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Eagle Rock Contracting LLC v. National Security Technologies, LLC

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 25, 2017




         Pending before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment, (ECF No. 101), filed by Defendant National Security Technologies, LLC (“Defendant”). Plaintiff Eagle Rock Contracting, LLC (“Plaintiff”) filed a Response, (ECF No. 102), and Defendant filed a Reply, (ECF No. 103). For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from a subcontract between Plaintiff and Defendant for construction services in Nevada (the “Subcontract”). (See Mot. for Summ. J. (“MSJ”) 1:24-25, ECF No. 101); (see also Exs. 11, 12 (the “Subcontract”) to MSJ, ECF Nos. 101-11, 101-12). Defendant is the prime contractor for the Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Field Office, and Plaintiff is a construction contractor. (MSJ ¶ 1). The Subcontract agreed that Plaintiff would “provide architectural-engineering design and construction services, including installation of fiber optic cable by plowing for 18 miles along U.S. Highway 95 to Creech Air Force Base.” (Resp. ¶ 4, ECF No. 102). Plaintiff began performing under the Subcontract on April 11, 2011, (id. ¶ 7), and completed work for the project on July 20, 2011, (id. ¶ 18).

         During the project, Plaintiff subcontracted with at least four subcontractors, including ID Consulting Solutions, LLC; Hofsommer Excavating, Inc.; Trenching Services, Inc.; and Cannon Services Group (collectively “Plaintiff's Subcontractors”). (Ex. 1 ¶ 13 to MSJ, ECF No. 101-2). Plaintiff's Subcontractors later filed suit against Plaintiff and Defendant to recover amounts Plaintiff owed for work performed pursuant to their individual subcontracts. (See Ex. 18 to MSJ, ECF No. 101-28). Defendant entered into settlement agreements with Plaintiff's Subcontractors, and the lawsuits were eventually dismissed. (Ex. 22 to MSJ, ECF No. 101-33). Plaintiff did not participate in the lawsuits. (MSJ ¶ 39).

         Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant on July 25, 2014, claiming that it “performed additional work and incurred additional expenses . . . at [Defendant's] express direction” and that Defendant “refuses to pay” Plaintiff. (Sec. Am. Compl. (“SAC”) ¶¶ 20-22, ECF No. 40). Based on these allegations, Plaintiff asserts causes of action under breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. (SAC ¶¶ 18-31).


         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary adjudication when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show 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). Material facts are those that may affect the outcome of the case. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Id. “Summary judgment is inappropriate if reasonable jurors, drawing all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor.” Diaz v. Eagle Produce Ltd. P'ship, 521 F.3d 1201, 1207 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing United States v. Shumway, 199 F.3d 1093, 1103-04 (9th Cir. 1999)). A principal purpose of summary judgment is “to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

         In determining summary judgment, a court applies a burden-shifting analysis. “When the party moving for summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial. In such a case, the moving party has the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact on each issue material to its case.” C.A.R. Transp. Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rests., Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). In contrast, when the nonmoving party bears the burden of proving the claim or defense, the moving party can meet its burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence to negate an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323- 24. If the moving party fails to meet its initial burden, summary judgment must be denied and the court need not consider the nonmoving party's evidence. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159-60 (1970).

         If the moving party satisfies its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). To establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that “the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.” T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1987). In other words, the nonmoving party cannot avoid summary judgment by relying solely on conclusory allegations that are unsupported by factual data. See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Instead, the opposition must go beyond the assertions and allegations of the pleadings and set forth specific facts by producing competent evidence that shows a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324.

         At summary judgment, a court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. The evidence of the nonmovant is “to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Id. at 255. But if the evidence of the nonmoving party is merely colorable or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted. See Id. at 249-50.


         Defendant seeks summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims of (1) breach of contract and (2) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. (MSJ 1:27-2:1, ECF No. 101). Additionally, Defendant seeks summary judgment for its indemnity counterclaims that would render Plaintiff liable to Defendant for Plaintiff's Subcontractors' previous lawsuits. (Id. 2:8-11). The Court first addresses summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims and then considers summary judgment on Defendant's counterclaims.

         A. ...

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