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Crestwood Membranes, Inc. v. Constant Services, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 22, 2017




         I. Introduction and Procedural History

         Presently before the Court is Magistrate Judge Carlson's Report and Recommendation ("R&R"), (Doc. 96), on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 56). The subject of the R&R is a lawsuit that began in March of 2017, when Plaintiff, Crestwood Membranes, Inc., d/b/a i2M (12M"), filed a Complaint against Defendant, Constant Services, Inc. ("CSI"). The Complaint stems from a business relationship in the pool liner industry and alleges four causes of action; Count I, "Copyright Infringement;" Count II, "Breach of Contract;" Count III, "Breach of Warranty;" and Count IV, "Negligence in Performance of Contract." (Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 3048).

         Previously, i2M moved for summary judgment on the copyright infringement claim. (Doc. 23). In a separate R&R not currently before the Court, Magistrate Judge Carlson recommended denying i2M's motion on the basis that disputes of fact remain about the availability of certain defenses that may insulate CSI from liability. (Doc. 95). Over i2M's objections, this Court adopted the R&R in full and denied i2M's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 104).

         The subject of the R&R currently before this Court is CSI's Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 56). In its Motion, CSI moved for summary judgment on all four of i2M's claims. The R&R made two recommendations concerning CSI's Motion. First, consistent with the prior R&R, the R&R recommended denying CSI's Motion as it concerns the copyright infringement claim. (Doc. 96 at 28). Neither party has objected to this recommendation, and the Court will adopt it. Second, after finding that i2M's filings failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1, the R&R recommended that this Court strike i2M's Response to CSI's Motion for Summary Judgment and order i2M to file a new response that complies with the local rules. (Id. at 29). Both parties have objected to this recommendation. Specifically, i2M has denied that it did not comply with Local Rule 56.1, and CSI has objected to giving i2M a "second bite at the apple."

         While the R&R correctly points out that it is in this Court's discretion to take such a course of action, the Court notes that i2M has objected to being given such an opportunity. (Doc. 99 at 1). Thus, the Court will not adopt this recommendation, but instead resolve the remainder of CSI's motion on the parties' filings. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant in part and deny in part CSI's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         II. Statement of Undisputed Facts

         In accordance with Local Rule 56.1, CSI submitted a Statement of Material Facts in Support of its Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. 57), as to which it contends that there is no genuine dispute for trial. Despite its arguments to the contrary, the R&R correctly conclude that i2M's Response to CSI's Statement of Material Facts, (Doc. 72), did not comply with Local Rule 56.1. Although i2M cited to various sections of deposition testimony to support its averments, it failed to either attach any of those depositions to its Response or its Brief in Opposition, or inform the Court where those depositions could be found in the record. In an attempt to resolve this issue, the Court issued an Order with the following instructions:

Plaintiff shall, within five (5) days of this Order, file with the Court a document which identifies, by docket number and page, the location of the material it cited within its Statement of Material Facts, (Doc. 72). To be clear, Plaintiff shall not file the depositions it relied on, but shall identify where in the record, as the record now stands, the evidence it relied on can be found by the Court. Any failure to timely comply with this Order will cause the facts asserted in Defendant's Statement of Material Facts, (Doc. 57), which Plaintiffs filing purported to controvert, to be deemed admitted.

(Doc. 105) (emphasis original).

         Nevertheless, i'2M disregarded this Court's instructions and instead filed a new Response, (Doc. 106). This new Response admitted previously denied statements, denied previously admitted statements, and was accompanied by depositions which i2M relied on but which were not previously found in the record. Accordingly, in resolving the instant Motion, the Court has disregarded i2M's attempt, without leave of the Court, to supplement the record. Consequently, the Court has deemed admitted any statement in i2M's original Response, (Doc. 72), which does not rely by citation on evidence in the record at the time that the briefing on the summary judgment motion was completed. With that in mind, the following facts are undisputed unless noted otherwise:[1]

         CSI is a printing company that specializes in printing on flexible PVC plastics, such as vinyl pool liners. (Doc. 57 at ¶¶ 1-2). CSI's customers provide CSI with the material to print on and CSI applies ink to that material. (Id. at ¶ 5). CSI, however, does not manufacture any of the materials it prints on. (Id.). i2M, one of CSI's customers, does manufactures pool liner vinyl. (Id. at ¶¶ 16, 50, 90, 104).[2] When a pool liner customer placed an order for vinyl from i2M, i2M would send vinyl to CSI and CSI would print patterns on it for i2M. (Id. at ¶¶ 5, 40, 45, 50, 56, 58, 104; Doc. 72 at 58).[3]

         Eventually, end user customers complained that the pool liners' seams would separate and that patterns would fade. (Doc. 57 at ¶¶ 40, 82). Christopher Hackett, i2M's owner, testified that the seam separation and fading issues were a result of CSI's printing practices. (Id. at ¶¶ 15, 30, 82). Despite this contention, there was a history of CSI complaining about the quality of vinyl that i2M provided for to it for printing. (Id. at ¶¶ 84-87).

         III. Standard of Review

         Through summary adjudication, the court may dispose of those claims that do not present a "genuine dispute as to any material fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "As to materiality, [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).

         The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Once such a showing has been made, the non-moving party must offer specific facts contradicting those averred by the movant to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 111 L.Ed.2d 695 (1990). Therefore, the non-moving party may not oppose summary judgment simply on the basis of the pleadings, or on conclusory statements that a factual issue exists. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. "A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by citing to particular parts of materials in the record ... or showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A)-(B). In evaluating whether summary judgment should be granted, "[t]he court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). "Inferences should be drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and where the non-moving party's evidence contradicts the movant's, then the non-movant's must be taken as true." Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992), cert, denied 507 U.S. 912, 113 S.Ct. 1262, 122 L.Ed.2d 659 (1993).

         However, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). If a party has carried its burden under the summary judgment rule,

its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial. The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact. When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.

Id. (internal quotations, citations, and alterations omitted).

         IV. ...

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