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United Sadat Transportation and Logistics Co. Ltd. v. Barton

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

April 23, 2018

UNITED SADAT TRANSPORTATION AND LOGISTICS COMPANY LTD, Plaintiff,
v.
ERIC WAYNE BARTON and VANQUISH WORLDWIDE, LLC, Defendants.

          DEBRA C. POPLIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          TRAVIS R. MCDONOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff United Sadat Transportation and Logistics Company LTD's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 29). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion will be GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In April 2016, Plaintiff and Defendants Eric Wayne Barton (“Barton”) and Vanquish Worldwide, LLC (“Vanquish”)[1] entered into a settlement agreement that resolved a separate dispute between the parties (the “Settlement Agreement”). (Doc. 32-1, at 1.) At the time the Settlement Agreement was reached, Barton was also a party to a divorce proceeding in Blount County, Tennessee, between Barton and his former spouse (the “Divorce Proceeding”). (Id. at 2.) Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, Vanquish agreed to pay Plaintiff $7, 000, 000 in exchange for dismissal of the lawsuit. (Id. at 6.) Of that amount, $1, 800, 000 was to be paid to Plaintiff immediately. (Id.) The remaining $5, 200, 000 was to be paid in installments of various amounts over the next three years. (Id. at 6-8.) As security for the remaining amount, Vanquish and Barton, respectively, executed a Promissory Note and Guaranty Agreement along with the Settlement Agreement. (Id.)

         Both the Promissory Note and Guaranty Agreement provided for “Events of Default, ” whereby Plaintiff, at its option, could accelerate the amount owed by Vanquish. (Doc. 31, at 2- 3, 7.) In addition to acceleration, upon an Event of Default, the Promissory Note allows Plaintiff to collect interest in the amount of 7.5% per annum, to take action to enforce and collect on the outstanding obligation, and to recover reasonable costs, including attorneys' fees. (Id. at 3.) Both the Promissory Note and Guaranty Agreement include the following as an Event of Default:

[I]f a judgment for in excess of $2, 000, 000 be entered in court against [Barton] or any lien superior in priority to the liens held by [Plaintiff] on the assets of [Barton] be recorded or filed against any property securing the Note or this Guaranty and not paid, appealed, vacated, satisfied, withdrawn, stricken, or bonded within 60 days . . . .

(Id. at 2-3, 7.)

         In September 2016, the Chancery Court for Blount, County, Tennessee (the “Chancery Court”) held a three-day trial in the Divorce Proceeding. (Doc. 31, at 15.) On November 16, 2016, the Chancery Court issued a memorandum and order (the “Memorandum and Order”). (Id. at 18-41.) In the Memorandum and Order, the Chancery Court awarded Barton's former spouse the divorce and approved the parties' proposed parenting plan. (Id. at 30.) In addition, the Chancery Court allocated 55% of the $18, 812, 376.00 marital estate to Barton's former spouse ($10, 346, 806.80)[2] and 45% to Barton ($8, 465, 569.20). (Id. at 21, 32.) The Court also awarded Barton's former spouse $7, 294, 570.30 as alimony in solido “in order to adjust the distribution of the estate” to be paid in monthly installments over a period of ten years. (Id. at 30.) Finally, the Court awarded Barton's former spouse $43, 571.57 in attorneys' fees. (Id.) Defendants do not dispute that the Memorandum and Order was not appealed within sixty days, but, instead, argue that the Memorandum and Order was not an appealable judgment. (See Doc. 32; Doc. 32-1, at 3.) Barton also avers that he has timely made all alimony-in-solido payments as provided by the Memorandum and Order. (Doc. 32-1, at 2.)

         Plaintiff filed the instant suit on April 7, 2017, alleging that the Memorandum and Order constitutes an Event of Default under the Promissory Note and Guaranty Agreement and seeking to accelerate the amount owed by Vanquish. (Doc. 1.) On February 5, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking judgment on the Promissory Note and Guaranty Agreement in the amount outstanding, as well as interest at a rate of 7.5% per annum, attorneys' fees, and costs of collection and enforcement, as provided by the Promissory Note. (Doc. 29.) As of the date of Plaintiff's motion, neither party disputes that Vanquish had made installment payments in accordance with the terms of the Promissory Note and that the amount outstanding is $2, 790, 000. (See Doc. 30, at 3; Doc. 32, at 4.) Plaintiff's motion is now ripe for the Court's review.

         II. STANDARD OF LAW

         Summary judgment is proper when “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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and makes all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Nat'l Satellite Sports, Inc. v. Eliadis Inc., 253 F.3d 900, 907 (6th Cir. 2001).

         The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 897 (6th Cir. 2003). The moving party may meet this burden either by affirmatively producing evidence establishing that there is no genuine issue of material fact or by pointing out the absence of support in the record for the nonmoving party's case. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. Once the movant has discharged this burden, the nonmoving party can no longer rest upon the allegations in the pleadings; rather, it must point to specific facts supported by evidence in the record demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial. Chao v. Hall Holding Co., Inc., 285 F.3d 415, 424 (6th Cir. 2002).

         At summary judgment, the Court may not weigh the evidence; its role is limited to determining whether the record contains sufficient evidence from which a jury could reasonably find for the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986). A mere scintilla of evidence is not enough; the Court must determine whether a fair-minded jury could return a verdict in favor of the non-movant based on the record. Id. at 251-52; Lansing Dairy, ...


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