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Qatar National Bank v. Winmar

September 3, 2009

QATAR NATIONAL BANK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WINMAR, INC., D/B/A WINMAR CONSTRUCTION, DEFENDANT AND THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF.
WINMAR, INC., D/B/A WINMAR CONSTRUCTION, THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF AND COUNTERCLAIM DEFENDANT,
v.
AL-JAZEERA INTERNATIONAL, THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT AND COUNTERCLAIM PLAINTIFF.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gladys Kessler United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Qatar National Bank ("QNB") brings this action against Defendant and Third Party Plaintiff Winmar, Inc. ("Winmar"). QNB alleges that Winmar had no right to retain funds that were mistakenly transferred to it (Count I), and that Winmar was unjustly enriched as a result of the mistaken transfer (Count II). This matter is now before the Court on QNB's Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 35]. Upon consideration of the Motion, Opposition, Reply, Surreply, the entire record herein, and for the reasons set forth below, QNB's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

I. Background*fn1

A. Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts Is Admitted

Defendant submitted a Statement of Material Facts as to Which There is No Genuine Dispute, but failed to submit a "separate concise statement of genuine issues setting forth all material facts as to which it is contended there exists a genuine issue necessary to be litigated," as required by Local Rule 7(h). See LCvR 7(h).

According to Local Rule 7(h), "the court may assume that facts identified by the moving party in its statement of material facts are admitted, unless such a fact is controverted in the statement of genuine issues filed in opposition to the motion." Id. As our Court of Appeals has held, "[i]f the party opposing the motion fails to comply with [Local Rule 7(h)], then the district court is under no obligation to sift through the record and should [i]nstead . . . deem as admitted the moving party's facts that are uncontroverted by the nonmoving party's Rule [7(h)] statement." Secs. & Exch. Comm'n v. Banner Fund Int'l, 211 F.3d 602, 616 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted); see also Jackson v. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, 101 F.3d 145, 151 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (the local rules place "the burden on the parties and their counsel, who are most familiar with the litigation and the record, to crystallize for the district court the material facts and relevant portions of the record").

Here, Defendant failed to comply with Rule 7(h) because it did not file a statement of disputed facts. Instead, it submitted only its own Statement of Material Facts as to Which There Is No Genuine Dispute. Therefore QNB's facts are admitted because they have not been controverted.

B. QNB's Duplicate Payment and Refund Request

On November 23, 2005,*fn2 Winmar and Third Party Defendant AlJazeera entered into a contract for the renovation of Al-Jazeera's office at 1627 K Street N.W. in Washington, D.C. Under the terms of the contract, Al-Jazeera agreed to submit payments by wiring funds to an account at Citibank Federal Savings Bank in Washington ("Citibank"). On October 20, 2005, Winmar and Janson Design Group ("Janson"), the architect on the project, certified that Winmar was due an initial deposit of $645,164, plus a first payment of $474,677.

On October 27, 2005, Al-Jazeera wired an initial deposit of $645,161 to the Citibank account. On December 7, 2005, Janson certified that Winmar was owed three additional payments of $115,872, $775,913, and $471,678, which totaled $1,363,463.

On December 8, 2005, Al-Jazeera faxed a payment order to QNB, requesting that QNB wire $474,677 to the Citibank account. On December 12, 2005, QNB used the FedWire system to wire the funds to JPMorgan Chase Bank, its correspondent bank, which in turn wired the funds to the Citibank account.

On December 22, 2005, Christopher Condon, Winmar's Vice President, sent Al-Jazeera a letter reiterating that it owed Winmar an additional $1,363,463.

On January 4, 2006, Winmar informed Al-Jazeera that it planned to suspend its performance of the contract unless it received a payment of $1,363,463.

On January 5 and January 6, 2006, Winmar received two letters from Janson. In the letters, Janson stated that it had erred in certifying the $1,363,463 amount, and it requested that Winmar provide documentation to support its claim that it was owed $1,363,463. On January 11, 2006, Al-Jazeera terminated the contract for convenience.

On January 18, 2006, Winmar submitted a revised certification, claiming Al-Jazeera owed it $653,449 as a final payment under the contract. On January 19, 2006, Janson rejected this certification. On the same date, Al-Jazeera wrote a letter to Winmar, stating that Winmar was not entitled to any additional payments until it provided supporting documentation. On January 23, 2006, Winmar submitted a revised certification in which it claimed that AlJazeera owed it $355,297.

On January 30, 2006, Al-Jazeera faxed a second copy of the December 2005 payment order to QNB. Pl.'s Mot., Ex. 4. At the top of the fax, there was a handwritten note stating that Al-Jazeera had not "received any . . . transfer confirmation for this" and requesting QNB to "please send the Confirmation." See id.

QNB mistakenly understood this fax to constitute a second payment order, rather than a request for confirmation that the first payment order had been processed. On January 30, 2006, QNB wired a duplicate payment of $474,677 to the Citibank account. The funds arrived in the Citibank account on January 31, 2006. AlJazeera did not authorize this second payment.*fn3

After it had wired the funds to the Citibank account, QNB recognized that it had erred in sending the duplicate payment. On February 2, 2006, it wired the following instructions to JPMorgan Chase Bank:

URGENT . . . URGENT . . . THE ABOVE PAYMENT HAS BEEN WRONGLY DUPLICATED FROM OUR SIDE WITH REF 6202790001932 DATED 12.12.2005 WITH THE SAME AMOUNT AND THE SAME BENEFICIARY DETAILS KINDLY TREAT THE PAYMENT ORDER . . . DATED 30.01.2006 AS NULL AND VOID AND REFUND THE AMOUNT TO OUR ACCOUNT WITH YOU UNDER URGENT SWIFT ADVISE TO US. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE CAUSED JPMorgan Chase responded on the same day, ...


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