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State Auto Property and Casualty Insurance Co. v. Burnett

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

August 6, 2018

STATE AUTO PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY PLAINTIFF
v.
EUGENE BURNETT, Individually and d/b/a JB's Auto and Diesel; and THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA DEFENDANTS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This interpleader action is before the Court on the United States of America's renewed motion for summary judgment. Doc. #61.

         I

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[s]ummary judgment is proper only when the record demonstrates that no genuine issue of material fact exists and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Luv N' Care Ltd. v. Groupo Rimar, 844 F.3d 442, 447 (5th Cir. 2016). “A factual issue is genuine if the evidence is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party, and material if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action.” Burton v. Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., 798 F.3d 222, 226 (5th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted). On a motion for summary judgment, a court must “consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.” Edwards v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 841 F.3d 360, 363 (5th Cir. 2016).

         In seeking summary judgment, “[t]he moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the record which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Nola Spice Designs, L.L.C. v. Haydel Enters., Inc., 783 F.3d 527, 536 (5th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). If the moving party satisfies this burden, “the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). “Where the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party satisfies this initial burden by demonstrating an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celtic Marine Corp. v. James C. Justice Cos., Inc., 760 F.3d 477, 481 (5th Cir. 2014).

         A motion for summary judgment cannot be granted merely because it is unopposed. Hibernia Nat. Bank v. Administracion Cent. Sociedad Anonima, 776 F.2d 1277, 1279 (5th Cir. 1985); see L.U. Civ. R. 7(b)(3)(E) (“If a party fails to respond to any motion, other than a dispositive motion, within the time allotted, the court may grant the motion as unopposed.”). Summary judgment can only be granted “if the motion and supporting materials--including the facts considered undisputed--show that the movant is entitled to it ….” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(3); see Vasudevan v. Adm'rs of Tulane Ed. Fund, 706 Fed.Appx. 147, 152 (5th Cir. 2017) (summary judgment warranted if motion for summary judgment unopposed and supporting materials show movant entitled to it).

[I]f the moving party fails to establish by its summary judgment evidence that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, summary judgment must be denied-even if the non-movant has not responded to the motion. But where the movant's summary judgment evidence does establish its right to judgment as a matter of law, the district court is entitled to grant summary judgment, absent unusual circumstances.

McDaniel v. S.W. Bell Tel., 979 F.2d 1534, 1992 WL 352617, at *1 (5th Cir. 1992) (unpublished table decision) (internal citations omitted) (citing John v. State of Louisiana (Bd. of Trs. for State Colls. & Univs.), 757 F.2d 698, 708 (5th Cir. 1985)).

         II

         Relevant Factual and Procedural Background

         The Court previously detailed the factual and procedural background of this case in its September 29, 2017, Opinion and Order denying the United States' initial motion for summary judgment, [1] and such facts are incorporated here. See Doc. #44 at 5-9. Following the Court's September 29 ruling, the United States, on January 22, 2018, filed a renewed motion for summary judgment.[2] Doc. #61. The renewed motion seeks the same relief sought in the United States' first summary judgment motion-that the interpleaded insurance funds be distributed to the United States because they are subject to federal liens recorded against Eugene Burnett for unpaid federal income taxes. Doc. #61. Burnett did not respond to the renewed summary judgment motion.

         III

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