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Chiarelli v. Nissan North America, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

July 12, 2017

VINCENT CHIARELLI, PHILIP DRAGONETTI, MICHELE MASZON, TODD MASZON, CHRIS SANTMAURO, LISA SUROWEIC, and JOHN COMPTON, individually, and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,


          NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiffs Vincent Chiarelli, Philip Dragonetti, Michele Maszon, Lisa Suroweic, and John Compton bring this putative class action against Defendant Nissan North America, Inc. ("Nissan").[1] (See Am. Compl. (Dkt. 5).) Plaintiffs allege that Nissan installed a defective timing chain system in various models of Nissan vehicles, causing Plaintiffs to pay for repairs after the expiration of their otherwise applicable Nissan warranties. Plaintiffs assert causes of action under the consumer protection laws of New York, Florida, and Maryland, as well as breach of contract claims pursuant to New York, Florida, Maryland, and New Jersey law.[2] Defendant has moved for partial summary judgment, requesting that the court dismiss all but one of Plaintiffs' claims. (Mot. for Partial Summ. J. ("Mot.") (Dkt. 40).) The court hereby DENIES Nissan's Motion WITHOUT PREJUDICE because it is procedurally defective.

         I. DISCUSSION

         Defendant failed to submit a statement of undisputed material facts (a "Rule 56.1 Statement") with its Motion, in clear violation of this court's Local Rules.[3] Local Civil Rule 56.1 states that

[u]pon any motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, there shall be annexed to the notice of motion a separate, short and concise statement, in numbered paragraphs, of the material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue to be tried. Failure to submit such a statement may constitute grounds for denial of the motion.

(emphases added); cf T.Y. v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Educ. 584 F.3d 412, 417 (2d Cir. 2009) (noting that Local Civil Rule 56.1 imposes a "strict" requirement).

         "Local Rule 56.1 is designed to place the responsibility on the parties to clarify the elements of the substantive law which remain at issue because they turn on contested facts." Monahan v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Corrs.. 214 F.3d 275, 292 (2d Cir. 2000). It is not the court's responsibility to "hunt through voluminous records without guidance from the parties." Holtz v. Rockefeller & Co., Inc., 258 F.3d 62, 74 (2d Cir. 2001). The movant's submission of a Rule 56.1 Statement is meant "to streamline the [court's] consideration of summary judgment motions." Id. As such, "[w]hile the trial court has discretion to conduct an assiduous review of the record in an effort to weigh the propriety of granting a summary judgment motion, it is not required to consider what the parties fail to point out." Monahan, 214 F.3d at 292.

         Without a Rule 56.1 Statement from Defendant (and a response from Plaintiffs), the court cannot adequately assess whether there exist any genuine issues of material fact, which would preclude entry of summary judgment in favor of Defendant. Accordingly, Defendant's Motion is denied without prejudice. See, e.g., Barklev v. Olympia Mortg. Co., Nos. 04-CV-875 (KAM) (RLM), 05-CV-187 (KAM) (RLM), 05-CV-4386 (KAM) (RLM), 05-CV-5302 (KAM) (RLM), 05-CV-5362 (KAM) (RLM), 05-CV-5679 (KAM) (RLM), 2010 WL 3709278, at *14 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 13, 2010) (denying summary judgment motion based on movant's failure to submit a Rule 56.1 Statement); MSF Holding Ltd. v. Fiduciary Trust Co. Int'l 435 F.Supp.2d 285, 304 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) (same); Searight v. Dohert v Enters., Inc., No. 02-CV-0604 (SJF) (JO), 2005 WL 2413590, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 29, 2005) (same).

         In addition to being procedurally defective, Defendant's Motion may well be premature. Plaintiffs submit that merits and expert discovery has not yet commenced in this action and that "the minimal discovery" that has been taken "has only related to class discovery issues." (See Decl. of Gary Graifman in Opp'n to Mot. ("Graifman Decl.") (Dkt. 42) ¶¶ 16, 18, 19.)[4]Defendant responds that "[a]ny classwide conduct pertinent to Plaintiffs' claims ... was subject to discovery during the [class] certification stage [of discovery]." (Def.'s Reply Mem. in Supp. of Mot. ("Def. Reply") (Dkt. 48) at 3.) Because the Motion is procedurally defective due to Defendant's failure to file a Rule 56.1 Statement, the court need not decide whether Defendant's Motion is also premature.[5]

         Notwithstanding, the court cautions the parties that it will not adjudicate summary judgment motions until the non-moving party has had "adequate time for discovery." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett. 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); see also Hellstrom v. U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs. 201 F.3d 94, 97 (2d Cir. 2000) ("[S]ummary judgment should only be granted mf after discovery, the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of [its] case with respect to which [it] has the burden of proof." (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)); Trebor Sportswear Co.. Inc. v. The Ltd. Stores. Inc., 865 F.2d 506, 511 (2d Cir. 1989) (holding that the non-moving party "should not be 'railroaded' into his offer of proof in opposition to summary judgment" and "must have 'had the opportunity to discover information that is essential to his opposition' to the motion for summary judgment") (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 326, and Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 n.5 (1986)).


         Because Defendant failed to file the required Rule 56.1 Statement, Defendant's Motion (Dkt. 40) is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Should Defendant decide to re-file its Motion with a Rule 56.1 Statement, it must first obtain a certification from Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo that fact discovery is complete. The court expects that any renewed motion filed by Defendant will comply with the Local Rules and the court's Individual Rules, including the page limits prescribed therein.[6]

         The Clerk of Court is respectfully DIRECTED to amend the case caption to reflect the fact that Todd Maszon and Chris Santimauro have been removed as putative class ...

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