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Lamb v. Crayton

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

May 12, 2017

ERIC LAMB, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID CRAYTON, d/b/a Crayton Diesel and/or Crayton Diesel Sales & Service, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge United States District Court.

         Eric Lamb filed this action against David Crayton, doing business as Crayton Diesel Sales & Service, after a business arrangement between the two gentlemen soured. He brings a claim for breach of contract (or, in the alternative, for unjust enrichment), along with a claim for fraudulent inducement. With discovery at a close, Lamb moves for summary judgment, seeking entry of judgment against Crayton in the amount of $75, 680. Crayton, proceeding pro se, opposes that motion. Viewing the record in the light most favorable to Crayton, the Court concludes that a jury must resolve this action. Accordingly, Lamb's Motion for Summary Judgment, [R. 37], is DENIED.

         I.

         A.

         Sometime in January 2013, Eric Lamb and David Crayton entered into an oral arrangement to purchase two EMD diesel engines with the hope of reselling them for a profit. [R. 38-1 at 8, 10-12 (Crayton's Deposition).] On January 22, Lamb wired $56, 000 to Crayton to finance the acquisition. [Id. at 11.] Crayton then used those funds to purchase the two diesel engines and to transport them to Paducah, Kentucky, where he attempted to sell them as a package deal. [Id. at 61-62.] The two hoped to flip the engines within two months for somewhere in the neighborhood of $130, 000. [Id. at 62- 63, 68.] Once the engines were sold, Lamb would be repaid his initial investment, and the pair would split the remaining amount (less expenses) evenly. [Id. at 10-12.]

         Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. More than a year passed, but Crayton had no luck selling the engines. [Id. at 12-13.] In an attempt to cut their losses, Lamb and Crayton verbally agreed to “part out” the engines and sell the components instead. [Id. at 12-13, 67.] Similar to the original agreement, the two decided to split any profit after Lamb recouped his initial investment. [Id. at 58, 60-61.]

         There appears to be some issue, however, about exactly when Lamb would realize a return on his investment. The way Crayton recalls things, the two gentlemen never decided when Lamb would be repaid. [Id. at 13-14.] Crayton merely planned to reimburse him after selling the more valuable engine components. [Id. at 57-58.] So far, Crayton has sold $61, 300 worth of parts, [id. at 25-26], although he has spent around $11, 336 on advertising and labor, [see Id. at 62-63; R. 20-1 at 1 (Invoice)]. He estimates the remaining parts to be worth roughly $36, 440. [See R. 38-1 at 47-57.] However, Crayton has not shared any portion of the revenue with Lamb yet. [Id. at 26.] Instead, all revenue from the engine parts has gone into Crayton Diesel Sales & Service's general operating account. [Id. at 69-70.]

         B.

         When Lamb's demand for payment fell on deaf ears, he filed this action against Crayton, bringing a claim for breach of contract (or, in the alternative, for unjust enrichment), along with a claim for fraud in the inducement. [See R. 1 at 2-4, ¶¶ 5-19 (Complaint).] He seeks to recover $71, 200 as damages resulting from the breach of contract, as well as an additional $4, 480 on his fraud claim, for a total of $75, 680. [R. 37-1 at 1 (Proposed Order).] Crayton, proceeding pro se, denied Lamb's legal conclusions, though not most of his allegations. [See R. 5 at 1-2, ¶¶ 1-10 (Answer).] Now, Lamb moves for summary judgment against Crayton. [See R. 37 (Motion for Summary Judgment).]

         II.

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, reveals “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute of material fact exists where “there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court “may not make credibility determinations nor weigh the evidence when determining whether an issue of fact remains for trial.” Laster v. City of Kalamazoo, 746 F.3d 714, 726 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Logan v. Denny's, Inc., 259 F.3d 558, 566 (6th Cir. 2001); Ahlers v. Schebil, 188 F.3d 365, 369 (6th Cir. 1999)). “The ultimate question is ‘whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.'” Back v. Nestlé USA, Inc., 694 F.3d 571, 575 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52).

         III.

         Lamb moves for summary judgment against Crayton on his claims for breach of contract (or unjust enrichment, if there is no contract) and fraud in the inducement. [See R. 37.] On the first claim, Lamb argues that the parties' oral contract entitled him to recoup his initial investment on a rolling basis, i.e., as each part was sold, and that Crayton has breached that arrangement. [See R. 38 at 5-6 (Memorandum in Support).] With regard to his claim for fraudulent inducement, Lamb says that Crayton falsely promised to repay him on a rolling basis when, in fact, he had no intention of doing so. ...


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