United States District Court, E.D. New York
Robert T. Bonsignore, Esq. FINANCIAL CREDIT INC., New York, NY, Attorneys for Plaintiff.
Defendants Barbara Robertson and Howard Robertson, pro se Westbury, NY.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
DENIS R. HURLEY, Sr., District Judge.
VW Credit, Inc. ("plaintiff") commenced this replevin action against Howard and Barbara Robertson ("defendants" or "the Robertsons") seeking to take possession of a used 2007 Bentley Continental GT convertible ("the Vehicle"). Plaintiff also asserts causes of action for conversion and unjust enrichment. Presently before the Court are defendants' motion for summary judgment, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56, seeking dismissal of plaintiff's claims in their entirety and plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, defendant's motion is denied and plaintiff's motion is denied.
Both parties agree that the factual and procedural background of this matter is set forth in the Memorandum and Order entered by this Court on May 2, 2011. (Pl.'s Mem. in Opp'n at 1; Defs.' Reply at 1.) For the sake of brevity the Court incorporates by reference the background discussion set forth in that Order.
I. Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 is only appropriate where admissible evidence in the form of affidavits, deposition transcripts, or other documentation demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and one party's entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. See Viola v. Philips Med. Sys. of N. Am., 42 F.3d 712, 716 (2d Cir. 1994). The relevant governing law in each case determines which facts are material; "[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). No genuinely triable factual issue exists when the moving party demonstrates, on the basis of the pleadings and submitted evidence, and after drawing all inferences and resolving all ambiguities in favor of the non-movant, that no rational jury could find in the non-movant's favor. Chertkova v. Conn. Gen. Life Ins. Co., 92 F.3d 81, 86 (2d Cir. 1996).
To defeat a summary judgment motion properly supported by affidavits, depositions, or other documentation, the non-movant must offer similar materials setting forth specific facts that show that there is a genuine issue of material fact to be tried. Rule v. Brine, Inc., 85 F.3d 1002, 1011 (2d Cir. 1996). The non-movant must present more than a "scintilla of evidence, " Del. & Hudson Ry. Co. v. Consol. Rail Corp., 902 F.2d 174, 178 (2d Cir. 1990) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252), or "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, " Aslanidis v. U.S. Lines, Inc., 7 F.3d 1067, 1072 (2d Cir. 1993) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)), and cannot rely on the allegations in his or her pleadings, on conclusory statements, or on "mere assertions that affidavits supporting the motion are not credible, " Gottlieb v. Cnty. of Orange, 84 F.3d 511, 518 (2d Cir. 1996) (citations omitted). "When no rational jury could find in favor of the nonmoving party because the evidence to support its case is so slight, there is no genuine issue of material fact and a grant of summary judgment is proper." Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd. P'ship, 22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994).
The district court, in considering a summary judgment motion, must also be mindful of the underlying burdens of proof because "the evidentiary burdens that the respective parties will bear at trial guide district courts in their determination of summary judgment motions." Brady v. Town of Colchester, 863 F.2d 205, 211 (2d Cir. 1988). Where the non-moving party will bear the ultimate burden of proof on an issue at trial, "the moving party's burden under Rule 56 will be satisfied if he can point to an absence of evidence to support an essential element of the" non-movant's claim. Id. at 210-11. Where a movant without the underlying burden of proof offers evidence that the non-movant has failed to present sufficient evidence in support of his claim, the burden shifts to the non-movant to offer Apersuasive evidence that his claim is not implausible.'" Id. at 211 (citing Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587).
II. The Summary Judgment Motions
Both the Robertsons and VW Credit argue that there is no genuine issue of material fact that they are entitled to possession of the Vehicle. Defendants argue that they are entitled to the Vehicle because they purchased it from Paul Silva ("Silva") prior to plaintiff perfecting its security interest in the Vehicle on November 24, 2009. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 12A:9-317(b), "[e]xcept as otherwise provided in subsection (e), a buyer, other than a secured party, of tangible chattel paper, tangible documents, goods, instruments, or a certificated security takes free of a security interest or agricultural lien if the buyer gives value and receives delivery of the collateral without knowledge of the security interest or agricultural lien and before it is perfected." According to that statute, if plaintiff perfected its security interest prior to defendants' purchase, plaintiff would have a right to the Vehicle over the defendants. Therefore, the Court will first analyze whether plaintiff perfected its security interest in the Vehicle and if so, when that perfection occurred.
As discussed in the Court's Order of May 2, 2011, perfection of a security interest in a used motor vehicle "consists of (1) the notation of the secured party on the certificate of ownership in accordance with N.J.S.A. 39:10-9; and (2) the presentation to the director of the certificate so noted in accordance with section 39:10-11.'" Muir v. Jefferson Credit Corp., 262 A.2d 33, 35 (N.J.Super. Ct. Law Div. 1970). N.J.S.A. 39:10-9 requires that "if, in connection with [the sale of a used motor vehicle], a security interest is taken or retained by the seller to secure all or a part of the purchase price of the motor vehicle, ... the name and the business or residence address of the secured party or his assignee shall be noted on the certificate of ownership." In its Local Rule 56.1 Statement, plaintiff acknowledges that it perfected its security interest in the Vehicle on November 24, 2009 by recording its lien on the corresponding certificate of title (the "Title) that was issued by the Motor Vehicle Commission for the State of New Jersey. (Pl.'s R. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff does not ...