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Transport Systems, Inc. v. Amazon

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

August 6, 2019

TRANSPORT SYSTEMS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
AMAZON, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 35)

          GEORGE CARAM STEEH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Transport Systems filed this diversity action for breach of contract, claim and delivery, conversion, and unjust enrichment under Michigan law against Defendant Amazon relating to an allegedly lost trailer. Defendant's motion for summary judgment is now before the court. Because Plaintiff lacks standing, Defendant's motion for summary judgment shall be GRANTED.

         I. Factual Background

         Plaintiff is a motor carrier company that owns approximately 130 trailers and approximately 30 cabs. (Doc. 38, Ex. A at PgID 366). Transport Systems is a company wholly owned by Ali Saleh and his wife. (Doc. 38, Ex. A at PgID 367). Ali Saleh is also the sole owner of Sure Express, LLC (“Sure Express”). (Doc. 38, Ex. D at PgID 400).

         Plaintiff brought this suit against Defendant arising out of the alleged loss of a 2016 Vanguard trailer (VIN 5V7VC5326GM607804) which it identifies as trailer No. 4029 (the “Trailer”). It is undisputed that Plaintiff does not own the Trailer in question. (Doc. 38, Ex. A at PgID 378). The title holder is Sure Express. (Doc. 35-1, Ex. B at PgID 277). Ali Saleh acknowledged this fact at his deposition. (Doc. 38, Ex. A at PgID 378). During that deposition, Mr. Saleh testified that Plaintiff entered into a lease agreement for the Trailer but neither that lease nor any other agreement was ever produced during discovery. Further, no evidence of monthly payments or other forms of reliance were produced nor any evidence that Plaintiff paid for the use, maintenance, or repair of the Trailer. (Doc. 38, Ex. A at PgID 380). Sure Express is not a party to this action.

         According to the scheduling order, Plaintiff had until October 31, 2018 to file a motion for leave to amend the complaint to substitute the correct party plaintiff, Sure Express. (Doc. 15). Plaintiff failed to comply with the filing deadline. (Doc. 41, PgID 424). On February 28, 2019, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment arguing in part that Plaintiff had no standing to sue because it did not own the Trailer in question. (Doc. 35). Plaintiff waited an additional two weeks before finally filing a motion for leave to amend on March 19, 2019, without including a reason for the delay. (Doc. 41, PgID 424). Magistrate Judge Patti denied Plaintiff's untimely motion to amend, noting, the “determination of the proper entity plaintiff was not difficult and should have been made before this lawsuit was filed.” (Doc. 41, PgID 424). Magistrate Judge Patti allowed Plaintiff the opportunity to file additional briefing in opposition to Defendant's motion for summary judgment, but Plaintiff failed to do so. (Doc. 42, PgID 426).

         II. Standard of Law

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) empowers the court to render summary judgment "forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." See Redding v. St. Eward, 241 F.3d 530, 532 (6th Cir. 2001). The Supreme Court has affirmed the court's use of summary judgment as an integral part of the fair and efficient administration of justice. The procedure is not a disfavored procedural shortcut. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986); see also Cox v. Kentucky Dep't of Transp., 53 F.3d 146, 149 (6th Cir. 1995).

         The standard for determining whether summary judgment is appropriate is "'whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'" Amway Distributors Benefits Ass'n v. Northfield Ins. Co., 323 F.3d 386, 390 (6th Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). The evidence and all reasonable inferences must be construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Tolan v. Cotton, 572 U.S. 650, 660 (2014); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). "[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original); see also National Satellite Sports, Inc. v. Eliadis, Inc., 253 F.3d 900, 907 (6th Cir. 2001).

         If the movant establishes by use of the material specified in Rule 56(c) that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the opposing party must come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 270 (1968); see also McLean v. 988011 Ontario, Ltd., 224 F.3d 797, 800 (6th Cir. 2000). Mere allegations or denials in the non-movant's pleadings will not meet this burden, nor will a mere scintilla of evidence supporting the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 252. Rather, there must be evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the non-movant. McLean, 224 F.3d at 800 (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).

         III. Analysis

         A. Breach of Contract Claim

         Count II alleges breach of contract. Defendant argues it cannot be liable for breach of contract because the parties are not now, and never have been, parties to any contract or written agreement with each other regarding the transportation of Defendant's goods. Plaintiff conceded this issue in its responses to Defendant's first set of “Requests for Admission, ” and further waived the issue in its response to Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 38, PgID 353). Accordingly, Count II shall be dismissed.

         B. Articl ...


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