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Sommers Oil Co. v. Sand Hill Stations of Bluffton LLC

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

July 18, 2017

Sommers Oil Company, Plaintiff,
v.
Sand Hill Stations of Bluffton LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          Richard Mark Gergel, United States District Court Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs unopposed motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants summary judgment for Plaintiff.

         I. Background

         Sommers Oil Company is a wholesale distributor of petroleum products in the southeast United States. Sand Hill Stations of Bluffton is a company that owned a gas station in Bluffton, South Carolina. Beginning in June 2010, the parties entered into a series of contracts, which Sommers Oil alleges Sand Hill Stations has breached.

         On June 23, 2010, Sand Hill Stations, entered into a Branded Petroleum Supply Contract with Sommers Oil Company. The Branded Petroleum Supply Contract made Sommers Oil the exclusive supplier of gasoline to Sand Hill Stations for a period often years. Sommers Oil alleges Sand Hill Stations breached that agreement by failing to pay outstanding fuel charges of $67, 123.06.

         On August 30, 2010, Sommers Oil entered into a Retail Facility Development Incentive Program Agreement with Motiva Enterprises, LLC (Shell) to the benefit of Sand Hill Stations. The Retail Facility Development Incentive Program Agreement identified Sand Hill Stations as Sommers Oil's "Outlet" and offered incentives to Sand Hill Stations in exchange for Sand Hill Stations being branded as a Shell station for ten years. Sand Hill Stations benefited from the Agreement by receiving rebates at the Agreement's inception based upon the station's expected sales volume for the first year, as well as subsequent monetary incentives based upon Sand Hill Stations' sales volume. All rebates or incentives paid by Motiva Enterprises under the Agreement were first paid to Sommers Oil and then distributed to Sand Hill Stations.

         Sommers Oil alleges that Paragraph 1 of the Branded Petroleum Supply Contract, which states that "all monies invested by Sommers and or Shell Oil Company will be repaid" in the event of a breach, shows that Sand Hill Stations' agreement that amounts it received as rebates and incentives under the Retail Facility Development Incentive Program Agreement would be required to be paid back to Motiva in the event the station ceased being a branded Shell station. In April 2014, Sand Hill Stations ceased operations and stopped being a branded Shell station. As a result, Sommers Oil alleges it is obligated to reimburse Motiva $107, 449.72 in fees and rebates paid, and that under the Branded Petroleum Supply Contract, Sand Hill Stations must also repay all monies invested by Sommers Oil and Shell Oil Company.

         On October 26, 2010, Sand Hill Stations executed a Promissory Note dated October 19, 2010 in favor of Sommers Oil for $279, 946.75 to enable Sand Hill Stations to purchase equipment for the station. Sommers Oil alleges that Sand Hill Stations stopped making payments under the note in January 2014 and that $114, 386.01 is due on the loan.

         On November 29, 2011, Sand Hill Stations executed a Promissory Note dated October 6, 2011 in favor of Sommers Oil for $35, 000.00. Sommers Oil alleges Sand Hill Stations failed to make any payments under the October 6, 2011 promissory note and that there is an outstanding balance of $36, 750.00.

         Sommers Oil filed the present breach of contract action on August 21, 2014. On November 17, 2015, Sommers Oil moved for summary judgment. Sand Hill Stations has not responded to the motion for summary judgment. Sand Hill Stations has been unrepresented since its most recent attorney withdrew on January 29, 2016. (Dkt. No. 44.)

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate if a party "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact" and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In other words, summary judgment should be granted "only when it is clear that there is no dispute concerning either the facts of the controversy or the inferences to be drawn from those facts." Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). "In determining whether a genuine issue has been raised, the court must construe all inferences and ambiguities in favor of the nonmoving party." HealthSouth Rehab. Hosp. v. Am. Natl Red Cross, 101 F.3d 1005, 1008 (4th Cir. 1996). The party seeking summary judgment shoulders the initial burden of demonstrating to the court that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323(1986).

         Once the moving party has made this threshold demonstration, the non-moving party, to survive the motion for summary judgment, may not rest on the allegations averred in his pleadings. Id. at 324. Rather, the non-moving party must demonstrate that specific, material facts exist that give rise to a genuine issue. Id. Under this standard, "[c]onclusory or speculative allegations do not suffice, nor does a 'mere scintilla of evidence'" in support of the non-moving party's case. Thompson v. ...


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