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Cass, Inc. v. Production Pattern and Foundry Co., Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

July 28, 2017

CASS, INC., a California corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
PRODUCTION PATTERN AND FOUNDRY CO., INC., a Nevada corporation, AKA PRODUCTION PATTERN & FOUNDRY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          LARWR. HICKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a contract dispute between plaintiff CASS, Inc., and defendant Production Pattern and Foundry Co., Inc. (“PPF”) stemming from a series of contracts arising from CASS's sale of aluminum alloy to PPF. Both parties moved for summary judgment (ECF Nos. 107-09), which the court denied to both parties as to CASS's first breach-of-contract claim but granted in part as to CASS on its second contract claim. ECF No. 136.

         CASS now moves for the court to enter judgment on the latter claim. ECF No. 137. PPF has opposed this motion (ECF No. 143) and has also separately moved for reconsideration of the court's partial grant of summary judgment in CASS's favor (ECF No. 138). Because the court finds that there is no genuine dispute of material fact as to PPF's acknowledgement of its debt to CASS, the court will deny the motion for reconsideration. And because the second breach of contract claim is distinct from CASS's other pending claims, the court will enter judgment on it.

         I. Background

         The parties are well aware of this long-standing dispute's extensive background, which the court described at length in its summary-judgment order. See ECF No. 136. The motion for reconsideration relates only to PPF's statute-of-limitations defense to CASS's contract claim regarding the aluminum orders that PPF undisputedly received from CASS but for which it failed to pay.

         In its summary-judgment order, this court held that an email exchange between the parties in June of 2010 constituted PPF's written acknowledgment of its debt to CASS and therefore tolled the statute of limitations. ECF No. 136 at 27. In discussing the unpaid invoices in its initial email, CASS stated that “[i]t was made very clear at our last meeting both the $640, 437.84[, ] which is now due[, ] and the $1, 041, 352.60 cost to unwind the hedges must be addressed in a repayment plan presented by PPF.” ECF No. 108-7 at 33. PPF responded that, “[r]egarding the outstanding balance with CASS, [PPF] has not changed [its] position in terms of this and will continue to meet [its] obligations to CASS.” Id. at 32. Based on this exchange, the court concluded that there was no genuine dispute that PPF acknowledged its debt.

         II. Motion for reconsideration

         PPF moves for reconsideration of the grant of partial summary judgment, arguing that the issue of whether its email served as a written acknowledgement of its debt was a question of fact and therefore inappropriate for disposition at summary judgment. ECF No. 138. PPF also contends that the court erred in determining that the email was not barred under Federal Rule of Evidence 408 as a statement made during the course of compromise negotiations.

         PPF is correct that it is within the court's inherent authority to reconsider its own summary-judgment order before final judgment is entered in order to correct a clear error or prevent a manifest injustice. See City of Los Angeles, Harbor Div. v. Santa Monica Baykeeper, 254 F.3d 882, 885 (9th Cir. 2001). However, such extraordinary relief is not warranted in this instance.

         In regards to the acknowledgement issue, PPF argues that its email does not serve as a direct and unqualified willingness to pay a specific debt because “there is no indication in the email of what PPF's position is or what PPF considered its obligation to be . . . .” ECF No. 145 at 3. Critically, however, PPF has failed to assert its own explanation or interpretation of its statement “regarding the outstanding balance with CASS.” Absent such a conflicting interpretation, the court finds that there is no genuine dispute of material fact regarding this issue.

         The undisputed facts therefore establish that (1) CASS asserted the fact that PPF owed it a specific sum of money for the aluminum that PPF had failed to pay for and (2) PPF neither disputed the amount due nor its obligation to pay the outstanding balance. Rather, PPF affirmed that it would “continue to meet [its] obligations to CASS.”

         Moreover, in regards to the admissibility of these statements under FRE 408, this issue was raised in PPF's motions for summary judgment and to strike and was ruled upon by the court in its last order. ECF No. 136 at 34. PPF raises this issue in its instant motion solely for the purpose of rearguing the legal merits of its position, which is improper for a motion for reconsideration.

         Based on the foregoing, the court will deny PPF's motion.

         III. Motion for ...


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