City of Warrensburg v. RCA Corp., 80-0993-CV-W-1.

Decision Date10 November 1982
Docket NumberNo. 80-0993-CV-W-1.,80-0993-CV-W-1.
Citation550 F. Supp. 1364
PartiesCITY OF WARRENSBURG, Missouri, and Industrial Development Authority of the City of Warrensburg, Missouri, Plaintiffs, v. RCA CORPORATION, CIT Financial Corporation, and All-Steel, Inc., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Missouri

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

Thomas A. Sweeny, Popham, Conway, Sweeny, Fremont & Bundschu, Kansas City, Mo., for plaintiffs.

Karl F. Schmidt, Morrison, Hecker, Curtis, Kuder & Parrish, Kansas City, Mo., for defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN REGARD TO COUNT I AND ORDERS DIRECTING FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

JOHN W. OLIVER, Senior District Judge.

I. Introductory

This case pends on (1) defendants' motion for summary judgment directed to all three counts of plaintiffs' pending petition, and (2) plaintiffs' motion for leave to file first amended complaint without leave of Court, or, in the alternative, for leave of Court to file first amended complaint.

Defendants' motion for summary judgment will be granted in regard to Count I of plaintiffs' pending petition. For reasons we shall state in detail, orders directing further proceedings will be entered in regard to defendants' motion for summary judgment directed to Counts II and III of plaintiffs' pending petition and plaintiffs' motion for declaration of right to file first amended complaint without leave of Court, or, in the alternative, with leave of Court.

Plaintiff City of Warrensburg, Missouri (Warrensburg) and Industrial Development Authority of the City of Warrensburg, Missouri (IDA) filed their three count petition in the Circuit Court of Johnson County, Missouri against defendants RCA Corporation (RCA), CIT Financial Corporation (CIT) and All-Steel, Inc. (All-Steel) for damages allegedly resulting from plaintiffs' alleged loss of an Urban Development Action Grant (UDA Grant) allegedly awarded to the City of Warrensburg, Missouri by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Count I, captioned "Breach of Contract," alleges that defendant All-Steel breached a contract with plaintiffs by not locating a manufacturing plant in Warrensburg Industrial Park and seeks $5,000,000.00 actual damages. Count II of plaintiffs' pending petition, captioned "Malicious Interference," alleges that defendants CIT and RCA caused All-Steel to breach its contract with Warrensburg and IDA and prays for $5,000,000.00 actual damages and $100,000,000.00 punitive damages. Count II of plaintiffs' pending petition, captioned "Negligent Misrepresentation" alleges that defendants All-Steel and CIT negligently misrepresented to plaintiffs that a manufacturing plant would be placed in the Warrensburg Industrial Park and prays for $5,000,000.00 actual damages and $37,000,000.00 punitive damages. The first 18 paragraphs of plaintiffs' pending complaint are alleged to be "common paragraphs" and are subsequently incorporated by reference in each of the separately stated counts.

This case was timely removed to this Court and shortly after removal defendants filed a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss each of the three counts of plaintiffs' petition. That motion was denied. Defendants filed their pending motion for summary judgment after the parties had completed a schedule of discovery. That schedule was filed in accordance with procedures discussed at a pretrial conference held June 10, 1982.

We are satisfied that the present record establishes that no material facts are in dispute in regard to the legal questions presented by defendants' motion for summary judgment as directed against Count I. After stating the standards applicable to summary judgment motions, we will state the reasons why defendants' summary judgment motion should be granted in regard to Count I. We will then discuss the other counts in plaintiffs' pending petition and thereafter state the reasons why it is necessary that orders be entered directing further proceedings in this case.

II. Summary Judgment Standards

The files and records in this case show that it has long been apparent that a substantial question of law is presented in connection with Count I of plaintiffs' pending petition under which plaintiffs are attempting to recover for an alleged breach of contract. Defendants' December 8, 1980 Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss put that legal question in appropriate focus. This Court's April 8, 1980 order was entered for the purpose of ascertaining whether any of the parties contended that any material facts necessary for the determination of that legal question were in actual dispute.

This Court's effort to process the legal question presented by Count I under procedures agreeable to both sides was unsuccessful. On June 23, 1982, however, the parties agreed on a Rule 26(f) plan and schedule of discovery which included their agreement in regard to a briefing schedule under which defendants' motion for summary judgment would be filed and determined under the applicable Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs' argument in opposition to defendants' motion for summary judgment and plaintiffs' statement of their views in regard to the standards applicable to ruling motions for summary judgment require a much more detailed statement of those standards than would otherwise be necessary.

Plaintiffs argue that defendants' motion for summary judgment may not be granted because of the presence of "alleged facts about which material issues exist." Pls.' Suggestions in Opposition, p. 1. Plaintiffs place principal reliance on Roberts v. Browning, 610 F.2d 528 (8th Cir.1979) and quote extensively from the Court of Appeals' application of established summary judgment principles to the factual circumstances of that case Ibid, p. 3. Indeed, plaintiffs' argue that Roberts v. Browning requires that summary judgment be denied in regard to Count I of plaintiffs' pending petition "even if the Court does not believe we can make a submissible case." Plaintiffs' reiterate that argument on page 51 of their suggestions in opposition by suggesting that "if the dictates of Roberts v. Browning, supra, are to be observed, defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment ... should be denied, even if the Court believed plaintiffs have an uphill fight on Count I."1

We agree that Roberts v. Browning sets forth the applicable standards that the district court must apply in passing on motions for summary judgment. We also agree that those standards "are thoroughly settled in this Circuit and need not be explored in detail; nor do they require detailed citations in support of a statement of them." 610 F.2d at 531. The burden, of course, rests "on the defendant to establish beyond controversy that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Id. at 531. Plaintiffs are entitled "to have the case viewed in the light most favorable to them and to have the benefit of all inferences favorable to them that might reasonably be drawn from the evidence."

Roberts v. Browning accurately stated the applicable standards at the outset of that opinion as follows:

Summary judgment is a harsh remedy and should be granted sparingly. On the other hand, courts should not be unreasonably niggardly in its use lest the purpose of the rule, which is to avoid needless trials, be defeated. While a motion for summary judgment ordinarily should not be granted if it appears that the position of the party opposing the motion would be supported at trial by substantial evidence, still it must be kept in mind that "substantial evidence" is more than a "mere scintilla." .... It must be enough to justify a trial judge in denying a directed verdict for the moving party at the conclusion of a jury trial. See Universal Camera Corp. v. NLRB, 340 U.S. 474, 477, 71 S.Ct. 456, 95 L.Ed. 456 (1951), and cases cited. Conversely, if a district judge to whom a Rule 56 motion is addressed is satisfied that at the conclusion of a jury trial he would be required to direct a verdict in favor of the moving party, then the granting of the motion is appropriate. 610 F.2d at 531-32

Roberts v. Browning directed attention to "the general discussion of Rule 56 that appears, with ample citations, in 10 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure, §§ 2711, et seq." Id. at 531. Section 2714 of that treatise states "once the court determines that there are no disputed material facts, it is free to enter a judgment on the basis of a determination of the governing legal issues and doing so does not deprive the opposing party of his right to jury trial." Section 2725 directed specific attention to the third sentence of Rule 56(c), which "provides for the immediate rendition of a judgment in the event that the matters considered by the court on a motion for summary judgment disclose `that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" The authors then added:

This provision, which is the very heart of the summary judgment procedure, demonstrates that the principal judicial inquiry required by Rule 56 is whether a genuine issue of material fact exists. If no such issue exists, the rule permits the immediate entry of judgment."

The same thought is reiterated later in the same section when the authors state that:

... The inquiry on a motion for summary judgment is whether a "genuine issue as to any material fact" exists. Accordingly, in the event there is a real dispute as to the facts, it initially must be determined whether the facts in issue are material. A dispute as to an immaterial fact does not preclude summary judgment.

And, finally, Section 2727 summarizes the procedures anticipated in connection with a motion for summary judgment. It is there stated that:

It should be noted from the preceding discussion that both the movant and the adversary at a summary judgment
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