United States District Court, D. Maryland
Mark Coulson United States Magistrate Judge
suit arises out of Plaintiff ARINC, Inc.'s employment and
termination of Defendant James L. Martin. The parties
consented to proceed before a magistrate judge for all
proceedings pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rules
301 and 302. (ECF Nos. 35 & 36). Pending before this
Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF
No. 39). The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's Motion and
Defendants' Response, (ECF Nos. 39, 41), and will, in its
discretion, consider Plaintiff's delayed
Reply. (ECF No. 43). No. hearing is necessary.
Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons below,
Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED as to the
breach of contract claim and DENIED as to
its alternative claim of unjust enrichment.
Martin is a former employee of ARINC. (ECF No. 2). On August
10, 2009, Mr. Martin was transferred to ARINC's
Asia/Pacific Division as its new Managing Director. (ECF No.
39-3). ARINC informed Mr. Martin that the new role required
his temporary international assignment to the Republic of
Singapore. (Id.). Such temporary international
assignments came with terms and conditions (the
“Assignment Terms”) to assist in an
employee's relocation. (Id.). Among those
Assignment Terms are incentive provisions, such as tax
equalization and tax preparation. (Id.).
utilizes tax equalization incentivize employees to accept
such temporary international assignments. Tax equalization
provides for ARINC to assume any new tax liabilities that
arise from the international placement to keep an assigned
employee's tax burden relatively unchanged. To achieve
this goal, ARINC charged Mr. Martin a hypothetical tax but
paid his actual liabilities to the Republic of Singapore, the
United States, and the State of Maryland. (Id.). And
would then conduct a tax settlement equalization calculation
to determine the portion of the tax unrelated to the
international assignment. Once determined, the international
assignee would be sent the tax settlement and, if monies were
owned, have to pay ARINC back for the portion unrelated to
the international assignment. Occasionally, tax equalization
would lead to situations where ARINC provided relocated
employees with “advances equal to the estimated or
actual amount of taxes, ” (Id. at 8), and in
anticipation of needing to provide such advances ARINC
included with the Assignment Terms an Acknowledgement of Tax
Advance Liabilities, (the “Acknowledgment, ”
collectively with the Assignment Terms, the
“Contracts”). The Acknowledgment detailed how
such advances constituted “an obligation by” the
employee to ARINC and how such advances would be reconciled
with a final yearly tax equalization settlement calculation
(“Tax Settlement”). (Id.). The
Acknowledgement obligated an employee to repay any advances
“for each taxable year within 60 days after completion
of the Tax Equalization Settlement Calculation for the same
taxable year” by either applying that year's tax
reimbursement or by reimbursing ARINC by cash or check.
(Id.). Furthermore, the Assignment Terms, designated
an accounting firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers
(“PWC”), to prepare an internationally assigned
employee's taxes in conformity with the tax equalization
provisions. (Id. at 9). In preparation for his
assignment to Singapore, Mr. Martin signed the Assignment
Terms on August 10, 2009 and signed the Acknowledgement on
September 15, 2009. (Id. at 7-9).
January 31, 2013, Mr. Martin's temporary international
assignment ended. (ECF No. 41-2). He repatriated to the
United States and ARINC terminated his employment.
(Id.). On February 1, 2013, Mr. Martin executed an
agreement with ARINC that permitted him to exercise his stock
option in exchange for a waiver of claims against ARINC.
(See ECF No. 41-7). Notwithstanding his termination,
PWC continued to handle Mr. Martin's 2013 taxes in the
manner defined by the Contracts. In April 2014, ARINC,
through PWC, advanced $105, 000.00 the Comptroller of
Maryland and $200, 000.00 to and Internal Revenue Service to
secure extensions for the filing of Mr. and Mrs. Martin's
2013 joint tax returns. (ECF No. 39-1). On January 26, 2016,
PWC delivered the Tax Year 2013 Tax Settlement to Mr. Martin
that reflected a debt of $261, 229.00. The debt has yet to be
repaid. (ECF No. 39-2).
filed this suit in the Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County,
Maryland but the Martins removed it to this Court. (ECF Nos.
1 and 2). ARINC now moves for Summary Judgment on the breach
of contract claim against Mr. Martin for breach of the
Contracts, or alternatively, on the unjust enrichment claim
against Mr. and Mrs. Martin for failure to repay monies
advanced by ARINC to secure the joint tax return filing
extensions. (ECF No. 39).
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) requires the Court to
“grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” The moving
party bears the burden “to demonstrate the absence of
any genuine dispute of material fact.” Jones v.
Hoffberger Moving Servs. LLC, 92 F.Supp.3d 405, 409 (D.
Md. 2015) (internal citations omitted). A dispute as to a
material fact “is genuine if the evidence is such that
a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” J.E. Dunn Const. Co. v. S.R.P. Dev. Ltd.
P'ship, 115 F.Supp.35 593, 600 (D. Md. 2015)
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986)).
nonmoving party “opposing a properly supported motion
for summary judgment ‘may not rest upon the mere
allegations or denials of [his] pleadings,' but rather
must ‘set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.'” Bouchat v. Baltimore
Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir.
2003). The court is “required to view the facts and
draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable
to” the nonmoving party, Iko v. Shreve, 535
F.3d 225, 230 (4th Cir. 2008) (citing Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 377 (2007)), but must also
“abide by the ‘affirmative obligation of the
trial judge to prevent factually unsupported claims and
defenses from proceeding to trial.'” Heckman v.
Ryder Truck Rental, Inc., 962 F.Supp.2d 792, 799-800 (D.
Md. 2013) (quoting Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774,
778-79 (4th Cir. 1993)). And although pro se litigants are
given some latitude, “even a pro se party may not avoid
summary judgment by relying on bald assertions and
speculative arguments.” Smith v. Vilsack, 832
F.Supp.2d 573, 580 (D. Md. 2011).
initial matter, ARINC's Reply primarily challenges this
Court's ability to consider the information within Mr.
Martin's opposition or any of the documents provided with
that opposition because the filing lacks any authenticating
affidavits. (ECF No. 43). This, however, is no longer
the standard dictated by Rule 56. The 2010 amendments to Rule
56 “eliminated the unequivocal requirement that
documents submitted in support of a summary judgment motion
must be authenticated.” Brown v. Siemens Healthcare
Diagnostics, Inc., No. DKC 11-0769, 2012 WL 3136457, at
*6 (D. Md. July 31, 2012). “Thus, instead of a clear,
bright-line rule (‘all documents must be
authenticated'), Rule 56(c)(2) now prescribes a
multi-step process by which a proponent may submit evidence,
subject to objection by the opponent and an opportunity for
the proponent to either authenticate the document or propose
a method to doing so at trial.” Williams v. Silver
Spring Volunteer Fire Dep't, 86 F.Supp.3d 398, 407
(D. Md. 2015) (internal quotations and citation omitted).
Consequently, “the objection [now] contemplated by the
amended Rule is not that the material has not been submitted
in admissible form, but that it cannot be.” Ridgell
v. Astrue, No. DKC 10-3280, 2012 WL 707008, at *9 (D.
Md. Mar. 2, 2012) (internal quotations and citation omitted).
ARINC's blanket objection is quintessentially one of form
over substance. It does not directly or specifically
challenge any content as inadmissible or inauthentic,
therefore, the Court may consider Mr. Martin's
submissions in resolving this motion for summary judgment.
Breach of ...