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RUBIN v. ESTATE OF WARNER

March 20, 1995

HELENE V. RUBIN, Plaintiff,
v.
ESTATE OF TIMOTHY J. WARNER, and LISA J. RUBIN, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: STANLEY SPORKIN

 This matter comes before the Court on Defendant/Third Party plaintiff's (estate of Timothy Warner), motion for summary judgment on its third party claim against Lisa Rubin. For the reasons stated below, the motion is granted.

 Background

 This case has a long and tragic history. In order to understand the third party claim, some factual background is necessary. In late April, 1990 Lisa Rubin was charged with the murder of Tim Warner, her estranged husband. In November 1990, she was convicted in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland of a number of charges, including first degree murder. In April, 1991, the estate filed a survivor action against Lisa Rubin. The parties settled the case before trial. As part of the settlement, Lisa Rubin agreed to transfer an interest in property at 5030 Linnean Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC, which she claimed to hold as a joint tenant with her mother, Helene Rubin. In the agreement, Lisa Rubin expressly warranted that she had good and marketable title to her interest in the property. Lisa Rubin has admitted in discovery that her mother, Helene had demanded return of Lisa's interest in the property prior to Lisa's execution of the settlement agreement in the wrongful death suit.

 Following the execution of this agreement, Helene Rubin filed a complaint against the estate, and its representative in this Court. In her complaint, Helene Rubin alleged that Tim Warner and Lisa Rubin had fraudulently induced her to transfer the joint interest in the property to Lisa Rubin. In her prayer for relief, she requested inter alia that the transfer between Lisa Rubin and the estate and the original transfer to Lisa Rubin be declared null and void.

 Analysis

 Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleadings are not enough to prevent issuance of summary judgment. The adverse party's response to the summary judgment motion must "set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(e).

 The Supreme Court set forth the governing standards for issuance of summary judgment in Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986), in which the Supreme Court recognized the need for summary judgment to the fair and efficient functioning of the justice system:

 
Summary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed "to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action." Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 1. . . .
 
Rule 56 must be construed with due regard not only for the rights of persons asserting claims and defenses that are adequately based in fact to have those claims and defenses tried to a jury, but also for the rights of persons opposing such claims and defenses to demonstrate in the manner provided by the Rule, prior to trial, that the claims and defenses have no factual basis.

 Id. at 327. (citation omitted).

 The non-moving party, is "required to provide evidence that would permit a reasonable jury to find" in its favor. Laningham v. U.S. Navy, 259 U.S. App. D.C. 115, 813 F.2d 1236, 1242 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (per curiam) (citing Celotex, supra). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment where "the non-moving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof." Celotex 477 U.S. at 323. Any factual assertions contained in affidavits and other evidence in support of the moving party's motion for summary judgment shall be accepted as true unless the facts are controverted by the non-moving party through affidavits or other documentary evidence. See Local Rule 108(h).

 In resolving the summary judgment motion, all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the facts placed before the court must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505. The inferences, however, must be reasonable, and the non-moving party can only defeat a motion for summary judgment by responding with some factual ...


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