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Benjamin v. Shaw

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division

April 13, 2017

Georgeanna Benjamin, as Guardian ad Litem for Curtis Dolford, Plaintiff,
Adrian Shaw, Defendant.


          R. Bryan Harwell United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court for a ruling on Defendant Adrian Shaw's Motion for Summary Judgment. See ECF No. 29. The Court denies the motion for the reasons herein.[1]

         Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate when no genuine issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Reyazuddin v. Montgomery Cty., Md., 789 F.3d 407, 413 (4th Cir. 2015); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) (“The court shall grant 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.”). “A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .; or (B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). The facts and inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, Reyazuddin, 789 F.3d at 413, but the Court “cannot weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations.” Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 569 (4th Cir. 2015).

         Moreover, “the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). “A dispute of material fact is ‘genuine' if sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party exists for the trier of fact to return a verdict for that party.” Seastrunk v. United States, 25 F.Supp.3d 812, 814 (D.S.C. 2014). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect disposition of the case under the applicable law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

         At the summary judgment stage, “the moving party must demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Once the moving party has met his burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with some evidence beyond the mere allegations contained in the pleadings to show that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Baber v. Hosp. Corp. of Am., 977 F.2d 872, 874-75 (4th Cir. 1992) (internal citation omitted). Summary judgment is not warranted unless, “from the totality of the evidence, including pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and affidavits, the [C]ourt believes no genuine issue of material fact exists for trial and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Whiteman v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C., 729 F.3d 381, 385 (4th Cir. 2013); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).


         I. The Prior Case: Dolford I

         On January 31, 2013, Defendant Adrian Shaw (“Defendant Shaw”) was driving north on U.S. Highway 17 in a 1999 Mack dump truck when he crossed the center line and collided head-on with a 1989 Lincoln Sedan occupied by Curtis Dolford (“Plaintiff”), Maurice Dolford, and Brent O'Neal (the driver). See ECF No. 23 [Amended Complaint] at ¶¶ 7-9. Plaintiff and his companions filed a negligence action in state court against both Defendant Shaw and his employer Willard Locklear Trucking, LLC (“Locklear Trucking”);[2] the lawsuit was removed to this Court in January 2014. See Dolford v. Willard Locklear Trucking, LLC, No. 4:14-cv-00062-RBH (D.S.C. filed Jan. 8, 2014) (hereinafter, “Dolford I”). On March 24, 2014, O'Neal's and Maurice Dolford's cases were dismissed with prejudice from Dolford I after they stipulated to the dismissal of all claims against both Defendant Shaw and Locklear Trucking; Plaintiff's lawsuit continued against both Defendant Shaw and Locklear Trucking. Dolford I at ECF No. 13. On January 6, 2015, this Court entered an order dismissing Defendant Shaw without prejudice for failure to serve pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m); Plaintiff and Locklear Trucking remained the only parties in Dolford I. Id. at ECF No. 35. On January 12, 2015, Locklear Trucking filed in this Court a Confession of Judgment consenting to entry of judgment in Plaintiff's favor in the amount of $2.5 million dollars, and the Clerk entered the confessed judgment the next day. Id. at ECF Nos. 39 & 40.

         II. The Instant Case

         On May 18, 2015, Plaintiff (a South Carolina resident) filed the present action solely against Defendant Shaw in state court, and after having difficulty locating Defendant Shaw (a North Carolina resident), served him on November 30, 2015, through the Director of the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles.[3] See ECF No. 1-1. Defendant Shaw removed the case to this Court on December 30, 2015.[4] See ECF No. 1. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on September 22, 2016, and Defendant Shaw filed an answer admitting liability on October 6, 2016. See ECF Nos. 23 & 24. On November 17, 2016, Defendant Shaw filed a motion for summary judgment. See ECF Nos. 24 & 29. Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the motion for summary judgment, and Defendant Shaw filed a reply to Plaintiff's response. See ECF Nos. 30 & 31.


         Defendant Shaw moves for summary judgment on two grounds, arguing (1) Plaintiff's claims are barred by the doctrine of laches and (2) Plaintiff received consideration for the entire judgment against Locklear Trucking by virtue of the Confession of Judgment. See ECF No. 29-1 at 4-8.

         I. ...

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