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PNC Bank, N. A. v. Legal Advocacy, P.C.

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

September 30, 2019

PNC BANK, National Association, successor by merger to National City Bank, a national banking association, Plaintiff,
LEGAL ADVOCACY, P.C., a Michigan Professional Corporation, f/k/a NORMAN YATOOMA & ASSOCIATES, P.C. and NORMAN YATOOMA, Defendants.


          Honorable Linda V. Parker, Judge

         On September 9, 2016, Plaintiff PNC Bank brought this action against Defendant Legal Advocacy, P.C., f/k/a Norman Yatooma & Associates, P.C. and Defendant Norman A. Yatooma, alleging breach of promissory note and breach of guaranty. (Compl., ECF No. 1.) Presently before the Court are Plaintiff’s and Defendants’ (collectively “Parties”) cross-motions for summary judgment, both filed on March 15, 2019. (ECF Nos. 63 & 64.) The motions have been fully briefed. Finding the facts and legal arguments sufficiently presented in the Parties’ briefs, the Court dispensed with oral argument pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f). For the reasons that follow, the Court grants Plaintiff’s motion, (Pl.’s Mot., ECF No. 63), and denies Defendants’ motion, (Defs.’ Mot., ECF No. 64).


         On August 27, 2008, Plaintiff extended credit to Defendant Legal Advocacy in the amount of $1, 500, 000, which was executed by a Promissory Note (“Note”) and secured with a Commercial Guaranty. (Pl.’s Mot., ECF Nos. 63-2, 63-4, 63-5.) Defendant Yatooma executed the Commercial Guaranty and agreed to be financially responsible for the indebtedness of Defendant Legal Advocacy. (Pl.’s Mot., ECF No. 63-4.) The Note provided that payment would be due upon demand. (Pl.’s Mot., ECF No. 63-2 at Pg. ID 720.)

         In early 2010, Plaintiff asked Defendants to sign new commercial loan documents and submit past due financial reports by March 15, 2010. (Pl.’s Mot., ECF No. 63-7 at Pg. ID 763.) Defendants did not do so. (Id.) On March 24, 2010, Plaintiff noted in its internal database that Defendants “defaulted” on their loan. (Defs.’ Mot., ECF No. 64-5; Defs.’ Resp., ECF No. 68 at Pg. ID 1068.)

         On April 30, 2010, Plaintiff sent Defendants a demand letter (“Demand Letter #1). (Pl.’s Mot., ECF No. 63-7 at Pg. ID 763.) The letter sought full payment of the debt by no later than June 30, 2010. (Id.) Having received no payment by that date, on July 8, 2010, Plaintiff sent Defendants a second demand letter but to no avail. (Defs.’ Mot., ECF No. 64-8.) From July 2010 to October 2010, the Parties exchanged several emails and letters regarding the loan account. (Defs.’ Mot., ECF Nos. 64-9, 64-10, 64-11, 64-12, 64-13, 64-14, 64-15.)

         However, from September 2008-the month after the loan’s inception- through October 2010, Defendants consistently and timely made “interest-only” payments. (Pl.’s Mot., ECF No. 63-6.) These “interest-only” payments include a $3, 550.37 payment on September 27, 2010 (the same day as the “bill due” date) and a $3, 435.85 payment on October 26, 2010 (one day before the “bill due” date). (Id. at Pg. ID 756; Pl.’s Mot., ECF Nos. 63-8, 63-9.)


         On September 9, 2016, Plaintiff brought this action, alleging breach of promissory note and breach of guaranty.

         In response, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming Plaintiff’s claims are barred by the six-year statute of limitations. (Defs.’ Mot., ECF No. 18 at Pg. ID 166.) Plaintiff filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, arguing that the claims were not time-barred. (Pl.’s Reply, ECF No. 23 at 359.)

         The Court denied both motions on December 12, 2017, finding them premature. (Order, ECF No. 24.) The Court noted that the Parties had not yet engaged in discovery, which may reveal whether the September 27, 2010 and October 26, 2010 “interest-only” payments revived the statute of limitations. (Id. at Pg. ID 372-73.) The Court provided the same reasoning in response to Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration. (Pl.’s Recons. Mot., ECF No. 33; Order, ECF No. 43.) On March 15, 2019, following discovery, the Parties again filed cross-motions for summary judgment, proffering substantially the same arguments in their respective briefs. (ECF Nos. 63 & 64.)


         Summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is appropriate “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). The central inquiry 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.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). After adequate time for discovery and upon motion, Rule 56 mandates summary judgment against a party who fails to establish the existence of an element essential to that party’s case and on which that party bears the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         The movant has the initial burden of showing “the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Id. at 323. Once the movant meets this burden, the “nonmoving 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) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To demonstrate a genuine issue, the nonmoving party must present sufficient evidence upon which a ...

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