United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION ADDRESSING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO COUNT SEVEN AGAINST MR. JEFFREY
Mark Coulson, United States Magistrate Judge
core, this case involves an allegation that Defendants
wrongfully mined coal from an area where they did not own the
necessary mineral rights. The case is before me for all
proceedings by the consent of the parties pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(c). Now pending before this Court are four
motions for summary judgment (ECF Nos. 125, 126, 127, and the
remainder of 130) by various plaintiffs and defendants. This
memorandum concerns ECF No. 126, Plaintiffs' Motion for
Summary Judgment as to Count 7 against Defendant Mr. Jeffrey
Rose. The Court also reviewed Mr. Rose's opposition. (ECF
Nos. 145 and 159). No. reply was filed, and no hearing is
necessary. For the reasons below, Plaintiffs' motion,
(ECF No. 126), is DENIED.
count 7 is labelled “CDS and Jeffrey Rose” and
stems from events between Plaintiffs, Mr. Rose, and WPO, Inc.
(“WPO”) that occurred before the alleged
incidents which form the basis of the other six counts. (ECF
No. 80 at 13). Despite not advancing a specific claim, the
Court interprets the count as one for breach of
contract. Plaintiffs allege that Mr. Rose trespassed
on Plaintiff's property and removed substantial
quantities of coal between March and October of 2011.
(Id. at ¶ 66). On September 3, 2014, Mr. Rose
allegedly agreed that the trespass occurred and to pay
Plaintiff CDS Family Trust, LLC (“CDS”) $22,
976.40 in compensation for removed coal. (Id. at
¶ 67). $7, 500 of the total was paid and the remainder
($15, 476.40) plus interest was to be paid in the future.
(Id. at ¶ 67). Plaintiff CDS's count 7
demands payment of the outstanding balance plus interest and
costs associated with the count. (Id. at ¶ 68).
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 can do so by demonstrating the absence of any genuine
dispute of material fact or by showing an absence of evidence
to support the non-moving party's case. Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986). 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) (citations omitted). 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)). However,
the Court 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)). Consequently, a party cannot create a genuine dispute
of material fact through mere speculation or compilation of
inferences. See Deans v. CSX Transp., Inc., 152 F.3d
326, 330-31 (4th Cir. 1998).
CDS argues that Mr. Rose agreed to pay for wrongfully
removing coal, Mr. Rose has yet to do so, therefore the Court
should order payment plus interest and costs. This argument
is buttressed by occasions where Mr. Rose admitted that a
debt is owed to CDS such as in an email dated August 1, 2013
where he stated, “Should have payment August 30,
” (ECF No. 126-2 at ¶ 8), and during his
deposition. (ECF No. 126-3 at 89:12-90:2, 90:6-10, 91:2-3).
opposition, Mr. Rose admits that a debt exists but argues
that it is between CDS and WPO, not Mr. Rose personally. (ECF
No. 157-2 at 1-2). Mr. Rose asserts that at all relevant
times he was an employee of WPO and that WPO was the
permittee, operator of the mining, and holder of the lease
agreements. (ECF No. 157-3). Notably, Mr. Rose supplies six
leases concerning the subject property and the mining permit,
all of which have been executed in WPO's name. (ECF No.
157-4 through 157-9). Among the leases, some are indeed
executed by Mr. Rose, but in his capacity as either Vice
President or President of WPO. (See e.g., ECF No.
157-4 at 4; ECF No. 157-5 at 4, 5, 10, 11, and 15; ECF No.
157-6 at 4). Mr. Rose further affirms that his dealing
concerning coal and CDS were in his professional capacity,
not personal. (ECF No. 157-3).
existence of a debt is undisputed. A question, however,
remains as to the proper debtor. CDS argues that Mr. Rose is
personally liable, and Mr. Rose argues that WPO is liable.
With the record as is, this question cannot be answered. The
Court cannot determine whether the contract was written or
oral, the terms, how the parties came to an agreement, and
whether Mr. Rose's agreement included a personal
guarantee. Nevertheless, none of this information is before
the Court. As such, Plaintiff has failed to meet its burden
and summary judgment is inappropriate due to the existence of
a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Mr. Rose is
personally liable personally as advanced by count 7.
foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs' motion, (ECF No. 126), is