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Hancock Bank v. Willow Springs Enterprises, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Eastern Division

January 27, 2017

HANCOCK BANK PLAINTIFF
v.
WILLOW SPRINGS ENTERPRISES, INC., et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         For the reasons provided below, the Court grants Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [8].

         I. Background

         This is a breach of contract case arising from several promissory notes and guaranty agreements. In June 2015, Defendant Richard Keller executed a Promissory Note (“Note 1") in favor of Plaintiff on behalf of Defendant Willow Springs Enterprises, Inc. (“Willow”) in a principal amount of $525, 089.39. Exhibit 1 to Motion for Partial Summary Judgment at 5-6, Hancock Bank v. Willow Springs Enters., Inc., No. 2:16-CV-108-KS-MTP (S.D.Miss. Nov. 16, 2016), ECF No. 9-1. Willow agreed to pay Plaintiff the principal, plus interest of 4.95% per annum in 59 monthly payments beginning on July 4, 2015. Id. Note 1 also provided for late charges in the event of late payments, increased interest after default, and court costs and attorney's fees incurred to collect unpaid amounts due. Id.

         On the same day, Keller executed another Promissory Note (“Note 2") in favor of Plaintiff on behalf of Willow in a principal amount of $186, 380.00. Id. at 9-10. Note 2 provided for monthly interest payments beginning on July 10, 2015, and a single payment of principal and interest on September 10, 2015. Id.

         On the same day that Keller executed Notes 1 and 2 on behalf of Willow, Defendants Keller, Bulls Eye Express, Inc. (“Bulls Eye”), Larsen & Keller, LLC (“Larsen”), and R. L. Kelco, Inc. (“Kelco”) executed Commercial Guaranty agreements. Id. at 11-22. Under the Guaranties, each Guarantor guaranteed repayment of Willow's obligation under Note 1 and any future indebtedness and agreed to pay Plaintiff's costs and attorney's fees incurred in enforcing the Guaranties. Id.

         In September 2015, Keller executed another Promissory Note (“Note 3"), refinancing the loan made under Note 2. Id. at 7-8.[1] Willow agreed to pay Plaintiff the principal amount of $191, 771.80, plus interest at a rate of 5% per annum in 35 monthly payments beginning on October 24, 2015. Id. Note 3 also provided for late charges in the event of late payments, increased interest after default, and court costs and attorney's fees incurred to collect unpaid amounts due. Id.

         On June 6, 2016, Willow defaulted. Plaintiff accelerated the debt and demanded payment from Willow and the Guarantors. Neither Willow nor the Guarantors have paid the debt.

         Plaintiff initiated this litigation, asserting claims of breach of contract, fraud, and tortious breach of contract. It filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [8] on its breach of contract claims. Defendants did not respond, and the motion is ripe for review.

         II. Standard of Review

         Rule 56 provides that “[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); see also Sierra Club, Inc. v. Sandy Creek Energy Assocs., L.P., 627 F.3d 134, 138 (5th Cir. 2010). “An issue is material if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action.” Sierra Club, Inc., 627 F.3d at 138. “An issue is ‘genuine' if the evidence is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Cuadra v. Houston Indep. Sch. Dist., 626 F.3d 808, 812 (5th Cir. 2010). The Court is not permitted to make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence. Deville v. Marcantel, 567 F.3d 156, 164 (5th Cir. 2009). When deciding whether a genuine fact issue exists, “the court must view the facts and the inference to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Sierra Club, Inc., 627 F.3d at 138.

         Defendants did not respond to Plaintiff's motion, but Plaintiff must still satisfy its “initial burden of demonstrating that the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with 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.” John v. Louisiana, 757 F.2d 698, 708 (5th Cir. 1985). If Plaintiff “fails to discharge this burden, summary judgment must be denied - even if the nonmoving party has not responded to the motion.” Id.

         III. Discussion

         A plaintiff asserting a breach of contract claim has the burden of proving “by a preponderance of the evidence: 1. the existence of a valid and binding contract; and 2. that the defendant has broken, or breached it . . . .” Bus. Commc'ns, Inc. v. Banks, 90 So.3d 1221, 1224-25 (Miss. 2012). Monetary damages are not an element ...


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