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Mobilization Funding, LLC v. Halvorson Construction Group, LLC

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

September 25, 2019

MOBILIZATION FUNDING, LLC, a South Carolina limited liability company, Plaintiff,
v.
HALVORSON CONSTRUCTION GROUP, LLC; a Washington limited liability company; and CEC ELECTRICAL CONTRACTING, LLC, a Washington limited liability company, Defendants. HALVORSON CONSTRUCTION GROUP, LLC; a Washington limited liability company, Third Party Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN and JANE DOE CHASE, individually and the marital community comprised thereof, Third Party Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Richard A. Jones, United States District Judge

         The Honorable Richard A. Jones This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Mobilization Funding’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Dkt. #10). For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES the Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Mobilization Funding (“Plaintiff” or “Mobilization Funding”) is a South Carolina-based company that provides startup financing to construction subcontractors. Dkt. # 10 at 2. Defendant CEC Electrical Contracting, LLC (“CEC”) is a Washington-based electrical subcontractor that was retained by Defendant Halvorson Construction Group, LLC (“Halvorson”) to perform electrical work for three of Halvorson’s construction projects (the “Halvorson projects”). Dkt. # 1 at ¶¶ 8-10.

         In May 2017, Mobilization Funding agreed to advance CEC funds in connection with its work on the three Halvorson projects. Dkt. # 10 at 2. On May 10, 2017, CEC executed a promissory note in favor of Mobilization Funding in the amount of $1, 904, 761.91. Dkt. # 1 at ¶ 21; Dkt. # 11, Ex. D. As security for the loan, CEC also executed a security agreement, granting Mobilization Funding a security interest in all of CEC’s personal property and accounts. Dkt. # 11, Ex. E. The security agreement specifically identifies CEC’s “contracts receivable” for the three Halvorson contracts as part of the collateral. Id. CEC and Mobilization Funding also notified Halvorson of Mobilization Funding’s security interest and on May 15, 2017, the three parties executed a “Directive of Funds for CEC Electrical Contracting, Inc.” (the “Directive of Funds”), in which Halvorson agreed to pay CEC’s receivables from the Halvorson projects directly to Mobilization Funding. Dkt. # 11, Ex. G. On October 17, 2017, Mobilization Funding also filed a UCC-1 financing statement with the Washington Department of Licensing identifying CEC as the debtor and describing the aforementioned collateral. Dkt. # 11, Ex. F.

         As work on the projects progressed, Halvorson became aware that CEC was not paying its vendors, suppliers, and employees. Dkt. #17 at ¶ 6. As a result, in February 2018, Halvorson advanced $65, 000 to CEC to allow it to pay its employees. Id. During the course of CEC’s contract, Halvorson also made other “advances to CEC to allow CEC to meet its payroll obligations.” Dkt. # 17 at ¶¶ 22-23. Around the same time, Mobilization Funding agreed to advance CEC additional funds and on March 27, 2018, CEC executed a second promissory note in the amount of $908, 705.47 in exchange for the loan. Dkt. # 11, Ex. H. CEC again executed a security agreement granting Mobilization Funding a security interest in CEC’s “contract receivables” for the three Halvorson projects. Dkt. # 11, Ex. I.

         In March 2018, the parties also modified the Directive of Funds, authorizing Halvorson to divert $130, 000 of Mobilization Funding’s collateral to Halvorson for the “payroll Halvorson funded to CEC . . . .” Dkt. # 11, Ex. J. According to Mobilization Funding, Halvorson “did not stop” with the initial $130, 000 and continued to divert “significant amounts (likely hundreds of thousands of dollars) of CEC’s receivables” to repay its “own unsecured loans.” Dkt. # 10 at 5; Dkt. 11 at ¶ 11. On June 20, 2018, Halvorson terminated its contract with CEC because of CEC’s ongoing default. Dkt. # 11 at ¶ 11; Dkt. # 17 at ¶ 20. Halvorson informed Mobilization Funding of its decision and engaged new electrical subcontractors to complete the work CEC was originally contracted to perform. Dkt. # 17 at ¶¶ 20-21.

         On September 25, 2018, Plaintiff brought suit against CEC and Halvorson alleging, among other things, conversion, replevin, and fraud and requesting a declaratory judgment regarding Mobilization Funding’s priority over CEC’s contract receivables. Dkt. #1. On January 24, 2019, Plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment on the discrete issue as to whether its perfected security interest has priority over any claim Halvorson may make to CEC’s account receivables. Dkt. # 10.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the moving party will have the burden of proof at trial, it must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party. Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007). On an issue where the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party can prevail merely by pointing out to the district court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party’s case. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving party meets the initial burden, the opposing party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of fact for trial in order to defeat the motion. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party’s favor. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150-51 (2000).

         However, the court need not, and will not, “scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact.” Keenan v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also White v. McDonnell-Douglas Corp., 904 F.2d 456, 458 (8th Cir. 1990) (the court need not “speculate on which portion of the record the nonmoving party relies, nor is it obliged to wade through and search the entire record for some specific facts that might support the nonmoving party’s claim”). The opposing party must present significant and probative evidence to support its claim or defense. Intel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co., 952 F.2d 1551, 1558 (9th Cir. 1991).

         III. DISCUSSION

         In its motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff argues that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to Plaintiff’s priority over CEC’s receivables. Dkt. #10 at 3. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that it has a perfected security interest and because it is the only party with a perfected security interest, it has priority over any claim Halvorson may make as to CEC’s receivables from the Halvorson contracts. Id.

         The Court must first consider whether Mobilization Funding has a perfected security interest.[1] Under the Washington Uniform Commercial Code, “a security interest attaches to collateral when it becomes enforceable against the debtor with respect to the collateral . . . .” RCW 62A.9A-203. A security interest is enforceable if: (1) value is given, (2) the debtor has a right in the collateral or power to ...


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