United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, United States District Judge
pending and ready for resolution in this case are the
following motions: a motion for summary judgment filed by
Defendant Ally Financial Inc. (“Defendant”) (ECF
No. 12); and a cross-motion for summary judgment filed by
Plaintiff Gerard Avery Milligan (“Plaintiff”)
(ECF No. 16). The relevant issues have been briefed, and
the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local
Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, Defendant’s
motion for summary judgment will be granted, and
Plaintiff’s cross-motion will be denied.
otherwise noted, the facts outlined here are undisputed and
construed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff. On May
10, 2014, Plaintiff purchased a used vehicle from Waldorf
Chevrolet Cadillac (the “Dealership”) in Waldorf,
Maryland by entering into a Retail Installment Sale Contract
(the “contract”) with the Dealership.
(See ECF Nos. 1-1 ¶ 4; 12-2). The Dealership
subsequently assigned its interest in the contract to
Defendant. (See ECF Nos. 12-2; 12-4 ¶ 7). On
May 31, Plaintiff and the Dealership entered into a revised
contract (the “revised contract”), the rights of
which were also assigned to Defendant. (ECF Nos. 12-3; 12-4
¶ 5). Under the revised contract, Defendant provided
Plaintiff with approximately $22, 685.00 in financing, which
Plaintiff was to pay back in 60 monthly payments beginning on
July 15, 2014. (ECF No. 12-3, at 2). Plaintiff asserts that
he was unaware that the Dealership assigned its rights under
the revised contract to Defendant because the space for the
Dealership to assign its rights is blank on his copy of the
revised contract. (ECF Nos. 1-1 ¶¶ 5-6; 16, at 1).
received a phone call from Defendant approximately forty-five
days after purchasing the vehicle, which requested that he
begin sending payments for the vehicle. (ECF No. 1-1 ¶
7). Plaintiff, believing his payments should be sent to the
Dealership rather than to Defendant, requested that Defendant
“show proof of claim” over the revised contract.
(See Id. ¶¶ 9, 14). Defendant continued to
attempt to service the loan pursuant to the assignment of the
revised contract, but Plaintiff repeatedly requested
“proof of claim in this [revised] contract.”
(See ECF Nos. 1-1 ¶ 9; 12-1, at 2).
to Defendant, “Plaintiff has defaulted on his payment
obligations to [Defendant], and [Defendant] has taken steps
to exercise its rights under the [revised contract].”
(ECF No. 12-1, at 1). Plaintiff avers that Defendant
repossessed the vehicle on July 9, 2015. (ECF No. 1 ¶
2). On September 29, Plaintiff received a facsimile copy of
the revised contract with the assignment blank filled in,
indicating that the Dealership had assigned its rights to
Defendant. (ECF No. 1-1 ¶ 10; 1-2, at 3).
November 16, 2015, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se,
filed a complaint and a motion for a temporary restraining
order and preliminary injunction. (ECF No. 1). The complaint
asserts that Defendant “illegally repossessed
Plaintiff[’s] property” because it “has no
interest in the [revised] contract” between Plaintiff
and the Dealership. (Id. ¶ 2). The court denied
Plaintiff’s request for emergency equitable relief on
November 25. (ECF No. 2). On February 24, 2016, Defendant
filed the pending motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 12).
Plaintiff was provided with a Roseboro notice, which
advised him of the pendency of the motion for summary
judgment and his entitlement to respond within 17 days. (ECF
No. 13); see Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309, 310
(4th Cir. 1975) (holding that pro se
plaintiffs should be advised of their right to file
responsive material to a motion for summary judgment).
Plaintiff responded (ECF No. 15), filed a cross-motion for
summary judgment (ECF No. 16), and filed what is styled as an
“Opposition to Defendant[’s] Summary Judgment and
Motion for Judgment, ” but will be construed as a reply
in support of his motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 18).
Defendant filed a combined reply in support of its motion and
response to Plaintiff’s cross-motion. (ECF No. 17).
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
Rule 56(a) when there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact, and the moving party is plainly entitled to
judgment in its favor as a matter of law. In Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986), the
Supreme Court of the United States explained that, in
considering a motion for summary judgment, the
“judge’s function is not himself to weigh the
evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to
determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.”
A dispute about a material fact is genuine “if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. at 248.
Thus, “the judge must ask himself not whether he thinks
the evidence unmistakably favors one side or the other but
whether a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the
[nonmoving party] on the evidence presented.”
Id. at 252.
undertaking this inquiry, a court must view the facts and the
reasonable inferences drawn therefrom “in the light
most favorable to the party opposing the motion.”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting United
States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962));
see also EEOC v. Navy Fed. Credit Union, 424 F.3d
397, 405 (4th Cir. 2005). The mere existence of a
“scintilla” of evidence in support of the
nonmoving party’s case is not sufficient to preclude an
order granting summary judgment. See Liberty Lobby,
477 U.S. at 252. A “party cannot create a genuine
dispute of material fact through mere speculation or
compilation of inferences.” Shin v. Shalala,
166 F.Supp.2d 373, 375 (D.Md. 2001) (citation omitted).
Indeed, this court has an affirmative obligation to prevent
factually unsupported claims and defenses from going to
trial. See Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79
(4th Cir. 1993) (quoting Felty v. Graves-
Humphreys Co., 818 F.2d 1126, 1128 (4th Cir.
cross-motions for summary judgment are before a court, the
court examines each motion separately, employing the familiar
standard under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure.” Desmond v. PNGI Charles Town Gaming,
LLC, 630 F.3d 351, 354 (4th Cir. 2011). The
court must deny both motions if it finds there is a genuine
dispute of material fact, “[b]ut if there is no genuine
issue and one or the other party is entitled to prevail as a
matter of law, the court will render judgment.” 10A
Charles A. Wright, et al., Federal Practice & Procedure
§ 2720 (3d ed. 1998).