported, the opposing party “must come forward with
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). Material facts are
those that may affect the outcome of the case, and a dispute
about a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient
evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the
non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49.
Ultimately, summary judgment is appropriate only against a
party who “fails to make a showing sufficient to
establish the existence of an element essential to that
party's case, and on which that party will bear the
burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).
Breach of Bailment Agreement
move for summary judgment on their claim that Defendant
breached the bailment agreement. (See generally Dkt.
No. 39.) A bailment is created when property is delivered to
and accepted by a recipient with the implied promise that the
property will be returned once the purpose of the bailment
has been fulfilled. 19 Williston on Contracts § 53:2
(4th ed.) (May 2017 update). “It has long been
established that the law of bailment is applicable to suits
for damages to or loss of a vessel that has been left with
another for purposes of repair.” Goudy &
Stevens, Inc. v. Cable Marine, Inc., 924 F.2d 16, 18
(1st Cir. 1991) (citing Buntin v. Fletchas, 257 F.2d
512, 513 (5th Cir. 1958)). Further, if a bailor demonstrates
that a bailee had exclusive possession of property and then
returned the property damaged, a presumption of negligence
attaches. Natl. Liab. & Fire Ins. Co. v. R & R
Marine, Inc., 756 F.3d 825, 832 (5th Cir. 2014). To
overcome this presumption, the bailee must make an
affirmative showing that it either exercised reasonable care
or that its negligence was not the proximate cause of the
undisputed that Plaintiffs delivered the vessel to Defendant
in a seaworthy condition. (See generally Dkt. Nos.
39, 44.) At issue are the remaining elements. The Court finds
Defendant presents sufficient evidence to create genuine of
fact regarding whether the bailment terminated prior to the