Before Terry and Ruiz, Associate Judges, and Mack, Senior Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mack, Senior Judge
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Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(Hon. Michael L. Rankin, Trial Judge)
This case arises from a breach of contract action that was decided by this court in Bingham v. Goldberg. Marchesano. Kohlman. Inc., 637 A.2d 81 (D.C. 1994). After our decision, appellant Goldberg. Marchesano. Kholman. Inc. ("GMK") attempted to collect payment from a supersedeas bond issued by appellee Old Republic Surety Company ("Old Republic"). This attempt was thwarted when a motion for summary judgment was granted in favor of Old Republic. GMK now appeals. In a related matter, Joan Bingham appeals from a denial of sanctions under Super. Ct. Civ. R. 11 against GMK. We affirm both the summary judgment and the denial of Rule 11 sanctions.
In 1984, GMK filed a breach of contract action against PFP, Inc. ("PFP") and its president, Joan Bingham. On July 29, 1989, Superior Court Judge Harriett Taylor entered a judgment in which both Ms. Bingham and PFP were found jointly and severally liable. Ms. Bingham and PFP filed an appeal, and sought a stay of the judgment pending appeal pursuant to Super. Ct. Civ. R. 62 (d). Ms. Bingham obtained a supersedeas bond from Old Republic to secure the judgment against her, but that bond did not mention PFP. Nonetheless, the bond was submitted with a motion for stay pending appeal joined by both Ms. Bingham and PFP. When the supersedeas bond was presented to the trial court and GMK, GMK objected to the amount of the bond. GMK, however, never raised an objection to the fact that the bond was only issued to Ms. Bingham as principal.
In 1994, this court affirmed the judgment against PFP, but reversed the judgment against Ms. Bingham. Bingham, supra, 637 A.2d at 95. PFP has since become defunct. GMK filed a motion to compel Old Republic to satisfy the judgment, claiming the bond covered the liability of both Ms. Bingham and PFP. A new Judge, Judge Geoffrey Alprin, was assigned the case. Judge Alprin initially denied the motion, but later vacated his order when it was brought to his attention that not all parties had filed their briefs relating to the motion.
GMK then withdrew the motion and filed suit against Old Republic on November 21, 1995. The case was assigned to a third Judge, Judge Michael Rankin. GMK asserted: (1) the supersedeas bond covered both Ms. Bingham and PFP by its own terms; (2) the fact that Judge Taylor accepted the bond as security for the judgment obligated Old Republic to satisfy the judgment against PFP; and (3) Old Republic should be estopped from claiming the bond did not cover PFP. Old Republic filed a third party complaint against Ms. Bingham seeking indemnification for attorney's fees. Ms. Bingham's counsel sent a letter to GMK's counsel, stating that Ms. Bingham intended to hold GMK liable for any attorney's fees caused by GMK's lawsuit.
GMK and Old Republic filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Judge Rankin granted Old Republic's motion for summary judgment, adopting the order Judge Alprin had vacated. Six weeks after summary judgment had been granted, Ms. Bingham filed a motion for Rule 11 sanctions. The request was denied.
GMK appeals from the summary judgment, claiming: (1) the supersedeas bond covered the liability of PFP; and (2) under the doctrine of equitable estoppel, Old Republic should be estopped from asserting the bond did not cover PFP's liability. Ms. Bingham appeals from the denial of Rule 11 sanctions, claiming an abuse of discretion. We disagree with both GMK and Ms. Bingham, and affirm.
Summary judgment should only be granted when "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Super. Ct. Civ. R. 56 (c); Kurth v. Dobricky, 487 A.2d 220, 224 (D.C. 1985). GMK first claims the language of the surety bond was broad enough to cover the liability of both Ms. Bingham and PFP. In support of this claim, ...