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Lanquest Corporation v. Mcmanus & Darden Llp

July 12, 2011

LANQUEST CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MCMANUS & DARDEN LLP, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Beryl A. Howell

MEMORANDUM OPINION

In this action, the plaintiff, LanQuest Corporation, seeks payment for computer network engineering, integration, and consulting services provided to the defendant law firm, McManus & Darden LLP. The plaintiff is a Maryland corporation and the defendant is a firm operating in the District of Columbia. Pending before the Court is the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on Count I of the Complaint, which seeks payment of an outstanding invoice in the amount of $90,541.40. For the reasons explained below, the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is denied. *fn1

I. BACKGROUND

According to the Complaint, the parties had an oral contract under which the plaintiff performed computer network engineering, integration ("IT services") for the defendant for over a decade from June 2000 through November , and consulting services 2010. Compl. ¶¶ 5-7. The plaintiff submitted invoices for the work it performed "from time-to-time" and those invoices were always paid.

This Court has jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. 1332, due to the diversity of citizenship of the parties and the amount in controversy in excess of $75,000. §plaintiff submitted an invoice dated December 6, 2010 (the "Disputed Invoice") covering work performed over the prior two years, from July 2008 through November 2010. Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Mem.") at 6; Disputed Invoice, Ex. 2 to the Affidavit of Mark J. Chambers, ("Chambers Aff."), sworn to June 1, 2011. The Disputed Invoice totals $90,541.40 and the defendant law firm has not paid it.*fn2 Compl ¶ 7; Pl.'s Mem. at 6. Based upon the foregoing, the plaintiff believes it is entitled to summary judgment in the amount of the Disputed Invoice.

The defendant counters that summary judgment is inappropriate because there are disputed issues of material fact regarding the existence and terms of the alleged oral contract between the parties. Moreover, even if there were an enforceable oral contract, the defendant has raised disputed issues concerning the plaintiff's performance under the contract.

The plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is now before the Court.

II.SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the Court will grant a motion for summary judgment "if 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" based upon the pleadings, depositions, and affidavits and other factual materials in the record. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a), (c); Tao v. Freeh, 27 F.3d 635, 638 (D.C. Cir. 1994). The Court "need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record." Fed. 242, 250, 255 (1986)). The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that there is an "absence of a genuine issue of material fact" in dispute. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

Summary judgment is generally appropriate only after the non-moving party has been afforded an adequate opportunity to conduct discovery. Hellstrom v. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, 201 F.3d 94, 97 (2d Cir. 2000); see also McWay v. LaHood, 269 F.R.D. 35, 39 (D.D.C. 2010) (citing Americable Int'l, Inc. v. Dep't of Navy, 129 F.3d 1271, 1274 (D.C. Cir. 1997)). A grant of summary judgment may be appropriate prior to discovery where the moving party can demonstrate that there is no disputed issue of material fact. "[T]he nonmoving party 'must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'" Bias v. Advantage Intern., Inc., 905 F.2d 1558, 1561 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)). It must "provide evidence that would permit a reasonable [fact-finder] to find" in its favor. Laningham v. U.S. Navy, 813 F.2d 1236, 1242 (D.C. Cir. 1987).

Thus, a party seeking to oppose a motion for summary judgment as premature must cite to materials in the record or submit an affidavit showing the presence of a genuine dispute, pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(B). This affidavit should lay out the material facts sought through discovery to contest the motion for summary judgment and a reasonable basis to believe such facts are discoverable. The Court's role in evaluating these factual assertions is limited and "the court . . . may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence." Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); see also AMTRAK v. ExpressTrak, L.L.C., No. 02-1773, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74922, at *25-26 (D.D.C. Oct. 16, 2006).

III.DISCUSSION

In applying the summary judgment legal standard to the instant record, the Court has considered the allegations set forth in the Complaint and the declarations and affidavits presented by both the plaintiff and the defendant. No discovery has yet taken place in this case so the record consists solely of the documentary affidavits or declarations submitted in connection with this motion. As explained below, this record compels the conclusion that genuine issues of material fact are disputed and summary judgment is not appropriate at this time.

In support of its motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff has submitted a lengthy affidavit of its president, Mark Chambers, who describes the history of the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant (and the defendant's predecessor firm); the Disputed Invoice; and email correspondence relating to certain entries in the Disputed Invoice. The plaintiff's position is straightforward. As noted above, the plaintiff contends that it is undisputed that the parties had an oral contract, pursuant to ...


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