United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
ROBERT M. OSBORNE, JR.; DONNA OSBORNE; and DR1, LLC; Plaintiffs,
DRAYPROP, LLC; DRAYPARK, LLC; MICHAEL BROWN; REUBEN CROLL; and MARLEY MANAGEMENT, INC.; Defendants.
WILLIAM T. MOORE, District Judge.
Before the Court are Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment (Doc. 9; Doc. 13; Doc. 60). For the following reasons, Defendants' motions are GRANTED. Plaintiffs have not shown any genuine issue of material fact to support their claims of breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation or fraud. As a result, Plaintiff's other claims for damages, punitive damages and attorney's fees necessarily fail. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' case is hereby DISMISSED. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to close this case.
This case stems from Plaintiffs' purchase of a condominium unit of the Drayton Tower building in Savannah, Georgia. (Doc. 30 at 2.) In making their purchase, Plaintiffs relied on various sales materials describing the planned development of the property. (Id. at 3-4.) Among the material Plaintiffs considered was a letter from former defendant Darby Bank & Trust Company ("DBT") that it would provide the necessary funds to cover the costs of certain promised repairs and improvements to Drayton Towers. (Id.) Plaintiffs believe that the sales material provided them with an enforceable guarantee that the renovations would be completed by March 1, 2006. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiffs also state that, prior to their purchase, they discussed the possibility of asbestos in the building with Defendant Brown, who stated the building had been tested and found to be asbestos-free. (Doc. 66 at 2-3.)
In May of 2005, based on all of the above information, Plaintiffs purchased the entire eighth floor of the Drayton Tower building from non-party Mopper-Stapen Realtors with the intent to resell it at a later date. (Doc. 30 at 2.) Defendant Drayprop, LLC was the developer of Drayton Towers and Defendant Draypark, LLC was the owner of the parking lots adjacent to Drayton Towers. (Doc. 61, Attach. 1 ¶¶ 3, 5.) Defendant Marley Management was handling the renovations of Drayton Towers. (Doc. 61 at 2.) Defendants Brown and Croll are each part-owners of companies that held financial interests in Defendant Drayprop (Doc. 10 at 4) and Defendant Marley (Doc. 66 at 3).
Prior to the completion of the renovations, portions of the Drayton Towers building were found to contain asbestos that would require remediation. (Id. at 3.) The discovery resulted in a delay of renovations for approximately nine months. (Doc. 30 at 5.) Because of the delay and subsequent economic downturn, Plaintiffs allege that their investment in the property has lost significant value. (Id.)
On October 13, 2008, Plaintiff filed this action in the State Court of Chatham County. (Doc. 1 ¶ 1.) On July 8, 2010, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint asserting state-law claims for fraud, negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract against Defendants Drayprop, Draypark, Brown, and Croll, as well as seeking damages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees. (Doc. 1, Attach. 41 ¶¶ 18-35.) On June 9, 2011, Defendants removed the case to this Court. (Doc. 1.) On March 30, 2012, this Court granted former Defendant FDIC's motion for summary judgment and dismissed Plaintiff's claims against it. (Doc. 44.) On July 12, 2011, Defendants Drayprop, Draypark, Croll, and Brown filed their present motion for summary judgment (Doc. 9), arguing that each of Plaintiffs claims have not demonstrated reasonable reliance on any statement made by Defendants, that no contract exists between Plaintiffs and any Defendant, and that Plaintiffs have provided no facts that could reasonably support their other claims. (Doc. 9; Doc. 10.) Defendant Croll has filed a separate motion for summary judgment with similar arguments, but additionally contending that he cannot be held personally liable to Plaintiffs. (Doc. 13; Doc. 14.) Defendant Marley has also filed a separate motion for summary judgment arguing that Plaintiffs' claims are time-barred and that it owed no duty to Plaintiffs. (Doc. 60; Doc. 61.) Because the Court finds that all of Plaintiffs' claims fail on the merits, it need not address the other arguments contained within Defendants' various summary judgment motions.
I. STANDARD OF REVIEW
According to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), "[a] party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense-or the part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is sought." Such a motion must be granted "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." Id . The "purpose of summary judgment is to pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 advisory committee notes).
Summary judgment is appropriate when the nonmovant "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The substantive law governing the action determines whether an element is essential. DeLong Equip. Co. v. Wash. Mills Abrasive Co. , 887 F.2d 1499, 1505 (11th Cir. 1989).
As the Supreme Court explained:
W party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
Celotex , 477 U.S. at 323. The burden then shifts to the nonmovant to establish, by going beyond the pleadings, that there is a genuine issue as to facts that are material to the nonmovant's case. Clark v. ...