United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Sumner Plains 84,
LLC's (“Sumner Plains”) motion for partial
summary judgment. Dkt. 14. The Court has considered the
pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion
and the remainder of the file and hereby denies the motion
for the reasons stated herein.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
August 2007, Sumner Plains entered into a landlord-tenant
agreement with Defendant Specialized Pavement Marking, Inc.
(“Specialized”) with an initial term of five
years. Dkt. 16-1 at 2-15. On October 23, 2012, the parties
entered into an amendment extending the term of the lease for
another sixty-two months. Id. at 17-18. In December
2017, Specialized vacated the premises.
August 1, 2018, Sumner Plains filed a complaint against
Specialized in Pierce County Superior Court for the State of
Washington. Dkt. 1-1. Sumner Plains asserts five claims
against Specialized, including a breach of contract claim
based on allegations that Specialized left the premises in
disrepair that required extensive cleaning before the
property could be rented to another tenant. Id.
¶¶ 3.1-3.5. On September 4, 2018, Specialized
removed the matter to this Court. Dkt. 1.
February 14, 2019, Sumner Plains filed a motion for partial
summary judgment. Dkt. 14. On April 8, 2019, Specialized
responded and moved to strike some of Sumner Plains's
evidence. Dkt. 19. On April 12, 2019, Sumner Plains replied
and submitted additional evidence. Dkts. 24-29. On April 16,
2019, Specialized filed a surreply moving to strike the
additional evidence. Dkt. 31.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is proper only if the pleadings, the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law when the nonmoving party fails to make a
sufficient showing on an essential element of a claim in the
case on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
There is no genuine issue of fact for trial where the record,
taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to
find for the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)
(nonmoving party must present specific, significant probative
evidence, not simply “some metaphysical doubt”).
See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). Conversely, a
genuine dispute over a material fact exists if there is
sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute,
requiring a judge or jury to resolve the differing versions
of the truth. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 253 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac.
Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir.
determination of the existence of a material fact is often a
close question. The Court must consider the substantive
evidentiary burden that the nonmoving party must meet at
trial-e.g., a preponderance of the evidence in most civil
cases. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254; T.W. Elec.
Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630. The Court must resolve any
factual issues of controversy in favor of the nonmoving party
only when the facts specifically attested by that party
contradict facts specifically attested by the moving party.
The nonmoving party may not merely state that it will
discredit the moving party's evidence at trial, in the
hopes that evidence can be developed at trial to support the
claim. T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630
(relying on Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). Conclusory,
nonspecific statements in affidavits are not sufficient, and
missing facts will not be presumed. Lujan v. Nat'l
Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888-89 (1990).
both parties initially frame the issues presented as one of
contract interpretation, Dkt. 14 at 8, Dkt. 19 at 9-11, the
parties fail to explicitly identify either an ambiguous term
in the contract or differing intent during formation of the
contract. See, e.g., Int'l Marine
Underwriters v. ABCD Marine, LLC, 179 Wn.2d 274, 282
(2013) (“During interpretation, a court's primary
goal is to ascertain the parties' intent at the time they
executed the contract.”) (citing Berg v.
Hudesman, 115 Wn.2d 657, 663 (1990)). Instead, the
parties dispute whether Specialized breached the contract
when it vacated the premises. See, e.g., Dkt. 14 at
11 (“Sumner Plains respectfully requests the Court to
hold that [Specialized] breached the Lease by causing
petroleum contamination . . .”). As to breach,
“[t]he materiality of a breach, and thereby the issue
of substantial performance, is a question of fact.”
DC Farms, LLC v. Conagra Foods Lamb Weston, Inc.,
179 Wn.App. 205, 221 (2014) (citing Bailie Commc'ns,
Ltd. v. Trend Bus. Sys., 53 Wn.App. 77 (1988)).
“The question of materiality depends on the
circumstances of each particular case.” Id.
(citing Vacova Co. v. Farrell, 62 Wn.App. 386
the Court concludes that Sumner Plains has moved for summary
judgment on a question of fact. While judgment on a question
of fact may be entered when the opposing party fails to
submit admissible and relevant evidence in opposition, that
is not the case here because Specialized has submitted
substantial evidence to create numerous material questions of
fact. For example, Specialized has submitted an expert report
that contests Sumner Plains's allegations regarding the
necessity of and extent of the petroleum clean up. Dkts.
21-21-2. Thus, the Court denies Sumner Plains's motion
because multiple question of fact exist for the fact finder.