United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA PLAINTIFF
BOWLING GREEN RECYCLING LLC, et al. DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
N. Stivers, Judge
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment (DN 52), and Defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment (DN 53). For the reasons outlined below,
Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on its
claim of conversion is GRANTED IN PART and
DENIED IN PART, and Defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment is DENIED.
STATEMENT OF FACTS AND CLAIMS
Belden, insured by Plaintiff National Union Fire Insurance
Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (“National
Union” or “Plaintiff”), is a corporation
that designs, manufactures, and markets signal transmission
solutions for broadcast, enterprise, and industrial
applications. (Am. Compl. ¶ 13). At its Tompkinsville
and Monticello, Kentucky, plants during the relevant time
period, Belden received processed copper and fabricated it
into cable. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14; Pl.'s Mem. Supp. Mot.
Summ. J. 3, DN 52-1 [hereinafter Pl.'s Mem.]).
as early as December 2004 and continuing through 2014, Jimmy
Pruitt (“Pruitt”), a Belden manufacturing
manager, stole 254 reels of copper from Belden and resold
them to three of the defendant entities as
“scrap.” (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 15-17, 19;
Pl.'s Mem. 3-5).By the time Belden discovered the scheme,
Pruitt had stolen $1, 935, 272.15 worth of copper, and one or
more Defendants had resold the copper for a profit. (Am.
Compl. ¶ 18, 20; Pl.'s Mem. 5). As Belden's
insurer, National Union reimbursed the loss and was assigned
Belden's claims. (Am. Compl. ¶ 21; Pl.'s Mem.
Union then filed this subrogation action against Defendants.
Defendants concede that they purchased the stolen copper from
Pruitt and that they knew the copper originated from Belden,
but maintain that they did not know Pruitt had stolen the
copper. (Defs.' Mem. 1-2; Pl.'s Mem.
Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a) because there is diversity of citizenship between the
parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000,
exclusive of interest and costs.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must
determine whether there is any genuine issue of material fact
that would preclude entry of judgment for the moving party as
a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The
moving party bears the initial burden of stating the basis
for the motion and identifying evidence in the record that
demonstrates an absence of a genuine dispute of material
fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322 (1986). If the moving party satisfies its burden, the
non-moving party must then produce specific evidence proving
the existence of a genuine dispute of fact for trial. See
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48
the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable
to the non-moving party, the non-moving party must do more
than show the existence of some “metaphysical doubt as
to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)
(citation omitted). Rather, the non-moving party must present
specific facts proving that a genuine factual dispute exists
by “citing to particular parts of the materials in the
record” or by “showing that the materials cited
do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute . . .
.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). “The mere existence of
a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving
party's] position will be insufficient” to overcome
summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary
argues that Defendants are liable for conversion under
Kentucky law, regardless of whether Defendants knew the
copper was stolen. (Pl.'s Mem. 2-3). Conversion is an
intentional tort, defined as “the wrongful exercise of
dominion and control over the property of another.”
Jones v. Marquis Terminal, Inc., 454 S.W.3d 849, 853
(Ky. App. 2014) (citations omitted). In Kentucky, a claim of
conversion requires proof of seven elements:
(1) the plaintiff had legal title to the converted property;
(2) the plaintiff had possession of the property or the right
to possess it at the time of the conversion; (3) the
defendant exercised dominion over the property in a manner
which denied the plaintiff's rights to use and enjoy the
property and which was to the defendant's own use and
beneficial enjoyment; (4) the defendant intended to interfere
with the plaintiff's possession; (5) the plaintiff made
some demand for the property's return which the defendant
refused; (6) the defendant's act was the legal cause of
the plaintiff's loss of the property; and (7) the
plaintiff suffered damage by the loss of the property.
Meade v. Richardson Fuel, Inc., 166 S.W.3d 55, 58
(Ky. App. 2005) (quoting Ky. Ass'n ofCounties All Lines Fund Tr. v. McClendon, 157 S.W.3d
626, 632 n.12 (Ky. 2005)). Defendants dispute whether
Plaintiff has met its burden of proof only as to the fourth
and sixth elements. (Defs.' Resp. Pl.'s ...