Volvo Financial Services v. Williamson, 120518 FED5, 18-60229

Docket Nº:18-60229
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM.
Party Name:VOLVO FINANCIAL SERVICES, a division of VFS US, L.L.C., Plaintiff - Appellee v. ELVIS WILLIAMSON, Defendant-Appellant
Judge Panel:Before JOLLY, DENNIS, and HIGGINSON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:December 05, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

VOLVO FINANCIAL SERVICES, a division of VFS US, L.L.C., Plaintiff - Appellee


ELVIS WILLIAMSON, Defendant-Appellant

No. 18-60229

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

December 5, 2018

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi

Before JOLLY, DENNIS, and HIGGINSON, Circuit Judges.


This is an appeal from the district court's award of a deficiency judgment in the amount of $296, 956.62, plus interest, costs, and attorney's fees, to Volvo Financial Services. Volvo sued Elvis Williamson for breach of contract after he defaulted on payments under eight separate promissory notes. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Volvo. Williamson now appeals.


Elvis Williamson purchased eight commercial trucks from Volvo Financial Services, a division of VFS US, L.L.C. (Volvo), between April 2014 and June 2015. Williamson and Volvo executed a separate "Secured Promissory Note" (Note) for each of the eight trucks, and each Note listed an individual truck as collateral for the monetary amount listed therein. Each Note contained the same customer contract number, and each was executed on a different date. Additionally, each Note contained the same cross-collateralization clause, which stated the following:

Security Interest: In order to secure (i) payment of the Indebtedness, all other debts and obligations at any time owed by Borrower to Lender or its affiliates, and (ii) complete and full performance of any Loan Party's obligations to Lender under the Loan Documents, now existing or at any time entered into, Borrower hereby grants to Lender a security interest in and to the equipment described above (the "Equipment"), together with all present and future attachments . . . "Loan Documents" means this Note; all other loans made by, or other obligations of Borrower to Lender or any affiliate of Lender . . . and all other agreements or documents evidencing, guaranteeing, securing, or otherwise relating to this Note, as any or all of such documents may be executed or amended from time to time.

Moreover, all of the Notes provided that an "Event of Default" would occur, inter alia, by the ". . . [f]ailure by any Loan Party to pay when due (i) any amount due under any of the Loan Documents."

Williamson defaulted under the terms of the Notes, and Volvo sent Williamson several notices of sale for the trucks. Volvo thereafter took possession of and sold the trucks listed in Notes 001-004 in February 2016 and Note 005 in November 2016. With respect to Note 006, Volvo received insurance proceeds for the truck listed therein, which suffered a total loss, on June 29, 2016. Volvo subsequently repossessed the trucks listed in Notes 007 and 008 and sold them on March 17, 2017. Thereafter, Volvo sent Williamson eight separate demand letters listing the deficiency balance it claimed Williamson still owed on each truck after its sale.

Volvo filed this action against Williamson on April 10, 2017, alleging breach of contract and seeking to recover the outstanding deficiency amounts remaining due under the Notes. In August 2017, Volvo moved for summary judgment. Williamson also moved for partial summary judgment, seeking dismissal of Volvo's claims as to Notes 001, 002, 003, and 004 on the basis that they were barred by the one-year limitations period set forth in Mississippi Code § 15-1-23, as the Notes were secured by trucks sold in February 2016, over a year before Volvo filed suit. In October 2017, the district court filed a Memorandum Opinion and Order addressing both motions. The district court denied Williamson's motion, concluding that the statute of limitations did not bar Volvo's claims as to Notes 001, 002, 003, and 004. Finding no material fact disputes, the district court granted Volvo's motion for summary judgment and entered a judgment in favor of Volvo in the amount of $268, 956.62 as well as interest, costs, and attorney's fees. Williamson then moved to alter or amend the judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), asserting for the first time that each of Volvo's deficiency claims accrued upon the sale of each vehicle pursuant to Mississippi Code § 75-9-615(d)(1) and (d)(2), § 75-9-616 (a) and (c), and § 75-9-617(a). The district court denied the motion. The district court then awarded Volvo attorney's fees and expenses in the amount of $21, 435 and $965.53, respectively. Williamson timely appealed.


We review a district court's grant of summary judgment de novo, applying the same legal standard as the district court. See Gen. Universal Sys. v. HAL Inc., 500 F.3d 444, 448 (5th Cir. 2007). Summary judgment is appropriate where the moving party "show[s] 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." See Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). We review a district court's decision on a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend the judgment for abuse of discretion. See Johnston & Johnston v. Conseco Life Ins. Co., 732 F.3d 555, 562 (5th Cir. 2013). "A district court abuses its discretion if it bases its decision on an erroneous view of the law or on a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence." Ross v. Marshall, 426 F.3d 745, 763 (5th Cir. 2005). However, we review de novo issues that are pure questions of law. See Tyler v. Union Oil Co. of Cal., 304 F.3d 379, 405 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Fletcher v. Apfel, 210 F.3d 510, 512 (5th Cir. 2000)). Because the basis of the district court's jurisdiction was diversity of citizenship, 2 "we apply federal procedural and evidentiary rules, and the substantive laws of the forum state," which, here, is Mississippi. See Huss v. Gayden, 571 F.3d 442, 449-50 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938)). Accordingly, we apply the statute of limitations that Mississippi would apply.3 See id. at 450 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Guar. Trust Co. v. York, 326 U.S. 99, 109-10 (1945)).


Williamson challenges the district court's denial of his summary judgment and Rule 59(e) motions, arguing that the court's interpretation and application of Mississippi Code § 15-1-23 was error. Section 15-1-23, which governs actions on installment notes by the foreclosing...

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