United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
J.D. & BILLY HINES TRUCKING, INC. PLAINTIFF
HALE LAND & CATTLE COMPANY DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Hale Land & Cattle Company ("HLC"), filed a
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. ECF No.
Plaintiff J.D. & Billy Hines Trucking, Inc.
("HTI") filed their response. ECF No. 28. The
parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate
judge to conduct any and all proceedings in this case,
including conducting the trial, ordering the entry of a final
judgment, and conducting all post-judgment proceedings. ECF
No. 17. The Court having reviewed the Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's response, hereby
finds as follows:
Complaint alleges breach of contract and conversion related
to a hauling contract entered into by the parties. Plaintiff
seeks contract damages and damages for conversion for the
unauthorized use of its trailers by Defendant.
this current Motion, Defendant asserts there are no issues of
fact in support of Plaintiff's attempt to recover lost
profits damages, consequential damages, incidental damages,
special damages, or punitive damages. ECF No. 19. Defendant
argues the hauling agreement (ECF No. 20- 1), specifically
included a limitation of liability provision which stated in
no event shall either party be liable to the other party for
incidental, special, consequential, punitive, or lost profit
response, Plaintiff argues Defendant's (1) interpretation
of the hauling agreement language renders the contract
meaningless, (2) even if Defendant's interpretation is
reasonable, the jury should decided the ambiguity of the
possible interpretations of the contract language, and (3)
Defendant should be precluded from proffering before the jury
its unreasonable interpretation of the contract provision
regarding limitations on certain damages.
standard of review for summary judgment is well established.
Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
summary judgment is proper “if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (c); see also Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). In
deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must
consider all the evidence and all reasonable inferences that
arise from the evidence in a light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. See Nitsche v. CEO of Osage Valley Elec.
Co-Op., 446 F.3d 841 (8th Cir. 2006).
moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no
genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Enterprise Bank v. Magna
Bank, 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). Genuine issues
of material fact exist when “there is sufficient
evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a
verdict for that party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at
249. A party opposing a motion for summary judgment
“may not rest upon mere allegations or denials . . .
but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S.
of 2013, the parties entered into a "Hauling
Agreement" wherein Plaintiff agreed to transport certain
residual and finished wood products for Defendant. ECF No.
20-1. Plaintiff agreed to provide trailers and licensed
drivers. Id. The agreement contained the following
language in paragraph 19:
LIMITATION OF LIABILITY: In the event of a breach of this
Agreement, in no event shall either party hereto be liable to
the other party hereto for incidental, special,
consequential, punitive or lost profits damages.
the term of the agreement, Plaintiff alleges Defendant began
to use the Plaintiff's trailers without their
authorization and in violation of the terms of the agreement.
ECF No. 1. Plaintiff alleges this unauthorized use of their
trailers constituted the tort of conversion and resulted in a
breach of the agreement. Based on this unauthorized use of
their trailers, Plaintiff seeks damages for past and future
lost profits, lost rental value, and punitive damages.
relying on paragraph 19 of the Hauling Agreement, Defendant
seeks Summary Judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims for
breach of contract wherein claimed recoverable damages would
be for incidental, special, consequential, punitive, or lost
profit damages. Plaintiff argues there may or may not be more
than one reasonable interpretation for any one or more
provisions of the contract. Specifically, Plaintiff asserts
it would be unreasonable to interpret paragraph 19 to
preclude recovery for unauthorized use of the trailers as
this was the ...